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Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!


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  #1  
Old 08-29-2019, 11:12:33 PM
Slocan Kid Slocan Kid is offline
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Default Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!

Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!

Well, boys, I don’t know if you remember but way back I’d mentioned in an older post entitled, “Weber, the rest of the story” that I had reason to believe that there was another two or three Webers lurking in my favourite hunting grounds.

Now this assumption was based on two main facts: first off, a copy of a Weber brochure from the spring of 1900 mentioned in the testimonials that there were two Weber engines “working in cold country,” eg the Silvery Slocan mining district, which happens to be in my backyard. Secondly, I got to know a fellow by chance who liked to go exploring in old tunnels and he mentioned that he and his pals had got into one specific tunnel which I was familiar with and that they’d seen some kind of winch equipment several hundred feet in. Curiously, this particular mining claim where the guys had seen the winch equipment was owned by the fellow who wrote the testimonial in the brochure in 1900.

I passed by this particular tunnel mouth on multiple occasions over the years and never quite got the gumption to actually go in there and check it out. It was a wet tunnel, I didn’t know if the air was bad (low oxygen) and I’m just not keen on going in old mine tunnels – they’re kind of spooky, so I let it slide – for quite a few years.

Then last year, just about at the end of bush season, I’m eating my breaky at 6:00 in the morning, getting ready to go to work, and I finish reading the news on the internet and took a look at YouTube to see if anything interesting had popped up, and wouldn’t you know, there’s a guy making a video of a mine tunnel just below the tunnel the guys had seen the winch in. So, of course, I’m going to watch this video to see what the guy sees and guess what he sees? He pans around and there’s a set of flywheels on the crank, standing in the water about a foot and a half deep. I about spit my coffee out onto the keyboard ‘cause I instantly recognize them as being Weber flywheels and crank. He pans by, makes some comment like “What the hell is this?” and then keeps going. My brain is racing, wondering where’s the rest of the engine… so all that day I’m vibrating at work and at the end of the day I talk with my old pal, Eddy, who helped me recover the first Weber, and I say “The water’s deep enough there that the cylinder/crank assembly could be hidden under the surface of the water.”

That was Thursday. Saturday I’m heading up the hill. I wasn’t sure what level of the mine the Weber flywheels were on so I went up to the tunnel I originally suspected there might be an engine in. Of course, it was all collapsed in over the years so I dug a little opening, determined the air flow was good and crawled in, took a shovel in with me in case it collapsed again and I needed to dig my way out, and armed with hip waders, about three different head lamps and camera, I made my way in about 300-400 feet, came to a “Y” junction, took a left hand turn on a whim and went about another 150-200 feet and boom, there’s a sub base, laying on the side of the tunnel. So now I’m thinking “yeah, she could be here, all of it.”

Next to the sub base was scattered the remnants of a belt driven winch supplied by Weber, which also was mentioned in the brochure of 1900.

Another 50 feet and there’s the flywheels standing in the water. Because I hadn’t disturbed the water yet and it was still crystal clear, I could see the cylinder/crank assembly lying in the water directly in front of the flywheels.

I photographed the situation as best I could and decided to come back with a couple more tools and a pry bar. My next trip in I wanted to drag the cylinder back about 20 feet to a bit of a hump in the floor where it was dry ground. I put a rope through the mains, got my trusty pry bar and started to try to leverage the block ahead. That took me about 45 minutes to get 20 feet ‘cause it was hooking on every mine rail and tie and every other piece of debris that was lying in the water.

Once partially out, it was a real treat to see the original tag, hanging by one screw, and the sight-glass gauge on the cam box still screwed in place. What’s odd about this engine being taken apart is that there seems to have been two different people doing it – one guy was obviously putting all the nuts and bolts and caps back in place and the other guy was just ripping pieces off with no regard…must’ve been a shift change…

Anyhow, it was apparent they wanted the engine out of it’s original location which was a hoisting deck about 150-200 feet away and they’d gathered up the parts and put them down this unused tunnel.

As I said, the season was coming to an end, it’s starting to snow up there as it’s around 6500 feet in elevation and I know I’m running out of time to do anything other than recover the small pieces I can remove now. So I made about 5 or 6 trips up and packed out cam, cam box, big end bearing and a couple other odds and sods.

Then we hunkered down for winter and made plans for next summer…
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  #2  
Old 08-29-2019, 11:21:35 PM
Mike McKnight Mike McKnight is offline
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Talking Re: Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!

