My Wall Engine (s)

Model J Dusenberg Engine

Content Tools

7625 College Park Drive Brooklyn Park, Minnesota 55445

The story of this model engine could be a long one, if  I only knew the whole story to tell. But, since I don't, maybe it will be short enough to print! I have been trying to collect a few pieces of 'Old Iron,' and at the same time put a few select pieces of machine shop equipment in my garage with limited space not easy, as you all know. I bought a rotary table for my mill from a friend in the used tooling business. I didn't know the original owner, but was told that the tool had only been used once. The owner had machined one part for a Model J Dusenberg that he was restoring.

Some time later, I bought a stationary steam engine through this same friend in the tooling business, again not knowing the original owner. I was told that the steam engine was originally on a steam ship on Lake Superior, just a couple of hundred miles north of here. No connection, right?

Some time later, my friend in the tooling business called up (my wife hates when he calls, because I always end up spending money) and wanted to know if I were interested in buying a couple of model engine kits. This has always been in my mind, because they take up less space than the 'real thing,' so I told him that I was absolutely interested! He gave me the owner's name and phone number, so I called him and made an appointment.

After introductions, etc. (I took my wife along and she was guarding the check book), we went into his basement to look at the engine kits. After studying the bunch of parts, assemblies, etc. of the engine which is pictured here (more on this later), I noticed a picture of an antique car on his wall. I asked him what make and model it was, and you probably guessed, it was a Model J Dusenberg which he had purchased in 1961 and totally restored to show room condition. This man, whose name is Elmer Franzen, was fast becoming a very good friend! He was discovered, after much talk, to be the original owner of the items mentioned above that I had purchased. Elmer had retired from his own machine shop and had taken up some interesting hobbies.

I did purchase the first model, pictured here, from him. Yes, you guessed right again, I purchased the other model kit (which I have yet to start on), plus a model airplane engine, a Wankel, and he also donated a two cylinder steam engine which he started when he was about 10 years old, but never finished. It fits in the palm of your hand, and I now have that running, since it was only missing the valve mechanism.

Elmer had purchased the model two-cylinder engine from the same man that he bought the Duisenberg from in 1961. On his way down to get the Duisenberg, they happened to pass by a golf course, and he commented to his friend who had gone along to help. 'Look at those fools out there chasing that little ball around the pasture,' or something like that. More on this later. Anyway, he put the model engine aside for a later time (after all, he had a bigger toy to work on). Sometime after he retired, work was started on the little engine. Unfortunately, or fortunately for me, he got bit by the 'golf bug.' That was the end of his model engine work! He is now enjoying golf, spending winters in Florida!

When I bought the engine, the crank case halves were finished, along with the crank, cylinder walls, cooling fins, pistons and connecting rods. I had a lot of fun, and some challenges, in finishing the rest of the engine. The four lobed camshaft was most fun! The carburetor was also a lot of fun, because of a lot of small fuel passages, and a crab float that was only about 5/8' in diameter.

Spark is provided by a 6 volt motorcycle battery connected through a 6 volt automotive coil, and fired through automotive points on the cam shaft. Both the battery and coil are contained in the 'battery' box. The fuel tank is made from a large brass sleeve bearing. I sealed up the ends after machining the surfaces smooth, and made fittings.

Now by this point, you may be wondering why I haven't identified the engine. This is because up until about this point in the story, I did not know what the engine was! About a year ago, I wrote GEM and asked for help in finding the identification. Several of you good readers came to my rescue, and I learned that the engine was a model of a drone aircraft engine that was used before and during WWII. That explained the air cooled design, but no cooling fan. Pilots would use the drone (pilot less airplane) for target practice while in air combat training for the armed services. I also learned that the model kit is still available from Cole's Power Models in Ventura, California. The only hint I have on the age of the original design is from the set of blue prints that came with the kit. The only date here is on the one page for machining the crankshaft halves and it is 6-24- 32. The full name and origin of the kit is: 'The Wall Wizard,' two cylinder opposed, 4 cycle gasoline engine, designed and built by E. A. (Elmer) Wall. The carburetor print gives the address as E. A. Wall, 900 Fairfield Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Elmer Wall apparently marketed several engines, but I have no history on his company. My friend Elmer Franzen knew one of the sons of Elmer Wall, but has had no recent contact with him.

It might be interesting to note that the second model that I purchased from Elmer Franzen is also a Wall engine. It is a 50cc, four cylinder in-line, four cycle, valve-in-head engine. It has the same basic carburetor as the one I just completed, and also has an internal oil pump, and a water pump. This engine was still in its original carton, wrapped in war newspaper when I got it. It was shipped from the Wall Factory by the Railway Express Agency on November 2,1942.

kevin mcdermott
5/13/2012 1:54:56 AM

I am the great grandson of Elmer wall my grandfather being his only son Robert growing up hearing the stories of Elmer I have alway bin interested in his affairs Elmer wall had a electric car repair shop in Chicago befor the great depration and had designed engines in 1929 he did what he had to to keep food on the table for his family and formed wall engines and castings a compenie he ran from the basement of his houses casting and machining all the engine parts himself with machines driven by