The 1906 12 hp International Horizontal Engine

The 2001 Button
The 12 hp IHC
The featured engine of our show for 2001,
The 12 hp International.
By Dave Songer

    In December of 1976, my wife Sally and I paid a visit to her Dad in Franklin, Maine. I had been bitten by the gas engine bug by then and talked my father-in-law into going on an engine hunt. I was lucky enough to find three engines: a 5 hp Witte, 6 hp Fairbanks Z, and my wonderful 12 hp International. The engine was located within sight of the main road through Franklin but lucky for me it was hidden by a clump of trees. I will never forget rounding the back corner of a house and not 50 feet away seeing the huge flywheels sticking out of the trees. My heart was in my mouth as we walked up to the engine and I saw that it was an International 12 hp, built in 1906. You must remember at this point I was still new to the hobby, and this was a great find! There were 3 inch saplings growing up through the wheels, and behind the engine a building had completely fallen down but you could still see the square hole the belt had passed through.
The serial number plate!!     By now I was bursting with enthusiasm but still had enough collective wisdom to ask my father-in-law to negotiate a sale for me as I had heard that people from Maine are good negotiators. My father-in-law returned shortly with a price which I paid instantly. I remember it was very cold and I bought two quarts of automatic transmission fluid at the local garage. The next day we returned to the engine, and I still remember that the fluid would barely pour as I wet down every nut and bolt on the entire engine.
    My Dad and I spent the winter in eager anticipation of going back to Maine in the spring. In March of 1977, with snow still on the ground, we returned in Dad's car, and with the help of my father-in-law's Case tractor we took off the cylinder, complete with head and connecting rod attached. I was lucky that the only thing missing from the engine was the fuel bowl cap. A carburetor had been fitted in its place. The rocker arm tower was snapped in half, a sure sign somebody tried cranking it after the valve was frozen. The brass igniter body was still there with a badly rusted point arm and the springs long gone. The fuel pump was intact. I believe that had this engine not been hidden from sight, it would have been cannibalized long before I got there.
    I found out that the engine had always been in the same spot. It originally ran a small saw mill and was also belted to an early Carver shingle mill. (I have all the metal parts for that.) During the second world war, the engine was used to run machinery that polished the mirrors for bombsights. After the war, the engine was never used again.
12hp IHC Engine     Now that I had this engine, I had to find a way to get it home. My company was selling a 1969 Dodge box truck so I purchased this in New York and drove it to Orange, Massachusetts. Dad and I spent until October fixing up the truck, painting and a new deck. In October of 1977, we returned to Franklin, Maine, and with the help of my father-in-law's Case tractor, we removed the flywheels one at a time and then unbolted the base from its brick pedestal and loaded it.
    I should note here that the automatic transmission fluid had soaked completely into every nut and bolt and everything came apart like greased lightning. Once at home, Dad removed the cylinder head and made a tight fitting block in order to drive out the frozen piston. He would go out every day and hit it once. After a month and much oil, it came loose. I'm glad he did this as I don't have that kind of patience and may have damaged it in my rush. Ed Bergquist made us a new exhaust valve, and I rebuilt the igniter. We honed the cylinder, 7.5", with a homemade hone built by Doug Johnson, a very early collector and charter member of CMSGMA. The rocker arm tower was brazed, and the crankshaft journals were polished in place with a jury rigged belt sander while we rotated the engine. I realize these methods were less than perfect but resources dictated our actions at the time.
    In May of 1978 I took some vacation time and Dad and I put the engine together. It started on the first turn and has always been an easy starter since then. I have always felt a little guilty that I have not properly restored the engine, but most of the people who see it running have encouraged me to leave it original. Someday I will paint and restore it properly; in the meantime it has been a great experience watching the spectators count the time between firings and try to figure out how it runs. I have answered thousands of questions about its simple operation. I think it's fair say the two most exciting moments of my engine life were first sight of the engine and hearing it start for the first time.

12hp IHC Engine
This International engine appears on the show button for 2001



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