SF Maritime Hicks (Pier)

A running Model H one-cylinder on the pier at the SF Maritime.

  • Note the early style camshaft arrangement, with the camshaft driven by helical gears, placed at 90° to the crank centerline.
    From some of the casting part numbers, I believe this engine was built by Yuba Mfg., but to the original Hicks ‘H’ design. Yuba later “modernized” the engine with the camshaft parallel to crank (which made multicylinder versions possible).
  • The vertical rod on the RH side trips a contact for the make-and-break ignition, basically the same as the opening the points in a more modern distributor. A lever and eccentric allow the spark timing to be varied.
  • The levers on the rocker arm shaft also work through eccentrics to vary the valve lash, which effects changes in total valve opening and timing. This is how you control engine speed!
  • The large hand lever engages a friction band around the reverse gear. The gear set is much like that in a car’s axle differential… if the outer housing is locked via the band, then the output runs in reverse of the input. When the band is loosened, the entire housing rotates as one, providing direct forward drive.
    There’s also a neutral position, which seems to involve a clutch set on the inside of the drum, aft. I’d love to see an explanation of exactly how it works.
  • The brass box on the LH side is a Manzel mechanical lubricator, driven off of the camshaft. It provides oiling to several important points automatically… but not to everything! The operator must still lube several points by hand on a regular basis.
  • The item with the horseshoe magnets is a magneto for the ignition. Some owners would add a generator, which could be driven via a friction wheel off the flywheel.
  • On the lower left side, a plunger-type water pump is driven off the crankshaft.
  • A Schebler carburetor is on the RH side. Some engines have a manifold which routes intake air through water-heated passages before feeding into the carb.


Here is a second set of the same engine, taken in 2008: