OF KNIGHTS AND SLEEVES

John Gunnell |

I read Gerald P’s story about Knight sleeve-valve engines in this week’s issue of OCW. Gosh, I remember back to 1978 or so, when OCW founder Chet Krause had a Minerva town car with a Knight engine. It was a pretty smokey old beast so he bought a spare engine from windshield wiper guru Dave Ficken and picked it up at Hershey. We hauled it home from there in the Old Cars rig. It was a massive thing and I don’t think it was any better than the first one.

A few weeks ago I went to visit Lloyd Guerke who just finished doing an absolutely gorgeous 1931 Willys-Knight coupe. Over the years, Lloyd has discovered that a 1955-1957 Chevy six will bolt into these cars almost directly. So he gave his car a darn near Pebble Beach restoration, but used a Chevy six. Then he put an S-10 five-speed behind it and added things like cruise control, GPS and 12-volt AC electrics. Now he has a great looking W-K that will go 1,200 miles at highway speeds and never miss a beat.

Lloyd saved the sleeve-valve engine, too. It seems that members of the Willys club have a project going to reproduce the sleeve valves. When they’re available, he plans to switch over to the original motor.

One Response to OF KNIGHTS AND SLEEVES

  1. akhilesh agarwal says:

    Dear Gunner,
    I am a retired mechanical engineer living in India, interested in Vintage cars/ engine reconditioning. I own the following-
    a] Fiat Topolino A Side Valve, 1949
    b] Fiat Topolino C Over Head Valve,1951
    c] Fiat 1100,1956
    d] Standard Super 10, 1957
    e] Lambretta autocycle, 1960
    f] Lohmann Compession ignition cycle motor,1951
    g] Elgin outboard motor,3,5hp,1947
    h] Elgin outboard motor,5,5hp,1949
    i] Johnson outboard motors, HD25[2,5hp 1947], TD20[5hp 1949] amd QD12[1951 10hp]
    All the above have been restored by me and are in good running condition. I am especially proud of the Lohmann Compression ignition cyclemotor, which is rare and a unique design, with variable compression. I obtained it from Holland and restored it myself to fine running condition.

    I also have an interest in flying, having obtained a Glider Pilot’s Licence and a Private Pilot’s Licence in my student days. Now I fly radio controlled model aircraft and helicopters. I am currently flying an electric powered twin engine Dakota DC3.

    I have a special interest in Sleeve Valve Engines and cars such as Daimler, Willys Knight, Stearns Knight, Minerva, and Voisin which used Sleeve Valve Engines. I am especially interested in the Daimler Sleeve Valve engine, a V12 called Double Six, used in Daimler cars in 1928, and would like to know more details. I recently found a gentleman in Australia who restored a Stearns Knight 8 cylinder engine after making two replacement sleeves.

    I have read with interest many posts in 2006 in AACA, and everything I could find on the net about Sleeve Valve Engines. I would like to get in touch with people who own or have hands on experience with reconditioning Sleeve Valve Engines. I have also received some replies to my posts in AACA. I am also looking for a Sleeve Valve engine such as Willys Knight to restore as a project and would appreciate if you refer me to someone who is selling one. Sleeve Valve engines are very hard to find here in India.

    My son lives in Atlanta, GA and we visit him once every year for a month. I look forward to the privilege of hearing from you.

    Best Regards,
    Akhilesh Agarwal

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