Smokstak Bulletin Board

Original Condition
Where do you draw the line?

I was talking to an engine buddy the other day at work about his "original" engine. The more he talked the more un-original it got. Seems the only original parts to the engine are the block, head, flywheels, and timing gears. He made up a new piston, connecting rod, valves, and on and on. This made me start to wonder, where you draw the line on what's considered original. If you have to replace piston rings for instance, or re-babbitt the main bearings, can the engine still be considered original. I have a 4hp Witte headless that I picked up recently. Over the winter I have to bore out and put in valve guides, the valves are fine, but the bores are worn. If I go to sell it in the future will it still be considered all original? Just my afternoon ponderings, wondering what everyone else thinks. – Paul

Paul you just opened a can of worms! – Marty

Can of worms is a good description. Original, to me, in the engine business, would be, as shipped from the factory, un-altered. The other can of worms is the definition of "RESTORED". To me, Restored would mean replacement of any worn parts, or coatings with closely matched parts or material to what the manufacture used. Engine repaired, and running could mean that available parts were used to make the flywheels move. I agree that we need a standard to identify the condition of an engine. Most people are basically honest, but in your case, I think “original” does not apply. – Pat

Well, Paul I consider an Engine ORIGINAL if it has its original paint on the flywheels and block, which are of course the main engine components. Just another opinion. – Larry

I think it is funny, sad and dishonest when an ad reads "Original" condition, except for cracked head and patch on cylinder, flywheels wobble only a little bit and it has a different mag. There are very few "original engines". I would classify these engines as being equipped as they left the factory with little or no mechanical wear and a majority of the original paint. Several years ago, a "heavyweight" Avery tractor arrived at our show. It was only used one day and then put away in the barn. It was as close to original as I think a piece of equipment could be. I know of one dealer that calls a restored tractor as one that has at least 50% of it's parts and a running tractor is one that can be turned over (regardless of the length of the bar needed to do so). He calls extreme pitting in bearing journals as a better place to hold oil. You be the judge. If you agree with him, I'm sure he would be happy to sell you something. So I guess as always, you have to measure a person’s integrity when they give a description. The word "except" should never be used in the same sentence as "original". I guess it is good they at least tell you the "exceptions". Many won't. As in anything "buyer beware" and this hobby is no different. There are crooks out there who only want your money and they don't care if you don't know the difference. Many "original" engines have been sold to unsuspecting customers, only to find out they have been duped. Normally, if it is too good to be true, it is even a better lie. As the dollars increase in this hobby it will bring dishonest sellers to the surface. My 2 cents. --Mark

My previous post was off track from your original question pertaining to your engine. I guess I needed to vent. You asked whether or not to call your engine original after some repair. I guess I would say, if it is not original from the factory, then it is not original. Like in my last post, there are very, very few original engines. The fine line would be if someone changed the plugs or igniter points would it still be original? Definition of original is no. If the paint on your engine is original, I would call it original paint. The rest I would clarify up front what you fixed and not call it original. If the paint is not original but repainted as close to original as possible, and all the parts are in “as new” working order, then the whole engine would be classified as "restored to original condition". They are even very few of these "restored to original condition engines". It takes months if not years to do one of these. All gears must be as new, the bore must be as new, all widgets and gadgets must as new. I guess the point I am making is, a good running engine is a good running engine and should be marketed that way. An "original" engine is near impossible to find and probably belongs in a museum. A "restored to original" engine is worth the undertaking, as the joy you will get from accomplishing such a feat will make you proud and if needed, could be marketed as such. I guess I am up to 4 cents now. -- Mark

What about if it is missing 50% of the original paint? That is not how it left the factory. No different than if it was missing the original mag. That’s just my way of looking at things. – Allen

An engine is only in its original condition between the end of the assembly line and it's first use. Anything after that is in a different condition to how it was supplied from new. Unless you are buying or selling an engine, this is a pretty irrelevant point. If it is one of your own engines that you have lovingly restored, or not, yourself, then as long as you are happy with the finished result, does it really matter? You restore it to the degree and level of completion of which you yourself see fit, so at the end of the day, the finished product is exactly what you intended. If it is a sale or buy item, then a list of what repairs/modifications have been done gives the buyer a basis on which to make an informed decision as to whether they wish to buy. – Matt

I call my engines "Barn Fresh" and have pondered many times, if I should "RESTORE" them. Sure it's good to look at a nice shiny engine, that someone has "RESTORED" to Better than ORIGINAL. To me "Barn Fresh" Original has more value than the Restored. -- Gary

Does anybody know of shows that give prize ribbons for engines? Around here they judge tractors and award different types of ribbons/trophies and on engines they do a slow rpm test. I’m not sure if they get anything, but I was just wondering what other shows do -- Sonny

I have heard of trophies and ribbons for engines, but I’ve never participated in a show where they did it. Twenty years ago I was at a show that said they were going to do this, but my trailer was loaded and I was gone before it happened. Many shows, ours included, give a ribbon to each exhibitor or member who registers at the office. It is not given as a prize, but as a thank you from us for coming and a means to identify who is exhibiting in the crowd. At our show, and most, it shows you are a participant in putting on the show, and you get one whether you have a Maytag or a Springfield. Competing is not part of it. Any show that wants to encourage competition amongst exhibitors is looking for trouble. The neat and super rare engines always attract a crowd and are a very important part of any show, but the common engines have huge appeal because they are what most collectors are willing or able to own, or what they identify with. Even the guy with the nicest stuff probably owned an Economy or an M at one time and remembers when they were starting out. I got out of collecting one cylinder cars because the car shows were gravitating towards the muscle cars, and big trophies and us guys with the horseless carriages were treated like the red headed step child. I had a curved dash Olds at a show years ago and some guy gave me a bunch of stuff about how his Mustang could blow the doors (which the olds doesn't have) off my little olds. I looked him square in the eye and said "Electric starters are for _____". End of me and cars, and end of him talking to me! -- Joe

I attend a show in southern Ohio where they give a trophy for the slowest running engine. I really like the idea because it doesn't take a high dollar engine to run slow but someone to take the time to tinker with the engine to make it slow. Last year’s winner was an Associated and the year before it was an Economy. It makes for a little competition but good clean fun competition. I always look forward to it even though I haven't even been close to winning yet. It gives me something to try and win and I don't have to go and spend big money on a engine to try and win. – Tom

Someone in this thread, referred to the dictionary for original. To me, original can be used as a noun, as in, this is the original. Or as an adjective, as in, this is the original part. When describing something, look at how the word is used and then ask questions. Original could mean as it left the factory, or as it appears, today, un-altered in parts replacement as it left the factory. Original could mean, restored, with all factory original and correct parts. Again, restored covers a lot of ground. As stated, let the buyer beware, and ask questions. – Pat

It would seem to me, that if an engine is repaired with original (NOS) standard factory replacement parts, then that engine has been restored to original condition. No machine work, or welding etc. on cast parts, or accessories. The rest seems like a bunch of knit picking to me. The companies did make factory replacement parts. -- Chuck

My thoughts are, if it is put back with like parts and looks as it was intended without a bunch of machine work then I would call it (Correct ) However, 99% paint and factory everything gets the pure award. Mine are anything but pure or even correct because I just run them and have fun. – Randy

I guess what I'm trying to say is: even if it has original paint, how am I going to know if some farmer didn’t change the cylinder sleeve in my 1919 IHC "M" back in say 1927 or 1932, or 1948. If it was repaired with original replacement parts and there are no alterations to the original design. I would say it is in original CONDITION. Unless my DAD and GRANDFATHER were the only owners, and I happened to ask them what repairs were made, how would anyone be able to tell the difference? I'm sure there are a few sellers out there that would swear to anything, but common sense tells me that if the engine was not under the control of some trusted family member and we think to ask, who knows? Back in 1954 when I was 6 yrs old I would have had to think about asking my grandfather about something he had for a long time, before he died. To ask him if something was original from the factory at 6, I just don't think it would have come into the conversation. My DAD mainly cared whether the thing worked or not as he was never a collector. So how could you truly know from a third party, that you really don't know, about something he really doesn’t know about. ORIGINAL CONDITION is about the closest most of us are ever going to get to. –CHUCK

How about "Original engine but not necessarily in original condition"? I've probably used the term original parts to distinguish from remakes, and they certainly are original even if not in original condition. Saying good used parts could mean reproduction used parts also. I don't feel saying an engine is in original condition is dishonest, this isn't saying it's as it came out of the factory, but about as good or better, regardless of any work done on it over the years. Interesting thread but hope none of you are losing any sleep over this. – Ed

