2004...] I've been looking for a fixer-upper hit and miss
engine for at least 10 years now. Without any other friends
in the engine hobby, I had no network to help me locate one.
I kept my eye on estate sales and local farm auctions, but only once
did I even see an old engine for sale. I considered knocking
on farmhouse doors; I even carried a picture of one in my wallet to
show to people when I asked, just so they had an idea what I was
talking about! About 6 or 7 years ago, I found a heavy duty
metal dolly at a garage sale, and thought, "I'll get that so that
whenever I find an engine, I can store it on the dolly so I can move it
in late Sept., 2004, my long search was
successful! I had the good fortune to finally find and buy my
first old engine, and it was very close to my house to boot.
It was in far better shape than I ever imagined I'd find, but it's not
running and still has its share of problems and puzzles to solve.
wound up with a Taylor
Vacuum Engine Type C, 2
horsepower. It's a stationary hit and miss type hopper-cooled
farm engine, just what I'd wanted, and was pretty much all there and
well oiled. From Harry's
Old Engine web site, I see it's got a Wico EK magneto with a
Type 2 drive. From a date casting on a small part near the
spark plug, the copyright dates on the magneto case, and the Taylor Engine serial number
registry , I'd estimate this engine was
made circa late 1925-1928. The Taylor Engine
Company was in Elgin, Illinois.
pounds of antique fun!
30, 1923 date on this
called a "Vacuum
Engine" because it has a
built-in vacuum pump and was used on
farms to directly run cow milking machines, eliminating the need to
belt up a separate vacuum pump. It has a
single unusual 2-stage piston, having a small diameter for the front
half (for power), and a larger diameter for the back half (for vacuum).
down into the hopper
Rory sent me this photo of his Taylor Vacuum Engine piston
and connecting rod
There is a port on
the side of the engine near the bottom rear of the hopper that the
large end of the piston uses to draw a vacuum. It can be
configured "backwards" as well- to provide pressure rather than
vacuum. It's got a nice wooden flat belt pulley too [6"
diameter, with a 3-3/8" face].
-I've found the Taylor
instruction manual on the web! In the manual, I noted
something unusual for this (4 stroke) engine- you need to mix oil with
the gas because there is no
oiler for the main power
piston section, only for the vacuum piston. The manual also
mentions that there existed a "Magneto Care card". I'll have
see if I can find one on the web.
-I noticed that what I thought were gobs of grease on the back of the
piston are WELDS.
Virtually the entire piston skirt has been welded back on, and there
appears to be a crack in
one of the welds. That's
ok; I wanted a fixer-upper anyway! I'll know
better when I get a chance to take it out and clean it. I
don't think I should run it without this getting
fixed or it could get worse.
Luckily, this isn't really a load bearing part of the piston- the wrist
pin is held firmly, so I'm
thinking that re-welding is likely to work. For a while, I
couldn't figure out what could cause such extensive damage, then I
thought that at one point in its life, the piston may have gotten
stuck, and the skirt may have broken while it was being freed
up. Just a theory.
piston skirt, and crack marked in red
-The engine's valves and piston are indeed free and quite lubricated.
You can turn it over nicely by
hand, listen it to it suck in air (with a peculiar and amusing purring
sound as the check valve intake valve
vibrates), and watch it trip the
magneto. I need to learn more about 4 cycle engine operation in order
to understand what
it's doing when. This will be interesting. (I
learned from reading on the web that before you turn over the flywheel
on an unknown hit and miss engine by hand, you need to check that the
exhaust valve isn't frozen or else you'll break something.)
-I noticed that on the piston oiler, there isn't much
difference in the shaft
height between closed and open; I think the hole where the on/off pin
latch is is worn, or maybe it's just
misadjusted, thus the oiler may be mostly "off" regardless; I'll have
to check this
carefully before running the engine.
-Looked for the timing marks, but I
can't find them. The cam gear perhaps has marks on some teeth, but they
could just as well be casting
blemishes. I'm leaning
towards them being marks though. The crankshaft pinion gear has no
marked tooth at all from what
I've seen so far. I
need to look more carefully.
think that something else
is missing from the engine- it looks like there should be a pair of
1-way vacuum pump disk valves. I've never seen them, but I'm
guessing they go in here, one on the top, one on the bottom.
If you can provide a close-up picture and measurements of a
loose Taylor vacuum valve, I'd really appreciate it. I may be
able to fabricate a pair if I can get a good idea what they look like-
the parts list drawing doesn't show this item very well. I
presume it's 2 pieces of metal loosely bolted together, with a gasket
and spring, with holes or slots in the bigger disk?
of vacuum port
Drain plug & Wico info -I read last night
about using a water hopper
cooled engine in cold
weather, and it said to make sure you open the drain plug to remove all
the water when you're done, as even a
light frost might crack the cylinder,
from freezing. Drain plug? I'd always wondered how to empty a hopper
once you filled it... I got on my
knees and looked underneath,
and sure enough, there was a drain plug
bolt hidden way
down under there! See photo down below.
-I finally found some Wico EK magneto use/care instructions on Harry's
site. I see that I have a Type 2. I think this and
the Sandwich Engine site's scan is
the info that would be in the Magneto Card I had been looking for.
-I noticed that the felt on the bottom of the magneto was clean, and
there is some blue synthetic insulating plastic under the coils- it's
looking like this is a
recently restored magneto! Granted, "recently"
may have been 30 years ago, but that's certainly better than 80 years
magneto, with covers off NOTE that this
style magneto will NOT work with the side/top cover
It's used as part of the electrical circuit.
-It has an Auto-Lite F11 spark plug; it's an old one.
-I can't detect any spark in daylight from the magneto, holding the
wire 1/4-1/8" away from engine ground. Ah... I'm turning the
flywheel v e r y
slowly. I now read that I need to pull the armature away fast
to get a spark. I'll
try after dark... ok, tried after dark, by connecting it to a grounded
J8 spark plug; result= zero spark.
In order to turn it fast enough
through the compression stroke, I had to hold
the intake valve open so there wasn't any resistance. (I needed to
do this to get a fast trip of
Debugging the mag
-I checked the continuity on the plug wire from the tip to the inner
tower spring- dead!
I took the cover completely off
the mag, and discovered that the plug wire spring that is supposed to
contact a raised metal
button on the side of the right
coil was not connected- it was resting on the coil insulation, not on
coil & misplaced spring contact
other (left) coil
has a similar button, but it
contacts the metal mag case via a spring finger, so that must be
-I also discovered that the plug wire pulls right out of the black
phenolic holder (tower) just like
on a car's distributor cap; that sure was non-obvious! The
wire itself checks out
quite ok. The thing
is, the only metal contact inside the phenolic holder is at the very
bottom of the hole (for a car, it's a
cup of metal). So,
if you don't have this plug
wire shoved in enough, or correctly, you won't make contact... and I
wasn't. I added a close fitting
steel spring inside the wire, on the end, to help it make contact. I
now have good continuity. Even
after this, I still have no spark
at all, though. I need to perform other electrical tests on
the mag; back to the web for research.
EK magneto tower and spark plug wire
-The flywheel is 4 feet 5 3/4 inches (53.75") in circumference.
Calculating this out, the
flywheels are 17.1" inches in diameter. This will be useful
when it's time to check the timing.
More magneto checking
-Discovered that when I reattached the magneto side cover, that the
spring clip on the left did
not contact the left coil button. When installing the cover, you need
to be SURE that the left coil
button contacts the spring clip, and that the right button contacts the
spark plug tower
-I measured 8.09K ohms from spark plug wire tip to ground (=coil button
to button), meaning that the
coils are not bad. I get the same measurement with points open or
closed (this may or may not be
correct; I need to research some more). I haven't (yet) seen
any method by which the coils
are interconnected, as I'd
expected from reading the SmokStak
archives; more research needed. I think there's
supposed to be a brass spring connector up near the top, joining the
two coils. Time to get out the flashlight. :-)
-I disconnected 1 wire on the capacitor and measured the cap with an
ohmmeter, got infinite
resistance, indicates a good cap.
-Using a compass, I discovered that the magneto's North pole is on the
right, South on the left.
-There are two different gaps I can measure on the Wico magneto- the armature
gap (when it's just ready to trip closed), and the point
-I built up a small stack of wood to be exactly 7/32"- what is supposed
to be the armature gap, *I think*, from reading
some "success" stories on the SmokStak list. I didn't want to
use a metal feeler gauge for the
measurement since it would be against the
My armature gap is too narrow(?)- looks like 5/32"
to me; this of course throws
off the POINT gap too, it's way too narrow right now. Actual
gap is 0.010. It
looks like you should set the armature gap first, then set the points
afterward. I haven't yet found any spec for the correct point
-Ok, I need to
verify the correct settings before touching anything; the archives are
-The Wico documentation seems to indicate that that the armature
gap is only 3/32", and at that time, the points
should just begin to be open. (NOTE- 3/32"= 0.094, so if you
stack 3 feeler gauges: .032, .030, .028, you get 0.90, close enough!)
with points OPEN, they have continuity; both seem to be ground-
bad? I found a general circuit diagram for the ignition, and
one side should be grounded, but through a resistor; I now need to
check with an ohmmeter (not just a continuity tester) to see whether or
not they're truly shorted. I'll see what's up later.
-I wiggled the magneto armature while it was pulled back, and there's
about 1.5/64ths play up and down, and
about 1/64 play tilt (not additive). I don't know if this is normal or
excessive. If excessive, this
may be why I'm not getting any spark (from what I've read). I
might also want to try a couple other things before going further down
1) reduce the gap on my J8 test spark plug (I doubt this is a problem)
2) swap in a lawnmower condenser temporarily as a test
3) find somebody locally with a working/sparking Wico EK that I could
look at, close-up, and compare it with how mine feels. This
is perhaps the best idea; too bad all the engine shows are done with
for the year up here.
armature and trip mechanism
-Just above the mixer needle valve, there's a small bolt.
Anybody know what it's for? (See picture
in my "Background" section above.) [addenda: I now know that
it's a set screw to hold the mixer on]
-I quickly checked the spark and exhaust timing per the instructions in
the Taylor "C" manual, and it looks like spark is 15 degrees off, and
exhaust is 17 degrees off from the correct setting (both way too
advanced from the recommended 30 degrees). I know how to
adjust the exhaust timing, but I'm not so sure about the spark; more
-This just made my whole week... I have found a copy of a Wico EK
instruction/care/operation manual!! I thought I'd have to
wait until next year's engine shows to find one!
Mag checks out ok!
-Now the plot thickens... I borrowed a capacitance meter and
actually measured the magneto cap... it's 0.219 microfarad, just
It's the trip mechanism...
-Thanks a bunch to Rob S. for suggesting that I check to see if I can
push in the latch finger on the mag trip. It turns out that I
can't- it doesn't compress the drive spring at all. I can
grab and push in the washer/spring itself, just not with the latch
finger. I'll have to take it apart to see how it's SUPPOSED
to work (but this will have to wait until Christmas, as this engine is
actually a gift and can't be opened `til then!). This is a
good reason why I wouldn't be getting spark- without this working
correctly, the armature will not snap down quick enough. Rob
also thinks that my "mystery bolt" is a set screw to hold on the
mixer! It never dawned on me that the mixer could be removed.
-As you can see,
the drive spring behind the latch finger is not
getting compressed, even when pushed hard. At this point, I
don't know why...
I'm pushing real hard, here!
...No spring compression occurring.
found a very important clue on the web... a portion of a photo of a
working Stover engine- notice the area scraped clean of grease- this
shows how much the latch SHOULD be moving.
my latch mechanism off the engine and removing the latch finger
& spring, I can see what the problem is... the long bolt that
passes through the inside of the latch drive spring is completely
unscrewed from the latch finger, making the whole latch/bolt
assembly about 1/4" longer than it should be. The result is
that the bolt is bottoming out on the advance lever before the spring
ever compresses. Without being screwed
into the finger, the spring & bolt were a little tricky to
view of latch assembly with finger removed.
Note the finger/spring/bolt is 4 5/8" long.
all the latch parts- a drive spring, pair of washers, latch finger, and
bolt. They all ride in the cast iron holder above.
The left washer is actually a pair itself- a thin brass one rides
against the latch finger. Note that the head of the bolt fits
cleanly into a hole in the cast iron holder. It slides back
and forth by design as the spring compresses/releases.
the bolt is properly tightened down into the latch
finger. In a moment, I'm going to scrape off the
paint on the finger, just to be sure it can move ok.
it's now 4 3/8" long
-Now when pushed, the latch
finger compresses the
spring. It turns out that this is a critical
aspect of the latch design. If the finger is not driven by
the compressed spring, the armature will not pull down fast enough to
generate a spark (even if you spin the flywheel rapidly, I
is how things should work
it works: the spring gets compressed (without pulling down the
armature) until the long bolt bottoms out when it hits the advance
lever. When this happens, the latch assembly is strong/stiff
enough to overcome the forces holding the armature up, and as
soon as the armature breaks free, the compressed spring energy drives
it down very fast.
-Measured the gas
tank today; it's 13 1/4 x 8 1/2 x 1 7/8. Calculating it out,
it can hold about 0.9 gallons.
-I recently exchanged pictures with Rory, who also has a Taylor, and I
see that mine has something called a "skid to engine raising block"- it
allows space for the gas tank to sit right underneath the engine. My
tank has a separate filler pipe on the side of the engine, and also a
tiny air vent pipe. Based on the epoxy repairs to the tank, I'm
supposing it's the original tank. The gas line comes out of the front
of the gas tank. Maybe this secondary raising base was an option?
what my drain plug looks
like. It's currently stuck, but doesn't look too
hopeless! It's 5/8" measured diameter; I guess that
translates to 3/8" pipe thread.
-My engine has no manufacturing date stamp like some Taylor's I've
heard about. I have a theory that they didn't start stamping
the mfg. year on the base until around 1929, based on Denis R's Taylor
Engine Registry. (1929 seems to be the starting year for the
teardrop style flywheels, too.) Out of ~61 Type Cs
in his registry, mine has the 6th lowest in serial number.
From the copyright dates on the magneto cover plus other the registry
listings, I can guess that the engine was made sometime
between late 1925 to 1928.
-I found some time to poke around with the engine today! I
flushed out the gas tank- using the drain plug, I drained the rest of
the ancient gas out, then put in a couple pints of fresh gas mixed with
drygas and sloshed it around, then drained that. Some
sediment came out too.
I put some 30w in the oiler and tried it out- I could see nice drops
falling through the sight glass. I oiled everything up and
rotated the engine through a few cycles to spread the oil out.
took out the
needle valve for inspection... it takes 11 1/2
turns to seat it.
also took off the
vacuum valve caps to see what
was inside. When you take off the valve caps you can see the
inside of the valve cage- note the slit port that the engine uses to
draw a vacuum through. The disk valves (if I had any!) are
held in place by this cage. There would be two
loose, separate disk valves. One disk slipped in on
top of the valve cage and one at the bottom. Both would have
to face the same direction, either both up or both down. Then
when the piston drew back, it would always suck air in from (let's say)
the top (and when that happened the bottom valve would just suck itself
closed), then when the piston pushed the other way, the top valve would
press closed and the bottom would blow open, keeping air running just
one way through your piping. (I used to have an air pump for
balloons that worked that way when I was a kid.) You could
get this engine to suck vacuum off the top or the bottom pipe with
equal success, to match whatever your plumbing was like- or you could
change it from vacuum to pressure *without changing all your plumbing*
by flipping both of the disk valves around.
the threaded part is to hold the pipe going to the vacuum tank.
valve disk would sit on the little shelf just over the slit/hole, and
another valve disk would be likewise be held underneath.
-I went to the
Pageant of Steam in Canandaigua, NY today, and had the good
fortune to see TWO Taylor Vacuum Type C
engines! I met Ed Jones, who had a fully restored and
functional Taylor hooked up to a vacuum tank and milking machine- a
really top-notch display. He can draw about 25" of mercury
with the thing without even loading up the engine (it was still not
hitting all the time)... impressive (twice as much as you need to run
the milker). We talked for 1/2 hour, and he was kind enough
to take apart his vacuum pump valve caps so I could see what disc valve
parts I'm missing. The valves are much simpler and more
robust than I had imagined. The vacuum valve disks are made
of blued spring steel, and just slightly move up and down in their
holders; there is no spring at all.
I took the following close up pictures, and made some
measurements. I've never seen any photos or measurements of
these parts published before. (I'm hoping that someone sees
the pictures and says "Hey, I've got two of them in the drawer in the
workshop!", and tells me about it! :-) ) It turns out that
there are two valve halves screwed together and a spring steel disk
loosely sandwiched in between each valve assembly.
I found another Taylor for sale on a trailer- it was rusty and stuck,
but it had the valve parts. John R. generously let me take it
apart, and I took more measurements on those.
I spent 6 hours at the show, and wasn't able to get through
thing! I picked up a nice brass petcock valve for the water
hopper for only $6 from Lee Pedersen.
I found also out from Ed that I should be using SAE30 ND oil for the
engine. I wasn't even aware that they made "Non Detergent"
(ND) oil anymore, but sure enough, I found it at my local car parts
store. Remember on the Taylor, that cylinder oil must be
mixed with the gas in order to lubricate the power end of the
piston. Ed uses 1 oz oil per gallon, and the Taylor manual
suggests 1/4 (=4 oz) to 1/2 pint oil per gallon.
a closeup of an
original/used spring steel valve disk. It's made of 0.015"
thick blued spring steel.
Ed's Taylor Vacuum Engine crank handle.
8/22/05: HOORAY!! I finally got the water
hopper plug UN-stuck today! I used a rust
loosening spray called "PB Blaster" sprayed inside the hopper and out,
plus a couple minutes of tapping, plus Vise-Grips. I then
tried out the new brass petcock for size that I'd found at the
Canandaigua show, and I indeed bought the correct one!
took out the old
Auto-Lite F11 spark plug with a crescent wrench (it was in between 7/8"
and 1", go figure). I cleaned it off, and also the plug hole
threads, and tested it outside of the engine (hooked up to
the magneto) and saw good spark. Seems good, so I put it back
wanted to be sure
that the brass "Stop" button
on the front of the Wico magneto would work before I attempted to start
the engine. I tried in vain with a jumper ground wire and an
ohmmeter to figure it out, but nothing conclusive came of it.
So I put the Wico front cover back on, pulled the plug and grounded its
shell, then spun the flywheels to watch it spark. Then I held
in the "Stop" button on the magneto and saw that NO spark was
happening, so I was satisfied that things were nice and safe.
Looking into the
plug hole on the engine- much to my surprise- you can't see
right into the cylinder. There's a small chamber there for
the spark. I really didn't expect that (I haven't had the
head off or piston out yet to see what it looks like inside the
cylinder). The spark plug takes exactly 4 turns until tight.
Potential engine cart I went to an estate sale
today at an old
farmhouse, and got this SUPER antique hand truck for only
$10. It's got 9" diameter iron wheels and oak handles; after
a bit of modification it will be just perfect to hold the engine
& move it around easily! The grey weathered oak will
brighten right up when I refinish it.
Dinosaur gas cans I have run into an unexpected
getting the engine running... I can't find a gas can to buy gas
with!! I can't use my existing lawnmower can since I need to
mix oil with the gas for the Taylor. Some sort of safety
regulation must've recently been put into law because there's only one
kind of gas can that can be bought around here (and I've checked about
a dozen stores and gas stations)- it has a spring-loaded nozzle that
you have to insert into the filler neck and push down hard. I
need a can with an open nozzle that I can just pour gas out of into the
Taylor. I was going to get a funnel to work around the
problem when I finally found a nice gas can (from 1979) at an estate
9/22/05: I picked up
a nice old oil can and a funnel with
a fine filter screen in it at another estate sale. Just what
Grease cups I removed all 3 grease cups today to
the old grease and see how they worked (never having used grease cups
before). Much to my surprise, what I thought was bad grease
looks like it may be grease mixed with graphite- it was all uniformly
grey. I remember reading somewhere that you can mix graphite
in with the grease for longer bearing life. I'll have to
figure out where I read that to see if they have a recommended mixture
before filling the cups up with my own grease.
picture After reading a posting in the Stationary
List, I thought I'd put up a 3 Dimensional image of my Taylor Vacuum
Engine. To view it, you'll need to focus your eyes straight
ahead in order to to fuse the two images into a center 3D
image. You can use an antique stereoscope-type viewer as
well. It should be viewable right here on the screen.
comes to light I bought a photocopy of an original
Engine sales flyer from Hit & Miss Enterprises and was
surprised to learn two new things from the manufacturer about this
engine: -the engine is
designed run just fine as an engine alone (without the vacuum disk
-the PUMP can still work
without the engine running, by belting it up to the pulley
opportunity Rats! I just noticed that
parts had come up on eBay, but the auction has finished
already. They had a pair of vacuum valves and a crank guard,
both of which I'm missing. The valves (in their cage) went
for $41, so now I have an idea what a fair price is.
at starting Well, we're having an unusually warm
today it was up in the mid 40s (again). I had left the gas
tank empty since Fall, and I realize that was a mistake now.
Exposed to air, the metal inside will corrode faster than if submerged
under gas. Also, I read on the Smokstak list that the check
valve ball will corrode or gum up if left dry.
Whoops. So I put some gas in, about 3/4 of a tank, and for
the first time, tried to actually start the engine. I just
wanted to see if it would fire. I remembered to retard the
spark, then spun it over 5 or 6 times, and when nothing interesting
happened, put it back in the garage. 5 minutes later, it
dawned on me that I hadn't turned on the gas at the mixer!
Back out I went, opened the gas needle valve 1/3 of a turn, and after
another 5 spins with no results, put it away because I had other chores
to do. I would've been pleasantly surprised if it started up,
but I sort of expect it to not start anyways, so no big deal; just
another mystery to solve! while I know I have spark now, I'm
not sure if it's strong or weak- I need to compare it against a working
engine somewhere or have somebody knowledgeable take a look at my
spark. Since it's sat dry a few months, it's possible that
the check valve ball may not be seating properly as well. I
didn't have time to look at it today as the fitting is stuck and I
didn't have my big wrench out with me. I DID take
the gas line off, but it seems that the check ball us UNDER the
fitting, not on top of it.
now that I read the starting directions in the operation manual, I see
that I was supposed to choke it with my thumb to start- I had not done
this, so it's likely that I didn't have any gas up in the
cylinder. Ah, another day...
Filling the grease cups & 2nd attempt at starting The
weather was REALLY fine today- in the 50s and
sunny- and I decided to try and start it for real this time.
I took off the grease cups, filled them, checked their operation, then
put them back on. I turned them all until I met with firm
resistance since I had no idea when they were last greased.
The mag-side crankshaft bearing took several more turns than the other
two cups; I'll have to keep an eye on that bearing when I get the
engine running. I found that 1/2 a turn of the cup squeezes
out about a 1.5 inch long bead of grease, (slightly less than 1/8"
the cup (cap) of the
grease cup assembly has a steel scraper inside it, below:
(cap) on the left, bottom on the right
oiled all the moving parts,
put some oil in the drip oiler, and set the engine on the ground (slid
it off the dolly). On the way down off the dolly, I slid it
onto a digital bathroom scale and found out exactly how much the engine
weighs- 235 lbs., including the skids.
That was pretty interesting to find out; I haven't ever found that spec
email advice I had saved
from Jeb L., I opened the needle valve 1 1/2 turns, choked the mixer
opening with my thumb, retarded the spark, and spun it through a few
revolutions. I put a clip wire on the spark plug to ground it
out so I'd be sure it couldn't start while I was turning the flywheels
with one hand (I don't have a crank handle). I then took the
ground wire off, and gave it a few, then many
spins. I tried re-choking, opening the needle valve to 2
turns, even having somebody choke it while I spun the flywheels faster
using two hands. Nada, zip. I took out the spark
plug and double-checked that I had spark- yep. One thing that
Jeb mentioned was that after a couple revolutions your thumb should be
wet with gas- and mine wasn't. I'm pretty sure I'm not
getting fuel up to the mixer. I may have a check ball
problem, but I ran out of daylight, so this is a mystery for next time.
Checking the check valve I took the gas line and
check valve off
today. The gas line was clean and had no gas in it in spite
of my cranking it a few weeks ago. If the check valve was
working properly, there should've been some gas up in there I'm
thinking. Shaking the check valve- it was silent,
meaning that it was stuck.
Here's the check
valve. Actual size is 1 1/16" long and about 3/4" in
diameter. The "top" of it is to the right, with the fine
threads (that go to a brass compression fitting), and the "bottom" is
to the left, with the coarse threads.
of the check valve, pretty clean looking. With good light,
you can see that there is NO check ball in there-
not what I was expecting.
here's the bottom of the check valve, and the
likely source of my problem- it's all gummed up with rust and
varnish. I found that I could not blow through it- it's
plugged up in some way.
a dental pick, pocket knife, and some Gumout, I
cleaned the crud off. Wow, did this get results!
The whole thing is brass, and still in pretty good shape. I
then inserted a small screwdriver into the hole, pushed, and to my
discovered that this check valve design does not have a ball in it
after all- and it's not supposed to. This design has sort of
a brass mushroom or rivet that slides up and down about 1/8".
The stem of the mushroom had been stuck by the gunk- the valve
closed. Now that I've cleaned it off, the valve can open, and
I find that it easily rattles- it looks like I've fixed
getting dark now, so
I'll have to wait for another day to put gas in and try starting the
Another attempt at starting Hey, I've got GAS
now! I choked the
cranked through 4 cycles with the mixer at 1 1/2 turns open, and my
thumb got wet with gas, just as it should be! Despite this,
still wouldn't start. I may need a new spark plug (this one
not fire under compression?), or maybe I have the mixer
misadjusted. I just remembered that have a spark plug in-line
tester that flashes a light when the plug fires; I'll have to dig it
out and give it a try.
Re-check timing... aha! I spent some real quality
time with the engine
today. :-) I didn't try to start it, but I decided
to recheck the timing, since I'm sure it's got spark and gas
now. I have the manual,
and it says that from TDC, the advanced spark should occur 4 1/2" ahead
of that on the flywheel. It turns out it's way, way
off. Like 127 degrees off! I had been thinking that
I checked it a while back and it was fine, but now that I look thru my
notes, I see that I checked it *before* I fixed the magneto trip lever,
and it was off by 30 degrees even then. Now that the trip
lever's working correctly, the timing is off by even more. I
also think I found the marked tooth on the crank gear, and it seems to
be correctly set or 1 hole off, maybe. In this photo, tooth E
has the newly discovered mark- you can see the paint is still stuck in
one recessed spot. Boy, this mark was hard to find.
I'm certain this is a mark as the edges of this gear are
machined. On the cam gear, there are what look like marks all
over the place. It's hard to see in the photo, but I'm pretty
sure A and B are casting defects. C and especially D look
like purposeful timing marks. You can see that the tooth E is
not in the middle of C and D.
It looks like they marked the recesses rather than the teeth on the cam
gear- it seems to be one hole off. I need to noodle this out
some more before taking anything apart.
Cam gear info Jeb L. mentioned that I can actually
how much each tooth on the cam gear affects the timing by counting the
teeth... I have 50 teeth on that gear, so 360
degrees/50 teeth= each tooth represents 7.2 degrees of
rotation. Hmm, now that I think of it though, maybe that
doesn't mean anything as the shape of the cam lobe behind the gear will
affect what goes on as well... The gear is 5 3/16" in diameter.
Even MORE on checking the timing
...I'll talk about timing here using inches of circumference
of the flywheel since that's how the manual refers to
timing... The whole flywheel is 53.75"
in circumference. I took measurements, and the
(advanced) spark was occurring 19" too LATE. Wow, I
need to adjust things for sure; no wonder the engine won't run.
remembered reading somewhere
that to adjust the push rod you must latch it out-
this takes pressure off both the magneto's latch block (the mag trip
finger rides underneath) and also the cam roller. By pushing
in on the side of the governor's latch lever while slowly turning the
engine, it will latch in place. Then you can loosen the bolt
and easily adjust the length of the rod. The longer the rod,
the more advanced the timing will be. So with my spark
occurring way too late, I need to lengthen the push rod. Once
locked back down, turning the flywheel slowly will reveal when the mag
measured the current rod, to
be able to gauge the effect of a change... from the trip arm hold-down
to the end of the latch finger, it was 2 13/32"- with this, I'm about
19" too late on the spark. I found that adjusting it to just
less than 2 17/32nds produced an advance spark that was right on the
button- exactly 4 1/2" (30 degrees) before TDC. I was amazed
that just 1/8" longer made such a dramatic difference in the timing.
following the manual, I
went to adjust the opening of the exhaust valve. By screwing
in the bolt on tip of the the rocker arm, I could get it set very close
(but not quite right) with the bolt screwed in all the way.
This didn't seem right to me... I figured that the adjustment
bolt should be somewhere in the middle, not jammed up against the
end. Hmm... head scratching...
I thought to check the
non-advanced setting of the timing (retard lever up), expecting it to
be around TDC. I found the effect of the lever was HUGE- it
changed the timing to 16" BEFORE TDC- that it was way, way
off!! Basically, the spark advance lever changed the timing
degrees! I didn't think this was right at all, so I
asked the Smokstak
antique engines forum about it, and Andrew M. and Chuck M. set me
straight. Both my problems- with the exhaust valve and
non-advanced timing are intertwined. As Chuck says: "It would
appear that if you are getting too many degrees rotation shift in
timing with the EK advance
lever in or out that the cam follower is riding on an essentially flat
part of the cam". This really cleared things up for
me. My cam gear is surely not correctly set. When
riding on a flat part of the cam, of course not much is going to happen.
pretty amazed at how very tiny adjustments to things have a big result
on the timing and run-ability of the engine.
I also measured my
crankshaft end, and it's 1 1/4" in diameter. Paul, the guy
that I bought the engine from, recently gave me a very nice crank
handle, but I find that it is for a bigger engine than mine.
Maybe I can trade it for one that will fit.
Taylor article find! I just discovered that
Magazine has a nice article about the Taylor Vacuum Engine's
history up on the web! It was originally printed in the
March, 1980 issue.
It's at http://www.gasenginemagazine.com/complete-archive/1243/
[Addenda- the entire article is no longer online at
Near disaster + Pioneer Gas-Up Today I went out
to Canandaigua to Gary L's place
the Pioneer Gas Engine Assn Gas-Up; we had great weather, sunny and
about 60 degrees. I loaded up the Taylor engine in my
van, and strapped it in in case it tried to slide forward.
was the first time I've taken the engine anywhere. The very
turn I took out of my street, I was surprised by the whole engine
flipping over onto its side inside the van!! It snapped off
oiler when it hit the toolbox I had next to it. It may be
repairable in the future if it can be brazed, but for now I have one I
can use that Paul had just given me a couple weeks ago. Lucky
me, it flipped over onto the pulley side. If I had put the
in the the van facing the other way, it would've flipped over onto the
mag side, and would've likely damaged lots of stuff, plus if it fell on
the mag side, I would've had gas spilling out of the gas tank vent
tube. I checked the flywheels and they still turn true, so I
didn't bend the crank, whew! I was very, very lucky to get
with no spills in the van and no bad damage. When the oiler
broke, somehow the small view glass at the bottom
can't find it; it's not in the van, it's not on the side of the road
where I pulled over. I did learn that the bottom piece
from the oiler, so I may be able to replace just the bottom if I can't
the Gas-Up was a lot
of fun. There were some unusual hit and miss engines there,
like a Massey Harris 1 1/2 HP with spoked flywheels and original paint,
and a Perkins 2 1/2, as well as some other nice runners.
