Well, Model Engine News has had its own domain name for three months and has been hosted on a server in the USA for the same time period. I started out with 3 gigabytes of "bandwidth" at the end of August—that's the allocation of bytes that can be downloaded by the world at large during each calendar month before bad things happen. Towards the middle of September, I got warning messages that the site was approaching the limit. After talking with my provider, the bandwidth got doubled to 6 GB and all was well, or so we thought. October was not half gone before the new, larger allocation was almost completely used up! More discussions; more money changes hands, and the bandwidth was increased to 10GB. One week before the end of October, the alarms were going off again! Looks like the new URL (or something) is leading to vastly increased popularity and traffic. I could get unlimited *free* bandwidth but the site would have to carry advertising. I think that would detract from the aesthetics I strive for (yes, I actually do have standards, un-obvious as they may be), so I'll resist as long as possible. So help keep Model Engine News alive and commercial free: buy the CD!
And just in case you've forgotten, February 2006 is rapidly approaching. That was the target date for the Spam cure that Bill Gates promised the world. Pardon me if I retain a degree of professional skepticism...
Russell Watson-Will, 1923-2005
This is my friend and mentor, Russell Watson-Will. Russ passed away this month at the age of 82. Russ was a life-long modeler and it was he who introduced me to the Ransom-Weaver 1cc diesel and convinced me that hogging a crankcase from barstock was no big deal. It comforts me that one of the plans in the Motor Boys' Plans Book is Russ' work: the Figtree Pocket Twin. Russ was a most unassuming gentleman who refused sternly to have it said he designed the engine. In his view, the case was based on the Westbury Craftsman Twin and the cylinders on an MVVS design. Russ believed that in joined their ideas together, he had contributed nothing to the design—except maybe the R/C carby. There are a lot of people who have claimed a lot more credit from a lot less accomplishment.
As well as building a whole garden of engines (as seen on the RWW Tribute Page), Russ enjoyed free flight scale, having no fear about tackling subjects that are considered 'difficult' like the Grumman Wildcat seen here, or the Lake amphibian pictured above (both Mills .75 powered). Although arthritis in the last few years prevented Russ from building, he never ceased to enjoy talking about models and ideas. I miss him.
It may be a side-effect of a 1960's Australian high-school education, but hearing or reading the word "Puck" produces an instant and involuntary word-association to "Shakespeare" (although I seem to recall the name being applied to one of a host of Uranian moonlets discovered by Voyager too). Somehow I doubt that Todd Snouffer, designer of the PIP three cylinder radial, had malicious fairies in mind when he designed and named his new engine. His 0.27 cuin four-stroke PUCK is now undergoing running tests and refinement in preparation to release of the plan book. The specifications are:
|Height Above the Mounts||2.375"|
|Width Between the Mounts||1.437"|
|Length, Backplate to Prop Driver||3.25"|
|Length, Prop Driver to back of Carb||4.25"|
As we can see, it is a barstock side valve four-stroke. What we can't see is the Ricardo head Todd has used. I like side valve-engines (the famous WWII "Jeep" had a side valve engine). They result in a compact design that is very reliable and relatively simple to make and maintain. The down side (there's always one) is they are seldom regarded as high speed powerhouses. Sir Harry Ricardo was a pioneer engine man credited with the discovery of detonation in the cylinder head (aka, "knocking", "pinging", "pinking", etc). His study (circa 1919) of flame front propagation led to the "squish" concept as a way of inducing turbulence in a flat head side valve engine similar to that experienced in angled, overhead valve engines. Presumably that is what Todd has employed here, as the PUCK is now turning an 8x4 at a respectable 8,000 rpm.
As reported back in the August 2004 Model Engine News page, The Little Locos PIP plans raised the bar in model engine plan sets. Todd says he will be following the same general approach for the PUCK, and is considering making available a CD of annotated construction photographs to accompany his excellent CAD work and pragmatic instructions. That will raise the bar yet again. I look forward to seeing them.
The gentlemen in this photograph are examining the Bentley BR2 (probably from Lew Blackmore's plans, but I can't be certain) that took top honors in the IC category at the 2005 Midlands Model Engineering Exhibition. In years past, Ken Croft has kindly provided photographic record of this annual event, but for reasons we won't go into now, Ken was sunning himself in the Nevada desert this year so we're fortunate in being able to present shots taken by Nick Jones and John Downie (Nick has been providing photographs of his ETW Kiwi project, and John provided the Whittle V8 3D model presented here last month). Midlands is always a big show, so of necessity, our coverage is constrained to IC engines only.
This year's show also provided a Last Chance To See the engines built by Gerald Smith before they go to auction at Gildings this month. These engines exhibit outstanding attention to detail and presentation. As they constitute a quite distinct achievement in the world of model engineering, I've placed them on a separate page, along with some references (provided by Nick) to where more details and such plans as exist have been published. I can feel a new Library purchase coming on...
