The American Garage

Posts from 2017-08-28

David Bradley Project- Fabricating Throttle Linkage



As you may know by now, there have been several changes in the DB project tractor. One of the largest changes is the engine swap to a newer 3 HP Briggs & Stratton engine. In the episodes, I did not shed any light on this fact. If you are paying close attention, then you will notice that in the course of the shows, there have been 3 different engines used. All the Briggs and garden tractor aficionados are already on top of this and have made note. I used the various engines to illustrate the various tasks and steps in the process in an engine repair/rebuild, but it was not necessary that they be the exact same engine. That being said, I had a challenge facing me. With the new engine, I was using the old engine’s carburetor system. I had to make several adjustments to make it work. Here were the problems-

  1. the mounting screws were 90 degrees opposite on the newer engine.
  2. the linkage for the governor was completely dissimilar, and no common parts could be used.
  3. the linkage from the old engine for the throttle could not be used.

So, let me go through these one at a time to show you how I dealt with these problems. Also, if you are a beginner, such problems will make it feel like the project is too daunting for you to tackle. But really this is not the case. You just have a puzzle with a couple of missing pieces. So make your own! Let’s look at it together.

First problem- the carburetor mounting screws- I thought of 2 solutions to this problem: The first was to cut the bracket, turn it 90 degrees and weld it back on. This would have worked fine, but these are antique parts, and something in me did not want to cut an antique part. Plus, as you saw in the welding episode, my welding skills are not yet at a level where I could feel like I could do a good job. So, the second solution I came up with was to create an adapter, thus leaving all other parts in their original condition. This seemed like a simpler solution. Keep you solutions as simple as you can- there will be less problems down the road. Well, this was the solution I decided on.  All I needed was a metal donut with 4 holes in it. Well, my simple solution still had a few problems- two of the holes would have to be threaded, and on the other two they would have to fit flush, which meant counter-sunk holes. No problem, just get the drill press out and some tap and dies. I designed the piece to look like this- [graphic] Well I shared it with a buddy of mine who has a machine shop, and he said he could turn the part out of aluminum, and take care of the hole special needs. So, I bought him a beer and he made me the part! It came out perfect. I got lucky, he made it very precise, and it works beautifully. Briggs & Stratton custom carb mount adaptorNow, my plan to make it myself at the drill press would have done just fine, but it would not have been as nice for sure. Let me not forget to do something nice for him in return. Thanks Kelly! So the adapter worked beautifully, and now I have the carburetor mounted on the engine. Now, none of the linkage will fit- on top of the fact that the linkages from both engines are completely different. On to the next problem-

Let’s make our own linkage! So, I had to understand what the governor was doing in order to make the new linkage. Basically, the governor opens and closes the throttle as needed to maintain the same engine speed. That may be over-simplifying it a little, but look at it this way- when your lawn mower is on the driveway, there is no load on the engine. The governor retards the engine so it doesn’t go too fast and blow itself up. Then you roll into the grass, and it starts cutting. Now the load is high, and the throttle has to open to take the load, keep the speed, and not die. Got it? I had to find the simplest governor linkage I could  to duplicate. That is when I went to my friends at and asked for help. governor solution on BS for the David Bradley on TAG(find yourself a good forum that pertains to your project. They will make your life much easier.) After explaining my problem, one of the members- Lauber1- sent me this image of an old governor system that I could duplicate and fabricate out of wire and parts I had. Here is the image- what could be simpler? I could handle that. Now, my engine has a wind vane, but not the little arm on it. So, I used some Castaloy and soldered an arm on it, estimating the length, and taking into consideration the thickness of the adapter. Here is the result- [see images below] Now all I needed to do is tie it to the throttle arm and wala! A governor! I used some safety wire. Safety wire is stainless steel, and is used on aircraft to wire all the nuts and bolts so they cannot work themselves loose. An aircraft mechanic I know gave it to me years ago, and I use it for all kinds of stuff. But, any stiff wire would do in this application.

welding governor vane with Castaloy
Preparing to weld with Castaloy
Castaloy weld 2
Clamp with vise grips
Castaloy welding
End Results
governor linkage 1
Close-up with spring attached

