The Internet Craftsmanship Museum Presents:

Maurice Nysether

Added to museum: 5/28/09

A variety of small engines based on popular designs 

Maurice Nysether is seen with some of his engines. (Click photo for larger image.)

A late start with great results

At age 73 Maurice Nysether decided to start building an engine. This might seem a rather late to start out as a machinist, but he had a lifetime of experience with engines behind him. Fifteen years later he has built over 20 engines. He has sold some of them, but still has 10 or 12 that he takes to local shows and runs enthusiastically. In fact, we first saw him at the semi-annual Vista Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum show where he had a table full of engines on display and each one was running with nothing more than occasional attention to lubrication. He also restored an old 1917 Henderson straight four motorcycle engine that he found. It had been used for many years in a mine (minus its transmission) to run a fan for circulation. Over the years he bought and worked on a number of old vehicles. He said, "Before they became collectible, you could get a Model T Ford or an old Harley or Indian for $10.00 and fix them up." Having ridden motorcycles starting at age 15, he eventually purchased and restored a  vintage motorcycle at age 55 and rode and restored two Indian motorcycles that now reside in a local winery's automotive museum. He also worked with turbocharged Corvairs and other types of vehicles, so despite a lack of machining experience, he did know a lot about making engines run.

Four of Maurice Nysether's favorite engines were brought by the museum for photography. (Click on photo to view a larger image.)

Most of the engines he builds are based on existing engine configurations but are not exact copies. They share the features of a Harley V-twin, a BSA single, a Volkswagen flat four or other popular engine, but are not scale models. He starts with the concepts and designs each piece on his own, and his engines are all good runners too. He uses the same 1-1/8" bore and stroke each time he builds an engine, using hydraulic cylinders for cylinder liners to save time. He uses other existing pieces where he can as well to keep from "re-inventing the wheel.". His shop now includes an old South Bend lathe and a Taiwanese mill that was rescued from the scrap heap and reworked for his purposes as well as an old Craftsman wood bandsaw that has been re-geared to cut metal. Though he never had any previous training in machining, Maurice does have a lot of experience and a good understanding of what tools do, so he simply taught himself to cut metal by trial and error.

Maurice graduated from USC in 1951 with a Bachelors degree in Trade and Transportation. This led to a job with Union Oil Company that lasted 26 years as Co-ordinator of Production and Distribution for tires, batteries and accessories. Though he did not graduate from flight school as a pilot during WWII, he did serve as a bombardier aboard a B-17 in Europe. He was later able to rekindle his love of flying when he was able to solo at age 76 in a friend's Cessna and log 14 hours of flight time. His flying career ended, however, when his friend sold his plane..

He was part of the crew of the B-17 Sleepytime Gal in Europe during WWII and is still active with his old group, the 385 Bomb Group ( which hosts a museum in Perlé, Luxembourg dedicated to the crews of two B-17's that crashed in that area during the war. He is also a contributor of a number of the exhibits including old uniforms and a restored Curtis-Wright "Cyclone" engine like the one that powered the B-17 bombers in which he flew. Mr. Nysether now resides in San Marcos, CA.

Maurice recently brought four of his engines to our museum in Vista when he came by for a tour. We took the opportunity to photograph them and to learn a little about Mr. Nysether who is now 90 years of age and still enjoys working on and running his engines.

We regret to announce that in March, 2011 we were notified that Mr. Nysether has passed away. We thank him for his service to our country during WWII and for the interesting engines he created as his hobby.

Here are several examples of Maurice Nysether's work:

(Click photos for larger images.)

This vertical, overhead valve, single-cylinder engine is based on a BSA or similar British motorcycle engine design. It, like each of the following engines, has a 1-1/8" bore and 1-3/8" stroke.

This horizontal twin features a block made from a 1905 Bosche magneto and a Perry model airplane carburetor. Mr. Nysether likes to "repurpose" existing parts and use them in his engines whenever possible.

A top view of the horizontal twin.
Shown here is a horizontally opposed, air cooled four-cylinder (like an older VW) made from a billet aluminum block, Perry carburetor and using CMG (garden tractor type) spark plugs.
This 60° OHV V-twin is based on 1936 Harley 61 motor. (The original Harley had a 45° "V" configuration.) The starter is actually from a small motorcycle. It has a "sprag" (one-way) clutch. Like the other engines above, the electronic ignition components and batteries are hidden in the wooden display base.

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