1910 Standard Marine Engine

Leon Ridenour restores a 1910 Standard 25 hp marine engine.

| October/November 2016


1910 Standard 25 hp marine engine

Photo by Leon Ridenour

Standard marine 25 hp

Manufacturer: Standard Motor Construction Co., Jersey City, NJ
Year: Circa 1910
Serial no.: NA
Horsepower: 25 hp @ 600rpm (est.)
Bore & stroke: 4in x 5in
Weight.: 465lb w/ starter
Ignition: Spark plug w/high-tension Bosch AT4 magneto

Some 20 years ago, vintage tractor, auto and engine collector Bob Engle got a call from a local auto shop after a young man, driving from Vermont and passing through Florida on his way to who knows where, had ended up at the shop on the end of a tow truck, his own truck broken and in need of repair. The young man didn’t have $750 to pay the shop bill, but he did have an old engine he’d trade.

The shop owner wasn’t interested in the engine, he just wanted to be paid. Knowing of Bob’s interest in old iron, he called Bob, who paid the young man’s bill in exchange for the engine, a circa-1910 Standard 25 hp 4-cylinder marine. Bob took the engine home, and started assessing his new project. “He disassembled it, but it just sat after that because he found cracks in the cylinder and he had no way to repair them,” friend and engine restorer Leon Ridenour says. “Bob found another collector who expressed interest in the project, but backed away when he saw the cracks and – perhaps more challenging – the missing helical drive gears for the magneto, jack shaft and camshaft.

About 10 years ago, Bob found someone at the Portland engine show who was able to repair the freeze cracks in the front cylinder casting (the 4-cylinder, water-cooled engine features two castings of two cylinders each) using nickel spray welding, a process that required heating the casting up to almost cherry red and would have minor ramifications later on. The engine sat for another eight years or so, and it was in the interim that Bob and Leon, who both hail from Tennessee, struck up a friendship after meeting one another at engine shows.

Getting into it

A retired nuclear technician at the National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and now retired, Leon had taken up metal work – mostly lots of lathe work and milling – as a hobby. Leon’s quick to point out he’s not a machinist, simply “experienced” at running a lathe. “You get a lot of experience by making a lot of scrap,” Leon says. Leon’s machining and engine interests aligned nicely, and about 14 years ago he decided to make a working replica of the “Kitchen Sink Engine,” Henry Ford’s first gasoline engine, a little single-cylinder, maybe 1/4 hp engine Ford built out of scrap parts in 1893 and famously clamped to his kitchen sink to test it with his wife, Clara.

That replica spawned a mini-business providing plans and instruction to other engine enthusiasts – many in the U.K. and Australia – interested in building their own. About two years ago Bob, appreciating Leon’s abilities, asked Leon if he could make a main bearing cap for the Standard to replace the missing the cap at the flywheel end. “I said, OK, I can do that – and it was just a slow immersion after that: It got deeper and deeper,” Leon says...