THE OLDEST New Hampshire Made Engine?

| October/November 1989

  • 6 HP Detroit Engine

  • Fairmont Condenser Engine

  • 6 HP Detroit Engine
  • Fairmont Condenser Engine

RFD #1 No. Woodstock, New Hampshire 03262

A couple of years ago, I finally acquired a very unusual engine, one that also holds the title of this story. The story actually starts about seven years ago when my friend Fred Prichard, of Plymouth, acquired an unusual two-cycle engine from a local second-hand merchant. Over the phone, the dealer claimed that the engine was a McDuff, a price was agreed upon and the engine was delivered. Upon first examination, the words were 'That's not a McDuff- no way.' It didn't resemble any McDuff around and it didn't have any name on it. After removing much rust and dirt though, W. J. McDuff, Lake-port, New Hampshire 154 was found neatly stamped in the top of the head.

I first saw the engine about four days after it arrived and I promptly expressed my interest in the engine. Fred, knowing my interest in two-strokers, understood. At the time I had a 1? HP Detroit and a Fairmont QM. In time the engine was cleaned up and the base refinished, cooling tank and gas tank replaced and wiring redone. On the first try the engine started and ran fine. When the engine was shut off there was an awful clanking in the crankcase. Examination revealed one of the oddities of the engine; there is only a top half to the rod bearing. Being a two-cycle engine, every down stroke is a power stroke, so the engine was built with a bronze top half bearing and a strap so that the rod can't come off the crank throw.

A bit of history was learned from the dealer, who, it turns out, bought the engine from the original owner's family.

In the fall of 1903 a man from Meredith went to the McDuff factory in Lakeport (about a 10 mile trip) to buy an engine to saw wood. What McDuff built was a single cylinder, 4?' bore and 4?' stroke, two-cycle with a flywheel governor, air intake in the base, oil lube on the main bearings, battery and coil start and a Holtzer-Cabot generator for running. The ignitor is tripped by the baffle which is bolted to a flat top piston. Cooling is by thermo-syphon. This was done during McDuff's first year of production and appears to be a modification of their earliest design marine engine. At some point in time it was frozen, for there is a blacksmith's patch around about one half of the outside water jacket. The engine was in actual use into the 1950's, sawing firewood every fall.

Finally, Fred decided that the engine could go, and that he could use the space for another piece of rusty old iron. A trade was made for some similar age tin toys and I eventually loaded it into my truck for the short trip home. I enjoy the engine enough that I keep it in a corner of the dining room where it stays warm and dry.


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