Holy Mackeral, man! Once we thought you'd told us the tale to end all tales, here you come back with an even better one!

Waiting with bated breath to hear the next installment,

Mike
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  #3  
Old 08-29-2019, 11:23:06 PM
Slocan Kid Slocan Kid is offline
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Default Re: Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!

A few more pics...

Stay tuned for more
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  #4  
Old 08-30-2019, 04:51:20 AM
Harry Terpstra Harry Terpstra is online now
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Default Re: Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!

Wow That's an amazing but also a scary story! I don't know if I would have the guts to go into an old mining tunnel that was already partly collapsed. Is there no risk you run into a bear or any other animal that hides in these tunnels?

It's really amazing what you find in these mountains and love your stories how you come across them, and rescue them.

Keep us posted!!

Last edited by Harry Terpstra; 08-30-2019 at 10:31:04 AM.
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Old 08-30-2019, 08:52:46 AM
I like oldstuff I like oldstuff is offline
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Default Re: Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!

Excellent story. I trust you'll have it running next summer.
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Old 08-30-2019, 11:44:49 AM
Sunnybrook Sunnybrook is offline
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Default Re: Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!

Did you find the guvna?
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  #7  
Old 08-30-2019, 06:38:43 PM
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Joel Mosley Joel Mosley is offline
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Default Re: Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!

I look forward to more pictures and the rest of the story. Was this mine claim and the mine that your other Weber came off of owned by the same man who wrote the testimonial? If so , I am curious if these are consecutive serial number engines that may have been purchased and shipped at the same time. I know the first engine you retrieved was missing the tag. Is the serial number stamped on the rod boxing or other parts?

Last edited by Joel Mosley; 08-31-2019 at 10:39:39 AM.
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Old 08-31-2019, 10:29:08 PM
Slocan Kid Slocan Kid is offline
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Default Re: Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!

Sunny... I'm still looking for that.
Joel I don't believe that the mine that the first Weber came from was controlled by the fellow who sent in the testimonial as I have never come across information to that possibility but who really knows?. And the first Weber had no numbers stamped anywhere. Here's up a couple more pics... the cooling tank is rough as hell but you can still make out Weber gas & gasoline printed on it . The carb looks awful with all the incrustations on it but it cleaned up pretty good. The cam box had the same blacksmith fix that was found on the first Weber and on Les Laytons Weber, namely babbitt, canvas and bits of wood all melded together between the cam box and the block to stop the oil from slobbering all over the place.
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Old 09-02-2019, 09:41:53 PM
Ihcguy Ihcguy is offline
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Default Re: Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!

Keep the photos going ,even the molasse improvements I saw the last visit.
May need some castings for my weber too. ( found 25 miles away as the crow flies ,at a copper mine..) no numbers on mine either?
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Old 09-15-2019, 06:20:46 PM
Slocan Kid Slocan Kid is offline
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Default Re: Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!

Weber! Holy Hell, Another One! Chapter 2: The Recovery

After securing tacit approval from the owner of the mine, the trick now was to figure out how to open up the portal. I could do it by hand but it’d take the remainder of the summer to get it hand-dug and we might not have enough summer left to get the engine out.

It just so happens a good fellow named Werner happens to have an adjacent mine and on that mine he has a small excavator he uses for sorting through the ore piles. I asked Werner “how’s about you walk that excavator up to the portal and dig it out for me, seeings how it’d take me the rest of the season to do it by hand?” Werner says “yeah, sure, except my tracks are getting pretty worn down and that’s about six kilometers from my mine to the portal you’re working on and there won’t be much left of them if I work them that hard.” So I said “How much does a guy got to contribute to your new track fund to get you to help me out?” Werner bounced a number out, I swallowed hard and we agreed to a deal.

The word of the impending recovery was long out and on the August holiday weekend we had a crew of guys looking to be part of the scene. Some of these guys are mechanics, some are miners and some are collectors and everyone had specific expertise that proved invaluable during the recovery.

Friday morning bright and early I loaded up the truck with every conceivable tool a guy might need and a 300ft reel of cable along with every other coiled up chunk of cable and some that others had lent me. I took a winch and a rented water pump and headed up the mountain.

Werner had already cleared the one landslide that was keeping anything bigger than a quad up to the portal and I was able to drive the old Toyota right up to where he was now working, opening up the portal.

