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The Evolution & Demise of the Bearcat
Taylor ⇒ Crosley ⇒ Aerojet ⇒ Fageol ⇒ Crofton ⇒ Homelite ⇒ Bearcat
One byproduct of Crosley’s war effort was the production of a lightweight four cylinder, 4-Stroke Cycle, Over-Head Valve, Over-Head Cam, integral head-in-block gasoline engine for auxiliary power for field equipment, aboard PT boats and B-17 bombers. The unique little mill was fabricated from sheet metal rather than cast iron. It had its beginning at Taylor Engines, Inc., Oakland, California. Taylor Engines was a 3 man company, consisting of a machinist named Jess, a draftsman named Joe Smith and Lloyd M. Taylor, the man with a dream. Taylor was a self-taught mechanical genius. Taylor knew the trouble with high compression engines had to do with thermal efficiency. At the high compression ratios needed to get lots of horse power out of a small displacement engine you could get violent denotation at unwanted times, sending shock waves through the block, canceling any gains in efficiency, and possibly destroying the engine. Taylor’s obsession was to figure out why that happened, so he could make it stop. As he came to see it, the stumbling lay in the inherent properties of cast iron, the standard material for engine blocks. Technology of the time did not allow castings thinner than 1/4 inch, thicker in most places. Taylor calculated that temperatures could rise to over 600 degrees on one side of an engine block wall in spite of the coolant flowing past the other side. Hot spots around the combustion chamber acts as a spark plug, causing the pre-ignition. A thin, uniform wall thickness would dissipate heat rapidly, allowing higher compression.
It was during the summer of 1943 that Powel Crosley Jr first heard of an all steel stamped, copper hydrogen brazed engine. Paul Klotsch, chief engineer of Crosley Motors Inc, soon was visiting Lloyd M. Taylor of Taylor Engines Inc, California, the inventor of the engine. The horsepower, fuel consumption and other performance data was so outstanding Crosley took an exclusive license under all patents.
Before the end of the war the Navy became interested in the lightweight high output of the engine and six engine generator sets were built, which ran at 5000 RPM developing 35HP. Crosley and the Navy performed exhaustive tests including running one engine continuously for 1200 hours.
The Crosley engine easily won the contract, meeting or exceeding all specifications. The Armed Services used the tin block engine for air drop-able self contained generators, generators for PT Boats, amphibs and many other places, that lightweight power plants were needed.
The COBRA (Tin Block) engine is undoubtedly the most unique concept used in any of the Crosley cars and trucks.
Some civilian uses, other than the Crosley Automobile from 1946 to early 1949, were truck refrigeration, boats and the Mooney Mite airplane.
The COpper BRAzed engine had a bore of 2.5 by 2.25 stroke to keep piston speed down at high RPM, this gave a displacement of 44 cu in. Military version ran compression ratios as high as 9 to 1 on 100 octane fuel for maximum of 36HP at 5600 RPM (.8HP per cubic inch displacement). The 1946 car engine had a lower compression ratio of 7.5 to 1 and horsepower was reduced to 26.5 at 5200 RPM.
A vertical shaft with bevel gears was used to drive the overhead camshaft instead of a more conventional chain drive so that the lubricating oil could be fed up through it to pressure feed the cam bearings.
The crankcase was made out of cast aluminum alloy and held the crankshaft in 5 main bearings giving a very strong lower unit for the COBRA. The 4 cylinder block was constructed out of about 125 steel stampings. The pieces were held together by press fit, spot welds or crimping before brazing. The block is then copper brazed in a specially constructed 60 foot long furnace at 2060 degree F in a neutral atmosphere. The hardness of the alloy steel was controlled by the speed of cooling. The finished block weighs an extremely light 14 pounds. Inside, the water jacket was first plastic coated, later blocks had a zinc coating on the inner liners.
Comparing the pre-war 2 cylinder engine and the copper brazed engine shows the weight was reduced from 188 to 133 pounds and horse power was increased from 12.5 to 26.5.
Crosley showed the durability of his new engine by filling a block with water and freezing it solid without cracking the block.
Dependability was poor on the early engines that Crosley put in his cars. The engines were essentially the military version with slightly improved valve trains. Used on the road at variable speeds put different demands on the engine than the constant speed that they were used at in generator sets.
