1898 12 HP 20th Century marine engine

A "see" worthy engine

20th century 2

John’s engine is a 2-cylinder model. It was also available in 3-, 4- and 6-cylinder models.

Photo by Christian Williams

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Manufacturer: New York Yacht, Launch & Engine Co., Morris Heights, NY
Model: 20th Century
Year: 1898
Horsepower: 12
Bore: 5-1/4-inch
Stroke: 8-inch
Flywheel diameter: 24 inches
Flywheel width: 5 inches

There were plenty of impressive engine displays at the 2008 Tri-State Gas Engine and Tractor Assn. show in Portland, Ind., but one of the best was John Smietana’s 1898 12 HP 20th Century marine engine made by New York Yacht, Launch & Engine Co. of Morris Heights, N.Y. “I found it in Connecticut and it hadn’t been run for 25 years,” says John of the engine that once powered a 40-foot yacht. 

John restored the engine about 25 years ago and says that it needed a lot of work from top to bottom. “Generally, everything has been restored,” says John. “I pretty much went through the whole engine. I was fortunate that the engine was complete. I had to replicate parts but I had the old pieces to make them from.”

According to American Marine Engines by Stan Grayson, the New York Yacht, Launch & Engine Co. was established in 1896 on the banks of the Harlem River. The engine came in 2-, 3-, 4- and 6-cylinder models, and was dubbed “20th Century” to reflect its modern design. John’s 2-cylinder model, and every 20th Century manufactured before 1915, features an exposed valve mechanism. Stan goes on to explain that the 20th Century also featured a 6-inch-long bearing at the flywheel, drop-forged steel connecting rods with phosphor bronze bearings, force-fed lubrication and a fully enclosed reverse gear that was standard on all models.

John’s engine has a 5-1/4-inch bore with an 8-inch stroke and flywheels 24 inches in diameter with a 5-inch width.

Contact John Smietana at 617 Loreauville Rd., New Iberia, LA 70563-1941 • (337) 364-6723.