The Stationary Engine Mailing List relies on the latest technology for its existence; the members using computers and the internet to exchange information. This month there have been a couple of breakdowns in that technology. First of all, the List went quiet for a few days, with messages disappearing into cyberspace, due to some problems with the main computer which handles the List traffic. We are all so used to a high volume of mail from the List, that if there's nothing for a couple of hours, we KNOW there must be something wrong. A couple of days after that, I left the comforts of home for a family holiday in the south west of England, fully equipped for mobile communications, but that, too, failed on the second day, leaving me isolated from the rest of the world. Despite having no means of keeping up with the conversations for the last week, I did have the rest of the messages from the past month and from those I've selected the latest topic for the readers of GEM. Coincidently, given the failures of current technology, the chosen subjects relate to the modern day use of the technology of the past.

One of the first pieces of literature most engine men acquire is the manual for their particular engine, which is a great source of information, from starting tips to useful information to keep the engine in good running order for as long as possible. One member of the List wanted to see what the others thought about following the repair advice given in his engine manual.

* The Economy book says to use one pound of "sal ammoniac" to a gallon of water and use to seal up cracks in water jackets. What is sal ammoniac and has anyone ever used this method to seal small cracks? Never was any good at chemistry!

The List is blessed with folk from all walks of life, as well as all ages and geographical locations, so there soon came some responses, both the technical and the practical from those who had tried using it.

* Sal Ammoniac is Ammonium Chloride. I have made, in the past, a thick paste of iron filings, Ammonium Chloride and water to use as a sort of 'mortar' or filler for repairing small holes in castings - it seemed to work.

* You've already gotten an answer. I'll chime in and add that I got sal ammoniac in brick form from McMaster-Carr. A brick might be a bit hard to dissolve in water, but one could check to see if they have it in powder form.
Sal ammoniac bricks are used for cleaning the tips of soldering irons. I'm sure there are other uses, too.

* Sal ammoniac is an archaic term for ammonium chloride, NH4Cl. It is an irritant to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system so be careful if you use it.

* Another thing that works very quickly and effectively to rust iron or steel (should be a good replacement for sal ammoniac in this application) is the ferrous chloride solution resulting when you take a jar of muriatic acid and add steel wool to it till no more dissolves and no more bubbles are evolved. It's a pretty green solution, and it'll rust iron or steel in no time. Also, applied with something like a cotton ball to bright zinc plated bolt heads and almost instantly rinsed off, it turns them black. The solution doesn't keep well, as it oxidizes and precipitates out yellow rust sludge. It remains an effective rusting agent, however!


* I used it twice and it works well for me; I ordered the stuff by the pharmacist, got four pounds in a plastic container.
I did it another way, and warmed the solution in the hopper with the help of an immersion heater. Put an airhose in the hopper too with minimum pressure to circulate the solution. At 100-110 degrees, I let the solution go in a bucket and waited for the block to cool down to normal room temperature. Did this four times and all the cracks were closed by rust. Than it needed a good rinse and clean up for the tools.

* That is a neat way of doing it. I've got an engine I may try it on. It has a hairline crack in the head, and I just got to thinking about the write ups in the old manuals and figured it was worth a try.

* How about a good cleaning of the inside of the hopper and using a little Quik Poly. This fast setting epoxy is like water and will run into a crack and in a few moments you will have a solvent proof, water proof filled crack. The Quik Poly is good to 300°F as I recall.

* If you plan to use this sort of approach for water hopper cracks or for holes in fuel tanks, the Quik Poly folks recommend using tape on the outside until the Quick Poly sets up. Either that or use a LOT of Quik Poly!!


* I would agree that when coating one should attempt to keep the Quik Poly on the inside of water jacket only and avoid getting any against the outer wall of the cylinder

* I see just one problem with this method. When you coat the inside of the hopper, you diminish the effectiveness of the heat transfer. I know this will not be a problem with most, as most of us run the engines slow. BUT, something like a shoebox FM D is gonna get way too hot then. Just a thought to consider.


As is often the case with this type of discussion, it revived some memories of this method being used in the old days.