By 1947 the COBRA was reasonably dependable. If serviced properly the engine was good for 60,000 miles or so. Low water was probably the COBRA’s worst enemy, causing burnout, warping and water leaks. The other problem plaguing the engine was rust out in the water jacket caused by electrolytic action when the plastic or zinc inner liner broke down, this was further aggravated by salt based antifreezes that were in wide use at the time.
Early in 1949, after numerous problems and a loss of public acceptance, Crosley changed to the CIBA (cast iron block assembly) having the same horsepower and displacement at an increase of about 30 pounds in weight. COBRA owners could retrofit CIBA units for $89 with exchange.
More from The Mighty Tin
When Crosley sold to General Tire in 1952, they sold the rights and tooling for the 4-cylinder engine, who were primarily interested in producing engines for government use. The engine was renamed AeroJet and was cast in the block where the Crosley name had formally been. Their marine division produced the “VIP” version of the engine (Vertical Inline Power.) The entire assembly rotated to achieve steering.
Lou Fageol of Twin Coach bus and automobile company of Kent, Ohio picked up the motor from General Tire in the mid-1950’s, probably 1955 and built it as the Fageol 44 boat motor. The first motors shipped as Fageol were just left over AeroJet engines with a Fageol decal and possibly a Fageol intake manifold. This early 4-stroke outboard did not achieve enduring success or wide distribution. The Fageol 44 was sold in 3 performance forms, single carb, dual and supercharged. Mirror image blocks were cast to be used in the opposing, pancake design, to put the intake and exhaust ports on top of the engine. The Lou Fageol Story.
W.B. Crofton bought out Fageol’s Crosley engine business and inventory around 1959 including the Fageol Marine name. They sold to the military, made boat motors and used the engine in their Crofton mini jeep, an updated version of the Crosley FarmOroad.
Crofton used both regular and mirrored blocks in their engine production. The Mirror engines were put together from the left over blocks from the flat 8 production run.
Homelite 55 hp “4-Cycle” Outboard Motor
Homelite, a division of Textron Inc. in Port Chester NY, in 1961 took over the ownership of the Crosley family tree and developed a successful derivative. They increased the displacement to 59 CI, enabling a rated 55-HP at 5500 RPM. The 59 CI was obtained by increasing the 53 CI Fageol/Crofton’s 2.25 inch stroke to 2.5 keeping the 2.75 inch bore.
Bearcat 55 hp “4-Cycle” Outboard Motor
In 1966 Homelite sold the rights to Richard Fisher, the founder of Boston Whaler Boats. Since the Homelite performed so well on the Boston Whaler fishing boats, it was no surprise Richard made the investment. Richard produced the engine under the Fisher-Pierce Bearcat 55 label until all production stopped in 1972, the year prior to the major oil embargo that resulted in gasoline rationing. It was no secret if he could have hung on a few more months, things may have been different for his Bearcat 55. The engine has an excellent durability track record and seldom wore out from use. The engine valves did have a habit of sticking open when being cranked after being dormant if the engine was not pickled with oil before being put away during the off-season, especially if it was used around saltwater.
More from Scott Stewart’s Homelite Page
Bearcat 85 hp 4-(Stroke) Cycle Outboard Motor
As the sixties neared the seventies, Richard Fisher realized the boating public wanted more horsepower than his Bearcat 55. He developed a 4-stroke cycle 85hp model. It was introduced in 1970. The powerhead was a marinized version of an aluminum English built engine. This was an aluminum block, three main bearing, 4 cylinder engine that was used in some automobiles and as a pump engine on some firetrucks.
In theory, it was a great upgrade to the Bearcat 55. In reality, the public just wasn’t ready for a larger 4-stroke cycle outboard. The 85hp model wasn’t on the market long enough to develop any sort of track record.
More from Scott Stewart’s Bearcat Website <- LINK N/G! (Also supplies Parts & Service for these engines)
Fisher-Pierce Bearcat > Out of Business 1972.
NOTE: The Boston Whaler boat operation of Fisher-Pierce was sold to CML Group in 1969, then sold to Reebok Corporation in 1989, then sold to Meridian Sports in 1994, and then in 1996, it was purchased by Brunswick Corporation, the parent company of Mercury Marine.
Please do not try to contact any of the vendors on this website via our EverythingAboutBoats.org Phone, Email or Comment Systems. Your message will NOT be forwarded to the vendor.