Full view with spring rough attached
detail view
detail view of linkage

Now we have the carburetor installed, and the governor hooked up. Now we have to control this mess with the throttle, right? And I am looking, and nothing matches up, and there aren’t any parts to make it work. No problem! I’ll make my own! First, I needed to mount the throttle cable somewhere that would be secure, and would not bind the cable and would be in reach of the throttle mechanism. There was a bracket of some kind on the engine already, and it was used for nothing before. I could tell, because there were no signs on the paint being disturbed. I guess this was meant for something on another device, and was left in place at the factory. Well, looking at it, it seemed like the perfect place to mount the cable. It had a screw that would hold the cable well, so I decided that this would be perfect. Now, with the cable in place, I had to figure out how to get the movement of the cable up and down to open and close the throttle- let me qualify this- the throttle is not connected to the cable directly. All the cable does is put more or less tension on the throttle spring, depending on whether you have it at the low or high setting. The cable does this with the spring. The less tension on the spring the more the governor will open the throttle. It is a kind of tug of war. I could see that I needed an arm of some kind with a the spring on one side, and the cable on the other. This little arm would need a place to be mounted, and there wasn’t any. I went down to the hardware store, and got some aluminum stock. I cut a piece of with my hack saw to make the bracket out of, and I located some nearby screws on the engine I could use to mount it to. [see images below]

Metal blank to make bracket

Bracket ready to install

Bracket installed and cable attached



Linkage Assembled

Using my drill, grinder, files and pliers I shaped the new bracket to fit. I could have used steel, but the aluminum was plenty strong, and easier to drill, grind and file. I shaped the little arm, put a nut a bolt through it with some washers between, and it was ready to mount. I put the cable in place. I put the carburetor back on, attached the spring and the governor, and it was ready for testing. Here is the end result. This may be too much detail for some folks, so I left it out of the video episodes. But to those working with an engine like this, it might be a helpful reference. Good projecting!


A Blast from the Past

Hey projecteers! As we wind down the last 3 episodes of the David Bradley project, I thought I would give you a glimpse of The American Garage before we were The American Garage. Now, just FYI, on the DB project, episodes 7 and 8 are in the can, ready to be served- the holdup is shooting a few needed scenes for episode 6- which I will try to get done this week. If you have been paying attention, then you know that I love to woodwork- and I also love sailing. So, while I am hard at work on episode 6, I thought you might enjoy hearing about a project I did years ago- the building of a 24 foot Light Schooner. A beautiful sailboat. I built it, sailed it, and sold it to move up the boat chain. We had great fun with it, and in the process made a friend, Tim Fatchen, down under in Australia. Tim is a Light Schooner officinado, and helped with much needed advice. You can learn about Tim and his adventures with his boat, Flying Tadpole, at his website-

He also featured an article on my building and sailing adventures of Faith, my Light Schooner which you can read here- I was delighted for the write-up Tim did for my project, and I especially enjoyed the cartoon illustrations he put in the article. Thanks Tim, and keep sailing!

So, now it is back to work for me, while you enjoy this project from the past.


The American Garage Episode 6-1 S01E06.1

Episode 6 has been broken into three parts. In Part 1, Steve will cover diagnosing problems with the engine, and Andrea drops in to lend a hand taking the valves out of the engine.

The American Garage Episode 6-2 S01E06.2



This is the longest part of episode 6, covering internal parts examination, reassembly and gasket making. The detail is intended for those who want to rebuild an engine, but have never tried it.

The American Garage Episode 6-3 S01E06.3

This is the final installation of the Engine Rebuild episode, focussing on the reconditioning of the transmission.

The American Garage Episode 7 S01E07



Painting! Seems like it took forever to get here, but we are finally to the painting stage of the David Bradley project. Steve shows us how to use a paint gun, and paints the David Bradley.


