Henry Ford's first internal combustion engine
Henry Ford's First Engine

I saw a replica of Henry Ford's first internal combustion engine for the first time at the Rusty Wheels engine show at Hope, Arkansas, in 2003. Not really knowing what I was looking at, I didn't pay much attention to it at the time. But the image was burnt into my mind. From time to time I would browse the internet trying to find any information I could about the engine with no luck. Then an ad appeared in Gas Engine Magazine advertising plans to build the engine. A friend called one evening and in our conversation Ford's first engine came up. He told me that someone I know who lives close by, Bo Hinch, had built one of the engines. The next weekend I went to his shop to see it. I was bitten. I knew then and there that I had to build one. When I got back to my house I looked up the ad in GEM and called the number. Leon Ridenaur answered the phone. I told him I would like to order a set of the plans to build Henry Ford's first engine. After a lengthy conversation, he got my address and said he would put the plans in the mail. When I asked him how I should pay, he simply said put a check in the mail when you get the plans. This was on Saturday. The next Wednesday the plans were in my mailbox. What service!

The plans included a DVD which I immediately watched. Next day I went by a local lumber yard and bought all of the pipe fittings and miscellaneous parts I could to get started. So began a lengthy adventure which I'll attempt to document here.

If you're interested in obtaining a copy of the plans to build one of these engines, contact Leon Ridenour in Knoxville, Tennessee, at 865-584-9759.

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