A List of Things You Should Not Do as a Gas Engine Operator

Reader Contribution by Sam Moore
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by Far Collector Magazine Archive

This list of things you should not do as a gas engine operator appeared in the January, 1917 issue of Gas Review magazine. Antique tractor and gas engine owners today can benefit from many of these hints.

1.      Don’t pull off the magneto and take it apart because the fuel tank is empty.

2.      Don’t try to run a tractor one more round with the oil low in the lubricator.

3.      Don’t let a knocking rod run “until noon.” It may loosen and then there will be something doing.

4.      Don’t use the starter frequently and drive at slow speed all day; batteries must be kept charged.

5.      Don’t run a tractor onto soft ground and then cuss because the drivers cut in (wheels spin).

6.      Don’t take off the magneto or timing gears unless you know how to put them in time again.

7.      Don’t try to get a spark from a coil, magneto, or make-and-break igniter when the points come together; the “kick” comes when they separate.

8.      Don’t try to grind valves with powdered fire clay; get flour emery or you will work all day with little result.

9.      Don’t expect to get any service from dry cells if they are exposed to storm and cold.

10.  Don’t try to pull a load with a kerosene engine when it pounds hard. The pistons are almost certain to stick then.

11.  Don’t try to use heavy fuel in a two-cycle boat engine unless it has some sort of fuel injection device.

12.  Don’t try to go ahead with a tractor after the drivers begin to slip. Be sure of the footing or back out of there if unsure.

13.  Don’t crank an engine until you are tired when it’s so cold that no vapor forms in the cylinder; the spark can’t ignite liquid fuel.

14.  Don’t allow any leakage of fuel as a serious fire may result.

15.  Don’t expect storage batteries to take care of themselves or new plates may be required.

16.  Don’t try to run a motorcycle engine with inferior lubricating oil; this type of engine requires a mighty good article.

17.  Don’t try to keep a hopper cooled engine from boiling away the water.

18.  Don’t walk along in front of a tractor. I heard of one man who did and stumbled. The neighbors came to his funeral.

19.  Don’t use the lights of a lighting system too long before the engine is started to recharge the storage battery.

20.  Don’t, for goodness sake, put any acid in the storage battery unless you are sure you know what you’re doing.

21.  Don’t be a hammer, wrench and cuss expert; use a lot of good common sense.

22.  Don’t think that this covers the ground. Study every point in the operation of gas engines.

As if to prove “Don’t” no. 18, this item appeared in the September, 1917 issue of the same magazine under the heading: A BAD PRACTICE. The engineer (operator) of a tractor with an automatic steering device got off to walk.

Anyone who has run a big tractor in the Dakotas where the furrow is often a mile in length knows that the days are long and tiresome. The condition is not much better if the tractor has a steering device. In this case, the engineer was the only man with the outfit. Since the engine steered itself along the furrow it is probable that the engineer got off to walk and rest himself from the vibration of the engine. At any rate he was walking in the furrow ahead of the driving wheel. No one will ever know just what happened for the lad was dead when they found him. Evidently he had slipped and fallen under the wheel.

Advice.–Never walk close in front of the driving wheels. If you slip and are stunned by the fall the drivers move “awful fast.” It is a safe rule to release the traction clutch and stop the machine if you have to examine something in front of the tractor. This is especially true if a man is working alone in a big field.

I’ll add one more “Don’t,” especially for the “Johnny Popper” owners: Don’t begin immediately tampering with the carburetor settings when your engine starts missing without first checking for a fouled spark plug. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen this (yes, I’ve done it myself), even going so far as to remove and clean the carb, only to find a fouled plug was the problem.

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