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History of the Universal Motor Company 4

Part 4 - The Diesel Years

In the early 1970ís sailboat manufacturers began fitting Yanmar diesel auxiliaries instead of the Atomic Four gasoline auxiliary, however Atomic Four sales continued to grow until their peak year of 1975. In 1976, as sales of the Atomic Four started to drop, Universal met the challenge from Yanmar by buying Kubota diesel engines and selling marinized versions, under the name Universal. Atomic Four sales gradually declined as manufacturers increasingly used diesel engines, and manufacturing ceased in 1980, with sales continuing until all units were sold in 1984. The last OEM (original equipment manufacturer) to fit the Atomic Four was Catalina, who used it up until the 1985 Catalina model year. After 1985 Universal sold only diesel marine engines, which were fitted by several OEM, including Catalina.

The first Universal diesel was advertised in 1976. Designated the Model 5416, it was a 45 cu in, 16 hp, 2 cylinder, based on the Kubota Z-751 block and built from 1976 to 1982. Approximately 1,000 were sold. It was replaced by the Model M20, which was produced in 1982 and 1983. Approximately 230 were sold.

In 1977 the Model 5411 was introduced. It was a 31 cu in, 11 hp 2 cylinder raw water cooled diesel, based on the Kubota Z-500 block, and fitted with a Hurth transmission. The 5411 was built from 1977 to 1982. Approximately 2,900 were sold. It was replaced by the Model M15, which was produced in 1982 and 1983. Approximately 370 were sold.

The Model 5424, a 68 cu in, 24 hp, 3 cylinder, based on the Kubota D-1101 block, was built from 1977 to 1983. Approximately 1,050 were sold. It was replaced by the Model M-30, which was produced from 1983 to 1987. The Model M-30 was the same size, but later M-30 engines were based on the Kubota D-1102 block. It was built from 1983 to 1987. Approximately 400 were sold.

Universal 5424 / M-30

The Model 5421, a 52 cu in, 21 hp, 3 cylinder, based on the Kubota D-850 block, was built from 1978 to 1981. Approximately 1,000 were sold. It was replaced by the Model M25, which was produced from 1981 to 1986. Approximately 3,650 were sold. It in turn was replaced by the Model M-25XP, a 57 cu in, 23 hp, 3 cylinder, based on the Kubota D-950 block, built from 1986 to 1999. Approximately 3,100 were sold.

The Model 5432, a 91 cu in, 32 hp, 4 cylinder, based on the Kubota V-1501 block, was built from 1978 to 1982. It was also called the Atomic diesel. Approximately 650 were sold. It was replaced by the Model M40, which was produced from 1982 to 1998. The Model M-40 was also a 4 cylinder model, and the same size at 91 cu in and 32 hp but it was based on the Kubota V-1502 block. Approximately 360 were sold.

The Model 5444, a 115 cu in, 44 hp, 4 cylinder, based on the Kubota V-1902 block, was built from 1980 to 1982. Approximately 280 were sold. The Model 5444 was replaced by the Model M50, which was built from 1982 to 1997. Approximately 520 were sold.

The Model M-12, a 24.4 cu in, 10 hp, 2 cylinder based on the Kubota Z-400 block, was built from 1983 to 1988. Approximately 1,200 were sold.

The Model M-18, a 34.8 cu in, 14 hp @ 3,200 rpm, 2 cylinder, based on the Kubota Z-600 block, was built from 1983 to 1988. Approximately 2,400 were sold.

The Model M2-12, a 26 cu in, 11 hp, 2 cylinder, based on the Kubota Z-430 block, was built from 1987 to 1997. Approximately 320 were sold.

The Model M-35, a 75.5 cu in, 30 hp, 4 cylinder, based on the Kubota V-1200 block, was built from 1987 to 1997. Approximately 280 were sold.

The Model M-35A, a 4 cylinder engine producing 22.3 kW / 30 hp at 3,200 rpm, based on the Kubota ?? block, was introduced in 19??.

The Model M3-20, a 38.9 cu in, 18 hp, 3 cylinder, based on the Kubota D-640 block, was built from 1988 to 1997. Approximately 525 were sold.

The Model M3-20A, a 3 cylinder engine producing 13.4 kW / 18 hp at 3,600 rpm , based on the Kubota ?? block, was introduced in 19??.

The Model M4-30, also called the Atomic Four diesel, a 52 cu in, 25 hp, 4 cylinder, based on the Kubota Y-850 block, was built from 1988 to 1997. Approximately 470 were sold. The Model M4-30 was offered as a diesel replacement for the original Atomic Four gasoline engine. It was similar to its namesake, since it was a 4 cylinder model weighing slightly less (122 kg / 270 lb as opposed to the originalís 150 kg / 330 lb with reduction drive - the M4-30 was only offered with a reduction drive) and generating slightly less power (18.6 kW / 25 hp at 3,600 rpm as opposed to the originalís 22 kW / 30 hp at 3,500 rpm) with a smaller displacement (850 cc / 52 cu in as opposed to the originalís 1,065 cc / 65 cu in).

Universal M4-30 Atomic Four diesel

********* Research in Progress

Model M47, based on the the Kubota ?? block, the Kubota block was rebored by Universal to increase the bore, and thus the engine capacity and power output.

M3-20A

M-25XPA

M4-30A

M-35A

M-40A
********

Long time Universal Motor Company employee Richard D. Malnory was hired by Universal on January 3, 1956 and on June 3, 1966 he was promoted to Engineer - Research and Development. On August 15, 1968 he was promoted to General Foreman, and on July 1, 1969 he was promoted to Superintendent. He was Sales and Engineering Manager for Medalist Universal Motors from August 1, 1973 to December 11, 1989, and in late 1989 he reported the market share for diesel auxiliaries as 42% Universal, 45% Yanmar, and 18% Volvo / Westerbeke / Perkins. Mr. Malnory worked as a consultant for Westerbeke Inc of Avon Massachusetts until July 17, 1991, after they purchased the Universal Motor Company on July 17, 1990.

 

Westerbeke Takes Control

Westerbeke Inc of Avon Massachusetts purchased the Universal Motor Company on July 17, 1990. Westerbeke / Universal dealers continue to sell new Universal marine diesels, and parts for older Universal gas engines, including most Atomic Four parts. Atomic Four blocks and oil pan casting assemblies as well as several transmission components (ie throw-out bearing assemblies) are not available, however most common rebuild and repair parts are, although the prices are very expensive when compared to automotive engine parts. 

Universal Motor Company building, 1997. Building is boarded up and closed (note original flag pole and height of shrubs shown in earlier photographs)

The famous Universal Motor Company front door & sign.

photographs by Steve McKeown

 

Universal models available in 1998, the 100 year anniversary of the first Universal motor, were the 3 cylinder M3-20B (20 hp) and M25-XPB (26 hp), and the 4 cylinder M-35B (32 hp) and M-50B (42 hp), all Kubota based light diesels converted to marine specification and fitted with integral heat exchangers and Hurth transmissions.


M3-20B

 


M25-XPB

 


M-35B

 


M-50B

In late 1999 the model range was expanded with the addition of the 4 cylinder M-40B (37.5 hp).

M-40B

Over 100 years of producing marine engines the Universal Motor Company pioneered many of the advancements we now take for granted. They were the first to produce engines with large cast full-flow water jackets, the first to fit large water jacket inspection and clean-out plates, the first to develop special metals and materials for production marine engines, the first to build marine engines with integral marine gears, the first to fit oil coolers to marine engines, and the first to build bronze gear marine engine cooling pumps.

History of the Westerbeke Company: http://www.westerbeke.com/aboutus/company_history.cfm 


BIBLIOGRAPHY
Back issues of "Rudder" magazine
Back issues of the "Medalist" newsletter
Photocopies of newspaper articles supplied by the Oshkosh Public Library
Complete Encyclopedia of Motor Cars, Ebury Press
Old Marine Engines, Grayson, Devereux, 1998
Engines Afloat Volumes 1 & 2, Grayson, Devereux, 1999
American Gasoline Engines Since 1872, C.H. Wendell, Crestline, 1983
Gas Engine Trademarks, C.H. Wendell, Stemgas Publishing, 1995
Gasoline Engines 1884 - 1934, A. King, Independent Print Shop, 1994
Gasoline Engines 1909 - 1962, A. King, Independent Print Shop, 1994
Service & Repair Manual for Atomic 4 Marine Engine, R. Staton, Seacraft Publications, 1982
Universal Instruction Book Super-Four 100% Marine Engine, Universal Motor Company,
Universal Blue Jacket 100% Marine Engines 2, 4, and 6 Cylinder Series, Universal Motor Company
Universal Instruction Book "The Fisherman" 100% Marine Engine, Universal Motor Company
Instruction Book Universal Utility Four Marine Engine, Universal Motor Company
Medalist Universal Motors Repair Parts List for Universal Atomic Four, Medalist Industries
Medalist Industries Universal Motor Division Operation and Maintenance Manual, Medalist Industries
Universal Atomic 4 Operation and Maintenance Manual, Westerbeke Corporation
Universal Marine Power Master Manual, Westerbeke Corporation (shop and parts manuals for all Universal diesels)

THANKS
Lawrence Cotton, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Steve Diggins, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Clarence Jungwirth, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA
Steve McKeown, Campbellford, Ontario, Canada
Richard Malnory, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA
Don Moyer, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA
Mara Munroe, Oshkosh Public Library, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA
Ron Read, Delta, British Columbia, Canada
Bud Smith, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Duart Snow, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Westerbeke Corporation, Avon, Massachusetts, USA
Larry Zade, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA

Robert Hess
Delta, British Columbia, Canada
28/12/10

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