June 9, 1907—December 30, 2005
An early start in model engines leads to a long career
Dick McCoy was one of the early pioneers of model engine design and construction. His special interest was in racing tethered model race cars, and he adapted early aircraft model engine designs to suit the special needs of race cars. He was good at getting the most out of an engine, and his engines set many speed records. They were popular with both flyers and car racers. Starting in the late 1930's, Dick produced about 35 race car engines on his own before having them made by Duro-Matic Products Co. in Hollywood starting in 1945. From 1953 to 1956 the engines were made by McCoy Products Co. in Culver City before turning production over to Testors in April, 1956. Dick made many prototype McCoy engines for Testors, but they handled the production and sales themselves. Dick was also noted for his large line of engine and model race car accessories. His mufflers which were among the quietest and least power-robbing available. After 1983 they left the aircraft engine business to specialize in parts and accessories. Their glow plug line is still one of the best known in the world.
This page is all the information we have been able to collect on Dick McCoy so far, but it is far from finished. If you have any photos or information you can contribute, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800) 541-0735. We regret to announce that Dick passed away on December 30, 2005 at the age of 98-1/2.
A tribute to Dick McCoy written by Dr. Bob Kradjian was published in the March-April, 2006 issue of Model Engine Builder magazine. CLICK HERE for a JPG version of the article.
The following is based on an autobiography published in The Engine Collector’s Journal, Issue 103, December 1992
Dick McCoy was born in Indiana on June 9, 1907. At 11 years of age, his family moved to Walnut, California into a house with no electricity or inside toilets. His father took care of 20 acres of oranges and 15 acres of walnuts for $75.00 per month plus the house.
Dick attended Walnut Grammar School for two years. There were only four kids in his class. His family moved to Pomona and he rode the bus or his brother’s motorcycle until he graduated from high school in 1925.
His father was driving a bus from Pomona to San Dimas during the day and Dick got a job driving the same bus until midnight. The fare was 10 cents each way. A company called Motor Transit bought the bus line and laid Dick off when they found out he wasn’t 21. He found a job at Pomona Pumps for 40 cents an hour. Later, he went back to work for Motor Transit working on the busses at night.
On July 19, 1929 Dick married his sweetheart, Fern, and they were married for over 63 years until she passed away after a long illness on November 29, 1992. In 1932 their daughter Doris was born and their sons, Carl in 1935 and Harold in 1937. They have 9 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren!
After working with his father in a service station where Dick did most of the repair work, he went to work for Brodex Co. painting packing house equipment. There was a big freeze, which meant there was no fruit to pack, so he was soon laid off.
In 1937, he went to work for Louds Machine Works running a lathe and making parts for oil well equipment. In 1942 he took on an extra job in Pomona teaching men and women machine work for the war effort. He put in three hours each night at $2.50 / hour and was getting paid $.75 per hour at Louds.
America’s leading Model Motor designers, friendly competitors Dick McCoy (left) with the McCoy motor and Ray Snow (right) designer and manufacturer of the Hornet Motor. (Photo from Jan/Feb 1947 issue of Rail and Cable News.)
It was during this time that Dick began designing and building engines and race cars. he had tried model airplanes, but his only model, built in 1939 and powered with an Ohlsson 23, was "a disaster" so he devoted all his time to cars. He ran many of the engines and cars of that time, but felt that none of them were actually designed just to be race car engines.
By 1942, Dick had an engine and car of his own design running and was setting records in the one-fourth and one-half mile races. He also won first place in the fourth-mile, half-mile and one-mile national races held in Detroit in July of 1942.
This caused other fellows to want his engines. In turn, these boys also started winning races. Around 35 of these car engines were built. These .60 cubic inch engines were very close in appearance to the engines produced by Duro-Matic.
Dick at work in his “design studio”. Actually this photo was posed for a 1957 issue of the Testors Topics company newsletter. Dick is busy “drawing” finished blue prints of his latest design. The McCoy 60 on the top of the drawing board is the latest design. The newsletter said the company was tooling up for a run of 5000 Red Head 60s. (Click photo for larger image.)
Dick signed a contract with Mr. Fred Schott of Duro-Matic in Hollywood to produce McCoy engines and cars, and they began producing shortly after the Armistice. He designed and tested for them and also for Testors after Duro-Matic became a subsidiary, for some 35 years. He also holds 16 patents on features of McCoy engines and cars.In 1953, sons Carl and Harold started making a few parts for Louds and two other companies in a small basement machine shop they had set up at home. They went under the name of C&H Products. Carl graduated from High School in 1954 and Harold in 1956 and they both went into the navy for two years.
After almost 20 years with Louds, Dick decided to retire and continue running the small shop the boys had started. While he was at Louds he had become the Chief Inspector and had some 50 inspectors under him. They built parts for several different aircraft companies including the landing gear for the DC 10.
Dick hired his son-in-law and they ran the shop until Carl and Harold got out of the Navy, at which time they incorporated under the name of C&H, Inc. The business grew to about eight employees, and in 1964 they started making parts for model engines, cars and a new venture; glow plugs. In 1972 they bought three 2,000 square foot buildings. They moved the business into one of them and started there until 1983 when they sold the aircraft part of the business. Their main business now is engine parts and also they are one of the largest manufacturers of glow plugs in the world.In 1972 Dick started sponsoring radio control car races. He had his 20th annual race June 9, 1992 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Former employee Dan Neuenschwander worked for Dick McCoy & his sons Carl & Harold from April 1979 to January, 1980 as a machine operator. He said, "All three of them were great to work for, and Dick had a twinkle in his eye when something worked 'just right.' They gave me my first real job in the path of my manufacturing career." He also notes that he learned a lot about production manufacturing from them.
(Dan now works for Northrop Grumman Corp. in El Segundo)
Colonel James Tegarden (USAF, ret.) notes that Dick's brother Mike joined the Royal Canadian Air Force before the US's entry into WWII and transferred to the Army Air Corps in 1942. He went on to earn the rank of Colonel before being killed in the crash of a B-47 in 1957 near Pinecastle AFB. Pinecastle was eventually renamed McCoy Air Force Base in his honor.
Col. Tegarden also notes that in about 1960 he received a McCoy Red Head model airplane engine that came from Dick through his aunt Glen Porter. His son and he enjoyed building and flying the model and he remembers the engine as a top performer.
More photos of Dick McCoy, his race cars and engines.
Dick McCoy in a picture taken January 24, 1993. He is holding an original 1948 Invader. The car in the top of the box is a one-of-a-kind original and is the last car Dick ran on the track. The tool box is the same one shown in the previous photo with the trophies. Son Carl refinished it to its original luster. Two original McCoy race cars: a 1946 Tear Drop and 1947 Invader cast in magnesium. Both have been repainted, but the Invader is in its original red. Dick and his son Harold display two of his race cars. A 1992 Spirit reissue powered by a McCoy .19. Dick McCoy and his wife Fern also enjoyed driving their Ford Mustang and going to Mustang club meetings. An early McCoy engine made by the Duro-Matic Products Co. This is an "MCCR" from 1945. It has .607 cubic inches displacement and is spark plug fired. Produced by McCoy Products Co. in Culver City, this is a McCoy "9" Diesel from 1954. It displaces .099 cubic inches and has a red anodized cylinder. Also from 1954, this is another McCoy "9" but with a glow plug ignition. The engine shown is equipped with an accessory radial mount plate and came equipped with a fuel tank when originally sold. The 1971 McCoy 19 Stunt Series 21 was a distinctive new design and would be one of the last to carry the McCoy name. It displaced .199 cubic inches, had a matt finished case and black anodized head. A McCoy .35 rebuilt by Greg Davis. For an article by Ken Burdick on how Greg Davis rebuilds a McCoy .35 CLICK HERE. It was written for the Flying Lines, the Newsletter of Northwest Control-Line Model Aviation. —Photos Ken Burdick
The engines shown above are just a few of the many variations that McCoy manufactured over the years. Depending on intended use, mounting bolt holes and locations, head configurations, fuel tank and case design would vary. Issue #103 of The Engine Collector's Journal shows or describes over 100 variations of production McCoy engines that have been cataloged by collectors.
If you have additional information on a project or builder shown on this site that your would like to contribute, please e-mail craig@CraftsmanshipMuseum.com. We also welcome new contributions. Please see our page at www.CraftsmanshipMuseum.com/newsubmit.htm for a submission form and guidelines for submitting descriptive copy and photos for a new project.
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