2024 Gambels Way, Santa Rosa, California 95403
A few years ago, while attending a show, I spotted a small
engine nestled among some big wheeled hit and misses. What I saw
was a vertical Perkins, a tiny version of the real thing. The
owner/builder explained to me the possibilities of gas engine model
The engines pictured are as follows: A Galloway cast by Richard
Shelly, it sits on an oak base with inset Bocote wood skids. The
Fairbanks-Morse cast by Tom Stuart sits on a base made of Cocobolo
wood. The Olds is a Paul Breisch casting resting on a maple base.
The Fuller & Johnson cast by Ed Chick sits on a tulipwood
For people not familiar with gas engine models, I’d like to
say that when purchasing a model you receive cast pieces of brass
and iron. When done machining these parts you end up with the
beginning of an engine. Most models also come with a chunk of cast
aluminum that will become the piston. Now you can store, under the
work bench, the fixtures and jigs you built to hold the cast pieces
you machined. I use factory-made timing gears, but if you have the
tooling you can cut your own.
With the casting out of the way, there are things still to do.
You need a crankshaft, cam, valves, rods, pins, studs, lots of
springs, and a bunch of other stuff. With all this completed, a
little paint on the cast pieces, a full assembly job and base.
There it is, sitting there all done you can almost hear it running!
Well, from my experience I can tell you it’s going to be a
little bit longer before it’s running. Tuning in the springs,
setting the carb, the timing, seating the valves and rings, getting
the governor to act ‘normal’ well, it’s all worth it in
The four engines pictured all have one-piece cranks, all
miscellaneous parts are brass or stainless. I run them all on
propane. It takes some time to figure out the setting and timing,
but once that’s done they run fine. It’s a little easier to
set up on gas. Cold starting on propane can be tedious at times.
I’ve built my carburetors with chokes, which helps. I’ve
played with ignitors on the engines, but have decided to stick with
spark plugs at this point. When someone out there comes up with a
scaled down ignitor that is as trouble-free as a CMG spark plug
I’m in the process of building a stove pipe Domestic model
by Richard Shelly. It’s a neat little side shaft. I’m
looking for a DeBolt casting of a vertical Perkins. If anyone out
there can help me locate one I’d like to hear from you.
On closing I’d like to thank, for their help and knowledge,
the men who made the castings, model builders Homer Stevens, Bob
Carr, Mike Moyers and Jim Gehringer; also Leo Fellman for his help
with propane regulation, and Bob Schneider for the use of his wood