While standardizing this page (in December 2004) to give a consistent look and feel to all these pages, I discovered that for reasons unknown, May 2003 received no irreverent, irrelevant preamble. Thankfully, that is now fixed, although the New Restoration item has a certain editorial-ramble feel to it...
At last! Some action in the shop. During the last month I've done some restorations: a Barbini B40, a DC Merlin, and an AM35. I've also received a number of emails from enough readers to know that I am reaching more than just close friends and associates. One reader alerted me to an error where, for years, I've been calling a Gilbert 074 a Gilbert 049 (see The Engine Finder). Corrections like this I am always happy to receive as this site must be littered with errors. Gilbert never produced an 049. Their distinctive design was available in the somewhat unusual capacities of 0.074 and 0.11 cu in.
Another email came to me just too late to help. The writer had a Mk II Taipan 1.5 that was apparently seized up solid. He'd managed to get it turning again, but in the process had inflicted some damage that could have been avoided. "If Only's" are seldom of use after the fact, and while I thought everyone knew this one, it's probably worth mentioning one more time and placing it in the FAQ for others. It's this: Castor based oils will solidify over time to a quite good adhesive, but a little heat is all that's required to make it let go to the point where disassembly and cleaning is possible. After it's in pieces, aluminum parts can be cleaned by boiling them in anti-freeze, or even in detergent. I use an ultrasonic bath, but this is expensive to buy and allows you to do more harm than good with very little effort. Detergent, or anti-freeze in an old crock-pot and elbow grease applied with an old tooth-brush do just as good a job.
Hemingway Kits under New Ownership
Hemingway is a UK based company that for years has sold kits and castings for the "George Thomas Collection" of tools and accessories. GT was a prolific contributor to Model Engineer in the late 1970's. His work is characterized by clear writing, outstanding photography and above all, truly well-designed, useful tools and lathe modifications/improvements, principally for the Myford ML7 (for example, this tail-stock micrometer). While checking and updating my links page, I noticed that owner Neil Hemingway has sold the business to Kirk and Sandra Burwell. I'm a tad late with this news as the sale was concluded last December—but maybe not that late as Kirk and Sandra will not be shipping orders until next May. In the mean time, while the old website link still works, visit their new page here and update your links.
Books and Magazines
This past month brought the first Volume 2 issue of Torque Meter, the quarterly journal of the Aircraft Engine Historical Society Inc. Of interest to the model engine fraternity in this issue is a piece on the replica engines of brothers Jim and Steve Hay who have been exhibiting at the Experimental Aircraft Association annual get together at Oshkosh since 1977. Apart from an ornithropter wing walking act about which, the less said the better , they have a running 1:1 scale model of the 1903 Wright Flyer engine, a replica of the rotary Manly-Balzer engine that powered Langley's 1902 "Aerodrome", and a working scale model of the Gnome Monosoupape (single valve) rotary.
The Gnome, the article notes, was based on a set of plans obtained from "...a guy in England who was selling plans for a 1/5 scale model...". Well credit where credit is due. The guy is Les Chenery and he designed that scale model and several other as well and continues to offer plans and castings today. This is the engine subject for the construction series that ran in Model Engineer last year. And more credit where credit is due: the Hay brothers father, Steve Sr., who made the Gnome, decided it should be bigger. So he scaled up Les's design to around 2/5 size (he'd found some 1" piston rings and worked the scale backwards from there). This makes for a serious sized model that the Hay brothers run several times per day, along with the Wright, during the EAA show. It's also worth noting that the Hay's experience with the Wright engine resulted in their being picked to build the engine for the replica that will be hopefully flown this year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers achievement. That's quite an honor considering their engineering business manufactures little pieces of bent brass tubing for brass musical instruments.
New Web Sites and emails
Two of the emails received during March were to inform me of new web sites related to our obsession, which I'm pleased to pass on and add to my links page. This first arrived from Giancarlo Mensa who hales from Italy. Some time back, Giancarlo kindly asked permission to use some of the photos on my web site to assist with an article he was writing for an Italian Aeromodeling magazine on fixed compression "diesel" engines. These things can be a long time in the making, but the issue with his article has finally appeared, showing the Vivel and Gordon Burford's "Stuntmota"—a Drone look-alike. Gaincarlo has been putting together a new model engine website dedicated to model engines. It's only in Italian at the moment, but the pictures sure are nice to look at—especially the FMO Diesel Twin, and Delong ignition he got from me some years back.
The second site belongs to Tod and Joy Snouffer and is called Little Locos (dot com). Tod has taken the basic idea of the Morton M5 radial from a set of plans he bought on eBay and used them to design his own 3 cylinder radial in which the valve cage is distinctly Morton, but not much else. You have to have produced some 3D CAD models to appreciate the effort his LM-370 "Pip" engine represents (The Pip is a Dickensonian reference left as an exercise for the reader ).
The last email that I'd like to share with you all this month comes from Vincent Chai who is a near neighabour of mine, globally speaking. Vincent's work has appeared here before (See the Model Engine Gallery Page). Apparently a man who likes a challenge, after building the nice Andy Loftquist MLA diesel, Vincent decided that an engine with cast crankcase components would be appropriate for his second effort, so set about making dies and pouring metal to produce the lovely little Battiwallah seen here (I'm too overwhelmed for any further rational comment at this point). There were two Battiwallah designs, both appearing in Model Engineer in the late 40's and I'll be having more to say about them next month, after I've recovered (and gotten a set of castings from Vincent who is as generous as he is talented).
Sleeve Valves and Other Unusual Things
Another email query from a reader asked if any model sleeve valve engines had ever been attempted, or made as commercial engines. The answers, respectively are "yes", and "Hmmmm... Yes?" I can make no claim to exhaustive research here—I'm just running on memory—a facilty that has embarrassed me more than once recently—however, I can definitely point to the outstanding work of Brian Perkins modeling the Bristol Aquila and Barrington Hare's Rolls Royce Eagle—for which even I am stumped for adjectives. Some words to go with the pictures can be found in Ken Croft's report on the Midlands 2000 Exhibition.
The reason for the somewhat equivocal response regarding commercial sleeve valve engines is because the only one I could think of is the recent Rotating Cylinder Valve engine (RCV). While the cylinder in the Bristol (and other) full-size engines moves in an orbital side-to-side and up-and-down motion to make the cylinder ports align alternately with inlet and exhaust, the RCV cylinder rotates through 360 degrees so that a single port aligns with inlet, ignition, and exhaust openings. And since the cylinder is rotating, why not make it the output coupling as well? There are many web sites devoted to this relatively new engine. My short search led to MegaModels who are a sales agent for the RCV, and from there, a link to RCV themselves. The pictures and drawings on these sites tell the story far better than I can.
While we are on the subject of engines that are a bit "different", I was testing one of DSTC's research outcomes recently that assists in web searches (more on this in a moment). This led to an unusual engine developed for high performance motorcycles that the designer calls a "Six Stroke". This is not mere theory; a Ducati V-Twin has been modified to this porting and track tested with encouraging results. Briefly, the poppet valve heads were replaced with a Scotch-yoke 2 stroke rotating at one-half crankshaft speed (4 + 2 = 6 Get it?). The result actually has less moving parts, although the rotary exhaust valve has me a bit worried. Still a patent has been granted and you can read more about it here.
One last diversion into unusual engine land is the Dynacam. This design harks back to WWII and falls under the so-called "swash plate" engine category. It offers a very low frontal area, like a gas turbine.
Anodizing and other Plating Supplies
While researching cad plating at home for a reader, I came across a US supplier of plating materials and kits that is worth passing on. The name is Caswell and they have everything from anodizing dyes (at last, a source for reliable green and blue!) to environmentally friendly solution for cold blacking steel (even one for stainless, but it is not so friendly to frogs). Did I find a source for home-shop cadmium plating? Yes! And even better, it does not use cyanides and is air-freight shippable—the US is getting very conservative on what you can ship by air these days. They also have kits for hard chrome plating and a book on plating that looks irresistible (an excerpt that is freely down-loadable from their web site says that any electrolyte will do for anodizing titanium: sulfuric, phosphoric, coca-cola...) Now, where's my credit card...
Assisted Web Searches
I don't know what it is that I want, but I'll know it when I see it!
Searching the Internet can be very frustrating. You enter some words that you hope will assist the "engine" to locate what you are after, but every search engine seems to use different syntax for entering the query. For example, if you enter two words, you'll get documents that contain either and both. To specify that you want both, some "search engines" will want a plus symbol between the words, others will want them double quoted, and yet others will want some other cockamamie syntax. Finally you get back 5,786 possible hits that are nothing like what you wanted, so you have to wade through them, or refine your query and try again.
Enter Guidebeam. This is a post-query analysis facility that takes your original query, the results it returned, analyses them, and produces a list of suggested refinements and expansions that are presented as links that execute the new query. The heuristic sitting under the hood gained one of our researchers his PhD and status as Visiting Professor at the University of Glasgow. The Guidebeam link sits over the top of the Yahoo search engine and may help you get to what you are looking for faster, or maybe slower as you pursue side avenues that look more interesting that what you started out to look for in the first place...