The YT-1 and YT-2 Marine Engines


| June/July 1999



Marine Engine

YT-1 1922-1924 style intake 1938 engine.

Jr. 40021 Ben Morgan Road Leonardtown, Maryland 20650-2521. Copyright retained.

In my opinion, the two most sought-after antique marine engines are the Palmer Bros, of Cos Cob, Connecticut, models YT-1 and YT-2. The YT stood for 'Yacht Tender.' They were widely used in that application, but they also were popular with working watermen. These engines are beautifully running at very low speed, small, lightweight, and it's fun to watch all the motion. They have exposed overhead valves and an exposed eccentric and strap operating the water pump plunger. A few have magnetos but most have Cuno timers with T Ford 'Buzz' coils for ignition.

Around the Chesapeake Bay, the YT-1 was a popular engine for small crabbing skiffs. This was probably due to the much better fuel consumption of a four-cycle engine over the turn of the century two-cycle engines that had powered many of the watercraft favored by the watermen.

The YT-1 was released for sale in December 1921 and was made until 1947. By the 1920s the watermen were replacing their two-cycle engines with new four-cycle engines as most of the early engines were long since beyond reasonable repair. On the other hand, the two-cycle marine engine with make and break ignition held on in the Canadian Maritimes up until at least the mid-1960s. I believe this was due in a major part to the area weather conditions, and often the watermen had essentially open boats. The proven reliability of the low voltage make and break ignition over jump spark under adverse weather conditions demanded a waterman stick with proven technology. It is true four-cycle marine engines were made with make and break ignition, however I don't believe they were commonly made after the early 1930s, particularly in the sizes needed by watermen. A two-cycle M&B marine engine is still made in limited production in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

The ignition system was the most troublesome portion of the marine engine. Dampness and water, particularly salt water, corrosion were two very active participants in the daily lives of watermen. One of the ways watermen dealt with these two very troublesome problems was they would put the 'Buzz' or M&B coil along with the battery in a small wooden box. The cover or lid was arranged so water would not run into the box. The two or three wires to the engine would be lead out of the box with the holes for the wires slanted down so water could not run down the wires into the box. Often the box would have a leather strap which the waterman could slip over his shoulder so he could carry the box home and put it by the kitchen stove to dry out during the night. This same setup is also great for running marine engines at shows.

The YT-1 developed 2 HP at 800 rpm. It swung a three-blade, 12' diameter by 10' pitch prop, weight 130 lbs., bore 3', stroke 3?.' There were two flywheel diameters. Some early YT's had flywheels 11' diameter, and later units had 12' diameter flywheels.