Delegating Work to Experts

Today I got to test what it is like to drive Southern California freeways in the rain.  It had been a while since I did this and I stupidly thought I needed a “booster shot”.  Aaaah! So. Cal is filled with idiots that don’t know what it is to slow down- even in driving rain with low visibility. The reason for the journey was to deliver both my “leather cone clutch” and our rare BRIGGS magneto to experts that both live and work in Orange, California.  The clutch (photo below) went to Mr. Bob Knaak (who has repaired hundreds of these clutches over the years) for a tune up on the little spring things that go around the perimeter of the clutch and push the leather out a bit.  If the leather gives out, that may get replaced too.

DSCN1787The “spring things” sit underneath the leather and the screw part goes through a little hole on the inside of the outside edge of the aluminum clutch plate.  You can see some of these that aren’t broken in the photo above. They have hex nuts on the ends of the screws for adjustment.

The “spring things” are shown in the photo below — after being pried out from under the leather. More about how these function etc. in the Leather Cone Clutch section of this website.


I also got to visit Mr. Carl Bloom who is known as a magneto expert and has an amazing shop filled with all sorts of meters, gauges and sundry electronic stuff. Not quite like Dr. Frankenstein’s lab— but impressive nevertheless.  Carl has done many magneto repairs but my BRIGGS will be a first for him. The magneto is essentially a generator with a distributor or commutator on the end to distribute the spark to the spark plugs.  Ours needed to be checked out and tuned up so that when I get ready to start the Michigan, it is sparking in all the right places with sufficient juice.   I look forward to getting word back from both gentlemen on their progress towards returning these parts of the Michigan to proper working order.

The Briggs Magneto ignition and coil box (no keys — just a big switch):


The magneto itself looks like this:

Out of the car:








In the car, below:






The MIGHTY MICHIGAN 40 HP Engine –by BUDA Motor Company

This is the LEFT side of the BUDA motor for the car. The front bottom of the photo shows from left to right the following items: oil pump, water pump, magneto. Above that running along the top of the engine are four little cups with levers. These are priming cups for putting a little gasoline directly into the cylinders prior to trying to start the engine.The far right wooden box holds the ignition wiring and coils.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

DSCN1933This is the RIGHT side of the BUDA motor for the car. At the bottom left you see the steering column going right by the very hard to see carburetor. Above that is the exhaust manifold (it hides the intake manifold in this photo). Next up you see a series of eight circles with notches in them. These are called “valve chamber plugs” in the MICHIGAN parts list for 1912. This engine does not have a “head” that bolts on top of the cylinder block.  I am told that this type of engine is called a “jug” engine. Each valve chamber plug has another hole in the center and in this photo has either a spark plug or an acetylene injector.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

DSCN1931Okay.  What the heck is an acetylene injector? Good question. Until I first saw this car in 2011, I had never heard of such a thing. Apparently, in 1910, 1911 & 1912 car companies were experimenting with ways to start cars without having to crank them by hand. There are many stories about broken arms, or worse related to crank starting cars and having the ignition set in the wrong position resulting in dangerous kick-backs. Moreover, who wants to be in front of a car that may jump forward and run over you? Or, cranking out in the rain or snow?

During this particular period there were many different technologies that were tried for starting motors. These included, wind-up springs, compressed air, electric motors and acetylene.  This car has the fairly rare acetylene starter manufactured by Prest-O-Lite, called the Prest-O-Starter. I’ll post more about this starter later.We know which starter style won the competition ……. and it wasn’t acetylene. Thanks to the innovators at Cadillac, we all use electric starters these days….. and have done since 1912.