9056 Riverside Dr. Brighton, Michigan 48116
My newest creation isn’t a model of any one particular
engine, but is a hybrid of several.
Over the past few years, I’ve taken an interest in mostly
unusual, strange, or just plain oddball engines.
You may recall my story about the Webster, or the New Polo
pieces or maybe even the Stickney or Titan side shafts.
Well, lately I’ve been mystified by the gearless engines and
decided to try my hand at a model of one.
I looked at the McVicker style, but thought that the extra
cylinder and linkages to the exhaust valve looked too critical for
me to duplicate and still have it work when it was done. I talked
to a collector who specializes in Mc-Vickers, (he has several) and
I asked him how they ran. His reply was: ‘Pretty good. I can go
out to the shop, and in two or three hours I can usually get one of
them to run.’
Now, at this point, I’m going to let you in on my own
criterion for building a model. If the original one is fussy, the
model will be worse. Believe me, some of the originals were more
temperamental than others. I leave these for someone else to
But back to the McVicker. I did like the piston tripped ignitor,
so hence the ‘Mc’ in the name of my latest toy.
Then I looked at a Wogamon. Now this is an unusual and fairly
rare piece. A fellow collector in Michigan has a nicely restored
one, and it has the double loop crossover and follower, but with a
strange twist. One of the loops on the crankshaft is deeper than
the other, so that when it goes to the shallow loop it moves the
followers back and pulls on a bell crank to open the exhaust valve.
Unique, but difficult to duplicate on a scale model. (Not enough
movement to open the valve sufficiently.) It also uses a spark
plug, and anyone who knows me knows I don’t like ’em.
They’re fine to collect and put in a display, but not in my
But I like the double loop, so I incorporated it into my
The next gearless I studied was a Weber. I liked it because the
cam is beside the double loop on the crank and stands up higher
than the rest of the collar, so it has a more conventional pushrod
action except it has to be hinged. I guess you’d have to see it
to understand what I’m talking about. I also liked its governor
mechanism so I used it too. Hence the be on the end of the name of
my half-breed. (Now that might be something else altogether.)
I also looked at an Olds gearless, and even got to work on a
very nice original condition one owned by Kenny Wolf. We got it
running without too much work. (I’d say it hadn’t been run
in many, many years.) But I’m still not sure exactly how it
worked! I may try to model this one someday when I feel real
So now, I had to find something to use for a basis for this
conglomeration, and just so happened to have a set of castings for
a type A Domestic sitting around.
After machining the base, cylinder, crank and flywheels to the
original prints, I proceeded on my own. Using my calibrated
eyeball, I made a head that looked satisfactory, and then came the
tricky part-the double loop crossover. I could bore you all to
death with the details, but I won’t. Suffice to say, it came
out alright. Then came the hinged pushrod with telescoping follower
and I was on my way.
Everything went pretty smoothly after those parts were out of
the way, and I finished it up about two weeks later. These pictures
attest to its completion, and it will be available for viewing at
Portland this summer.
Also I scaled an Armstrong engine last winter. These have a
timing gear that isn’t round. It’s in the shape of a cam
and is mounted on an arm that is held engaged with the crankshaft
gear by a spring. The arm moves forward into the pushrod as the
gear turns out of center on the arm. Again, it’s easier to see
than it is to explain.
I used a set of headless Witte castings for the basic engine
with a few cosmetic changes to more closely resemble the Armstrong.
I had to put a head on it, which necessitated cutting the front out
of the cylinder. The oddball cam gear was the trickiest part to
devise, but I laid it out on an oversized cam and cut cog wheel
teeth into it and matching teeth in the round crankshaft gear.
It worked out real nicely, except that it’s kinda noisy and
it’s not supposed to be. The original literature on the
Armstrong says it’s ‘Virtually silent.’ Well, my
‘ain’t.’ It’s as loud as a thrashing machine. Oh
well, it works anyway. The amazing thing about the Armstrong is
watching the movement of that crazy gear!
I’ll have both engines at Portland, along with anything else
I dream up. So make sure to look me up and we’ll swap lies
about these and other crazy, oddball engines. And if it doesn’t
get deep enough, we’ll go get Wolf, that oughta help!