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Specifications For Homelite, Bearcat, etc.
4-Stroke Cycle Gasoline Marine Engines
^ DATA: ⊗ = Data Not Available from Data Source. ? = …? = ¿…? = Data Unconfirmed.
BASE ENGINE: Manufacturer & Model of Base Engine.
DS = Data Source: B = Bearcat. BD = BoatDiesel.com = …B. Wik = Wikipedia.
^ …d = Directory. …w = Webpage. …y = Years Mfr’d History. …c = Catalog. …b = Brochure. …s = SpecSheet.
^ …o = Owner’s/Operator’s Manual. …m = Service/Repair/Technical/Workshop/Shop Manual.
^ …p = Parts List/Manual. …h = History. …f = Forum. …1,2,3,A,B,C,etc = Source #, Version, Revision.
CYL: Crankshaft Orientation-Cylinder Orientation & Configuration-Number−Type:
^ Crankshaft Orientation: v = Vertical (⇑). Horizontal (⇐):
^ ^ Cylinder Orientation: u… = Upright (Vertical). s… = Slanted (Inclined). h… = Horizontal (Flat).
^ Cylinder Configuration: …I = In-Line. …o = Outward Facing Opposed Piston (Boxer).
^ Cylinder Type: P = Parent/Native Bore (Borable Oversize).
BORE & STROKE: …mm = Millimeters. …in = Inches = …”.
DISPLACEMENT: …cc = Cubic Centimeters (cm³). …L = Litres/Liters. …ci = Cubic Inches (in³).
⇑ = Base Engine Manufacturer. ⇒ = Engine Marinizer/Mariniser).
MODEL: Full Engine Model Number w/Codes
ASP: Aspiration-Fueling: N = Naturally Aspirated.
^ Petrol: C = Carbureted.
POWER: kW = Kilowatts. HP = Horsepower. MHP = Metric Horsepower.
@RPM = Power Ratings @ Revolutions Per Minute.
YEARS MFR’d: Beginning-Ending.
|Taylor COBRA||Bh||uI-4−P||⊗mm||⊗mm||2.75in||2.25in||⊗cc / ⊗L / 44ci|
|Crosley COBRA||Bh||uI-4−P||⊗mm||⊗mm||2.75in||2.25in||⊗cc / ⊗L / 44ci|
|Crosley CIBA||Bh||uI-4−P||⊗mm||⊗mm||2.75in||2.25in||⊗cc / ⊗L / 44ci|
|Aerojet 44||Bh||uI-4−P||⊗mm||⊗mm||2.75in||2.25in||⊗cc / ⊗L / 44ci|
|Aerojet VIP||Bh||vI-4−P||⊗mm||⊗mm||2.75in||2.25in||⊗cc / ⊗L / 44ci|
|Fageol 44||Bh||uI-4−P||⊗mm||⊗mm||2.75in||2.25in||⊗cc / ⊗L / 44ci|
|Fageol 44 VIP||Bh||vI-4−P||⊗mm||⊗mm||2.75in||2.25in||⊗cc / ⊗L / 44ci|
|Fageol 44 OB||Bh||vI-4−P||⊗mm||⊗mm||2.75in||2.25in||⊗cc / ⊗L / 44ci|
|Crofton 44||Bh||uI-4−P||⊗mm||⊗mm||2.75in||2.25in||⊗cc / ⊗L / 44ci|
|Crofton 44 VIP||Bh||vI-4−P||⊗mm||⊗mm||2.75in||2.25in||⊗cc / ⊗L / 44ci|
|Crofton 44 OB||Bh||vI-4−P||⊗mm||⊗mm||2.75in||2.25in||⊗cc / ⊗L / 44ci|
|COBRA USN Gen||Bh||N-C||⊗||35||⊗||5000||1943-1945|
|COBRA US MIL||Bh||N-C||⊗||36||⊗||5600||1943-1946|
|Fageol 88?||Bh||ho-8−P||⊗mm||⊗mm||2.75in||2.25in||⊗cc / ⊗L / 88ci|
|Crofton 88?||Bh||ho-8−P||⊗mm||⊗mm||2.75in||2.25in||⊗cc / ⊗L / 88ci|
|Homelite 55||Bh||vI-4−P||⊗mm||⊗mm||2.75in||2.5in||⊗cc / ⊗L / 59.4ci|
|Bearcat 55||Bh||vI-4−P||⊗mm||⊗mm||2.75in||2.5in||⊗cc / ⊗L / 59.4ci|
|Bearcat 85||Bh||vI-4−P||⊗mm||⊗mm||⊗in||⊗in||⊗cc / ⊗L / ⊗ci|
BEARCAT 55 SPECIFICATIONS
(as stated in the advertisement brochures)
4-stroke cycle, 4-clyinder, electric starting with built in alternator. Cast alloy block with integral head eliminates the head gasket and its problems. Full floating pistons.
55hp at 5500rpm. Max. safe rpm, 6000
59.4 cubic inches.
Bore and Stroke:
Bore 2 3/4″; Stroke 2 1/2″.
Heat-treated chrome-moly alloy steel, integral counterweights for perfect balance, five main bearings.
Racing-type Overhead Camshaft. High lift Polydyne cams give controlled rate of valve acceleration for longest possible life of cams, cam followers, and valves. Camshaft is shaft driven by a tower shaft, eliminating slop (slack) present with belts and chains.
Dual carburetors with fixed highspeed jets. Accelerating pumps for quick take-off.
Gearshift (forward, neutral, reverse). 15:28 gear ratio. SAE EP 90 gear oil. Lifetime clutch dog and gears, precisely shaped and heat treated for less wear.
Water cooled. Corrosion proof water pump is located in the lower drive housing for optimum operation under all conditions. Thermostatically controlled to maintain proper operating temperature.
Automotive style fuel pump is mounted on the valve cover and driven directly by the overhead camshaft. Any regular gasoline, 91 octane or higher. No mixing of oil required.
High-pressure, force-feed, automotive type system with spin-on oil filter. Use any good grade SAE 30. 2 1/4 quarts with filter.
Thrifty-Mate 6 gallon capacity furnished as standard equipment. Since no oil is mixed with gasoline, built in fuel tanks may be used.
Electric Power Supply:
15-Ampere capacity alternator built in (under flywheel) as standard equipment. Voltage regulator optional, rectifier included. Automotive style distributor mounts directly on top of the overhead camshaft for exact timing.
Automatic Reverse Lock:
Locks the engine in the down position for shifting into reverse. Spring loaded to kick-up in the event of striking an underwater obstruction.
227 pounds short shaft for 15″ transom
239 pounds long shaft for 20″ transom
CHANGES OVER THE 11 PRODUCTION YEARS:
Over the 11 years of this engine being produced, many changes were made. Some of the most important changes and differences are listed on the following website.
More from www.Bearcat55.com & www.Homelite55.com
Years produced & Serial Numbers
|YEAR||SERIAL NUMBERS||MODEL NUMBERS|
|1961||below 1400000||460A1 460A2|
|1962||1400000 & up||460A1 460A2|
|1963||1524000 & up||460A1B 460A2B|
|1964||1653260 & up||460A1B 460A2B 460A1C 460A2C|
|1965||1882564 & up||460A1D 460A2D|
|1965||1885793 & up||460A1E 460A2E|
|1966||2143625 & up||460A1E 460A2E|
|1967||2300000 & up||460A1E 460A2E|
|1968||2301147 & up||460A1F 460A2F|
|1969||2304160 & up||460A1F 460A2F|
|1970||F6811 & up||460A2F|
|1971||F10XXX & up||460A2F|
|1972||F20XXX & up||460A2F END OF PRODUCTION|
More from www.Bearcat55.com & www.Homelite55.com
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- Published over 500 DIY How-To articles about boat design, construction, inspection, operation, maintenance, troubleshooting and repair. We are working hard to do more.
We are currently formatting and polishing the Anchors Aweigh Academy online and hands-on courses. Our Marine Surveying course has proven to be excellent for both the beginner and the seasoned surveyor, and especially helpful to the Do-It-Yourselfer.
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like our Academy Lending Library and our Ask-An-Expert Program!
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FROM Donald: "This is an awesome website. I found the information that I needed right away from one of the over 20,000 free articles that you provide as a public service. I'm surprised that so much if this site is free. But I still signed up so I could access the thousands of expanded pages, interesting articles, and dozens of valuable programs! The member's library of books, magazines and videos that I can view online is really terrific! I understand that you and your staff are all unpaid volunteers. Please keep up the good work. And I commend you for your plans to add another 10,000 free informative articles over the next year. I'm thrilled to support you in this endeavor with my small membership donation. Thanks again for all your hard work."
