Look At My First Restoration!

Author Photo
By Bob Naske | Sep 1, 1999

2059 State Highway 29, Johnstown, New York 12095

This is a photo of my first restoration of an antique gas
engine, easily recognized as a 1? HP ‘E.’ It was made in
1929 and carries serial number 296191. It was a badly rusted
engine, not running, without a cart, and sitting in the corner of
my father-in-law’s John Deere dealership for several years.
After completing two antique John Deere tractor restorations, I
thought it would be a different challenge to restore this engine.
What a challenge it was!

It was easy to figure out the no spark problem. A broken magneto
armature made me realize a mag rebuild would be necessary. After a
few phone calls, a business associate in Colorado located a man who
rebuilds ‘E’ mags. So, off the mag went to Colorado to be

While waiting for the mag to be rebuilt, I hooked up a coil and
power supply to the igniter, an external fuel supply for some fresh
gas to see if it would run. When it wouldn’t pop at all, I
started to look further. Someone had taken the camshaft and/or the
cam gear off and, of course, never bothered to line up the timing
marks when reassembling. At this point I thought it best to just
take it all apart and do whatever had to be done. It was a wise
decision because I also found that the piston rings were seized in
the piston. I also noticed the oil was disappearing into the fuel
tank over the course of two or three days. Fortunately, the
governor wasn’t all broken up, as I have since learned is
another problem area.

Those of you who have redone ‘E’ engines are possibly
chuckling about now because you have been through this. I was not
about to give up, although a lot of time would be spent to restore
this engine.

So, I unstuck the rings, deglazed the cylinder, lapped the
valves, retimed everything properly when the mag came back. I
ordered gaskets which can still be obtained through Deere. It took
two tries to get the oil pan sealed. I didn’t know the oil pan
had a gasket on both sides when I put it together the first

I bought a reproduction cart, got some nice maple skids to get
the engine on wheels, because as we all know they’re heavy!

So, it’s all back together and running with a good rebuilt
mag, the original fuel system hooked up, and several coats of John
Deere green. I certainly learned a lot on this first restoration,
but I must have done okay, because my father-in-law asked me to
display it in his John Deere lawn and garden dealership so
customers can see a piece of JD equipment 70 years old that still
runs and looks good.

The next project is already in progress. It is a 1927 Stover 2
HP ‘KA.’ And, after that awaits a 1911 4? HP Waterloo Boy
that runs good.

Gas Engine Magazine

Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines