History Of The Kennebec

By Staff
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26 Riched Lane, Uncasville, CT 06382

I saw my first Kennebec marine engine at the April 26, 1987,
Bell-town, Connecticut, Antique Gas and Steam Engine Show. My
interest was piqued by the unusual sound of the one lunger and the
plate that listed Bath, Maine, my birth place, as the location of
the manufacturing company. I decided to find out what I , could
about the Kennebec and, two cycle, one lungers in general. With the
help of the Bath Maritime Museum, Bath, Maine, the following
information was obtained.

The Kennebec marine engine was built by the Torrey Roller
Bushing Works of Bath, Maine. Like many marine engine builders, the
Torrey Roller Bushing Works operated initially as a foundry and
machine shop.

Around the year 1904, the company expanded its product line to
include two cycle marine engines. This was a natural evolution
considering that Bath was, and still is, a very active shipbuilding
community. Like most engine builders of the day, Torrey stressed
the ‘splendid finish and fine looks’ of the Kennebec. In
those days, even ocean liners had viewing ports of the engine room

The Kennebec was offered in 1,2, and 3 cylinder versions that
ranged from 2 to 16 horsepower. The low position of the vaporizers
illustrated in the catalogue indicates that these engines were of a
two port design with either make and break or jump spark ignition.
Fishermen would choose the ‘salt-spray-proof’ low voltage
make and break. Torrey Roller Bushing Works operated their own
brass and iron foundries and opted to use brass for their
connecting rods. By 1908, the company offered some sizes in a two
balance wheel, stationary configuration.

Torrey paid Palmer Bros, the supreme compliment by using their
design as the baseline for the design of the Kennebec. Note, for
example, the flywheel pant cuff protector on the Kennebec is
identical to the one used on Palmer Bros, engines.  

The illustrations on these images have been provided by Nason
Lipfert of the Bath Maritime Museum. All are from a Kennebec
catalog except the one below, which was an ad appearing in the
April 1911 issue of Power Boating.

Torrey Roller Bushing Works continued with their main line of
marine fittings and fixtures until 1962 but they stopped building
marine engines about 1914 when World War I put demands on the
company forge for war work.

Two Kennebec engines are on display at the Bath Maritime Museum,
Bath, Maine.

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