FROM Huey: "I agree with my Uncle, I too have found the articles to be very enlightening. They say that it will take about 100,000 articles to cover the full scope that they have envisioned for the website. They have over 20,000 articles so far and that's doing pretty well, but it could take several years to get the rest. I also noticed that many of the Main Topic Pages and some of the article pages are still in the rough draft stage. I guess that they will fill in as they can get volunteers to work on them. But what I can't figure out is why anyone would spend the time writing informative in depth articles just to give away free to this website for publication? What's in it for them?"
FROM Dewey: "Well Huey, to me It looks like most of the articles on this website are written by very informed people, like boating instructors, boat designers, boat builders, riggers, electricians, fitters, marine repair technicians and marine surveyors. Writing such articles helps establish them as knowledgeable professionals. After all, this website was originally created by a school for marine technicians and marine surveyors. The website is growing in content every day. They even had to move to a bigger, more powerful server because the website's traffic has been growing exponentially."
FROM Louie: "I agree with everyone above. This site is quickly becoming the ultimate reference resource about every aspect of boats and ships for everyone from the beginning recreational boater to the seasoned professional mariner. I use the topic pages on the right sidebar to browse around the website. It's like a Junior Woodchucks' Guidebook for Boaters. Their Members' Library of over 300 popular and obscure books and over 200 magazine back issues that can be viewed online is fabulous. The Academy's magazine is especially informative. On top of that, there is the "Ask-An-Expert program for members where you can get an expert's answer to any of your boat questions. And a whole years membership is only $25. What a deal! I really love being part of this "Everything About Boats" community and help provide thousands of helpful articles free to the public. I think that I'll sit down right now and write an article about my experiences boating with my uncle."
FROM Scrooge: "You rave about this website like it was the best thing since sliced bread. Well, I think it stinks. Sure, it has a lot of good information for boaters, and they're adding more every day, but it will probably never be finished. Furthermore, I don't even own a boat. And I wouldn't have a boat even if someone gave me one. Boats are a waste of money and time and energy and money! They're just a hole in the water you pour money into. If you gave me a boat, I'd sell it quicker then you could say Baggywrinkle. Then I'd lock up the cash with all my other money so I could keep my eye on it and count it every day. Bah humbug."
FROM Daisy: "I'm just so glad that Donald got the boat so we and the boys could enjoy boating — together. And of course all of the girls, April, May, and June, love to be on the water too, especially when that is where the boys are. Oh poor Scrooge, boating is more fun then you could possibly imagine."
FROM Scrooge: "After seeing how much fun you all have on the water together, I regret that I didn't have that much fun when I was young. I've had a change of heart, and I'm giving each of you a Lifetime Academy Membership."
FROM Editor: "For those of you that have stayed with us this far, many thanks. You inspire us to keep working on this phenomenal website. We know that we have a lot more to do. Ultimately, we hope that we can help you enjoy the wonder filled world of boating as much as we do. We are all waiting to see what you have to say about this webpage article. Submit any comments via email To⇒ Comments♥EverythingAboutBoats.org (Replace "♥" with "@"). Be sure to include this page's title in the subject line. Also, your corrections, updates, additions and suggestions are welcomed. Please submit them via email To: Editor♥EverythingAboutBoats.org (Replace "♥" with "@"). It has been truly amazing to see what we have been able to accomplished when we've worked together. Thanks to all those that have donated their valuable time and energy, and a special THANK YOU to all that have supported this cause with their membership donations."
From Robert: “I think you would be interested in knowing that I worked at the Fisher Pierce Bearcat plant that was located on property that once was the U.S. Air Force Base in Manchester, NH. You mentioned that production of the motor ceased in 1972. I worked there from 1971 to 1972. In 1972, a few months after I had stopped working there, an alarming story appeared on the local T.V. station’s Evening News. A tremendous explosion had occurred at the plant. It seemed the plant was built over an oil tank farm. I had never heard of an oil tank farm until I heard that news story. Somehow, someway, a spark came from somewhere which caused a bomb-like explosion. I don’t believe the plant ever re-opened. I don’t know if the Fisher-Pierce Bearcat motors were built in any other plants in the U.S. If not, the explosion at my former plant was probably the main reason why production ceased in 1972.“