I believe that it all depends on what level of nit picking one cares to indulge in. Is there any national sanctioning body that provides a definition of what an "original" engine really is? It would seem to me that if an engine is still assembled just as the manufacturer designed it, then it is still in original condition. If the normal addition of repair parts has taken place, or that normal maintenance, or repair procedures have been followed, then the engine is in original condition. If the engine has been modified from its manufacturers design, then it is not original. Think of the hot rodder’s modification of high compression heads, multiple carburetors, etc. That is not original. My Fairbanks 2 Hp dishpan has a sleeve in the cylinder. The bore was in pretty bad shape requiring this work to be done. Is the engine original? If it isn't, what is it? Repaired, refurbished, rebuilt, reconditioned, remanufactured, restored, or should it be declared as now butchered? It doesn't look any different, has the same bore as before and you wouldn't know it after a cursory look if I didn't tell you. I think we need a new engine category which we will call "Pristine" for those purest that can accept only an engine in its original factory condition, which has never been repaired, dented, scratched, soiled by oil, or grease and has never has gasoline, kerosene, or other fuels run through the fuel tank. All other engines can then be called less than pristine. Then the rest of us can get on with enjoying all the other engines we have, whatever may have happened to them over the years. Otherwise, if you have to tear down an engine and look it over with a magnifying glass, and use precision measuring devices to determine if it is indeed an original, then for all practical purposed it can be truthfully stated that the engine is in original condition. The installation of replacement parts, be they original manufacturer, or aftermarket supplier, to restore the engine to the original factory specification, or condition, should not prevent one from calling the engine an "original". As for painting, paint does not last forever and as long as the new paint job looks like the factory paint job, just leave well enough. -- Russ

i agree with what Ed said. You can't compare our hobby with the car people and their cars. Remember our engines helped people with limited money and they were sold as labor saving devices. One must remember most of our engines are 75 years old or older. When better times came, or when people got electric into their houses they neglected and forgot about their old engines. Some went to the scrap drives in WW2. Others were left outside to rust away. Some people still valued their old engines and preserved them for future generations. Now in the year 2003 many people are getting into our hobby and I for one think that's great. The problem is that this new generation of collector wants to only find/buy mint condition engines. They think it's like the car hobby and everything must be perfect. What I think is original is an engine that has all the parts that came with it from the factory. Sure it's neat to find a engine with original paint and decals on it, but sadly that’s not always the case and if you find a engine with the oiler, muffler, crank guard and starting crank consider yourself very lucky. A cart or factory cart is an added bonus. Almost all original engines have had a mishap somewhere along their long history. A broken rocker arm brazed together or a head brazed or welded. I don't think that takes away from the original concept, but then again I really don't give a dam what the (“I have only perfect engines in my collection people think”) I enjoy running and rebuilding and restoring my less than perfect engines. Henry Ford once said, the Lord must have loved the common folks, because he made so many of them. – Chuck

I totally agree with Russ, Both Chucks, and Paul V. I totally restore mine to the best of my ability and I also paint them as close to original as I can. It seems that on a post a couple of weeks ago this constitutes them to be only considered as "BOAT ANCHORS". When a person comes across an engine that has no paint and is rusted solid, and you take it and repair with old parts, new parts or make the parts you create something of a monster according to some. Well here is my opinion on the matter. I bought and paid for the engine, I also bought or made the parts, and paid for every other thing and I think this makes this engine mine and until someone else buys and pays for everything for me it remains mine and what I do with it is still my own business. – Paul

Wow, did I open Pandora's Box or what! Here's my simple little take on matters, If it has all original parts, be it factory replacements or well made duplicates (and I mean well made), I would refer to the engine as original. As a machinist who does a lot of repair work and small production runs, I know how substitutes and alterations can occur at a factory. So where would you draw the line? I'm sure that when these engines were built there were a lot of alterations and modifications to the blueprint. So, if it came off the assembly line like that, fresh out of the factory, it's not original? I guarantee if you went to any factory now, and randomly picked a product you would find at least one difference from the "model". It’s just my opinion and I never sold one without first telling the guy(or gal) what I put into it. Besides it makes me feel good to be able to say I replaced this, or had to machine that, or whatever. It always amazes me when you go to a car show and ask a guy what he did to his car and the response is " well I had the body done by such and such, and the engine was rebuilt by so and so" and on and on. Thanks for all the responses, it's always interesting to see all the differing views about our hobby. -- Paul


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