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What Engine For 1920s Power Dory?


I inherited my grandparents home and it came with a few small boats including a 17 foot power dory from (I believe) the 1920s. The boat was in use here up until the 1970s and then has sat idle indoors. It needs restoration.

Most all parts appear to be present except the engine. I'm sure that the engine must be here, perhaps it's one of the 10 that are lying about. I have no idea what would identify the engine as that fitting the power dory and I have found nothing online.

And how does the engine engage with the propeller shaft? I need to locate those parts too. (those may be here as well)

I appreciate anyone out there sharing their knowledge of antique marine engines for small craft or sharing links to info online that is pertinent to this boat. I have attached a photo of the dory, though it doesn't show it well, hopefully it will provide some visual detail.

Thanks in advance!



Andrew Mackey

Last Subscription Date
There are several answers to your question, and I will set a few up for you. 1) it depends on the engine being used. for a 2 cycle engine, it may be either direct coupled or thru a transmission and clutch. A direct coupled 2 stroke can be reversed, so a transmission would not be necessary. Simply stop and reverse the direction the engine runs, and you are set. if a 4 cycle engine is used, then a clutch and transmission would be needed for reverse.

As for the engine - for that sized boat, I would say anything between 5 and perhaps 20 HP would do without overloading the frame or capacity. Power requirements would also depend on sailing conditions - rough and heavy current waters need more power to navigate. Use in a pond or small lake need less.. Is the propeller and drive shaft still in the boat? Are the engine mounts still there as well? If so, then you can find if the original engine is still at the home. First, look at the engine mounts in the boat. They should be 2 parallel heavy boards running front to rear of the boat, roughly in the center - front to back and side to side. there are probably 4 to 6 holes, where the mounting bolts attached the engine (and trans if it used one) to the transom and mounts. You need to measure the spacing both front to back and side to side. Next, you need to lay a piece of straight wood across the mounts and let the end project over to under the propeller shaft. You then need to measure from UNDER the wood projection to the centerline of the propeller shaft. That will give you the height of the power take off - centerline to the prop shaft. Once you have those dimensions, you can look over your engines and see if any have the same mounting set ups - both height and mounting . If they all match up you have found what you are looking for. The connection to the prop shaft may be a direct coupler, a lovejoy (independent center), splined and or keyed. It may be as simple as a rubber hose like coupling, if a small engine and prop are used!

let us know what you find! nice looking boat, I hope you get it fixed up! :D


My father's family lived in Noank Conn. before WW2, and made a living fishing Long Island Sound. Dorys like yours were SOP. Every commercial fishing boat towed a dory behind as an escape boat. Bad seas in the Sound had a way of occurring unexpectedly, and boats that were returning loaded to the gunnels with fish sank frequently. The dorys that I remember all had outboard motors like the one against the wall next to your boat. I guess it's possible that your dory had an inboard engine at one time. Is there evidence of a rudder or a or a prop shaft? Can't tell with all the junk in the way.


Judging by the missing paint on the transom I would say a little outboard like the one on the wall was on it.


Last Subscription Date
I the 2nd picture it looks like a stuffing box for the prop shaft under the white thing in the center of the boat. It doesn't appear to have a shaft in it though, may have been removed in favor of the outboard.
Everyone, thanks for the input and Andrew Mackey for the detailed suggestions. All good and I will investigate further.

It's very possible that an outboard could have been used on the dory. As you say the transom shows evidence of that. But the dory definitely is designed and set up for an inboard. I'll make a few pictures for you of the interior that shows the prop shaft exiting at about 30 inches from the transom. I believe the dory is more of a leisure boat rather than working boat, or at least perhaps a passenger boat. I found it in the catalog of the Mystic Seaport Museum but there is no mention of the engine type.

I am actually not far from Noank, CT. Have several good friends there. Old Noankers. I believe the boat that you are referring to Charlie B. is called a Noank Sharpie. I have one of those as well. It's a home built model from the 1950s. I have a photo of it being built. Just a couple of hand tools were used in the process. It is also needing repair. I've attached a picture so you can see the difference in design. The sharpie is definitely a working boat with wide flat bottom for stability when pulling gear in.

I have a post in the small engine forum on Smokstak that shows some of the motors that I have found around here. I found these two Wisconsins here. (pictured) You can read MARINE on the rusty one. The two seem to be very similar. Can't read the label on the blue one. Rusty is seized up. Blue not seized up! But even this style engine seems like it would be too large and loud for the Dory. Yes? What do you think?

In the 1940s my grandfather was a Lausen Outboard dealer. I've got 4 Lausen outboards here plus various parts. The motor you see in the picture of the Dory was used on the Sharpie. Not sure if that is a Lausen.

Thanks again! Will post a few interior pictures of the dory later.




Further on regarding the engine for the power dory. Please see the attached photos that show the interior with and without the floor boards.

You can see where the prop enters and the mounting position of the engine. Makes sense that the engine would be located forward near the pilot for ease of access and weight distribution.

I'm guessing that the two green blocks you see are what the engine was mounted on. The holes in those blocks and the distance between them match with the rusted Wisconsin motor that I posted picture of earlier. Unfortunate that that engine has been sitting out for many years and is seized up.

The floor boards are oily as if from the engine.

I'll probably investigate which other engines I might use with the dory and try to source one that is available and in working order. Any insight you can share is greatly appreciated. I know about wood craft but not mechanics.




J.B. Castagnos

Last Subscription Date
Looks like it would have been a single cylinder from the footprint, enough room for a reverse gear but may not have had one. see if any of the engines match the footprint, would like to see pictures of them.
J.B. Thanks for the thoughts. Please see previous posts of mine that show two Wisconsin engines. The rust colored one has bottom mount brackets with holes that match up with those holes in the green blocks where the engine would have been positioned.

With this set up in mind, now wondering what the piece looked like that would have connected the engine to the propeller shaft. (see pictures) I must have that around here.



J.B. Castagnos

Last Subscription Date
That appears to be a reversing gear on that motor, the other may just be forward and neutral. The carburetor for marine applications would have had a flame arrestor on the intake, the other motor has a different carb adapted. The coupling would be just like the one on the trans, bored to fit the prop shaft. It would be easy to machine from round stock.