Century, Dusevoir (US)

Century Motors Corp. of Dearborn, Michigan was founded, apparently by William B. (Bill) Stout, and was reported (Ae42) to be working on an HOAE in 1941-1942. It was based on ideas by Julius Dusevoir (1886-1957), who had been developing and patenting improved engine components for many years as an independent engineer and machinist. William B. Stout (1880-1956) was the famous inventor, innovator, and visionary who is best known for bringing Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Co. into aviation in the 1920's. The best-known results of the Ford/Stout endeavor were an airline and the immortal Ford Trimotor transport.

A principal Dusevoir development in the early 1920's was a built-up, multi-piece crankshaft with carefully-machined, serrated joints. This crankshaft construction technique enabled the use of roller bearings that were carefully ground for a close fit, thus reducing oil consumption. A Dusevoir crankshaft of this type was tested extensively on a Star automobile produced at that time by William C. Durant, a well-known automotive pioneer. In the 1930's, Dusevoir turned his attention to engines for light aircraft. One resulting Dusevoir engine was a four-cylinder, two-stroke HOAE that was photographed and reported (Popular Science, November 1940) to produce 75hp for a weight of only 130#. The engine had a Dusevoir built-up crankshaft and was built by Dusevoir and his younger son, Gene, in San Leandro, California.

The Dusevoir engine stimulated Stout's interest and, probably, the Century name as a play on words. These are explained by the late George G. Spratt, who followed his father (George A. Spratt) into aviation by continuing development of what are known today as the Spratt Controlwing aircraft (Sky#71). Spratt, in his paper "The Two Stroke Engine Today" in SA3/78, wrote the following introduction, which is quoted here verbatim:

"Many of you old timers may remember an article written by Bill Stout about the time of World War II. The title was: One Hundred Horsepower, One Hundred Pounds, One Hundred Dollars.

This article was based on an engine that Julius Dusevoir built and brought to Bill's research activity on Telegraph Avenue in Dearborn. Although much time and money was spent on the project, the development was never completed, so unfortunately the engine never reached production. Bill told me later, jokingly, that he wished he had included "in one hundred years".

Stout does not mention Century or the Dusevoir engine in his autobiography (WBS), but the book is clearly not all-inclusive. Dr. Ralph Cooper has a Stout page on his Website on the early pioneers of aviation. Cooper reports that Stout's many interests in the early 1940's included "a low-cost aircraft engine". Stout continued actively in aviation until his death.

Julius Dusevoir and his older son Robert founded Dusevoir Metal Products, Inc. of Dearborn and Inkster, Michigan in 1945. The firm continues operations today.

The compiler wishes to express great thanks to Mr. Gene Dusevoir for a long telephone conversation. This Website is indebted to him for the valuable information which he provided about the Dusevoir family and especially about the Dusevoir built-up crankshaft and fabrication of the Dusevoir HOAE.


Updated 1/12/05