May 22, 2017
Very few auto parts stores offer on-site machine shop services anymore, but at Arnold Motor Supply, the 22 shops located within area stores do a brisk business repairing and rebuilding a variety of engines from a combine a local farmer will depend on this fall to a racing engine for a local race enthusiast hoping to grab the checkered flag this weekend. But in-between, they work on some very special projects.
While a cylinder head occupies one end of the Spencer shop, at the other end sits a “slightly” larger engine. The 1918 Liberty V12 aircraft engine first saw use in a WW1 aircraft. Now, after some time in Spencer’s machine shop, it will have new life as an engine for a speed boat in Idaho. The owner and speed aficionado reached out to a friend and fellow engine buff in central Iowa for advice on having the classic motor re-built. His friend would only recommend one company, Arnold Motor Supply automotive parts stores who he had entrusted several rebuilding projects.
According to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the Liberty engine was America's most important contribution to aeronautical technology during World War I. Jesse G. Vincent of Packard and Elbert J. Hall of Hall-Scott co-designed it in mid-1917 for the U.S. government, which wanted a standard design in 4-, 6-, 8-, and 12-cylinder versions that could be quickly mass-produced to equip U.S. combat aircraft.
But in Spencer, it’s finding new life re-built for speed in the lake instead of the sky. The owner chose to drive the 1918 Liberty engine as well as a second aircraft engine from Idaho to Iowa. He then took a side sight-seeing trip while the engine was fine tuned.
In another corner of the Spencer Machine shop sits another engine the team has recently rebuilt. The 427 Ford Single engine with an Overhead Cam was built by Ford as an experimental engine for NASCAR. Unfortunately (or fortunately) it was never saw the green flag because it had too much power. It’s current owner has had it mounted on an engine stand. It's final home will be in his man cave where he can fire it up for friends and fellow race fans.
Looking to take your unique engine to the next level? Stop by any Arnold Motor Supply and ask to talk to the pros in the machine shop. They'll keep you moving!