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Mystery car engines Westbury's Atom V Suzor 30 Octura 30
Reynolds 0.8cc Sharvell four stroke Smith Mystery Clifford 30


 Any ideas please?

Thank you for your offer to post the photos of the two tethered car engines in the hope that we may find out some history. They are model car two stroke glow plug engines - both 0.75 inch bore and about 5cc capacity. One has a centrifugal clutch and the other an iron flywheel and they are both rear disc induction via a simple intake tube and spray bar. One looks earlier than the other and they have similarities in design. The later one has very good castings, the earlier fabricated cylinder and transfers from steel. The earlier one has a two piece glow plug with alloy body, the later a round headed KLG glow plug. They are both very well built and in excellent mechanical condition with smooth bearings and excellent compression. The cast crankcase engine has a white rubber plug stopper to protect the exhaust port from dirt. The engines were found in a loft this year after a bereavement in Lancashire. They were removed from their cars which were then unfortunately disposed of before the ebay sale. The son of the original owner has recently advised me that his father was from the Leicester area when he used the engines in the period around 1950. He thought that the engines were built by a Mr Clark of Parkhill Drive, Aylestone, Leicester around 1948-50 and that they were used in cars built by a Bob Gerard of Blackbird Road, Leicester. I know very little about tethered car engines as my main interest is in model aircraft engines. Hopefully others may be add further detail and information to the history of these interesting engines. Please e-mail me at johntowell@dsl.pipex.com   Jan 09


Not Just an Atom, but the original Atom V.

This is reputed to be the original Atom V that Edgar Westbury experimented with in the 1930s. it is believed that he did not build any of his engines but relied on friends to create them. This motor was part of Gerry Buck's extensive collection, having come from Colonel Bowden, who did a great deal of work and experiment with Westbury. The Atom V was the last of the family of motors carrying that name that Westbury designed, starting with the 52cc Atom I from 1925. The Atom II was reduced to 30cc for hydroplane use but was destroyed in a bench test and so was developed into the Atom III. The IV was for aircraft use and never developed.  The rest of the family and another Westbury original will be featured next month.

Thanks again to Dave Noakes and Eric Offen for these rarities and photo's.      Dec 08


A 'Gallic' rarity.

One of the true icons of the tethered hydroplane world was Mons. Gems Suzor, who started competing around 1921 and attended the first ever MPBA regatta at Victoria Park in 1925. Suzor worked primarily with two strokes, driving on the development of this type of engine. He was a 'lateral thinker' with his ideas, especially on inlet systems and eventually ended up with six carburettors on one engine. This superbly engineered 30cc example with his name prominent on the transfer cover has just two carburettors and was probably built from castings that Suzor produced and sold via his Paris model shop. As well as the shop, he was a prolific author and magazine publisher, and continued to run his boats in France and England through to 1964, when he made his last trip to the International regatta.

Thanks to Dave Noakes for this item and Eric Offen for the photographs.                Nov 08


Large, and a record holder.

Eric Offen identified this motor from the picture below as an Octura. Better than that, it is the original engine that was the basis for the Octura series of racing motors marketed by Tom Perzentka. Designed and built by Charles Watkins, this 30cc engine set a new American 'A' Class record of 81.81mph in Toronto in 1951. The motor was available from Octura in 30, 15 and 10cc capacities and castings were still available until relatively recently. This is the motor that featured in a series of match races in 1957 between Watkins and George Lines with 'Big Sparky'  after George had emigrated to the US. It was thought that having to run silencers in the UK restricted the performance of British boats, but this did not seem to be born out during these contests.                     Oct 08


Little and Large.

It would be wrong to make absolute claims about relative sizes, but these two certainly represent extremes and both date from 1951. The diminutive 0.8cc diesel has seen service in both a tethered boat and a car and is yet another example of the amazing variety of two and four-stroke engines produced by Doug Reynolds. Along with his other motors, this lovely little piece of 'watch making' was extensively refurbished by him in 1992.The amazing story of Doug and his modelling career has already been recorded by OTW and can be seen by clicking here.

The same £1 coin that shows the scale of the diesel, neatly fits into the venturi of this massive 30cc hydroplane motor. This is just a taster as the whole motor will be featured in a later pitbox, when its history is fully unravelled. What is known is that it came from the most competitive era of American tethered hydroplane racing when the likes of Bob Palmer, Charles Watkins, Ed Kalfus and Tom Perzentka were producing superbly engineered racing motors. In 1951 this motor took the American 'A' class record at 81 mph.

Sept 08


Miniature masterpiece from H.L Sharvell.

Only the size of the plug gives an idea of the tiny proportions of this beautiful engine. in the 1930s, Harry Sharvell of the South London Club was mechanic to the great British Speedway rider Tommy Price, and the motor cycle influence is clear to see. At around 7cc this motor was intended for the sub 15cc class that came into being in the late 30s. With the intervention of the Second War, and domination of the 'C' class by two-strokes following it, this jewel of an engine never saw action. Arthur Weaver did persist with a 10cc four stroke through to the 1960s but it was totally outclassed.  Thanks to John Goodall. Aug 08


A Gerald Smith 'Head Scratcher'.

Was it built for car use, given the specially cast end plates and original lugs being machined off? The front and rear housings are definitely Lapwing, but the crankcase looks suspiciously like a Wizard with the tapered fins.

There are no bosses for the original car type mounting, so is this a later Lapwing variant, and how exactly would it be mounted? Was it even a 'one off' for a specific application?

Unfortunately, both end plates have been cracked at some stage and other parts are missing. Perhaps the number on the transfer port cover might provide a clue for subsequent research? Thanks to Ken Smith June 08


An 'Unusual Induction System'.

Stan Clifford started with flash steam in the early years of the last century, moved on to four-strokes in the 30s and 40s and then set about developing his own version of the 30cc two-stroke in the 50s and 60s. Much of his effort was spent on alternatives to the rotary valve in use on most engines. He experimented with engine layouts, fuel injection, different patterns of reed valves and all manner of other intriguing ideas.

This motor, with its four tiny diaphragm valves powered 'Polyester', recording speed in the 90s,  and latterly 'Hells Bells', which luckily, still survives. Many of the ideas were incorporated into a rear exhaust motor based on Suzuki components  A more detailed account of Stan Clifford's career, boats, and this engine is now available.     March 08


A true 'Wotzit'
                   Mark Russell kindly sent this photo months ago hoping that it could be identified. After consulting all known engine 'sages' through the autumn it is still unidentified. Can anyone help? The vertically split crankcase is not so common and might give a clue and the torpedo shaped tank at the rear looks original. With a bore and stroke at around 3/4" it gives a capacity of just under 6cc which was a common size in the 1940s. The engine is about the same size as a Stentor and the flywheel is 3" dia to give an idea of scale. As can be seen, it is very much a 'Pitbox' item, obviously having been consigned to a shed (or worse) a long while ago. Under the grime it is however a very nice and unusual motor and  knowing its origins would be a distinct benefit.

Thanks to Mark for another intriguing item       Mar 08