Model Engine News: March 2003

Special Features:

   Ron's Engine Page is Moving—Sideways!
   New IC Engine Bulletin Board
   SPEED Inc
   Caveat Emptor, Especially on eBay, mate!

Regular Features:

   New Books and Magazines This Month
   Engine of the Month: The Elfin 1.49
   Standard Stuff

All material on this web site is Copyright (c) of Ronald A Chernich 1999-2004, and all rights are reserved, world-wide. No text or images my be reproduced in any form without explicit permission of the copyright holder.
I truly regret having to add this, but after seeing my own words appearing uncredited in eBay auction descriptions, it's time to get petty. If you want to use any material, just ask. Non-profit usage will almost certainly be permitted and blessed, but if you plan to get rich on my work, I want a piece of the action!



Good news! Nobody near and close died last month. Bad news; Ron did almost no model engine work last month—neither in the shop, nor at the CAD station. However there are a few things that hopefully model engine builders and enthusiasts will find of interest. First, an announcement: the "monthly editorial" is working out well. The Readership seems to like it and has even taken the time to email me and tell me so (thank you, Reader). So, to make things easy on myself, I will cease maintaining the "What's New" page, and reference all the additions and changes made to the web site during the month from this page. Since each editorial chains back to the prior one, nobody should miss anything.

Ron's Engine Page is Moving—Sideways!

Next, the System Administrators for The Co-operative Research Centre for Enterprise Distributed Systems Technology (DSTC for short) and my University that provides the storage space and server facility, have decided to do away with the "Archive" re-direct Real Soon Now. That should make my page easier to find and remove that annoying "Archive" bar from the top of the page, but the change-over may not be painless. I'll try to provide an auto redirect when this happens, but if I suddenly seem to disappear, email me and I'll give you the new URL. Timing for this is not decided yet, so just consider this an early alert.

New IC Engine Bulletin Board

I received an email from Doug Case (Seattle, WA) to tell me about a new bulletin board dedicated to model IC engine construction. The service is provided by Chaski Telecommunications and has other lists that deal with live steam, home CNC machining, etc. Worth a look.


An email from David Burke, Grand Fromage and General Factotum of SPEED Inc tells us they are back from the long hot aussie summer break ("it's just too bloody hot, mate!") with a vengeance and a new project. This is the Hornet 61, a big muthur, RRV ignition speed engine of Australian "design" (being shamelessly cloned from the American Meteor 61, or was it 'tother way 'round?) Anyhow, this monster was quite successful in tether cars and hydroplanes. SPEED are making a terrific offer to new members, join now, paying A$25.00 and you'll receive sand casting for the Hornet for postage costs only. I don't see how anyone can refuse this offer; where's my check book?

Books and Magazines

A good month for books and magazines, though the floor under the library room of my house is starting to groan (and it's a concrete slab!) First and foremost is Volume 27 of the Engine Collectors' Journal from The Model Museum. Editor and publisher, Tim Dannels sticks to no particular schedule for ECJ. Issues come out as material arrives to fill them, but when six are complete, they become the next volume and are bound together as such. I like the "heft" of the bound volumes, but of course, if you can't wait, you can receive the issues as they are printed via subscription.

Volume 27 (Issues 151 thru 156) as usual contain a wealth of stuff, all directly related to our obsession. First up, there's the completion of a construction series begun in Volume 26 for the ED Baby, a 0.46cc diesel engine reproduction. This is, beyond any doubt, simply one of the best and complete engine construction series ever written, though since the authors were Roger Schroeder and moi, my opinion may be a trifle biased. Other noteworthy articles in Vol 27 are the completion of the Dooling Brothers Story, a feature article on the Schlosser series of engines, the continuing history of Cox engines showing some of their industrial products and OEM engines, plus some of the most amazing Whatzits and clunkers you'll ever see. Also included at no extra cost, is a description of climb milling that gets it wrong in nearly every respect, and it's all my own work (talk about red faces...) No collectors' library can be complete without all the ECJ back issues and the good news is they are all available from the editor/publisher.

Next, Yet Another weighty tome on "real" engines. This one is titled Vees For Victory!: The Story of the Alison V-1710 Aircraft Engine 1929-1948 (Whitney, DD; Schiffer Publishing, 1998, ISBN 0764305611, hardbound). With a title like that, it should come as no shock that it chronicles the development and deployment of the Allison V-1710, a frequently maligned V12 that powered the P38 Lightening, P40 Warhawk, motor torpedo boats, plus a lot of other unusual aircraft that never saw quantity production—such as the Bell Airacuda. The history of the company is extremely fascinating (to me, anyway), tracing the origins back to the Indianapolis speedway, Packard, and the Liberty engine, with Eddie Rickenbacker thrown in for good measure. At US$59.95, it's a bit pricy (and heavy), so if you are not a complete lunatic like I seem to be, pressure your local library into getting a copy.