Some of the boys started showing up shortly thereafter and by then the portal had been opened up. Of course, everybody wanted to see what the real deal was by getting in and taking a look at this thing, so we set up the pump, lowered the water level for guys who only had gum boots and not hip waders and everyone except a couple guys who were a little dicey about going into an old, abandoned mineshaft went in to take their first look.

I was telling folks the engine was situated at about 300-350feet inside, tops. Strategic thinking, so as not to scare off help and to convince myself it wasn’t as far in as it possibly could be. After we’d trudged all the way in, one of the experienced miners kindly advised “Nah, it’s more like 550ft…” I shrugged my shoulders and said “hey, it’s hard to tell in the dark.”

The tunnel was shaped like a backwards question mark, it was dark, cold and wet and the floor of this curved part of the tunnel where the engine parts sat was in pretty good shape with just a little mud and water. The first order of business was to bring the sub base, cylinder/base and flywheels around the curve to the straight part of the tunnel where we could winch it all out in a straight line. Fortunately, we’d brought with us a couple of my pal, Eddy’s, dollies that he uses for moving rooftop heating/cooling units.

The sub base is 307lbs, the cylinder/base is 454lbs - I know ‘cause I weighed the parts to my first Weber. Add in the head and piston rod and you’re pushing 500lbs. The dollies were rated for 300lbs each. Because the math didn’t add up, I inflated the tires on the dollies as much as I could stand, hoping that would give us the edge and allow more weight without destroying the dollies.

We hoisted the sub base on to one of the dollies and off we went, rolling the dolly and sub base down the tunnel, two guys in front pulling and two guys in the back pushing. We hit some soft spots and dumped the load a couple of times but put ‘er back on and kept right on going.

We used the dolly to move the cylinder/base to the start of the straight stretch, fortunately without any damage to the dolly.

The last big piece we needed to get to the beginning of the straight stretch of the tunnel was the flywheels and as they were still on the crank we thought we’d just roll them out on their own, which worked pretty well save for the narrow parts of the tunnel where we had to shift them side to side. It was a little dicey watching for hands and fingers between rock and flywheels ‘cause if there was a pinch, there’d be no more fingers left.

Once everything was moved to the beginning of the straight stretch of the tunnel we started first with the sub base, winching it out on a steel skid, which turned out to be more difficult than one would imagine. I had hoped to use the winch in the back of the truck like a capstan, by putting 5 wraps on the winch spool and then feeding off the cable so we could do one long continuous pull, somewhere in the 300-400ft mark. Unfortunately, the truck’s position didn’t allow the winch to be dead square to the tunnel so the cabling would bind and cross over on itself. That obviously wasn’t working well so on to plan B we went, which was setting up a snatch block further beyond the portal and then using the truck to pull the cable and drag the sub base toward the portal entrance.

One of the trickiest parts was that the truck’s lowest speed was first gear, 4Low which is about 10 or 20 times faster than the winch, and while first gear, 4Low might not sound very fast when you’re standing on the street, when you’re trying to stay ahead of a sled to help guide it through any bad parts, first gear, 4Low is like running a sprint. Eddy was riding the clutch in an effort to slow down the pull and we were dancing and stepping as lightly as possible in the deep, sticky, take-your-boot-off-at-every-step-of-the-way mud.

After the sub base saw daylight for the first time in about 118 years, it was time to wrap things up for the day.

The next day started out much the same as the first: bright and sunny, blue sky with a full crew eager to get at ‘er.

Next in line was getting the cylinder/base out. What we learned when pulling the sub base out was that our radio signal was only good for about 100ft in the tunnel, which hampered communication with Eddy who was pulling with the truck. So this time, we stationed a guy every 75ft in the tunnel to relay the stop/go message, which worked pretty good except for the time delay between the initial stop or go call and when it was delivered.

Once the cylinder/base was out, we set up the pump again to dewater the tunnel, had a break and discussed how best to get the flywheels out.

The problem was that the flywheels were top heavy and prone to tipping while on the skid and as you can imagine there was a lot of rock fall and rubble on the floor of the tunnel, which made for a risky pull. A secondary problem was that if the flywheels for some reason caught on the narrow sides of the tunnel, we wouldn’t be able to tell Eddy to stop quick enough to avoid knocking more rock down or to avoid damaging the flywheels.

In the end, the boys thought we ought to just simply roll the flywheels out under our own steam. I had already brought up six 12ft 2x8s in anticipation of having to roll the flywheels out. This would get us over the roughest rock and some of the worst mud.