Coming August 5, 2013 David Bradley Project Finale



David Bradley right sideThe finale of the garden tractor project is upon us! Yay! Gather your friends, and watch the final episode of the David Bradley project as we wrap it up on Monday, August 5th. Steve took you through the process from acquisition, all the way through to complete restoration. He used it to plow his garden, and it works wonderfully! We learned a lot in the project, and made a few friends along the way. We covered teardown and organization, metal repairing and welding, rust removal techniques, priming and painting, engine rebuilding, and reassembly and troubleshooting. It was a great project, and we enjoyed it immensely! As we wrap up the first season of The American Garage, we are already in works on the next project. As we prepare for season 2, we are looking for your input. Let us know what topics you have found interesting, and what projects you would like to see us tackle in the future. Shall we build a boat? Repair furniture? Cover different painting techniques?  How about woodworking? Steve loves woodworking and has a woodshop that is just aching to get on the show. Also, we are looking for garages to feature- tell us about your garage, and send us some pictures! We’d love to see what is going on in YOUR garage. Okay, so the next project- have a look at the picture below, and tell us what it is-





The American Garage Episode 8 S01E08




Steve completes the David Bradley project, and takes the tractor our for a spin. In this episode, Steve covers reassembly, shows how to instal decals, and goes through the steps we took to accomplish this project. It has been a great little project, and Steve will use it for gardening and other tasks around the yard. We hope you enjoyed the project, and invite you to stay tuned for the next project. With the completion of this project, Season 1 comes to a close. Join us for Season 2 in the fall- and keep building!

BBQ Pit Project

It is time to start the next project on The American Garage! Yeah! This project was inspired on the 4th of July when my gas grill caught fire, and ruined the whole mechanism- and nearly the picnic!  So, I thought- I could repair the old grill, or I could just scrap it and build something really nice! I vote for that. After much deliberation, I decided to build a BBQ pit. This project will go much quicker that the DB restoration project, and have a more delicious end result. I started by doing some research. It seemed to me that old style pits always had a chimney, new gas grills all have a cover, and some were just wide open. So, I talked to a friend who is a BBQ expert, and we talked about pit design, and what different elements are for. So, out of that conversation, I made a 3d model of what the pit might look like.

BBQ pit with pizza oven rendering

with pizza oven added

Now, I decided to take it a bit further than just a pit, and in my research I found plans for building a wood fired pizza oven, and there. Just like that I had to add a pizza oven. So, if you look at the illustration I made, you will see that the pizza oven looks like an igloo made out of fire brick, and that is essentially what it is. You see a small chimney coming out the opening at the front, and this will keep smoke out of our eyes while we cook. We will encase the pizza oven with a nice exterior, but I wanted you to see what the insides look like, to give you an idea what we are building. There are many different styles that we can use for the exterior, but we will get to that later. As you can see in the renderings, I am planning on using cinder block for the main structure. I will line it with fire brick- the proper name is refractory brick- and us some kind of nice stone or brick for the outside aesthetics. We will be starting soon, so get your work clothes ready!

Now, I’d like to share with you some pictures of  finished pizza ovens, to give you an idea what a finished oven may look like. I am not sure which way I go, brick or stone, formal or informal. But for sure, we will make it look nice! These pictures were happily loaned to us by  the R.I Lampus company, and you can find them on the web at . If you are in the Pittsburgh area, be sure to look them up. 

Fall/Winter Garden Made possible with the David Bradley

Currently, we are working on some sponsorship for the BBQ project, so in the mean time, I thought I would catch you up on the results we have had trying our hand at gardening. I plowed in the fall for the fall/winter garden, and it has been a trial and error process. I grew up in the north where the dirt was so fertile you could just throw seeds out the back door and have an abundance of produce. Well, that is a little bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. On the Gulf Coast in Texas, our dirt here is nearly clay, so it is hard to get it broken up and soft. My brother is a horticulturist, and he gave me some pointers on what to mix in to get better results from this soil. But, we didn’t fair too bad, and each time we plant something, the results get better.

Steve with the first green beans- the purple variety!

Fall Garden 2013. We had a good start, but the cold killed some of our progress.

 At the end of the season, we were able to get some nice carrots, and harvest the last of the beans to dry for seed.

And now we start plowing for the spring.

The last harvest from the winter garden.



Metal Casting!

announcments button


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