There was a complete buzz saw cart rig for sale too. I'll
have pictures up shortly. I got some good advice on the
Taylor from Mark L., who's owned several of them. One thing
he mentioned that I didn't know was that the Wico magneto should take
25 lbs to pull the armature away from the core. Things that
could affect that are the magneto drive springs, and the strength of
the magnets. If it doesn't pull away within specification, it
could affect the timing of the trip.
Mark's encouragement, I
rotated the cam gear several teeth in an attempt to cure my retard vs.
advance timing problem, but I couldn't get it straightened
out. I need to get a piece of paper and write down results as
I change teeth to try and make some sense of it.
The cam gear is held on with a cotter pin and washer. I had
to rotate the flywheel to just the right position in order for it to
slide off enough to rotate it... in the wrong position, the cam gear
bumps into the flywheel shaft. I don't think there's quite
enough clearance to completely remove the cam gear from its shaft with
the flywheel and crankshaft in place, but it's very close.
You don't need to actually remove the cam gear to adjust the timing.
cam gear I was worried that perhaps I had an
gear- I know the past couple of owners didn't get the engine
running. Corresponding with Chris R. via email, he send me
this excellent close-up of his correct Taylor Type C cam gear:
is actually a much
larger image- if you right-click and save the image, it will save the
full size file.) I then manually scaled this picture down to
print it out exactly life size. I cut out the cam part,
leaving a cam-shaped hole in the paper. I slipped the
printout over my own cam gear, and it matches EXACTLY! So I'm
positive I have the correct gear.
Dimensions of my cam gear: -overall
outside diameter = 5 3/16" -distance from highest lobe on cam
to outside of teeth = 1" -cam gear thickness (width) at the
teeth = 1/2" -cam gear overall thickness near the center,
which includes the cam = 1 3/8"
(Note that the teeth along the edge make the overall gear a
little bit thicker than at the smooth center face area of the cam gear
that I measured here.)
that there are several
differences between Chris' gear and mine- Chris' gear has a hole
through the gear face, is stamped with "J 103" (=the correct number per
the parts list that is found in the owner's manual), and also has two
punched timing marks at the base of two adjacent teeth, highlighted at
the bottom of this picture. My gear has none
of these features. I know that the Taylor company bought
from several vendors to make their engines- the mixer is the same as an
Alamo engine for instance. I'm thinking that perhaps my cam
came from a vendor that just didn't stamp the part. My cam
small oiling hole in the middle of the flat side also (so the cam
gear's shaft can be oiled). I've seen another Taylor C
note: The timing marks seen above are exactly
opposite the very highest part of the cam. This is correct as
the one special marked tooth on the crankshaft gear points in EXACTLY
the same direction as the high point of the crankshaft. When
the piston is at inner (top) dead center- all the way in towards the
head- that tooth is also pointed straight at the head. This
would be the middle of the exhaust stroke. So in the middle
of the exhaust stroke, you want the exhaust valve open all the way.
timing tests I took the life-size photo of the
found which two marked teeth match up with mine; I marked them with a
Sharpie marker. I then tried to set the timing with the cam
gear in that position and found that I couldn't adjust the mag's trip
rod enough to bring it into time- so I thought the cam gear needed to
be rotated. I kept rotating and trying to time it,
and finally got it, but noticed that I was right back where I started-
no where near Chris' gear markings. Well now I've
got the advanced and non-advanced timing set correctly, and the exhaust
valve opening at the right time (just barely). But I see that
the exhaust valve doesn't stay open as long as it should. Per
the typical "spiral" timing diagram, it should be open more than a half
rotation of the flywheel. Currently, it's only open 120
degrees at most. I didn't see any way I could get it to stay
open longer because the push rod is only so long. After much
thinking, I finally realized a key point... since the cam is a set
shape, the rocker arm bolt length controls how long the exhaust valve
will be open! If I back the bolt out, making it "longer", it
will contact the rocker arm sooner, and the valve will stay open
longer. More adjusting & head scratching is needed,
for another day.
the new plug... I had 20 minutes free today so I thought I'd
toss in the brand new spark plug and see what happens... nope, it
didn't help/didn't start. I did check out my new oiler
though, and it seems to work ok.
year, Brian L. sent me
photos of his Taylor; it is the only photo I've ever seen of
an original muffler. From the original photo, it looks to be
roughly 4" in diameter. Here's 3 views of what it looks like,
including the line drawing from the sales brochure:
muffler addenda: Harry has sent me this close-up of his
original muffler, complete with measurements (thanks!). The
front plate is riveted on.]
Got a crank
guard Dave from www.FlywheelParts.com
found my web site, and it turns out that he had a reproduction crank
guard for sale. A guy from his club casts these out of
brass. I ordered one, and just got it today, and it's very
nice. You can even still read the part # cast into it,
T-174. I now see why most Taylors don't have a guard- when
installed, the tolerances are very close between the crank and the
guard, and if the guard's bolt comes loose, the guard will tip down and
hit the moving crank, breaking it.
brass crank guard
with the timing The last advice I got on my
problem of the retard
lever having too much of an effect was that I was off by 1 tooth on the
timing gear. I played around with this a bit today, and
discovered that moving the cam gear alone did not
affect this. I moved 1 tooth, 4 teeth, tried both ways, and
the lever effect was always the same... I ran out of daylight and
warmth before figuring things out.
Cart work Today it was a beautiful day in the 70s,
so I got
some rust stripping & painting done on the cart
ironwork. The "hammered finish" gray Rustoleum paint looks
GREAT. I got all the brace pieces painted.
& cart work Today it was another great day
in the 70s; I
painted some more of the cart metalwork. I still have to
strip & paint the wheels, axle, and axle braces, then buy some
I checked the timing gear, and compared it to my 4/16/06 photo
above. I rotated the cam gear one tooth CCW so that the
pinion gear is right between the 2 marks on the timing gear.
I'm pretty sure this is going to do the trick- this should get the
retard lever's area of effect onto a steeper part of the cam.
I still need to readjust the trip finger length to bring it into time,
then recheck exhaust valve timing, but I've run out of time for
today. My engine club's having a crank up next weekend and I
was really hoping to be able to start it by then.
It RUNS!- at last !!!!! Today I went out to Dana's place near Marion, NY
for the annual Pioneer Gas Engine Assn Gas-Up; we had great
weather again this year, sunny and in the 60s. [I've posted
I loaded up the Taylor engine in my conversion van, taking care to
strap it in much more securely than last year (when the engine tipped
over!). People brought about a dozen engines to run and
display. I asked Dana for help with my engine problem (that
the start/run-advance lever had way too much of an effect), and he told
me a very key piece of info... that the advance lever for these Wico
magnetos usually DOESN'T work right, and to just
forget about using the lever- "we all do it that way!" Just
set the timing to run good with the lever in the down/run position, and
then always keep it that way!! This is a simple solution that
I never considered- I've spent all this time trying to get that lever
to work like it should. It indeed should start and run just
fine even without using the lever.
we were now going to
ignore the advance lever (plus run the engine a bit slow), Dana had me
reset the trip finger rod length (and timing); we split the difference
between the factory-spec'd spark advance setting and TDC. My
adjustment is very sensitive- a small change in trip finger length
results in a large change in timing, but we got it just
right. We slid the Taylor out of the van, and tried to start
it up. The first pull, it puffed, which was the first smoke
I'd ever seen out of it! After a couple more tries, it
started up and ran! I couldn't believe it!! This
was GREAT!! Only one problem- it was hitting all the time-
never latching out to "miss". Listening to it run, you could
hear that it was just not up to the speed that it needed for latch-out
to occur- it was losing power somehow. Mark came over and
started to look at it. He remembered seeing it from last
year's Gas-up, and started to check it over. Dana lifted the
engine up to an easy working height with a handy forklift (everybody
should have one). The problem was that the exhaust valve was
opening too soon- that's why it was losing power. I was
amazed that Mark could see the problem and set it correctly just by
eye! After getting the exhaust valve opening and closing in
the right spots, we reset the timing to be correct (now), plus turned a
small screw on the arm that presses on
the flyball governor rod- I think this may change the latching
characteristics? With a spin or two, it started
right up, and after some gas and speed adjustment, ran smoothly,
latching out quite regularly. A HUGE
thanks to Mark, Dana, and everybody else that helped with
this! Now I need to get a muffler... :-)
have a 15
second digital video of it running on YouTube here.
has the same movie, but at a better resolution (this QuickTime
.mov file is about 2MB in size, and you'll need QuickTime 7 or the
H.264/AVC codec to view it). You can see the blue tape on the flywheel
flash by that I was using to time it. Using VirtualDub, I
viewed this video frame-by-frame to count the revolutions, and the
engine's doing 368 RPM here. The engine is rated at 450 RPM,
so we indeed have slowed it down a bit.]
funny story- when I packed
up to go, I
wanted to shut off the gas valve while transporting it. Smart
I counted the turns to close it and wrote it down. I also
photo of the knob. When I got it home, I looked at my note,
it said "1 3/4 turns". I opened it to that, and wanted to
everybody my great running engine... and it wouldn't start!
it was running really great an hour ago... so I double-checked the
picture on the camera, and it clearly showed the knob set to a different
spot than I now had it- more like 1 1/4 turns. I set it to
that and... Bob's yer uncle! It started up and ran again!
getting it running:
1) Forget about the Wico advance lever for good! Put it
down(=run), and leave it there always.
2) Do the setting of the exhaust valve FIRST, then set spark
timing. To set exhaust, it needs to open just before Outer
Dead Center (~30 deg) . You need to rotate the timing gear so that you
can then adjust the bolt in the rocker arm and have it about in the
middle of its range. Don't concern yourself with spark timing
at this point- you're just doing exhaust.
3) Now time the spark to Inner
Dead Center (TDC) or just before (since we want to run slow).
4) Don't completely block off the vacuum ports on the side of the
engine. Without the port open to air, it will load
the engine down and it won't get up to speed (heh, figured that out 2
TO START & RUN THE ENGINE: 1)
I don't use a hand crank; I've heard many
scary stories of broken hands, arms, etc.
2) Ensure that you use gas with oil mixed in for the Taylor engine-
between 1/4 and 1/2 pint of 30W ND (non-detergent) oil per gallon.
3) Fill the hopper with water.
4) Oil everything that moves ;-) Many cast iron parts have
small oil holes in them. Don't forget to oil the valve shafts
and the magneto bearings. Be sure the gears are
oiled. Place a few drops of oil in the channel on top of the
connecting rod in order to lubricate the wrist pin.
5) Turn each grease cup until firm. Then refill them to be
ready for future use.
6) Open up the drip oiler (flip lever straight
up) and adjust the knurled knob on top so that about 2-4 drops fall per
7) Open the mixer needle valve about 1 1/4
8) In my case, leave the magneto retard lever down, in the "run"
position (if yours works properly, you should flip it up at this
point. Once running, flip it back down to advance the timing.)
9) Prime the engine: kneel down on the magneto side of the
engine, and hold your thumb completely over the mixer opening and
carefully rotate the flywheel clockwise through an intake
stroke. You will hear the intake valve purr, your thumb
should get wet, and gas should drip out of the mixer.
If gas doesn't actually drip out, repeat this step. Once you
start the engine a few times, you'll know how much dripping out is
normal for your engine.
10) Stand up, go behind the engine, and with both hands grab the
flywheels on the top, rotate them back towards you until you feel the
compression stroke starting- it will feel firm; now give them a quick
hefty pull towards you, over the top.
11) If the engine doesn't start after a spin or two, re-prime the
12) If it *almost* starts to run, you can run
around to the side and choke it a bit by covering half the mixer
opening with your thumb.
13) Adjust the needle valve so the engine runs best and exhaust is not
excessive smoky. Black smoke=too much gas, blue smoke=too
much oil in the gas. (The Taylor will always be a little
smoky because of the oil mixed with the gas.)
14) The speed of the engine can be adjusted by turning the screw next
to the flywheel- clockwise for faster speed, CCW for slower.
15) Every hour or so of running, turn the grease cups about 1/4 turn.
on the Wico... I've now heard from several people
Smokstak.com that their Wico advance levers work just fine.
Hmm, so there IS still a mystery here...
Smoke Rings! I built a "muffler" today- I took 2
feet of 2
diameter exhaust pipe, a reducer, an elbow, and made a straight
smokestack for the Taylor. I ground down the outside of the
reducer until it almost fit inside the exhaust pipe, then I ground a
taper on the lip and pounded it in. I drilled and tapped in 3
screws for strength, and sealed it up with JB Weld. [addenda:
I later discovered that I had a problem trying to get both
elbow tight and keep the pipe vertical all at the same time.
solve this, I've used Al's idea, and taken a 1" electrical conduit nut
and put it on as a jam nut. Now the elbow can be snugged up
enough to run the engine without worry of the muffler getting loose and
tipping over from vibration.]
muffler detail- note locknut
great- blowing nice smoke rings
15-20 feet in the air. The engine runs a bit differently with
the straight pipe on it- not "missing" as much as it used to with no
muffler pipe at all; perhaps I need to readjust the mixture.
I won't be storing or moving the engine with this exhaust pipe in place
as I'm afraid it might crack the head where it's screwed in.
I've also finished the cart and reassembled it. I just need
to build a deck to hold the engine on top.
Harry sent me some email that he's just bought a Taylor Vacuum
Engine. On his flywheels (magneto-side), he can still read
the words "SPARK" and "VALVE", and took photos below. I can't
see these words on mine; it's possible that a former owner sanded them
off while cleaning up the flywheel, or maybe it never had
them. Harry's SPARK marking exactly
matches the spot that I measured on my own flywheel- right near the
edge of the cast hand-hold.
engine, the events
should occur when the SPARK or VALVE marks are lined up with the center
of the engine's push rod (meaning the mark is at 9 o'clock).
The spark advance lever should be in the down (=run/advance) position
when you set the timing.
Flywheel marks on Harry's engine
ad surfaces Harry included a photo of
advertisement from 1929- this is the first ad I've ever seen for a
Taylor. You can see that the price has been marked down by
someone, and that pulleys were available from the factory.
Valve Spring Info
Al M. from South Carolina called me yesterday for some help on his
newly-acquired Taylor. His valve springs were rusted away, so
I took mine off and measured them. Here's the data for the
hard to see, but the
valve washer is in fact cup-shaped so that the spring won't slip out
sideways. The valve lock washer has a bent tang that wraps
around the edge of the valve washer so that it won't slip off
Cart is Ready
I've finished putting the deck on the engine cart. All I need
now is to drill the 4 mounting bolt holes and get some strong arms to
help lift it onto the cart. I need to get it all done before
next weekend's show!
I took the engine off the skids and put it on the refinished cart; it
looks GREAT! Just in time, because I'm taking it to my first
engine show on Saturday. I'm REALLY looking forward to
got to examine the gas tank
closely, as well as the 2 cast iron engine supports- one sits at each
end of the gas tank. These are called "skid to
engine raising blocks" in the parts list. The tank
was made out of galvanized steel. I found that it had 2
soldered-up holes in the bottom from a previous accident. I
ran the engine a bit on the cart, and things looked nice and sturdy.
tank that sits beneath the engine
First Show- Pioneer Gas Engine Association
I loaded up the engine last night, and packed up my long list of tools,
oil, gas, parts, etc. today and drove to the Marion, NY show.
This is the first show I've ever exhibited at. The weather
forecast predicted sure thundershowers all day, but in fact, we never
got a drop of rain nor high winds. It was in the mid 70s,
sunny and humid. I got the engine unloaded with the help of a
fellow exhibitor acting as my brake man so I could control it as I
wheeled down my plywood ramp.
got my tarp up first thing
(expecting rain...), and set up a chair, then fired up the
Taylor. It started up easily just like it did at home, on the
first/second spin. It ran for 10 minutes, then mysteriously
coasted to a stop. I checked a couple things quickly, even
switched plugs, but it still wouldn't run. Paul & Tim
stopped by about this time to see it run, but it was
dead. So, we all worked on it a bit and FINALLY
realized that the points were no longer opening! The screw on
the lower magneto points had loosened and backed itself out, quite a
weird problem. I've run it a lot at home the past couple of
months and it was fine. I think it did it because people were
watching this time. :-) We discovered this was the
problem by taking off the front cover on the magneto, and watching the
points. (When working correctly, they will quickly pull apart
and you'll actually see a spark jump between them.) I reset
the points, putting some Teflon thread tape on the screw (hoping to
stop it from backing out again; I didn't have any LockTite with
me). Tim showed me that the bottom points can be kept from
rotating by lightly pinning it in place with a screwdriver.
If you don't hold it, you just rotate the points rather than driving in
the screw. After tightening this screw, it fired right up
it started to run
poorly. We had to adjust the gas (a LOT) to keep it
running. My usual setting of the mixer (for the past 2 months
of running) was always 1 1/4 turns open. Now it had to be 3
1/2 turns open to run! This was just wrong; I know that it
would normally be flooded with that setting. Plus, when
priming it, gas would not run out at the 1 1/4 turns like it
should. Finally, it quit all together. Something
was clearly wrong, but who knows what. I left it and went to
to eat and look at the other engines at the show. About 5:15
I finally got back to it, and figured out that the check valve was not
working quite right due to sediment contaminating it. I think
moving the engine onto the cart the other day and then driving it to
the show has dislodged some fresh crud. I cleaned out the
check valve, and it started right up! I ran it for about 40
minutes (getting it nice and hot) before it quit with the same problem
[2 weeks later: turns out no, I had just run out of
gas!]. By this time, most of the spectators were at the
tractor pull, so it was ok. I stuck around a while more when
I heard they were steaming some fresh corn on the cob with the Case
tractor. Delicious! I'll have to slosh out the gas
tank when I get a chance.
At the show, the Taylor on my newly-refinished
had been running it with
regular oil mixed with the gas as the owner's manual says.
With my brand new (=clean) exhaust pipe muffler, I could see that it
was running very sooty, so at the show I switched to 2 cycle outboard
motor oil mixed with the gas. This type of low ash/low
deposit oil wasn't even invented back in the 1920s.
Hopefully, it will keep my cylinder a bit cleaner and still provide
adequate lubrication for the forward power part of the piston.
I looked into why the engine wouldn't start since the show- removed
& cleaned the check valve & blew air back thru the gas
lines. Still wouldn't start... I was SURE everything was
clear, but I wasn't getting any gas when choked (no wet
thumb). Then I finally figured it out- I noticed when I
choked/primed it that the gas tank made a poonk-poonk sound when the
intake stroke occurred. It has never made
this sound before. Then I figured out why- I had never RUN
OUT OF GAS before! Putting in some gas, it started right up
and ran fine. <sigh> At least now I
know how to tell when I'm out of gas- the gas tank makes that
I got a good digital video of it shooting smoke rings up on YouTube.
If you don't see it below, or want a higher quality movie, it
is up at:
I'm getting better at fixing "won't start" problems!
I had run the engine a few times over the past couple months, noticing
that it was now "double hitting"-
when it was ready to hit, it would take TWO sucks/sparks to get it to
hit once. It was still running well,
it just would double hit. I figured that it was a temperature/humidity
change, as it was nicely adjusted to single-hit over the summer. Well,
the last time I ran it a couple weeks ago, I ran it as long as I
wanted, shut it off, and put it away. The next time, it wouldn't start.
I checked the spark with my in-line neon bulb spark tester, and it
showed that I had spark. So I took apart the gas line, and everything
looked good; I cleaned the check valve anyway. It still
start. I decided to check the problem I had had at the engine
show, and that was it! The point-setting screw worked itself
loose again. But THIS time it didn't loosen up so much that I
NO spark- I did indeed have spark- I was sure of that because of the
I think the problem was that the spark got too weak to ignite the gas
mixture at the orig setting. Once I properly re-adjusted the point
opening, it runs with just a single suck/hit like it should- so it
wasn't the weather after all, it was a weak spark causing the
double-hit. I'll have to remember that for future reference. It sounds
easy, "all you need is fuel, spark, and air", but there's 10 things
that could affect each of those!
So it's running fine again now! Need to get some Locktite...
also got a repro muffler
from an Economy
engine a few months ago- it has the same threads as the Taylor.
The one I got is made of solid brass- I lightly sanded/steel
wooled and clearcoated it. I just put it on the engine, and
shiny gold color looks great, matching the Wico magneto cover.
still have a brass reproduction Taylor crank guard to work on as well.)
Found a pump
I've been looking for something to run with the engine, and found this
nice looking Deming New Marvel water pump on eBay. It seems
like it's in decent shape; it turns freely. It originally
came with an electric motor mounted on the flat plate above the
flywheel, but can be run off a hit and miss engine using a narrow belt.
It was made in Salem, Ohio. I'm looking for some
operating instructions for it (how to lubricate pump piston, what is
the tire valve stem for, etc.). If I can get it going, I can
actually use it to pump creek water for the garden.
1/24/08: GEM Picture
I've just found out that my engine can be seen in the Feb/Mar 2008
issue of Gas Engine Magazine! They are doing a series of
about Gas Engines A to Z, and mine made it in for "Taylor". I
able to buy a single copy at the local Tractor Supply store.
5/4/08: Crank-Up I
brought my engine to the annual Pioneer Gas Engine Assn crank-up/picnic at Dana's today; very
weather & the engine ran just fine. There were a
dozen or so engines there, including a very unusual LaZier Neverstop 5
HP, made in Buffalo, NY. Paul brought his beautiful Silver
7/12/08: Fort Hunter, NY Engine Show As
luck would have it, I was out of town and was able to stop by the Tri
County Old Time Power Association's engine show at Schoharie
Crossing, NY (didn't bring my engine). This was a very nice
show. There were lots
of engines "doing" things, especially pumping water. One guy
had a beautifully restored Myers spray rig with a wooden tank that
wasn't leaking a drop. I saw not one, but THREE
Rider-Ericsson style hot air pumping engines. One of them, a
"Denny Improved Ericsson Engine" from around 1900 was fired
up and running- burning corn cobs, pumping water. There's
LOTS of monkey-motion going on when these engines run and are very nice
to watch; I had never seen one before & I really appreciated
seeing this one run. Another guy had a large milking/vacuum
exhibit, but no Taylor Vacuum Engine.
7/26/08: Marion, NY Engine Show-
Pioneer Gas Engine Association I
brought my engine to this one (my "local" show) on Saturday despite
threatening skies, and was very
glad I did. There weren't very many engines here this year
for some reason, maybe 40-50. The rain stayed off
us, my Taylor ran
very well all day, and I was quite happy at that. It even
started with people watching! :-) I also
brought my Deming pump, and met someone that knew quite a bit about
them and was able to give me some good advice. I got
frustrated at my cheap-o tarp in the wind, and
have now bought one of those with the expandable frames for next year.
