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1943 300hp Atlas Imperial

Learn about this giant World War II-era Atlas Imperial diesel and how it was recused from a garbage scow and put on display for all to see.

| December/January 2020

The Vista, Calif., Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum’s 1943 300hp Atlas Imperial.

1943 300hp Atlas Imperial

Manufacturer: Atlas Imperial Diesel Engine Co., Oakland, CA
Year: 1943
Serial No.: N/A
Horsepower: 300hp @ 300 rpm
Engine: 6-cylinder, 0,348ci displacement
Bore and Stroke: 11-1/2in x 15in
Ignition: Diesel Compression Ignition
Governing: Volume
Cooling: Water
Weight: 33,100lb

The Atlas as found in the fishing boat the Rival. The engine originally powered a Navy garbage scow.

We have a very nice Atlas Imperial engine at the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum in Vista, California. It is a 6-cylinder engine with an 11-1/2-inch bore and a 15-inch stroke. It weighs 33,100 pounds, has a displacement of 9,348 cubic inches and generates 300hp at 300rpm. Some pretty big numbers, but the most important thing is that it is a good spectator engine as all of the valve mechanism is fully exposed. That, and all of the air-start valving make it one of our best attractions. This is the story of how we got it. 

The Beginning

Looking back, it was such a big job that I doubt we would have started had we known what we were up against in advance. It required a complete overhaul of our compressed air system, 20 yards of concrete and about 1,000 feet of rebar. It was a huge job that took three years and got perhaps 40 people involved at one time or another.

Looking down on the Atlas’ valve gear.

In 2011, member Ross Brock attended one of our board meetings and mentioned that there was an interesting engine that we might get. Our museum director told me it might be worth looking into. I got ahold of Ross, who I did not know at the time, and he made arrangements for a visit to see this engine. It was in a boat, and I thought poking around in a boat would be fun even if the engine was a dud. My wife, Diane, and I got a ride out to the boat and took a look at things. The engine was in the Rival, a boat that was purchased at a surplus auction from the Navy by Everingham Bros. in 1974. It was originally the YG-29 and was converted into a small purse seiner and used to catch live bait.


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