The Amazing Aerothrust

By Staff
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An envelope and letter from Aerothrust Co. of La Porte, Ind., mailed Dec. 9, 1916, to Clarence Brown of Polson, Mont. According to C.H. Wendel, little is heard of the company after 1917.
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The Aerothrust engine and the tag, showing no. 5126.
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View of the sled, engine propeller and the beautiful tank decal.
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View of the sled, engine propeller and the beautiful tank decal.
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View of the sled, engine propeller and the beautiful tank decal.
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A price list for 3 and 5 HP engines, Aero-sleds and accessories, ranging from $20-$200.
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An updated price list, as of Jan. 1, 1917, now ranging from $20-$210. Not a huge jump in price, but the company attributed it to an increase in the cost of raw materials.
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An early ad for Aerothrust, which states the engine was designed for the propulsion of rowboats, canoes or ice boats. Other uses include a sawing or pumping outfit and even a road vehicle.
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The Aerothrust in use.

Some years ago, I acquired two envelopes of information at an
antique store about an Aerothrust engine. One is postmarked 1916
and addressed to Clarence Brown. I actually knew Clarence, but had
lost contact with him. By the time I learned of his passing, his
properties were disposed of, and although I had previously
purchased a Model T Ford Rajo racing head and other antique auto
parts from him, I was never aware he had an Aerothrust.

Every time I walked by our Miracle of America Museum display
with the informational literature, I thought how nice it would be
to find an Aerothrust.

A couple of years ago, a friend started describing a neat engine
an older gent had that I might buy. Before he could finish, I
interrupted, “That sounds like an Aerothrust!” He assured me it was
and that the tank decal was still very readable.

Well, it took me a couple of years to swing the deal, but now
the museum is the proud owner of an Aerothrust Model OPZ, serial
no. 5126.

Other than Wendel’s book, American Gasoline Engines Since 1872,
showing a small engine with a Pormo centrifugal pumping unit and
Peter Hunn’s book, Beautiful Outboards, further information has
been very elusive. Peter mentions he heard of a farmer using a 1919
model to blow stagnant summer air out of his dairy barn and of a
few air-drive automobiles. He states it faded from the market
around 1925. Perhaps this article will elicit more information.

The opposed mufflers are a unique feature that aren’t shown in
either the books or ads. The large round tank’s screw-in cap
doubles as an oil measure and the other portion is a reserve tank.
It is a magneto model with a kill button on the end of the
advance/retard lever. I would very much like to find an original or
even a copy of an owner’s or operator’s manual.

After cleaning the engine, I wondered how best to display it in
a useful pose. I had previously obtained an air sled from the son
of a trapper. His father had built the sled to run his trap lines
in Minnesota. It had originally been powered by a 1925-1929 Harley
JD motorcycle engine. The engine had long ago taken a ride,
however, and I haven’t had good luck finding another.

I decided to mount my Aerothrust with an adapter plate that did
not modify either the engine or the sled. I haven’t tried to start
it yet, but it looks awesome, as the visitors say, just sitting on
display. This is just one of several rare and unique snow vehicles
at the Miracle of America Museum.

Contact the Miracle of America Museum at: 36094 Memory Lane,
Polson, MT 59860; info@miracleofamericamuseum.org
www.miracleofamericamuseum.org

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