At the last part of the tunnel, the water was deep enough that the planks were floating so we had the added fun of trying to stand on the planks to weigh them down so we could roll the flywheels on to them.

Picture, if you will, 6 guys, all wearing mining lamps in a pitch dark, dripping wet tunnel, covered in mud, soaking wet and fighting with 900lbs of flywheel and crank. Two guys pushing, two guys pulling, another guy in front and another one in back passing lumber between them laying the track, all in the confines of an impossibly narrow tunnel.

It was a great scene – had to be seen to be believed. The wife asked if there were any pictures or video. Alas, the camera would have been destroyed with the mud and wet and crushing moves.

Make no mistake, there is no way this adventure would have turned out the way it did were it not for the skill, expertise and hard work of those involved. In no particular order, many thanks to Werner, Ray, Jim, Dan, Jamie, Gary, Ed, Chris and Russ.

Stay tuned for the wrap up!
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Last edited by Slocan Kid; 09-16-2019 at 02:27:36 PM.
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Old 09-15-2019, 10:49:23 PM
Slocan Kid Slocan Kid is offline
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Default Re: Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!

A few more views
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Last edited by Slocan Kid; 09-16-2019 at 01:38:54 PM.
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Old 09-16-2019, 09:29:35 PM
Kevin O. Pulver Kevin O. Pulver is offline
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Default Re: Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!

Great story!
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Old 09-16-2019, 11:54:11 PM
Mike McKnight Mike McKnight is offline
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Default Re: Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!

Slocankid, you're living the dream!! Thanks for the story!
Mike
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:41:23 AM
Andy Williams Andy Williams is offline
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Default Re: Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!

great story and photos, andy
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:33:00 PM
Nathan K. Nathan K. is offline
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Default Re: Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!

Hi Slocan,
Seeing how your breaking the rules on hording Webers I will be over to pick one up quick before anyone finds out. Great find/recovery story hope you saved the winch to display with it as well. The portal doesn't look too overgrown had the mine been worked semi recently?, also did you try a metal detector for the missing parts-might get lucky again!.
Nathan.
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:33:57 PM
Ihcguy Ihcguy is offline
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Default Re: Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!

Quote:
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Slocankid, you're living the dream!! Thanks for the story!
Mike
As Bogart would say , THE STUFF DREAMS ARE MADE OF.......
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Old 09-19-2019, 01:17:14 AM
Slocan Kid Slocan Kid is offline
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Default Re: Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!

Thanks for the comments, guys.

Nathan, I didn’t get the winch as it was a jobber supplied unit and it was in pretty rough shape. Had it been a Weber manufactured hoist I probably would’ve drug it out no matter what condition. We did do some metal detecting but I’ll get into some more detail about that in the last installment of the story.

The mine ran intermittently in the 50s, 60s, 70s and possibly some exploration in the 80s. We don’t know if the engine was torn apart in 1910 or 1972. If it was the later date, the guy who did it’s probably still alive and if you could only find him you could ask him what his reasoning was for tearing apart the engine in the fashion he did. Unfortunately, miners are itinerant types and they blow into a region and then leave it just as fast without leaving a trace.

Here’s some more photos of the big recovery weekend. More story to come…
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Old 09-24-2019, 11:21:53 PM
Nathan K. Nathan K. is offline
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Default Re: Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!

Hey Slocan,
Once your rested up You will have to go back-think of that poor winch all alone in the dark without the engine it's been with for 120 years!. Seriously it would make a great exhibit especially with the long history, and later on the tunnel might not be usable to retrieve it.
Will have to get up there to see your stuff again as it's been to long. Nathan
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Old 09-29-2019, 09:24:19 PM
Slocan Kid Slocan Kid is offline
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Default Re: Weber! Holy Hell, Another One!

Nate, any time you wanna come up I'll show you exactly where that hole in the wall is and you can crawl in there and drag that beat up old winch assembly all the way back to your old home base. I might even assist you!

Like I said, if it was a Weber hoist I probably would've made the effort but it's pretty banged up, it's nothing special and there's parts I don't know where they are.

