Wednesday, February 11, 2015

In the Shop: 1934 Offenhauser Engine - Update

by Derik Price
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

I stopped by the museum this weekend to find the Offenhauser engine back on the table and the crew starting reassembly. Hard to believe it's been over a year since our last In the Shop update on this project. Last summer we were focused on our Model T Race Car project and so the little midget racer didn't get much attention. But we're back on it now and starting to reassemble the engine. The first thing you'll notice (inside) this engine is that it has had a full, exuberant racing life.  :-)

We have found a few problems which probably retired this engine from racing. Namely a nasty crack near the spark plug hole in one cylinder, and another crack closer to the water jacket. The front bearing and seal are slightly loose as well. So far, these issues don't appear bad enough to do any damage while running the engine for short periods of time--which shouldn't hinder our immediate goal of getting it operational. But, we'll have to decide whether or not we want to tackle a restoration/rebuild to get much more than that out of it.

To help with that decision, and answer a few questions about tolerances and the cams we have, we have scheduled a phone appointment with the experts at - Strykers Custom Offenhausers. With our 110 OFFY Overhaul Manual written by Harry Stryker Sr. in hand, we'll be giving them a call, and hoping they have good news for us. In the event the prognosis isn't promising, we'll keep on with the goal of just getting this wonderful piece of history back to running condition.

We've been working on this project (off and on) for a long time. But since I don't get to the museum as often as I'd like, it has given me the chance to see the inner workings of this amazing piece of technology. It's a real treat to experience the craftsmanship and design of these engines. But to also get the chance to see the inner workings and how it was built is simply a privilege. Hopefully, this summer, we'll even get to hear it roar to life once more. And that part is always worth the wait....

The Miller/Offenhauser/Goossen story is a wonderful chapter in American race car history. There are dozens of books written about the trio, their engines, designs and the racing legend they created.

Coming to Fairbanks to see the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum and other area attractions? Support the museum by staying right here at Wedgewood Resort. 

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