The Amazing Aerothrust

Now that I’ve got one, what do I do with it?


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Some years ago, I acquired two envelopes of information at an antique store about an Aerothrust engine. One is postmarked 1916 and addressed to Clarence Brown. I actually knew Clarence, but had lost contact with him. By the time I learned of his passing, his properties were disposed of, and although I had previously purchased a Model T Ford Rajo racing head and other antique auto parts from him, I was never aware he had an Aerothrust.

Every time I walked by our Miracle of America Museum display with the informational literature, I thought how nice it would be to find an Aerothrust.

A couple of years ago, a friend started describing a neat engine an older gent had that I might buy. Before he could finish, I interrupted, "That sounds like an Aerothrust!" He assured me it was and that the tank decal was still very readable.

Well, it took me a couple of years to swing the deal, but now the museum is the proud owner of an Aerothrust Model OPZ, serial no. 5126.

Other than Wendel's book, American Gasoline Engines Since 1872, showing a small engine with a Pormo centrifugal pumping unit and Peter Hunn's book, Beautiful Outboards, further information has been very elusive. Peter mentions he heard of a farmer using a 1919 model to blow stagnant summer air out of his dairy barn and of a few air-drive automobiles. He states it faded from the market around 1925. Perhaps this article will elicit more information.

The opposed mufflers are a unique feature that aren't shown in either the books or ads. The large round tank's screw-in cap doubles as an oil measure and the other portion is a reserve tank. It is a magneto model with a kill button on the end of the advance/retard lever. I would very much like to find an original or even a copy of an owner's or operator's manual.

After cleaning the engine, I wondered how best to display it in a useful pose. I had previously obtained an air sled from the son of a trapper. His father had built the sled to run his trap lines in Minnesota. It had originally been powered by a 1925-1929 Harley JD motorcycle engine. The engine had long ago taken a ride, however, and I haven't had good luck finding another.

I decided to mount my Aerothrust with an adapter plate that did not modify either the engine or the sled. I haven't tried to start it yet, but it looks awesome, as the visitors say, just sitting on display. This is just one of several rare and unique snow vehicles at the Miracle of America Museum.

Contact the Miracle of America Museum at: 36094 Memory Lane, Polson, MT 59860;