8/9/08: Canandaigua Pageant of Steam Wow,
THREE engine shows in a year! I was planning to bring my
Taylor to this show on Saturday, as it was featuring "oddball" engines,
but it rained very hard on Friday. Not wanting to get stuck
in the mud, I just went on Saturday as a spectator. This is a
premier show; a whole day is not enough to see the whole thing.
They recently rescued a giant engine (Fishkill Corliss), and
parts to it were laying out everywhere on display. One
flywheel nut was as big as my hand. The steam displays are
getting bigger each year. A guy there (Elmer Neufeld) had an outstanding
steam display. He had everything, including a copper clad
boiler mounted on a trailer. He had many things belted up to
it that he could turn on and off, and every time I walked by he was
demonstrating something new. He must've been exhausted at the
end of the day, but he put on a very interesting show. The
big Allis-Chalmers generator set inside the steam building was running
faster than I've ever seen it run, 74 RPM- very, very impressive to see
something THAT huge move so fast. Just as I was leaving, I
stopped in the flea market and stumbled upon a repro instruction
manual, parts list, and price sheet for the Taylor for a very nice
5/3/09: Crank Up I ran
the Taylor at our club's crank up at Gary L's place today; WHAT a
beautifiul day! Sunny, in the 70s, you couldn't ask for a
May day. One guy brought and ran a very old inverted vertical
engine- a very odd triangular design that caught everyone's eye.
Marion Show I
took the Taylor to my club's show, another nice day, and the engine ran
pretty good too. I got to try out my new sturdier canopy.
brought my Deming water pump (still not restored yet), and my Junior
Engineer model steam engine (made in 1946). I'm working on a
way to run the
model at shows without using the live steam tank (which requires 110v
Pageant of Steam Today
was extremely good weather for the Canandaigua, NY Pageant.
Other recent years,
it's been muddy or 95 degrees, but today was in the 70s, and had been
dry a while now- just perfect. Unfortunately, I didn't have the
engine-transporting vehicle as the rest of the family needed it, so I
just went as a spectator. I thought my camera battery's
ran out awful quick- I hadn't yet seen everything... until I got home
and discovered I'd taken 418 digital photos on my one recharge- I guess
I don't have anything to complain about with that! I've got
photos from all the shows that I need to upload once I get the time.
were two Taylor Vacuum Engines at the show! One was not on my
list- I never met the guy that owned it, and the other- I got to meet
Bernie V. at the show, who I'd talked with via email before; very nice
to meet in person. His Taylor still had the "SPARK" and
markings stamped on the face of his flywheel.
Marion Show I
took the Taylor to my club's show, and added a few little things to my
display- an antique apple peeler, plus I found an art easel to hold
some info on Taylor Vacuum engines I'd found. The engine ran well all
day. I still haven't found a small air source for my Junior Engineer
model steam engine; maybe by next year. I had a really nice time and
got to talk to a bunch of great people.
Pageant of Steam - Finally got vacuum valves! Today
(Wednesday) was the first official day of the Pageant in Canandaigua,
NY, but many have been here since last Sunday
setting up. I didn't see any Taylor Vacuum Engines at the
this year, and I only had a half day, so didn't bring mine. I ran into
Bernie again, and it was nice to see him, plus I talked to some other
very nice guys too. I was at the right place at the right time today,
years of looking I finally found a set of vacuum pump valves for sale-
a vendor was parting out an engine- and bought them! I caught him just
as he was about to leave the show for the day, so I got very lucky. I'm
sure I'll have to have some thin spring steel disks punched out to go
inside, but these particular cast iron parts are very hard to find, and
I was thrilled to finally get them.
9/25/10: Duanesburg show? I
stumbled upon a small engine show in Duanesburg, NY today, at the Canal
Street Railroad Museum. See pix and more info in the Show Pix
area of this web page. One guy there had a vacuum powered
can crane, very cool! [update- I think these guys may be from
the Hudson-Mohawk chapter of the Pioneer Gas Engine
Association over at www.TheGasUp.org]
2011: Got some valve disks now, too! I
just met Carl via email; he's a toolmaker nearby and made some spring
steel disk valves to replace my rusted ones (Thanks,
Carl!). He also made a new mixer knob for his own
even a muffler that both look indistinguishable from the originals;
he's a very skilled guy.
6/26/11: Got a butter churn... and another
got a nice Dobson butter churn with a pulley, about 14 gallons at a
local estate sale, and then from the same nice guy what now appears to
be a 2.5 or 3 HP Waterloo Boy! It's in pretty good shape,
a lot of original paint left. I'll be starting up a separate
page for that, but I'm thrilled to finally find another engine!
@#f!$n%&# Vacuum Valves Ok, the
screws are really rusted in there on those disk valves. I've
damaged the slot on them a little, and now I've been soaking the vacuum
valves in PBlaster for weeks, tapping them occasionally, etc.
I got a really good, perfectly sized Craftsman screwdriver
with a grooved face for gripping, and I finally managed to
screw out of one of the valves! I now know that it is a
flathead countersunk screw of size 8-32 x 3/8" long. The other one is
really stuck. I
heated it up with an inadequate Bernz-O-Matic to no avail. So
tried an Easy Out... which I promptly broke off in the core of the
screw. Great, now I have a hardened steel core on my
screw. :-( This was getting tricky, now.
want to damage the valves because they are impossible to find.
I bought a few new dremel tools tips- a thin carbide cutter, and
diamond tipped one. I have almost spent as much on tools to
the screw out as I did for the parts in the first place! I
finally ground the outer part of the screw out enough to hit the tip of
the Easy Out with a drift which popped it out, whew! Now I'm
in business. I took the thin diamond cutter and very
hollowed out the core until I just started to see threads.
too much there to pick out, so I will drill and recut the threads.
a nice advertisement! There doesn't
seem to be many old advertisements out there for Taylor Vacuum
Engines. I lucked out and got a really nice and clean
example of one of the best of them- the elusive and rare yellow
pamphlet- "Taylor Vacuum Engines for Better Service".
5/2012: Got ANOTHER nice ad! Now
I was lucky enough to get another
nice Taylor pamphlet- "The Last Word in a Milking Machine Power Plant".
Fixed the Vacuum Valves Well, I finally
got a Round Tuit today, and decided to tackle the vacuum valve that had
the broken off screw. I got the proper tap for 8-32 and
correct # drill bit, and carefully ran the drill thru the hole using a
drill press (to be sure I was nice and straight). I then took
the tap, lubricated it with some Liquid Wrench, and carefully worked it
through the old threads. This worked perfectly! It
drove out all the broken pieces of screw threads that were still in
the threads- they stuck to the tap as they came out like
rings. The valve threads are all cleaned out now, with no
Spark Plug Info I got an email from Jeff
who noted that the Taylor C Manual doesn't give any advice on spark
plugs. When I bought my Taylor, it had an old/rusty-looking "Auto-Lite
F11" plug in it, and I am still using it. I have to clean the
carbon off it every now and then using carb cleaner and a pick.
I also bought a modern spare/replacement for it,
and that one is an "Autolite 3095". I have used it on
occasion, and it works fine. They are both gapped at .025".
I believe that the difference between "old" plugs
modern ones is that the old plugs had a smooth glazing over the
insulator tip, while the new ones are not glazed. The new
ones have natural/bare porcelain on the insulator tip.
So the new ones tend to foul up with carbon a little quicker
since it has an easier time sticking to (relatively) rough
porcelain. If you have an old/original plug, you might be
better off cleaning it and re-using it.
Original Paint Color Examples If
wondering what the original green paint color looks like, I have these
two photos I found on the internet over the years that I think show the
color well... if you right-click and save the images they should appear
a bit larger for you. If I had to describe the color, it's sort
of an olive green. My own engine seen above is not the original
color; it's too green.
page was instantiated Oct. 14, 2004, and last updated Sep. 29, 2016.
Text, photos copyright 2004-2014 (except 'taylorcut.jpg'
diagram, 'StoverWicotrip2.jpg', 'corliss1876.jpg',
'TayPiston.jpg', and the advertising images.).