The Ideal Beginners Engine (2)
Last month, I went out on a limb about features desirable in a "first IC engine project" for constructors new to the both IC engine building and model engineering. This topic has, not surprisingly, been tackled by designers with a lot more experience and talent than myself (which will not inhibit me from reinventing this particular wheel, I assure you ). But all good design begins with research, and research starts with a definition of the problem and a literature search. As this simple subject seems to be mushrooming, I've created a new page for it inside the Design Center. The page kicks off with a couple of designs from Roger Schroeder which were made with the beginner specifically in mind.
New entries appear all over the place this month. Ian Pilfold has now installed his Gannet in the Sea Queen and Page 6 of the Engine Gallery has some interesting work from builders. The Engine Finder has the Elfin 1.8cc updraft inlet model to compliment the Engine of The Month, plus a couple of fixes for broken links and things. While writing the Elfin page, I was made aware of a very nicely designed and well researched web site dedicated to Cox engines. This page is part of a much larger site with some really great stuff; well worth a visit. This Home page has been added to the Model Engine News Links Page.
Just to keep some momentum going on the Cirrus Project, the pistons have been machined per the sequence devised by Eric Whittle for his SIC construction series on this engine. Coincidentally, I came across a small historic note on the full size Cirrus Mk I that appears in Sir Geoffrey de Havilland's autobiography, Sky Fever. He confirms that it was his suggestion to Frank Halford that they produce a light plane engine by cutting a Renault V8 in half. This is well known. Less well known is the point that this may not have been so dramatic as it seems, as the de Havilland company had bought several new engines of this type as war surplus for the princely sum of 25 shillings each—call it $2.50 ignoring exchange rates of the time and subsequent inflation.
New Books and Magazines This Month
Mention of Sir Harry Ricardo in the PUCK piece above had me running to The Library to confirm some facts. The book I immediately reached for was The Rolls-Royce Crecy by Andrew Nehum, Dick Foster-Pegg, and David Birch (1994). This is Number 21 in the RR Trust Historical series, ISBN 1 872922 05 8, available direct from the Trust, and some third-party resellers. It is soft-covered, with 138 pages including four double size fold-out pages that fully document the development by Rolls-Royce of a remarkable high-power, sleeve-valve, two-stroke, compression-ignition engine. Ultimately, the effort not so much failed, as it was run over by the gas turbine. In the process, the authors trace the history of the two-stroke and sleeve-valve concepts, first combined by Ricardo in the 1906 "Dolphin" engine and car (an engine with separate power and pumping cylinders that would make an excellent subject for a working model).
The quest for more power occasioned by World War II led IC engine designers the world over to devise remarkable, complex designs (have a look at the Wright Tornado reviewed in September 2002). I can't help feel vaguely relieved that the development of the gas turbine came along at just the right moment to save us from these creations, magnificent as they were.
Back to our subject. Recounting the history of the Crecy requires telling the story of several other little known engines and a number of remarkable people. It is this background information that provides the enjoyment—for me at any rate. Andrew Nahum is the Curator of Aeronautical Collection at the London Science Museum and the author of Chapter 1 which describes how the engine came about. Andrew also took over Model Engine World magazine from John Goodall, although it seems to now have quietly sunk without trace. Chapter 2 is written by Dick Foster-Pegg and details the development of the engine from his first-hand experience. The final, short chapter by David Birch speculates on where the Crecy and its ilk may have gone had not turbine development taken over. The book concludes with an unattributed Epilogue, plus Appendices that include papers once labelled "Most Secret" on related topics that engine lovers will enjoy. I highly recommend it.
To conclude, while verifying my facts about Ricardo in this book, I found a note saying that at the age of 10, Ricardo had his own lathe. By the time he went up to Rugby, he had built several small steam engines and was working on a IC engine of his own design. Ricardo was one of us!
Engine Of The Month: Elfin 149BB
Look! Up on the shelf! It's a gas-fitters' elbow? It's a galvanized water-pipe T-piece? No, it's an Elfin 149BB! This little twin ball race, reed induction diesel from 1954 is either loved or hated. And over the years it has gained a reputation for being excessively heavy (overweight AND ugly? No, don't go there...) This month we pull one apart and look into why an engine that is not all that heavy may have got the bad rep. Does make me think I could buy crankcases from the plumbing section of Home Depot though...
Tech Tip of the Month: Needles
One aspect to this hobby (and most others, if it comes to that) is that regardless of whether you have mastered some technique adequately, you know that can always do better. Of late I've been dissatisfied with the way I've been producing needles for needle valves (described in the February 2003 Issue of Model Engine News). Faced with making some replacement NVAs for the Engine of the Month, I decided it was time to crank up the precision a notch or two. The result seen here is outstanding, if I have to say so myself! So a new page on Grinding Needles was been added to the How-To pages.