Custom Scale Model Engine Builder

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

| April 2016

  • This 1/3-scale 2-1/2 hp air-cooled Red Wing engine was David Stewart’s second model project. All of the engines he makes are designed to run on gasoline.
    Photo courtesy David Stewart
  • Top view of David’s 1/3-scale 5 hp Galloway water-cooled hit-and-miss engine. With a larger piston and longer stroke, the Galloway produces a respectable sound when firing.
    Photo courtesy David Stewart
  • David with his 1/3-scale 5 hp Galloway engine. David produces four or five engines a year. Work in recent years has been steady. “When the economy isn’t doing well, it slows down a little bit,” he says.
    Photo courtesy David Stewart
  • David Stewart’s 1/3-scale 5 hp Galloway water-cooled hit-and-miss engine.
    Photo courtesy David Stewart
  • This 1/4-scale 5 hp Red Wing water-cooled engine was David’s first project. He came out of the gates strong, and won a job building engines for the manufacturer.
    Photo courtesy David Stewart
  • David’s current project, a 1/4-scale 5 hp Galloway engine.
    Photo courtesy David Stewart
  • David’s current project, a 1/4-scale 5 hp Galloway engine.
    Photo courtesy David Stewart
  • David’s current project, a 1/4-scale 5 hp Galloway engine.
    Photo courtesy David Stewart
  • The engine cylinder casting set up in a 4-jaw chuck on David’s lathe for cylinder boring. The open space visible in the casting is the water jacket for cooling. Once the mating surface is machined the water hopper will be bolted to the cylinder. Two casting bosses are also visible on the side of the cylinder, one for the igniter and the other for the igniter and exhaust pushrod.
    Photo courtesy David Stewart

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.



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