98cc Villiers Midget Gas Engine Gets Around

FedEx delivers!

| June/July 2004

This is the story of "Priscilla," a 98cc Villiers Midget gas engine sent to me by my good friends Jim and Helen French of Leicester, England. Helen is the author of GEM'S 'Stationary Engine List' (SEL) column.

Priscilla, serial no. 76428775, is an air-cooled two-stroke antique gas engine and is believed to be a 98-cc Villiers Midget of the type built between 1931 and 1934. It was originally installed in an ATCO lawn mower. Jim has set everything up for me, including cutting down the throttle cable and mounting it onto the side of the petrol ('fuel' to us Americans) tank. The kick-starter is mounted onto the frame, and the engine is very stable sitting on its tripod mooring.

Jim, Helen and their two sons, Tom and Christian, have visited the United States three times, and the engine show in Portland, Ind., has been the centerpiece of their visit each time. A few engines have followed them home to England, but this time they sent one our way.

Villiers engines are very common in England, and most people there wouldn't give them the time of day. Here in the states, however, they are rare. I have attended the Portland show for the past 15 years, and I don't remember ever seeing a Villiers engine there. While some Villiers engines came to the states powering motorcycles, I have never seen one exhibited.

Relax, it's FedEx
On Feb. 26, 2004, Priscilla was shipped via FedEx from Kibworth, a village just south of Leicester in the center of England. Priscilla arrived in the U.S. around midnight the same day at the FedEx hub in Memphis, Tenn. Jim has a twin to this engine, and after tracking my engine to Tennessee, Jim decided to name his Villiers 'Elvis.' Thus, mine was named Priscilla.

By 8:30 a.m. on the following day, the box containing Priscilla was sitting in Mansfield, Ohio, waiting to be trucked to me. By about 1 p.m., it was in my hometown of Wharton, Ohio, a small community of 350 people. Only one little problem existed: There was no street address on the box, which had been shipped across the world addressed with only a post office box number.

6/29/2010 7:41:41 AM

I would love in particular to hear about timing this engine.