Wednesday, August 27, 2014


For a long time I've had a desire to build a replica of Henry Ford's First engine. The engine is a simple looking thing built mainly of pipe fittings before Henry ever got started into making automobiles. I'm sure he just wanted to see if he could build a gasoline engine that would run, and he did. The year was 1893.
    Just as I was looking for another project The Home Shop Machinist magazine came out with a construction article on the engine. What better time to build one than now? First thing to do was search the Internet and I was able to find a couple pictures and other information. My engine is not an exact duplicate of the original. More of a compromise between the article and the pictures that I found. But a close representation.
The first order of business was to gather what materials were on hand and then a trip to the hardware store for a few pipe fittings.
Every day I managed to do a couple machining  operations or make a part or two.
Here is a close up of the timing gear, exhaust cam, and sparker switch (breaker points).
Finally the completed engine. In an attempt to duplicate the original the parts were mounted on an old weathered board.
Considerable time was spent hand cranking the engine and using starting fluid. I never could get it to pop more than once or twice, and I was beating my hand against the board. So I built a cranking adapter that fit the electric drill. This made it so the engine could be cranked faster and easier, and I finally got it so it would run a couple seconds at a time on it's own.
     A whole week was spent trying everything I could think of to get it to run continously. Finally an adapter was made and it was switched over to propane. Same old story, just a few pops at first, but the more I kept trying and adjusting the better it ran until, well look at the video for yourself.
During the process I learned a few things perhaps I can go back the the drip lubricator and get it to run on gasoline, but out of time for today. Actually I'm pretty excited to have it running at all.


Kimo Kaanapu said...

Thanks for sharing your video and pictures. I think you did a great job on building your own version of the old Ford engine. Wow I'm impressed. ..I'll see you later at jamestown.

Anonymous said...

i just built one of these. turns out its super important to have a heavy enough fly wheel!
maybe try that out and see how it does.
nice work--beautiful model!

Mariano Paz said...

Great JOB! Thanks for sharing! How work the carburator? Without intake valve? Have a parts list and data for build one of this engine?
Thanks in advance