Four cylinders, 350ci, clunking-clanking noises, and likely some amazing smells. That’s what you are buying if you get your hands on this engine that is 112 years old and is claimed to be the oldest one known to run in the world. One thing you do not have to worry about with this thing is high RPM operation and an abundance of horsepower. Being that the thing is a century old and still runs, we’re guessing that it’ll be running until the sun explodes and swallows up our little planet. (Check out the video of the engine running below).
How do you get 350ci out of four cylinders? 4.5-inches of bore and 5.5-inches of stroke. That’s how! We wish we could see what the pistons and rods look like in this thing because they are probably so robust you could drive railroad spikes with them. By robust we mean massive and heavy as hell.
Joseph Van Blerck was a bad ass in his day. Born in Holland in the 1870s, he was in the marine engine business by the time he was in his mid-20s. He came to America just after the turn of the 20th century and won races in power boats of the day. Those wins got his name out there and his engines kept it out there. From what we can tell Van Blerck offered workaday engines like this all the way up to big, bad racing engines. They were T-headed like this one, all used two cams, and all had dual ignitions.
This 1905 engine is notable because it comes from a very early time in the establishment of his business. No one else has claimed to have an earlier running example. Pretty neat and it sounds awesome once fired up. Basically a tractor engine for the water, we love its clunking thudding nature.