Butch Wilson’s exquisite rendition of Henry Ford’s first engine, dubbed the “Kitchen Sink” engine. The engine measures about 36″-long, 15″-wide, 13″-high, and weighs about 36 lbs. It burns gasoline on spark ignition.

According to The Henry Ford Museum website: “Henry Ford built his first experimental engine using scrap metal for parts. He tested it on the kitchen sink after supper on December 24, 1893. For ignition he ran a wire from the ceiling’s light bulb. His wife, Clara, hand fed the gasoline to the intake valve while Henry spun the flywheel. The engine roared into action, shaking the sink.”

Another version of Henry Ford’s first engine built by Birk Petersen is also on display in the museum.

Butch Wilson was an Indy 500 race car mechanic for Dan Gurney, the owner and for All American Racers. He also worked in the pit crews for Al and Bobby Unser (the latter was an Indy 500 winner). See photos below from Mr. Wilson’s Indy 500 days. The first photo shows Bobby Unser in the drivers seat, with Mr. Wilson immediately to his right. The second photo shows Butch standing next to the car with Mr. Unser behind the wheel. Engines were Mr. Wilson’s passion, so model engineering and miniature engine building was second nature to him. This engine is courtesy of Dede Wilson.

Exhibit added: March 3, 2023 - Last modified: August 26, 2023

Presented by The Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship