Scale-Model Engines Designed by Dick Upshur

Scale progression

| July/August 2004

  • Farm Engine
    A slightly larger farm engine model that I designed in 1976. Plans for building it were published in 1988 in Strictly IC, and again with improvements in that magazine in 2000. Many of these have been made both in the U.S. and abroad, and this model has been used as a project in technical schools for machine shop training. The bore is 3/4-inch, it has a 1-inch stroke and it can be made with or without hit-and-miss governing. There are no castings used except for the spoked flywheels. I know that lovers of brass have made several examples of this engine entirely of polished brass.
    Photo by Dick Upshur
  • Farm Engine
    My first farm engine. I made it in 1945, working from my memory of engines on our farm. At the time, I was assigned to a mobile machine shop at the Amendola Bomber Field in southern Italy. The war in Europe was mostly over, and work was slack as we awaited our return home. Mom mailed me a model spark plug to fire the engine, which ran, but poorly. The flywheels were just steel discs, and there was no governor, name-plate or paint.
    Photo by Dick Upshur
  • Air-Cooled Vertical Model Engine
    An air-cooled vertical model engine I designed in 1990. It is entirely fabricated construction in steel and aluminum, although others have made it completely of brass. Both valves are cam and rocker actuated, and the carburetor is a throttling type. The counter-balanced crankshaft has the connecting rod slinging oil in the enclosed case. Plans for construction of this engine were also published in Strictly IC magazine in 1998, and modelers have built many of these. It starts easily with a cord around the fly wheel pulley and is quite lively in throttle response. I added the intake filter on my original for outdoor running at dusty gas engine meets. Bore of this engine is 3/4-inch and stroke is 7/8-inch.
    Photo by Dick Upshur
  • Air Cooled Engine
    An offspring of the engine in Photo #4. It's an opposed two-cylinder, and the similarities are quite evident. It was designed in 2000, and a number of these have been completed and run by other builders. Fabricated construction again is in steel and aluminum, although I have seen one in brass already. The breaker points operate at crankshaft speed, and a simple distributor is driven at camshaft speed. The low-mounted throttling carburetor works well, and again an air filter was added for dusty meets. The major problem with this design has been too much oil churning around in the case and blowing out the exhaust pipes. I have found the oil level is somewhat critical and have added a dipstick to monitor it. The bore on this engine is also 3/4-inch and stroke 0.72-inch.
    Photo by Dick Upshur
  • Model Engine
    A model engine that leaves no doubt men have been scaling down farm engines for a long time. The history of this model is unknown, but its features and construction speak strongly of sometime about 1925 to 1930. 1 bought it from a 90-year-old man who had it in his attic for 15 years, and it came with model locomotive parts he acquired. It had been run a great deal and was worn some, but the real headache in its restoration was the fabricated sheet steel base, soft soldered together inside with brass angles. The gun-blued headless cylinder was cast in iron, and a cast brass bearing plate was soldered atop the sheet steel. The flywheels may have been steam engine castings but were nickel-plated with gold-striped red spokes. The whole frame was nickel-plated and the two-piece hex brass spark plug (l/2-by-20-inch thread) had a cast ceramic insulator.
    Photo by Dick Upshur

  • Farm Engine
  • Farm Engine
  • Air-Cooled Vertical Model Engine
  • Air Cooled Engine
  • Model Engine

Editor's note: Sadly, Dick Upshur passed away on March 26, 2006 after a long battle with cancer. His scale-model engine plans are still available for sale through his daughter, Helen Upshur Whitcher. For more information, visit Dick's website. 

I am so pleased Gas Engine Magazine is offering scale-model engine builders the opportunity to describe some of their work. Since the demise several years ago of the magazine Strictly IC, I which was devoted exclusively to model internal-combustion engines, no other publication has remained to convey information on our facet of the old-engine hobby.

The fine feature article on Eric Brekke's model Alamo in the December 2003 GEM mentioned that Brekke had built a Dick Upshur scale model engine. Myself being Hamilton Upshur (also know as Dick), I am happy for the opportunity to send along photos and descriptions of some of my scale-model engine plans, as I have been designing and building them since 1945.

Scale Progression
When the model farm engine hobby began to emerge about 1960, the model was refined to the condition shown and run at gas engine shows for many years. At the time, it was probably the smallest one around, with only a 5/8-inch bore and a 7/8-inch stroke. It's all fabricated except the flywheels.



The carburetor, gas tank (hidden in the base) and lubricator were missing. The intake valve is hidden in the intake body. Whoever made it had some ideas of his own about cooling, since I know of no real engines with the system he devised. The hopper is small and an eccentric-driven plunger pump moves water from the engine base into the hopper where an overflow pipe and funnel return it to the base. The entire sheet metal base was a water reservoir and was so rusty it could not be salvaged. I fabricated a completely new one identical to the original in dimension and construction with an integrated gas tank. Along with a new carburetor and lubricator, this was quite tedious and time consuming, but to my delight the engine ran promptly and well - except it was prone to kick the set screw wheels loose, thus disabling the governor. The engine has a 1-inch bore and a 1-1/2-inch stroke. It is now in the model engine collection of Peter Renzetti in Delaware.

I am happy to see model engines getting some exposure through GEM.

andy schilder
1/21/2013 6:26:59 AM

Hamilton's engine plans can be found ONLY at UpshurEngineWorks.com please redirect your old URLs to the new address as to avoid 404 errors Thank you -Andy