Henry Orwick (Left)
with frineds Ted Enticknap and Tom Strom. (Click on photo to view a larger
Photo courtesy of Tim Dannels/Model Engine Collector's Journal (taken circa 1952)
From a garage operation to building contest winning engines
In the 1930’s in Los Angeles, Henry Orwick experimented with 2-stroke, ignition model airplane engines made in his own garage. He continued into the 1940’s, when his .64 engine became popular enough that in 1945 production expanded beyond his garage shop to an address at 414 East First Street in Los Angeles. Although he had produced a .73 inch engine earlier and went on to make .23, .29 and .32 inch engines, the .64 turned out to be the most successful and enduring model. According to the instruction sheet that came with the Model 64, the price then was $32.50.
With the increase in popularity of glow plug engines, ignition engines were falling out of favor with the hobby market. Although Orwick did try a couple of .23 and .32 glow plug versions, the ignition engines remained their bread and butter until they went out of business in 1955. It is a testament to the faithful following Orick engines did have that years later another company offered “Reproduction” Orwick engines faithfully reproducing the original design. They are usually identified by a “K&M” marking on some of the parts and a serial number starting with “R” for “reproduction.” Dunhams in England also produced reproductions of the Orwick engine that were almost as faithful to the original design as the K&M versions.
The failure of the original Orwick engine business was due more to poor business practices than to anything actually wrong with the product. The original engines were never produced in very high numbers by production standards so remain quite collectible in today’s market.
The Model Engine Collector’s Journal ran a 7-part article on Orwick engines in 1999-2000, covering the period from 1937 to the company’s closing in 1955.
Henry Orwick (Left) test runs one of his engines with the help of friend Tom Strom. (Click on photo for larger image.) Photo courtesy of Tim Dannels/Model Engine Collector's Journal
The photos below are of eight Orwick engines collected by the late Noel Martin. They are on loan to the Craftsmanship Museum courtesy of his wife, Mary.
(Click on any image in the left-hand column to see a larger version.)
1. Orwick .29, Serial Number 2211. This ignition model has a mid-green smooth finish and is from 1948 to 1950.
2. Orwick .29, Serial Number 2233. The color is light green iridized finish and it ws probably made in 1941. It is fitted with Orwick cast engine mounts.
3. Orwick .23, Serial number 3093. With the smooth light green color, this engine should be from 1948. It was known to have been owned at one time by the late Harry Fosbury.
4. Orwick .64, Serial number 4638. A mid-green, smooth finish most likely indicates it was made in 1946.
5. Orwick .64, Serial number 4388. Fitted to a nice wood mount from the AMA, this engine has a smooth, green "hammertone" paint finish. It was produced in 1947 and was onec owned b the late Harry Fosbury who flew it in one of his Pacific Coasters.
6. Orwick .64, Serial number 64963. It is most likely from 1946, but could also be from 1948. It fetures a green wrinkle paint and Orwick cast engine mounts.
7. Orwick .64, Serial number 64469. Most likely bult in 1946 but could be from 1948. It has a dark green muffler and green wrinkle paint.
8. Orwick .64, Serial number 64089. Most likely built in 1946 but could also be from 1948. It has a dark green muffle with green wrinkle paint.
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.
This section is sponsored in memory of Noel Martin by the Martin Family. The Orwick engines on display here were collected and preserved by the late Noel Martin and were made available for display in the museum by his wife Mary and daughter Cheryl.
To learn how your company or organization can sponsor a section in the Craftsmanship Museum, please contact craig@CraftsmanshipMuseum.com.
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