Stearns and Western Electric

Mike Schweikert

Subscriber
I have been working on this deal for a long time, and finally got them home.

One Stearns 1500W and two western electric 15B plants..

The Stearns is the big brother to the 850 plant I already have. The story I got on it, was that it was bought in Canada new, and brought down here. It wasn't used much and has sat for many years. It is not stuck though, and still has its hand crank. The control box is rusted but can be redone, it has glass sight tubes for the radiator, gas tank and oil level. It still has the original mag wrench with feeler gauges wired to the radiator support. I actually have a piece of factory literature that matches this plant and its dated 1920

I looked over the 15Bs. They are both complete and aren't missing the shroud covers not shown in the pics. One is a little nicer than the other, and actually has the soldered square can with a screen that sits in the fuel bowl casting; for the carb. One has a car coil and perhaps it was run bypassing the gen end. THe nicer one was used about 30 years ago. Don't know about the other one. Both have complete switchboards.

Should be interesting projects. Anyone have a wiring diagram and mechanical info?
 

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Tim B

Subscriber
Nice catch there. Keep us informed on your progress. I believe Coolspring in 2019 is featuring lightplants!
 

Mike Schweikert

Subscriber
Yes they are 32/40 volt units. Boy are they HEAVY.. sliding one around on the trailer was torture. Some sort of caster frame in their future.

Man am I glad son#2 is home from Penn-Tech college doing his machinist internship nearby. Sure is nice having the muscle to horse these around:O

BTW, anyone else have a 1500W Stearns?. Also I noticed the serial on the one western electric has a V stamp. Anyone know what it means? I could use a wiring diagram for the western as well as a manual if someone has a copy please...
 

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Mike Schweikert

Subscriber
So I started to monkey with them. The green Westinghouse was stuck, but not too hard. A pipe wrench got it loose. Nothing else seems stuck, and the fuel pump works. Its stiff to turn, but probably hasn't in 30 years...

The other Westinghouse is hard stuck. I did the pb blaster and torch bit. It started to move and I could move the piston about 2 inches up and down. It was stuck nearly at top dead center. Well I got on it harder and it moved down further and is really stuck now. I suspect there is rust below on the walls and the piston has run itself into it. Now we are doing the ATF bit and the flame burning treatment. It will take some time...

The Stearns is loose and probably will run. I need to pull the mag and dress the points and replace a spark wire. The carb will need to come off to be cleaned too. The gas cap was stuck, its a brass cap in a brass thread fitting soldered to the tank. It promptly came off the tank when tried.....oh well another fix...
 

Mike Schweikert

Subscriber
I worked on the stuck Westinghouse for a bit. I got the carb cleaned and got the stuck fuel pump plunger out and disassembled and cleaned. It still is stuck for now.


Went over the Stearns. Took the mag off, cleaned the points and oiled it. It works fine. Then tried to start it. No compression. Pulled the head and did the valves. Put back on, no compression. Pulled the jug, piston slid out the bottom. It has two 3 inch 3/16 compression rings. They were original and stepped. They also had a end gap of 070....pic shows old on left and new on right.


So new rings, ball hone, and now stuck. The piston came out the bottom and ive tried installing top down and bottom up. The new ring end gap is 016 in the cylinder. I cleaned the ring lands with a broken ring as usual and used the small engine compressor that I have used countless times. As I can see a slight bevel on the top side, I tried that. Wont get in. Then flipped over and tried that. No dice. I tightened the crap out of the compressor, and It just cannot squeeze it enough it seems. Next piece I will try is a real ring land scraper/cleaner and see if that helps. I have never had an issue with these old engines like this, usually it is a 30 second job to pop a piston it using a hammer handle. I do not want to get too gorilla with it...


Oh yes, I did get a treat for these to display with too.....

BTW, Generator Gus, have you seen this, any advice?
 

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Vanman

Subscriber
As a very long time bulb collector, I LOVE your bulbs!! :D

Maybe run them with just a bit of external resistance to make them last much longer, especially if using them while the generator is running. And of course be careful with them. Their filaments are fragile. :brows:
 

Elden DuRand

In Memory Of
Mike:

I think that your problem with the rings is that the new ones are bottoming out in the bottoms of the ring grooves and can't be compressed enough to fit into the cylinder.

You may want to take the piston to a good machinist to turn the grooves deeper. Just make sure the grooves aren't widened in the process.
 

Mike Schweikert

Subscriber
Yes, that appears to be the culprit. The new ones are 180 thou thick and the originals are showing at least 100....this is a first to me!

Asking Dave Reed for options...

Thank you:)
 

GeneratorGus

New member
Mike, never ran into that problem, but think Elden has the the easiest solution. The piston probably has plenty of thickness and won't be affected by a few thou. of deepening in the grooves, that is of course depending on if you have a lathe. If not Dave Reed should be able to help.

I have a Stearns and a Western Elec., but both didn't need any internal work, just cosmetic stuff.

Just for the record, Fuller & Johnson also marketed the same unit Western Electric offered. I had one once and should have kept it as it was the only one I've ever seen. They were both 1500 watt. Also I've never run into the 800 watt version.

GUS

PS: I've also often mistakenly said Westinghouse instead of Western Electric.
BTW, Westinghouse made an 800 watt light plant, what a piece of junk, I know, I have one.
 
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