The Internet Craftsmanship Museum Presents:

Jim Moyer

Added to museum: 2/1/10

Building the World's Smallest Running Chevy V-8 and more

Jim Moyer. (Click on any photo to view a larger image.)

About the Craftsman...


One of the highlights of the model engineering shows in the Pacific Northwest for the past several years has been to see the incredibly tiny engines of Jim Moyer. While there are a number of running ¼ scale V-8 engines out there, we do not know of any other 1/6 scale V-8’s that run and still accurately represent a full-size mass produced engine. Jim’s miniature Chevrolet 327 is a masterpiece down to the tiny firing order numbers in the intake manifold. Getting such a small engine to run while still keeping it looking stock on the outside is quite a challenge, but you can see video of this engine running on YouTube at The V-8 wasn’t Jim’s first engine, however, as he worked his way up to that accomplishment by building first a single-cylinder engine and then an in-line 4-cylinder he calls the “Cyotee.” He took an early childhood dream, added the skills gathered through working many different jobs over his lifetime and combined them to come up with some pretty special projects.

Building models from an early age

From the age of five years old Jim was interested in anything with wheels. In order to have wheels that turn, you have to have an engine or motor of some kind, so for many years, when he was small, he made his own toys from balsa wood, empty thread spools, cereal box cardboard and wheels from broken toys. The engine noise, of course, had to be made with his mouth, because he had no real engines, but it became a dream to have little engines to power his wooden creations.

When he was ten or eleven, Jim received an electric soldering iron for Christmas. From that point on his models of cars, trucks and miniature farm machinery were made using pieces of tin cans, coat hanger wire and metal parts from broken toys. Soft solder was $1.50 for a one-pound roll, and as he recalls, he used lots of them on his projects.

From toys to real engines

Eventually the toys gave way to real cars and real engines. By the time he was fourteen he had built his first real car. It was crude—a Model T frame and roadster body with a salvaged Model A rear end that was given to him and a ‘40 Ford front end he received as payment for repairing a radiator for a neighbor. The engine was a Ford V8-60 given to him by a guy he worked for. It wasn't pretty, but it ran, and it propelled over many miles on back roads in Eastern Nebraska. There have been many different cars after that through the years, and he is still building them.

A man of many jobs is equipped to tackle any problem that comes along

Jim’s dad was a mechanic, a machinist and a heavy equipment operator along with several other skills, so it was natural for him to be interested in mechanical things. His very first jobs were driving tractors doing field work for people in the area where we lived. After high school he moved to the city and worked as a welder and metal fabricator. Along the line, he carried bricks and worked in a speed shop building headers and exhaust systems and operating an engine balancing machine. From there he moved to the Northwest to build catwalks and gratings for a company in Portland, Oregon.

In 1963 he was drafted into the Army and trained as a medic. After the Army it was back to the speed shop in Nebraska and then back to the Pacific Northwest again to start an apprenticeship in a large sawmill as a machinist. After a year and a half of that, he took advantage of his GI bill benefits and went to college to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. Health issues brought that to a halt after a short time. He had to drop out of school and was never able to return. However, from there he did go on to work in an engineering department as a draftsman, got married and had children, but he never lost the desire to build a miniature engine.

Later, after working as a welder and a builder of jigs and fixtures he was finally able to put together a shop of his own and outfit it with some machine tools for his own use, although he  was still working in another shop as a welder, and yet another shop building racecars. For twelve or thirteen years after this point he was self-employed building racecars, rebuilding engines and taking on various machine work out of his own shop. At one time he was even a foreman in a broom making shop and an electrician’s helper.

Jim has since moved from the West Coast to Eastern Washington state and is still working for himself as well as for others doing welding and machining work.

Jim demonstrates one of his tiny engines at the 2007 GEARS show in Portland Oregon. (Click on photo to view a larger image.)

A lifelong dream to build a miniature engine finally comes true

Jim’s first miniature engine was begun in 1964 in an Army barracks in Fort Riley, Kansas and was not finished until the mid-1990’s. Since then he has built a few more engines and still enjoys working on them. His greatest interest is in building scale models of existing engines that were and still are a part of his life. He also enjoys going to engine shows, especially if his engines run after he gets there.

His shop is small right now, with a 12-inch lathe, a 16-inch lathe, a knee mill, drill press, welder and band saws. He and his wife now live “out in the sticks” (as he puts it) in northeastern Washington state, where they have no close neighbors but plenty of trees. His son has put together a small web site at where you can view additional pictures of Jim’s engines and other projects.

Jim's 1/6 scale Chevy 327 Corvette engine is, as far as we know, the smallest running scale Chevrolet engine in the world. (Click photo to view a larger image.)

About the miniature Chevy V8

Jim’s 1/6th scale V8 is based on a 1964 365 hp Corvette 327 motor. Measurements have been taken from an actual engine so as to be very accurate. The head and block began as billet aluminum that has been painstakingly machined on a Bridgeport-style mill. The 5 main bearing crank has real Babbitt bearings, and the cam is a scale 30-30 Duntov.

Though not shown here, the 5-main crankshaft is fitted with actual Babbitt bearings. (Click on photo to view a larger image.)

Dies were developed for stamping out the front cover, oil pan and rockers. The pistons, flywheel housing and water pump housing are cast aluminum, and the valve covers are investment cast. Since this engine is a runner, there is spark ignition, a pressurized oil system and a cooling system just like its big brother.  

Right now the engine has been completed to the point that it will run for a couple of minutes easily, and about all that is left to build is a radiator. The engine displaces 1.1 cubic inches or 18 cc. the bore is 0.600" and stoke is o.487". It was begun in 1998 and it was first run on November 3, 2005.

Note the tiny firing order in the intake manifold at the left. At the right are all the engine components prior to assembly. (Sorry, these photos don't enlarge.)

What’s next for Jim?

Jim’s current project in progress is a miniature model of the Chevrolet 409 engine. It will be the same 1/6 scale as the 327. As of January, 2010 Jim says the forming dies for the timing cover are finished and functional. The forming dies for the oil pan are almost done too. He has started on a mold for the waxes for casting the block. Down the line when he finally completes the 409, Jim says he would like to try his hand at building a small 1” bore diesel.

To see more of Jim’s work, you can visit the web site his son put together for him at

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Here are some photos of the Jim Moyer's projects:

(Click photo for larger image.)

1/6 Scale Chevrolet 327 Corvette engine


Overall shots of the 1/6 scale Cheverolet 327 engine. Without any reference for size scale, you might think this is a real Corvette engine.

1. 2. 3.

Details of the manifold and cast valve cover. Photo 1 shows the front of the engine, Photo 2 shows the intake and exhaust manifolds and Photo 3 shows a detail of the cast-in "Corvette" logo script on the valve cover.

1. 2.

The engine block (photo 1) and heads (photo 2). Photo 2 also shows the stamped steel front cover and oil pan. Rocker arms are also stamped.

1. 2.

Photo 1—Once the engine is assembled, you can no longer appreciate the fine work in the pistons, rods, crank and camshaft. Note also the tiny oil pump and pickup. Here they are before assembly.

Photo 2—Shown in the second photo are the intake manifold, flywheel, water pump, pulley and distributor. A quarter in each photo shows you how small the parts are.

1. 2.

Photo 1—The crank and pistons are installed in the block but the heads are not on yet.

Photo 2—A detail of the distributor.

Four-Cylinder In-line "Coyotee"

 Two overall views of the 4-cylinder "Coyotee" engine. Jim started this engine while living in an army barracks in 1964 and finished it in about 1989. He finally got it running in 1995 after building a simpler engine (Lil' Red) to prove that an engine this small could actually run. After years of fine tuning, this little engine will run at an amazing 11,000 RPM.

Bore is 0.400", Stroke is 0.410", Displacement is 0.025 cu. in.

1. 2. 3. 4.

Photo 1—The intake side shows an air cleaner with filter over the carburetor.

Photo 2—The engine on display with its pertinent facts listed on a card.

Photo 3—The brass tubing fuel tank doesn't have to be very large. This engine doesn't burn a lot of fuel.

Photo 4—A piston, valve, connecting rod, spark plug and camshaft are all put into size perspective by a US Quarter.

It took a long time from a first start in 1964, but his Coyotee engine finally won First Place at the 2002 Gas Engine Antique Reproduction Show (GEARS) in Portland, OR.

Single-Cylinder OHV Engine, "Lil' Red"

The first running miniature engine Jim built was actually this 1-cylinder, overhead valve engine. The project started in 1994 when the Coyotee was completed but Jim was unable to get it to run. he built this engine as a "proof-of-concept" to prove to himself that an engine this small could actually run. It has about the same piston size as the Coyotee. By early 1995 this one was running, and he went back and applied what he had learned to the 4-cylinder Coyotee.

Bore is 0.406", Stoke is 0.4375", Displacement is 0.056 cu. in.

1/3 scale "Challenger" flathead V-8

This 1/3 scale Challenger V-8 was in a hotrod model when the owner bought it with the understanding that it ran. It didn't, and the owner asked Jim to see if he could do what was necessary to get the engine to run. Jim rebuilt the engine from the ground up, using only the block, heads and cam from the original engine. Everything else had to be fabricated.

The 6.3 cubic inch engine has a bore and stroke of 1.00".

Here is what the engine looks like in the model R/C hotrod.

If you would like Jim to build a Challenger engine for you, contact him through his web site at

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