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
I still have two other two-strokers, but now they are a 6 HP
Detroit and a Fairmont condenser engine. Maybe someday I’ll
find another early two-cycle engine but I doubt that it will be any
more unusual than McDuff No. 154.