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Ken 61

Manufactured in Garden Grove, California, the Ken 61 was the first all-new model racing engine to appear in America following the conclusion of WW2. In fact, the engine was first advertised in August 1945 when the war in the Pacific had not yet reached a final conclusion. The engine was designed by Ken Wade and manufactured by his own Kencraft company.

The Ken 61 was one of the most unusual and original model engines ever to make an appearance. Although it appeared on the surface to be a conventional crankshaft front rotary valve (FRV) design, it actually incorporated a unique induction system which combined a front rotary disc valve with a crankcase turbo-charging system.

Although ingenious in the extreme, this arrangement did not translate into any remarkable levels of performance. Consequently, the engine only survived in limited production until around mid 1947. Around 1,100 examples were made in total.

There was also a fixed-compression diesel version of the engine which was made in extremely small numbers between late 1946 and early 1947. Although it was advertised, this appears to have been more of a market-testing batch than a full-scale series production effort. A couple of experimental glow-plug units were also made before Ken Wade abandoned the model engine field in 1948.

A detailed history of the Ken 61 and its relatives will appear in due course on this website.

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