The Howell V-4 Engine Project—Full Build

Below we have documented the Joe Martin Foundation Howell V-4 engine build from start to finish. Photos and descriptions of the components illustrate the unique collective craftsmanship—with a beautiful final result.

Jerry Howell’s Prototype V-4 Engine

Howell V-4 Project Starts (9/19/07)

Howell V-4 Engine Progress—October/November, 2007

Howell V-4 Engine Progress—December, 2007

Howell V-4 Engine Progress—January, 2008

Howell V-4 Engine Progress—February, 2008

Howell V-4 Engine Progress—March/April, 2008

Howell V-4 Engine Progress—May/June, 2008

Howell V-4 Engine Progress—July-September, 2008

Howell V-4 Engine Progress—October/November, 2008

Howell V-4 Engine Progress—January-March, 2009

Howell V-4 Engine Progress—April, 2009

Joe Martin’s cam grinder worked so well that they decided to add the machine to the Sherline catalog. Below you can watch two videos of the cam being ground for this project.

Howell V-4 Engine Progress—May, 2009

Howell V-4 Engine Progress—June/July, 2009

Howell V-4 Engine Progress—August/September, 2009

Howell V-4 Engine Progress—November/December, 2009

The second time around, we tried a different approach with the cams. Instead of case hardening the surface, blanks were turned from A2 air-hardening steel, and wrapped in stainless steel foil. They were then brought to 1745° in the heat treating oven. A small piece of paper was placed inside the foil with each blank. The paper would burn up and remove any oxygen trapped inside the foil.

Howell V-4 Engine Progress—January-March, 2010

Success! Howell V-4 First Pop—March 16, 2010

On March 16, 2010, we successfully completed our second Joe Martin Foundation shop project—the Howell V-4 IC engine. Watch a video below documenting the first pop of the engine, along with the first extended run on March 17. 

Congratulations to Tom Boyer and all those who helped for a fine job! The engine was put on display in the Craftsmanship Museum for some time following completion. Tom was happy to start it up for any visitor who wanted to see and hear the V-4 in action. The only remaining tasks were to make a throttle and advance linkage, and to build an attractive display base.

Tom Boyer fine tuning the Howell V-4 engine during its very first run.

Tom Boyer fine tuning the Howell V-4 engine during its very first run.

A side profile of the finished Howell V-4 engine.

A side profile of the finished Howell V-4 engine. All in all, the second museum shop project was a total success.

A Note From Jerry Howell’s Family

Jerry Howell holding his prototype V-4 engine.

In Memory of Jerry Howell
January 8, 1938—August 29, 2009

On behalf of me and my family, we would like to congratulate you and your team on the successful build and run of the Howell V-4. I know Dad was honored to be inducted into your list of craftsmen, and again when you chose to build his V-4.

Dad cannot express his gratitude personally, but again on behalf of my mother Edith, sister Sherry, brother Roger, and myself, we would like to say a big “Thank You” to the Craftsmanship Museum for all you have done to share and promote his work and his legacy.


Allen Howell & Family

Howell Engines Made by Other Model Engineers

Dave Sage’s Howell V-8 Project

Jerry Howell’s original design began as a kind of double V-twin to make a V-4. Dave Sage took it to a new level by doubling up on Jerry’s design to make the engine into a V-8. Naturally, he had to make his own modifications in order to support the longer built-up crankshaft. He also modified the camshafts to change the timing and firing order, making it more like a Chevy small-block V-8. When asked why, Dave responded, “just for the heck of it.” In these early photos taken soon after the first run, Dave’s V-8 is running a single carburetor. 

Dave said that engine speed was limited at this point, and to get more rpm out of it he would probably have to add more carbs. Our only regret is that while Jerry Howell saw the start of this project, he didn’t get to see the ambitious extension of his original design finished and running. It looks like Dave did a first class job that Jerry would have approved of. 

Terry Mayhugh’s Howell V-4 Project

Terry Mayhugh’s Howell V-4 engine.

Terry Mayhugh’s Howell V-4 engine. (Photo courtesy of Terry Mayhugh.)

Terry Mayhugh started this project—only his second IC engine—shortly after the Craftsmanship Museum started our version. Terry’s first IC engine build was a Howell V-twin. It took Terry about 3,000 hours over the course of two years to complete this engine, but he did a fantastic job. Not only does it look good, but the V-4 runs great, too. Castings for the manifolds were unavailable, so Terry machined his from the plans. Notice also the effective base and innovative gas tank.

Watch a video of Terry’s early run of his Howell V-4 engine. 

Presented by The Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship