Crosley Engines, More or Less

Ingenuity and thousands of hours of work combine to make complete Crosley engines — from bits and pieces

Crosley Engine

Paul Gorrell’s homemade 6-cylinder Crosley engine.

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Crosley engines were 44-cubic-inch displacement, 4-cylinder overhead cam, 5 main with 26-1/2 HP.

I had two Crosley 4-cylinder steel engines; one had a damaged cylinder on the front end and the other had a damaged cylinder on the rear end. I cut the two bad cylinders off, leaving three good front and three good rear cylinders. I welded the two 3s together, making a 6-cylinder Crosley block. I did the same with the crankcase, pan, overhead cam cover, intake and exhaust manifolds.

The crankshaft and camshaft were trickier. The engine crank and camshaft throws, or lobes, on 4-cylinder engines are 180 degrees apart while 6-cylinder crank and camshaft throws are 120 degrees apart. I cut the steel crankshaft and cam between the throws and added two throws and four cam lobes from a donor crank and cam. I welded them back together in true alignment with 680 Eutectic welding rod at 120 degrees so the engine could run like a 6-cylinder. I found a little distributor like a Crosley 4-cylinder except with 6-cylinder lobes and plug wire terminal posts. I used a Crosley military high-capacity stationary engine radiator and a four-bladed fan to cool the extra cylinders. I fastened two oil pumps together to have plenty of oil for the extra moving parts.

After assembly and paint it looks and runs as if it were a factory-built 66 CID, 40 HP Crosley 6-cylinder engine and that’s all there was to saving the engine. It’s not what you have; it’s what you do with it that counts.

I also have a 4-cylinder cast iron Crosley engine that sank in the boat that it powered. It was raised, but the two center cylinders were not drained and froze, splitting them. I got the engine for parts so I used as many as I could. I’ve always said everything can be used for something. So like a good apple with a bad place I cut the two bad center cylinders, crankcase, etc. out. I welded the two good end cylinders, etc. together. I used left-over crank, cam, etc. parts from the 6-cylinder project. It made a strong-running, first 2-cylinder, inline, water-cooled, 22 CID, OHC, 13 HP factory-looking Crosley engine. Some things are just junk until you rearrange the parts.

Then I thought, 8 cylinders would be great! So with more use of my hand tools and another mere 2,000 hours, one winter I built the super 8-cylinder opposed Crosley engine shown below.

I joined two crankcases together bottom-to-bottom over one good steel standard 4-cylinder crankshaft. Then I added two 4-cylinder Crosley blocks to the crankcases. One block is a mirror image cast Crofton block so the same side can face up on both banks at the same time. The rods on one side are standard. The opposing side rod is the same on both ends, pinned to a double eye on the rod cap on the standard rod from the opposing side. The oil drains to a dry sump, and then is pumped back by a pump on the end of one cam.

This 88 CID engine has dual distributors, OHCs, carbs and stainless steel exhaust – and it roars! The 8 is a lot of fun at shows – especially when kids get too close to the three-quarter midget race car that it’s in and I’m a little ways away with a remote start control in my hand!

I also built a gasoline engine all out of wood, no metal parts, that runs, called Running Tree. I don’t know if these four engines qualify me to be a shade tree mechanic, and you still may not want me to work on your engine!

These engines are part of Shirley and Paul Gorrell’s world’s largest Crosley collection.

Contact the Gorrells at 11306 Mill Dam Road, Burlington, IA 52601 • (319) 753-1837