Finally, I was loaned a copy of an old periodical titled Bill Winter's Plan Book. There is no date on the publication apart from "winter", but communications from friends in the US who still have the copy they bought back then tells us the year was 1946. Bill's plan was to publish four issues per year (in each season) that would contain more depth than the monthly magazines of the time (Air Trails, Flying Aces, and Model Airplane News). Cost was $1.00 per issue, or $3.00 for a one year subscription. It seems that the interest sparked by the first issue was insufficient, as there never was a second, although adds for the planbook continued to appear as late as 1952, while Bill eventually became editor of Model Airplane News. The best article in this issue is a piece on diesels (compression ignition, if we wish to be pedantic). Author Jim Noonan (a name we should recognize from ECJ) presents a very comprehensive survey of the diesels available on the continent at the end of WW II that he had the opportunity to examine while serving in that theatre. His section on fuel mixes in use is quite astounding (from a "...and that actually worked?!" perspective) and a topic I'll leave for another time. His engine survey covers "production" engines like the Swiss Dyno and French Micron, Italian Movo, etc, etc. Note the line drawing on the second page in the picture. It is called the "Eagle", but is better known as the "Mite" which is the name it was manufactured and sold under in the USA. Plans for this engine appear in the Motor Boys Plans book, available from the AMA (see later). Incidentally, the Dyno pictured in the article now belongs to none other than Roger Schroeder.

Noonan's research is not restricted to production engines of the period however. He also covers some fameous home-construction models like those from Lawrence Sparey, M. Morin (France, and more about him next month) and van Leeuwon's Nova 1, which leads us to another story...

Caveat Emptor, Especially on eBay, mate!

A Nova 1 cropped up on eBay last month with the following claim:

You are bidding on a very rare Nova 4.4cc diesel ignition model airplane engine. Made in Holland in 1942.
The engine is in excellent condition for its age inside and out (almost like new) with excellent compression. The engine is all original with no reproduction parts fitted and is complete on its hardwood mount.
This is a very rare opportunity for the serious collector of model aircraft, model car or model boat engines to add this to their collection. A reserve has been set to reflect its value.

This claim was wrong in just about every respect except the rarity—since none were ever "produced", it is a rare beast indeed, especially this one which seems to have been made a year before it was designed! The full story of the engine can be read on the Nova Page and is confirmed from Jim Noonan's article in the planbook mentioned above. Jim says:

"[the Nova 1] was published in 1943 as a working plan in L'Aviation to provide a means for Belgin modelists (sic) to build a successful motor. Of .27 cu. in. displacement, it turns a 14 1/2" prop of 7" pitch with wide paddle blades. It was designed and built by I. J. van Eeuwen (sic), of Rijwsijk, Belgium."

As you'll have seen from the link provided earlier, the designer's name was actually spelt Leeuwon, but we can probably forgive a small press American publication for having trouble printing that correctly. The date is correct though, as we've sighted the original plans that appeared in De Modelbouwer during the Nazi occupation of Holland. Jim's article has a nice line drawing of the Nova, presumably made by Jim himself.

The eBay item number was 3115771852 and the final selling price was US$250.00. The engine pictured appears to be a reasonably well made instance, though the soldering around the transfer cover is not outstanding, the rear plate of the fuel tank should be brass, and it has one too many exhaust ports. I have no idea what the fits are like. We believe the casting is one which was duplicated, perhaps 10 times, from one obtained from Ken Croft. Ken made the pattern for his own private use, but supplied a casting to a fellow builder, supposedly for his own use only. If so, you could argue the motor is a "production" version, even if very limited, but the manufacture date is the (very) late 20th century and the only vintage aspect is the design.

Ken contacted the vendor to acquaint him with the facts and initially received an indifferent response, acknowledging Ken's assertions as being probably correct, saying he was selling the engine collection of a friend (who we believe is currently Dining At Her Majesty's Pleasure)—to his credit, the seller finally did the honorable thing and added the new information to the posting informing bidders that the engine was home-built and that no "production" engines ever existed. Bidding at the time of this disclosure was not high, and as usual, the big increases occurred in the closing minutes, so perhaps it finally made no difference and the rarity of the engine outweighed its origins and age.

I've no beef with the claim to rarity and who knows, US$250.00 for a less than outstanding example makes mine highly valuable. But maybe not, as 1) I would inform the buyer of its actual history from the start, and 2) I don't ever plan to part with it! But if you are looking to make a buck, buy a casting set from Roger Schroeder's Classic Engines, the plans from the AMA in the MBI Plans Book and start making your machine shop pay its way (but please, be proud of your work and advertise it as such).

Engine of the Month: The Elfin 1.49

This was The engine for contest free flight models in the 50's. A little while back, I managed to acquire a NIB (new in box) version and since that's too valuable to run, I've supplemented it with a modern reproduction from Carlson Engine Imports. The engine has been added to the Engine Finder, or you can read all about it and how to spot the difference between a real one and the Russian reproduction here.



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