The British are Coming

Relatively uncommon on our shores, Stuart Turner engines were once a marine engine mainstay in Britain.

| August/September 2002

In 1958, Stuart Turner Model P5M, serial number 57578, a single-cylinder 4 HP, two-stroke gas engine, was supplied as original equipment on my sailing boat Mist, a Cheoy Lee Pacific Clipper, also known locally as the Frisco Flyer. The Stuart Turner had developed a bad habit of stopping abruptly after several minutes of operation, and when the Mist went to the yard for a weeping keel bolt, ending up in classic wooden boat fashion with a complete 'keelectomy,' I decided a rebuild of the engine was in order.


Cheoy Lee originally produced wooden commercial craft from a shipyard in Shanghai in the late 19th century, moving its operations to Hong Kong in 1936 where it still operates today, its primary product being large pleasure yachts.

My boat, Cheoy Lee ship number 722, Pacific Clipper #9, arrived in Richmond, Calif., in 1959 as deck cargo on a freighter from Hong Kong. Launched directly from the deck of the freighter with the mast unstepped, she was motored to Roland Reed Associates on the Oakland Embarcadero for commissioning. She was originally christened Betina and subsequently renamed Mist.

Stuart Turner Ltd. was incorporated in 1906, its first offerings consisting of model steam engines, lathes and small gas-powered engines for home light plants. In 1911 they introduced the Stuart Stella, a shaft-driven two-stroke, water-cooled motorcycle, and in 1919 they introduced their first two-stroke engine for stationary applications.

Single-cylinder 4 HP two-stroke Stuart Turner. In their heyday, Stuart Turner built thousands of these little engines every year. A twin-cylinder engine using many of the same internal parts was also made.

In 1928, the story goes, a Danish businessman asked Stuart Turner to build engines for pleasure boats, and so in 1929, with an order for 50 engines, Stuart Turner went into the marine engine business. From that time until the late 1930s Stuart Turner enjoyed a virtual monopoly on small marine engines in the UK market.