While small diesels are relatively common in North America today, many decades ago they were found mostly in Europe. Such was the case for the Farymann diesel from Germany—once one of the best-known small diesels in Europe and elsewhere.


Farymann started in 1947 as Farny & Weidmann when Paul Farny and Ernst Weidmann joined forces to produce small industrial diesels. They soon changed it to “Farmann,” a combination of both names, but after some confusion with a French company named “Farman,” they changed the name to “Farymann” in the early 1950s. Both men had worked at Moterenwerke Mannheim (MWN), an engineering and engine manufacturing firm founded by Carl Benz in 1871. They worked there from the 1930s until the end of WWII. MWN was owned by Deutz from 1985-2007 and is now Caterpillar Energy Solutions.

The first Farymann kleindieselmotoren (small diesel engines) used a very simple evaporative liquid cooling system similar to the old-style, one-lung engines you might have seen at old-time engine shows. While it was old tech for the ‘50s, it was slightly upscale because these Farymann engines used roller crankshaft bearings and had indirect injection with swirl chambers. They gained a reputation for reliability, and the company grew as a result.


The LDS displaces 850 cc (52 ci), from a 95 x 120 mm (3.74×4.72) bore and stroke. There were two common power outputs for the LDS: 8 horsepower (DIN power) at 1500 rpm and 10 horsepower at 1800. This is the 8-hp version. The port sticking out of the fan shroud is for the Zundfix igniter. It looks a lot like a cigarette butt, but it is a roll of special paper soaked in ammonium nitrate. It was inserted into a T-handle (missing and replaced by cap) with a hollow tube that reached into the combustion chamber. Unlike other cold-starting setups, you didn’t light these before inserting. The heat of compression started them and the extra heat warmed the pre-combustion chamber, which helped vaporize the fuel for starting and running.

In 1956, Farymann began offering air-cooled diesels, and in 1958, they upped the ante with a more extensive line of diesels of varying sizes and power levels. They were offered with water and air cooling and in both horizontal and vertical configurations. In short order, that line expanded to include watercooled marine engines with gearboxes and even multi-cylinder engines—both inline two-cylinders and V2 engines. Their engines were planted into a grab-bag of products, from cement mixers, a few small tractors, and even, experimentally, into Jeeps for re-power tests.

As a company, Farymann had its ups and downs. Located in Lampertheim, near Mannheim, Germany, its heydays were from the 1950s through early 1970s. It had nearly 300 people in the plant at the peak, producing up to 11,000 engines per year. One of its strongest markets was small marine engines, and they became well known as auxiliary engines in sailboats.


We can’t tell you much about the injection system except that it came from Bosch, and the injector opening pressure is 1,470 psi. While pretty low by today’s standards, Farymann claimed in sales literature this offered long life and reliability.

In 1979, Briggs & Stratton bought the company, keeping it separate but utilizing its unique product line. Briggs & Stratton found it hard to profit from the arrangement, so Farymann went independent again from 1985 until 2007 when it was purchased by an Indian company. It continued on a downward spiral, went independent again in 2015, and then fell on seriously hard times. By 2018, they had only 33 employees and sales had dropped to nearly nothing. Lacking a buyer to revitalize the company, it shut down at the end of 2018. Their assets were bought by a Danish company, but it’s not clear what the future will bring for the Farymann brand.


This 1960s-era image shows the roller-bearing-supported crankshaft in a typical Farymann diesel. It even shows a roller bearing on the connecting rod’s big end. The cylinder was replaced as a unit, much like a VW air-cooled engine. This engine appears to have a 5-ring piston with one on the skirt.