Saved from the flames
Robert Dahs' 1944 370 HP Climax V-85 antique gas engine rescued from a junkyard blast furnace.
1944 370 HP Climax V-85
Manufacturer: Climax Engine & Pump Mfg. Co., Clinton, IA
Serial number: 51559
While walking the local junkyard about five years ago I saw a recently delivered power unit with three various voltage electric generators mounted on factory steel H-beams. I quickly found out it was a 370 HP Climax V-85 engine.
It looked complete but ever too close to the torches, so I talked to the owner and worked out a deal. He kept the three generating units while I got the engine, radiator and H-beams. He said it was going to be in the blast furnace by week’s end! We loaded the engine and he weighed me out.
Bringing the beast home
After loading the engine and weighing out (13,800 pounds), I took it to my neighbors where I used his three forklifts to unload it onto blocks until I could figure out how I was going to handle it. I had recently scrapped out a single axle semi-trailer, and after measuring, I discovered the engine would fit right into place.
I welded an H-beam to the front end with a pintle hitch, which allows me to pull it around with my pickup. With no suspension or brakes, it starts to bounce over 10 MPH so I just drive slowly.
Background on the V-85
I was told this Climax engine was taken out of service after Sept. 11, 2001, as a backup power unit to lift one of the large railroad bridges over the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio. It was replaced by a 12-cylinder diesel Caterpillar.
It runs on liquid petroleum gas, and since it ran when it came out of service I decided I would like to hear it run again. After some starter issues, the engine started after turning over three or four times. What a sound!
The engine is a V-8 with two distributors, two magnetos, 16 sparkplugs, two 12-volt starters and two vaporizers and mixers. You can run it on four or eight cylinders, and the oil pan is designed with a flat bottom so it can be mounted on a floor.
According to C.H. Wendel in the April/May 1990 issue of Gas Engine Magazine, Climax Engine Co. of Clinton, Iowa was bought out by Waukesha Motor Co. of Waukesha, Wisc., in the mid-1950s. The Clinton plant continued to produce engines for a for a few years but the former Climax V-8 and V-12 engines were redesigned and known as Waukesha engines, as were all of the engines produced at the Clinton plant.
I kid my neighbors that I’m going to repower my Crosley pickup with this engine. They just look at me and shake their heads. It also draws a lot of attention when I fire it up at shows!
Contact Robert Dahs, 4814 Delematre Rd., Monroeville, OH 44847 • (419) 359-1837.