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Twin-Engined Model T Ford Monstrosity with Rajo Heads

Updated – “From standing start to 70 miles per hour in 600 feet” was quite a claim made by D.W. Mc Vean for this twin-engined Model “T” Ford. It is doubtful this early-1920s monster with Rajo o.h.v. cylinder heads was used for competition, but it was more likely built to increase garage work and parts sales.

The Rajo Motor Co. of Racine, Wisconsin built this head, its first 8-valve unit starting late in 1919. The add-on unit boosted the power a standard L-head Ford 20 h.p. engine to about 30 h.p. It was not an all-out racing head, as it was designed for use on standard Model “T” passenger cars and TT trucks.

As pictured in the advertisement (below) the “Valve In Head for Fords” used a one-piece intake and exhaust manifold that vaporized the incoming fuel and air mixture. The set up used a standard small Ford carburetor, which limited its power output. You can learn more about the Rajo head here in an earlier article Model T Ford Speed and Racing Equipment Part II – The Early Pioneers.

Update – Mark Herdman has found an advertisement (below) by McVean & McVean who were going out of business presumably in the early 1920s

Rajo Over Head Valve Head For Fhe Model T Ford

  •                              The first Rajo 8-valve cylinder head, the Model 30, introduced in late 1919. 

The rough and ready Mc Vean speedster appears to have used a heavier and longer “TT” truck frame and it is equipped with: a Ford car rear axle, accessory wire wheels, Hassler front shocks, double front radius rods, a vacuum tank for fuel feed from a Ford gas tank, and a front seat cut off of some sort of a period body.

The earliest information found about Mc Vena was in an article in “The Automobile” July 2, 1914 issue, titled “Wiring Lights to a Ford Magneto.” In it D.W. Mc Vean is listed as selling a regulator to allow using the mag to power electric lamps without burning out the bulbs.

Rajo Head Ad

R.L. Polk & Co.’s 1916 Indianapolis City Directory lists a Sedam & Mc Vean Garage at 752 Mass. Ave. and Daniel W. Mc Vean living nearby at 762 Mass Ave. in a flat at “The Carter.” After the Rajo head went on the market the garage name changed to Mc Vean & Mc Vean and moved down the street to 812 Mass. Ave.

Rago did not offer a valve cover for its early heads, and Mark Herdman found the ad (above) describing the cast aluminum valve cover the Mc Vean’s were selling for use on them. The photo was found by Jay and is on the MTFCA Forum.

Update – Mark Herdman has found an advertisement (below) by McVean & McVean who, were going out of business presumably in the early 1920s and offering the valve cover patten for sale.

Rajo Valve Cover Pattern

16 responses to “Twin-Engined Model T Ford Monstrosity with Rajo Heads

  1. There is a dual engine T speedster (dragster?) at the Smith Museum of Speed in Lincoln Neb. I believe it has dual Rajo’s. I was there yesterday but did not take a picture of that particular car.

  2. You know, Wisconsin pops up so often in these vintage photos. It’s amazing to see what a manufacturing giant Wisconsin was back then. Sadly, that’s not the deal now, and all that’s left is J.I. Case, and I heard even they are in trouble. ( the least expensive tractor they make costs $300g’s) Can someone tell me, why the wheels in these old car photos look egg shaped?

    • Howard, in this particular case, it is because a “fisheye” lens appears to have been used for the wide field of view. Now my cars wheels appear oval because they are it feels like, ha !

      • Thanks John, Like when you see old picture of racing cars and the wheels are always oblong. I heard also, they did that to portray the car going fast.

          • Old shutters were effectively two rolling blinds which produced a “slot” which travelled over the film. Because the shutter speed was relatively slow, the car had moved during the period when the shutter was in motion – hence the oval shaped wheels.

            This photographic phenomenon was then picked up by artists who drew oval wheels and “leaning” cars to impart an impression of speed.

    • Howard – I don’t believe it’s a trick of the lens, but rather because each axle set has an extremely positive camber. I was once a common belief that by canting the bottom of each wheel away from the vehicle, one increased stability in turns.

  3. Pretty clever way to draw attention to the product and the shop. No one was going to forget seeing a dual engine T. Wonder if they ever added any bodywork, or did they leave it as is? With some streamlining it might have made a trip to Daytona.

  4. Well it looks like they also used two transmissions too. To bad they didn’t think of linking the engines together through a coupling instead of using the trans. Just think the torque gained may have pushed it to 70 m.p.h. In just 573 ft.

    • It may have been done on purpose. The engine and transmission used the same oil and it would have been a lot of work to make it oil tight without the trans. If it did not have a starter, the first engine could have been crank started, and then used to start the second one quite easily.

  5. McVean ad in December 18, 1921 The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana · Page 32

    “Have two (2) Rajo overhead valves for Fords, slightly used, at bargain price We are agent for Rajo overhead valves for Ford”

    What are the odds?

      • I haven’t paid to access that site and can’t view the entire page, but it seems McVean was selling a quantity of assorted parts and tools in the ad. There could be more in the ad that actually suggests this was the car in question being parted.

        I found it at the newspapers dot website if anyone who is paid up there wants to look.

  6. Well, Sir: Jeff has IT right: something for straight line acceleration, ONLYand not for cornering! The more modern term, “Dragster”, as he suggests, — APPLIES !!! a rolling experiment to TOUT the Rajo equipment’s ability to ACCLERATE in a straight line!!!
    IF you want Model “T” straight line acceleration, then Southern California’s Annual SHELL HILL CLIMB combined with Doc Purden’s Model “T” “Over the top performers” would be very hard to beat, unless one Knew Doc’s secrets!, most of which went with him, — when he was done here. Oh, yes, I forgot to mention: Doc destroyed any competition using ONE engine and a very high level of speed secret skills ! Edwin – 30 –

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