Custom Scale Model Engine Builder

South Carolina man converts his hobby of building scale model engines into a second career.

| April 2016

David Stewart was just looking for a project when he bought an antique drag saw with a 4 hp Wade gasoline engine. But he found more than that. The drag saw eventually led him to a post-retirement job building scale model engines.

After buying the antique drag saw, David decided to subscribe to Gas Engine Magazine to learn more about gas engines. “In November 2004, I read about Richard Allen Dickey building a 1/4-scale 2-1/2 hp water-cooled Red Wing engine,” he says. “I wanted a hit-and-miss engine, and I knew a scale model would be lighter than a full-size engine, so I ordered an air-cooled kit and made the engine.”

When the casting company changed hands, fate stepped in. “When I looked at the new company’s website, they were asking engine builders to display photos of their projects,” David says, “so I sent photos of the two engines I’d built. Later I got an email from the company’s owner, asking if I would be interested in building engines for him.”

After some discussion, David (who lives in Lamar, South Carolina) agreed to build one engine for hire. Since then, he has finished 53 engines (including three for himself) and is working on engine number 54. 

Starting with Red Wing

David’s first engine was a 1/4-scale model of the 5 hp Red Wing water-cooled engine (serial no. 580). “It looked like a hit-and-miss engine,” he says, “and I thought it was pretty cool.”

He followed that with a 1/3-scale 2-1/2 hp Red Wing air-cooled hit-and-miss engine (serial no. 11). The third model he built for himself is a 1/3-scale 5 hp Galloway water-cooled hit-and-miss. The engine has no serial number, he says, because it is unclear whether the numbers on the original engine were serial numbers or casting numbers.