Eh? What's this Creative Commons thing that's suddenly replaced the pseudo-legal mumbo-jumbo fineprint at the top of the monthly MEN page? Well, it's like this: I give up! Despite my pleadings for recognition, borrowed photos and text from this site keep appearing in eBay placements, and even commercial catalogues! So instead of getting silly, bitter, and twisted, I've decided to be proud and honored instead. To demonstrate this I'm placing material on this site that was created by me under a license that encourages others to re-publish it so long as they attribute the original source and don't charge any money for it. Click on the CC logo to read the plain English version of this license. In other words, no change really, except you can incorporate and redistribute without asking me first. So thanks to those who have, over the years, asked permission. You are gentlemen of the first order. The rest are now effectively blessed as well, so how about some attribution in return?
I know several readers suffered minor panic attacks when Model Engine News totally disappeared from the Web for over 24 hours in mid July. The host service suffered a multi-disk failure in their RAID 5 array and having had this happen to a site I was once responsible for, even with "hot standbys", it is no fun. Less excusable though is their decision to use the same machine for both the primary and secondary Domain Name Systems (DNS) holding the MEN 'A' records that allows the site to be found, not to mention the email gateway as well! Net result was for MEN and Ron to totally disappear for a day. As I once read in a sales guide (Trial Close #3), Have you ever noticed <insert name and drip sincerity here>, that cheap things are seldom good, and good things are never cheap". I just may be changing hosting service, yet again. Keep those DVD orders rolling in!
Now, the burning question on everyone's lips: how much rain did Brisbane get in July? Not a drop. Meanwhile, England suffers severe flooding. Our discomfort is small in comparison and I truly feel for those who suffered loss. As well as being dry here, someone threw the switch to cold and for three weeks, it felt like a winter of old. It even dropped to zero C (32°F) on the coast one morning. But it's over now—unless I've spoken too soon. While it was cold in the shop too, that did not prevent actual work taking place, even if it was not exactly the work originally planned. In fact, an entire new and unexpected 1.7cc diesel got built and tested! This spawned two new pages on this site that I'm quite pleased with (see the Tech Tip and the provocatively titled Up Yours items). Several associated pages got updated as a direct result of the new engine and several more were updated due to a new page produced in collaboration with a UK reader. Add that all up and it makes this month's offering one of the largest ever posted in terms of word count since, well, the last big one. All that plus two Gallery entries, two Book Reviews, and some actual, genuine, news items. All for free. I must be mad (don't answer that)...
James "Paraffin" Young (1811-1883)
Last month's reader contribution regarding paraffin confusion elicited more than one or three responses and I think we can now say a few things with some certainty. The "paraffin" advocated as an ingredient for model "diesel" engines in early English model diesel fuel recipes is not kerosene, but it is chemically very similar. In the UK, the word became intrinsically associated with a comparatively clean burning fuel for lighting and heating in the mid 1800's as a result of the efforts of one James Young, a Glasgow chemist who discovered and patented a process to economically extract it and other products from coal, and later shale deposits. This was in the days before the extraction of cheap crude oil distillates.
For this, he became affectionately known as James "Paraffin" Young. The Undiscovered Scotland On-line Guide credits Young with setting up the world's first oil refinery at Bathgate in 1851. There exists to this day, a legacy of his enterprise in the form of five "bings"—the tips of oil shale waste—that decorate the landscape to the west of Lothian. As you can read if you click on the link or the image, these mounds have thus far resisted all Nature's best efforts to reclaim them. But where Nature fails, Man prevails: similar "bings" near Edinborough are being gradually carted away as base material for motorways.
So while paraffin was not kerosene, now it is. Confused? Read on:
Yet another British reader refers us to the Rye Oil web site. This company offers [regular] "Kerosene", and "Premium Kerosene". The site states that plain kerosene can also be called paraffin, or 28 second burning oil, adding that this grade is unsuitable for use in generators and engines. It is "water white" or pale yellow in color. The Premium Kerosene on the other hand is commonly known as blue or pink paraffin (ring any bells?) and is a more refined form of regular kerosene. Then they have "Gas Oil". This is also known as 35 second burning oil, Red, Agricultural, or Marine Diesel. Their web site says it is favored by many applications including fork lifts and marine diesel engines. Apparently it is a criminal offence in the UK to use this as a road fuel! For that purpose, you need Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel, aka ULSD, road diesel, "derv", or white diesel.