And I'm still resting. I'm damn near twice as old as when I found the first Weber, takes me longer to recover.
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Old 09-29-2019, 10:40:46 PM
Slocan Kid Slocan Kid is offline
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Weber! Holy Hell, Another One! Chapter 3: Bits and Pieces

Once the big pieces were home, I couldn’t wait to get to work on it, get all the muck, rust and scale off of everything and just for a lark, see if there was any chance the piston would come out. I got a block of wood and my trusty 8 lb sledge and gave a couple of medium taps on the connecting rod foot and wouldn’t you know…she moved! And not just a couple thou’, more like half an inch!! A few more bumps and that piston was laying in the grass.

The piston and rings are in beautiful condition, the bore has just got a little bit of erosion for about 1 x 2 inches on the bottom and might possibly work without having to sleeve it.

During the story so far I’ve not mentioned the exhaust and intake manifolds, and there’s a reason. Now, you know there always has to be a fly in the ointment, and the fly in my ointment was that there was no exhaust and intake manifolds to be seen anywhere. On one of my first forays into the tunnel last year, I found the carb just 4 feet away from the engine block resting against the tunnel wall and I assumed that the intake and exhaust manifolds would be laying in the muck close by with any luck at all.

After the recovery of the main engine pieces I decided to go in again with a metal detector’s pointer and a two inch centrifugal pump and pump the water forward in hopes of making it easier to find any lingering parts buried in the muck on the floor.

I had to take into consideration I’d be generating a lot of exhaust fumes and I was going to be by myself, so I borrowed my old pal, Eddy’s, carbon monoxide detector and off I went with my pack loaded up with rolls of hose, a couple spare lights and a garden digger that we use up here for mucking around the bush and that bloody heavy pump. Well, it wasn’t heavy at the first little bit, but after about 500 feet, it got a bit much.

I set up the pump, hooked up the hoses and fired it all up. It took about 45 minutes to drain that whole area down. As I waited for the tunnel to drain, I checked my carbon monoxide detector and it seemed happy so I had a cigar and an ice tea.

I got the water down to about between 6 and 12 inches deep, I would’ve gone more but the suction hose kept on leaning over and pulling air into the pump. The area of the tunnel where I was working is kind of “T” shaped, so I started on one leg and worked my way all the way across and then back up the other leg, finding nothing until I got just in front of where the cylinder block was located and that’s where the parts started to show up.

Out popped the hot tube chimney, the front breather screen for the sub base, the cylinder oiler and then the crumpled remains of the fuel system from the carb to the hot tube. A couple more goodies eventually showed themselves: the cam box side cover and the wrist pin oiler, but no exhaust or intake manifold to be seen. The only other kind of odd things to come out of there were a couple of steam chest oilers, which would be of little use on the Weber.

Once I wrapped the search up for the day, I rented the pump again the next weekend and went back and did it all over again, just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. That second weekend of digging produced one brass oil cup oiler and nothing else so I’m pretty confident I didn’t miss anything that was there.

The fun part of pumping the water forward was that the water level near the portal entrance had risen to a point where the hip waders were no longer adequate so it was icy cold and miserable work.

Once I got home and started looking over the bits and pieces, I could see they were covered in the same rocky conglomerate that was on the fly wheels and the sub base. Thankfully, once I cleaned them off they were in relatively good shape.

I noticed several unusual things about the valves from the fuel system: the valves have no packing gland nut for the valve stem and yet the hot tube burner, which is also part of the fuel system, does have a packing nut, and that nut, interestingly enough, also has the serial number of the engine stamped into it. The valves also don’t have hexes so you can tighten them on to the pipe, and they also have a lotus pattern on each side. I looked at my copy of the 1900 brochure again and these are the exact valves they show in the brochure, with a very specific style of handle.

I talked to the guys around here trying to figure out what kind of valves they really are as they don’t make sense. Another pal, Andy, suggested they may be town gas valves, the type you’d find in a turn of the century home being supplied by city gas. I’ll let you guys weigh in on what you suspect they are… I was fortunate in being able to get the stems out so that these valves can be used again on the Weber when it’s restored.

What strikes me as the oddest is why would Weber supply valves for a liquid fuel, having no means to stop them from leaking on the stem?

The cylinder oiler, again, identical to the one in the brochure, has no identifying marks on it and I’ve never actually seen one, only pictures of one. I’m hoping you all can fill in the blanks on the manufacturer.

I’ll be going back next season to search again for the elusive manifolds. If they’re not to be found, they can be copied from my original Weber. Not cheap, but do-able.

And that, boys, is the story of the second Weber recovery. Thanks for your interest and comments.
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