* I remember my late father (a railwayman with the Queensland Government railways) telling me about how the big square overhead railway water tanks were built.
Their sides consisted of as many square cast-iron panels as required, all identical, and slotting into each other. They must have been about 4 feet square, and stacked probably 2 panels high and as many long and wide as required.
The gaps were then "rust sealed", by ramming in the sal-ammoniac and iron filings as you described. The initial (and any later) water leakage did the rest.
They would not have been "small" cracks between the panels, either.
This method would have allowed easier transport and handling to erect tanks of any capacity.
Thanks for reminding me about this. I had forgotten.

* Thanks for the information from the past. Using sal-ammoniac must have a pretty common thing and used for a long time to have been published repairs in the owners manuals of many engines. I believe I am going to give it a try on this engine as the crack is a hairline one in the head. It is so fine that I did not realize it was there when I painted it. Course bifocals probably do not help either!


So those who've tried it can vouch for the success of this old remedy, as recommended by the manual.
Around the same time as we had this discussion, someone asked who used their old engines for practical purposes. Not belting them up to various items for displays, but genuinely putting them to work. Some answers were more than a little tongue in cheek .

* I spent all day Saturday limbing up oak trees at the house and cutting those limbs up with the 6HP Hercules buzz saw. I find the buzz saw a much safer alternative to a chainsaw. Especially on small branches that a chainsaw tends to grab and sling into your shins. Besides I can run the buzz saw in shorts and don't have to be all dressed up in chain saw protective clothing, earplugs, and safety shield.
I'm curious to know who uses their antique engines and accessories to do real work around the house/farm. Tell us about the engines you are using and what you are doing with them.

* You've got it all wrong my boy. Instead of using your engines to do work, do as my brother and I do, USE THEM TO GET OUT OF WORK . For example, on a clear spring day instead of cutting the wood, crank up an engine, pour yourself a glass of lemonade, sit down in the yard and listen to it run! Instead of pumping water, go to an engine show! Instead of cleaning up the shop, go over to a buddy's and help him mess up his shop with your engine project!

* I use them to take up all the spaces I can find in my buildings and sheds so that there are only little paths to walk around in!


* Gee guys, this MUST be what these engines were just designed to do, since ours are doing the same thing in our basement and back yard.

* I have been using my Reid as an alternative to the diving board the insurance underwriter had us remove. It is further from the bank, but much less of a liability from boat/board collisions.
I also like to keep a Maytag single in the living room, in front my recliner to use instead of an exercise bicycle.

* I've used engines as "free weights" moving them around in the garage!

* IHC LBs are excellent replacements for the piers under your floor joists!

Enough of the silly answers! Who REALLY uses their engines?

* Not an old engine, but I have a friend that uses an old JD tractor to run a belt-drive hammer-mill to grind feed for his cows. He could probably buy it cheaper but where is the fun in that?

* I met a fellow about 15 years ago that had a Stover powered cement mixer that he still used whenever he needed to mix up some concrete. Maybe I ought to see if he is done mixing up concrete......

* We make ice cream using the breadbox Fairbanks. This week I modified the freezer for use with the Lorenz, so we'll be making the first batch with that engine on Saturday.
We also use the Fairbanks to turn apples into juice. The juice is fantastic, but there's really be no compelling reason to make juice if it wasn't an excuse to play with iron.
At one time there was a plan to use our big hacksaw in the garage, but the hassle is just too great compared to the smaller, electrically powered saws.


* I use my WWII era milling machine on a weekly basis, and when I was raising a few hogs and had planted corn I used my hand powered IH corn sheller to shell the corn for the hogs. I also have used an antique post drill in my shop to drill 5/8 holes in 1/2 plate. I also have used my old forge for heating and bending iron from time to time. My JD A is often in use also.

It's good to know that some engines are still being used for their intended purpose. Ours, when not being actively worked on, tend to be used only for background music while other jobs are being done.
Last month, I also promised news of the Tillinghast half-breed's first UK show. Despite the loading process taking a good three hours, we did manage to successfully take her out of our narrow entrance and transport her to the show, where she was received with great enthusiasm and interest. She ran for several hours at a time, and entertained folks with the occasional few loud cracks from her homemade barker! As we were also able to get her BACK into the garden at the first attempt, it was, all in all, an extremely successful weekend.

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