Try some Google searches on the terms "white kerosene", "PDS kerosene", "K-1 kerosene" (you'll need the double quotes to keep the hits down to a manageable level). The results seem to refer to the same thing and cluster by geographic origin as the UK, India, and the USA respectively. Now try "blue kerosene". The hits come from all over. With the exception of India, blue kerosene appears to be a domestic heater grade that burns cleanly at a high temperature, but has too much sulfur to be permitted for road use. Sadly, "Jet-A" aviation fuel is also dyed blue. That aside, it is the blue kerosene that we buy off the supermarket shelf here in Oz for use in model diesel fuel (and EDM tanks).
Now I descend into wild speculation and stand on thin ice over shaky ground. The British have often demonstrated a unique propensity for converting proper nouns to everyday usage. The English Tannoy company makes very fine loudspeakers and has done so for quite a long time. I once owned a massive pair back when my ears were capable of appreciating their sound reproduction capabilities. But somehow, "Tannoy" has become a simple noun in the UK meaning a public address system. "...over the tannoy..." must have confused more than one international visitor. Likewise, the Hoover company was one of the earliest manufacturers of vacuum cleaners. I've heard the verb "to hoover" used without blinking by English ex-pat friends and on English TV shows. One reader emailed recollections of how paraffin, well known as a clean fuel for lamps through Young's enterprise, was known to burn cleaner in tractors than kerosene. In fact, tractors shipped from the USA with a placard fixed to the fuel tank mentioning kerosene had this instruction changed to Paraffin on British imports. So (and I hear the bough beginning to break) the association of Paraffin with a filtered grade of fuel oil in a country where the context for term was well established is perhaps understandable.
But for the rest of us, there's confusion, even if it is—hopefully—somewhat lessened from when we started this discussion. The "Paraffin Oil" laxative mentioned in Simon Williams' investigation is not the mythical British Paraffin. It has been tried by another reader who reports it's like adding more castor oil to the castor oil. This should not be a surprise as castor oil was once a popular and dreaded laxative. If it were combustible, this would be like trying to make your children drink kerosene. However attractive that might sound, the only thing it would be sure to open for you today would be a swift entry into the judicial system. And while "paraffin" for your tractor can still be obtained in the UK, if the rest of us stick with plain old blue kerosene for our model diesel fuel mix, good things will happen.
To close the subject forever, it may come to pass that James Young's process will need to be revived. And, provided the government does not give it all away first, Australia has *lots* of coal and coal shale...
Piston Tool, Schroeder Style
No sooner had last month's Piston Holding Tool Tech Tip hit the web, then the Grand Fromage of Classic Engine Kits, Roger Schroeder, had taken the idea one step further and designed and built a better one. Roger wanted one tool to be able to hold all the pistons he was likely to work on, from the .46cc ED Baby, right up to the 5cc Nova 1. The beauty of Roger's design lies in the accuracy and ease with which the replaceable sleeves can be made. As you can see in this photo, they are fitted to a mandrel with a 60° taper. The female taper is easily produced by a center drill. In fact, the entire sleeve to be turned and parted off at one lathe setup, thus assuring concentricity. After turning down to a close fit in the piston skirt, parting off ensures the seat is normal to the outer diameter. This makes the mounted piston run true enough for honing.
As seen in these photos, the replaceable sleeve accomplished Roger's design goal allowing the same mandrel and draw-bar to be used for both the smallest and largest pistons he anticipates having to hone. In the case of the small piston, the length of the sleeve also provides clearance for the honing tool to stroke over the piston without fouling the mandrel, which is considerably larger in diameter than the piston! Expect a full how-to for this tool to appear in a future Engine-uity feature of the Engine Collectors' Journal.
During July, I noticed a very high number of "404 - Not Found" errors being reported in the Model Engine News web site log. A lot were coming from the Site Search page and were finally tracked down to a hard-coded URL which had become invalid. In the process of fixing this, I found some long-standing bugs relating to style sheets associated with the "active content" of this site. Like the Search page, the Engine Review Index uses CGI (Common Gateway Interface) scripts on the server to generate the page returned to you. Hard coded links were preventing the generated pages from formatting nicely. All I can do is say sorry, sorry, sorry. If you tried to use the Site Search page, or the Custom features of the Model Engine Review Index page and got an error page for your trouble, try again—all are fixed now and hopefully, for all time. Damn, this site is getting complex...
Book Review Index
One of the benefits of an "on-line magazine" is the way hyperlinks can take you to past issues when a reference is quoted. The down-side to the author (moi) is the search that needs to be done to find the page in this twisty little maze of pages that the link needs to go off to! Finding this was happening more and more with books reviewed here in the past, I've addressed the problem by adding an Index of Book Reviews page. This appears under the Site Map navigation menu at the left of your screen. It is automatically updated and regenerated each month and contains a list of all the books reviewed with a link to the review. In many cases, a shamelessly exploitative button on the index entry will take you to an Amazon page where you can order the book on-line. Model Engine News gets a couple of cents from such sales that help pay the web hosting bills. Be assured, when I say a few cents, I mean a few cents. I won't be living it up, nor retiring on the proceeds!
Our Seal's First Bark
At 10 AM Eastern Pacific Time (UTC-7) on Saturday, July 22nd, Joe Martin of the Craftsmanship Museum and President of Sherline Products Inc made good on his rash promise that the first attempt to start the museum's collaborative ETW Seal project would be conducted over a live web-cast. As this engine contains pistons and rings made by me, I was a bit nervous about the outcome, so set the alarm to get out of a warm bed on a cold Sunday morning at 3 AM Brisbane time (UTC+10) to watch. The finished engine is a credit to all concerned, especially those responsible for the outer physical appearance. I just love the attention to the little details like the color contrast on the engine mount, the spring loaded throttle with an idle adjust collar, and the little red cable tie that keeps the red ignition leads together (small things, etc).
The result? Well, as Joe Martin said in an email on Sunday, strike one, and strike two. The Saturday event was a bit of a bust on all counts, though not a total disappointment. The Seal initially gave a few pops and ran for maybe 5 seconds on each of the first two start attempts (you can see exhaust smoke in this photo). From there it got steadily worse and trials were abandoned when raw oil was seen emerging from the exhaust. And although good things seemed to be happening on the video camera that was capturing the event for the web public, unbeknownst to them, not so much as a single byte of video left the building! So I sat in front of my screen for two hours, waiting for action, composing book reviews, and freezing my toes off.
Flash! San Diego, August 1, 2007, 8pm: Joe just emailed to say that the Seal is now running perfectly. The problem was traced to a crook plug in the #4 cylinder. With that replaced, the Seal started with a flick of the wrist (twist of the wheel?) and ran a tank of gas through with no hesitation. It even idled at less than 1000 rpm. As Craig Libuse who maintains the Craftsmanship Museum web site has just started a two week vacation, the on-line update will be delayed, but look forward to seeing a video of the Seal being put through it's paces there in the near future. This is a terrific achievement: a four cylinder, side-valve, spark ignition, water-cooled, four-stroke engine, assembled to museum quality from parts built on both sides of the Pacific, which runs as good as it looks. All who played a part have every right to be proud.
While talking about the Craftsmanship Museum, I was pleased to see that Robert and Frances Washburn have been honored with the second Lifetime Achievement award for 2007. Bob and Frances are the team who, for 14 years, produced the bi-monthly magazine, Strictly Internal Combustion and if you are truly a model engine builder and don't have a complete set of this wonderful resource, you should! Click the thumbnail picture, or this link, to visit the Craftsmanship Museum site. The other 2007 Award recipient whose picture appears just before the Washburn's looks oddly familiar too...
Up mine, actually . July 2007 saw the birth of Yet Another AHC Diesel, six years after completion of the first batch. This is lucky #13—actually the 14th I've made as numbering started from zero! Because of all the jigs and fixtures made ages ago, it took only a week of evenings to make and features updraft Front Rotary Valve (FRV) induction. This version is a terrific success, turning about 1K rpm better than the RRV, and 2K better than the original side-port design. For reasons which may become clear later, I'm calling it the Black Magic AHC Diesel and you can read about by clicking the picture, the previous link, or re-visiting the AHC Project page. In the process, I've updated all the AHC pages to the new, easier to read style, corrected (ahem) a few spelling mistakes, typos, and adjusted some clumsy phrasing. Building this engine also provided the subject for this month's Tech Tip where we look at a way to turn theoretical FRV timing events into machining drawings.
You are looking down on a diesel known as the "MLA", which stands for "Model Lathe Accessories", an operation run by Andy Loftquist. I have a set of very heavy cast iron bits for an MLA die filer under the bench waiting for the Myford to grow up a bit more (its swing is not yet large enough for the first machining setup). While waiting for this to happen, click on the picture to read about this highly polished example (Bright? Shiny? Now I wonder who could have made it... ). The last page of the Gallery also has a new engine made from Motor Boys plans.
Hemingway IC Catalog
Back in the January MEN issue, we mentioned that the old Woking Precision line of IC engine casting kits had been acquired by Kirk Burwell, the new owner of the UK company, Hemingway. This effectively joins under one roof as it were, the works of two of England's best remembered model engineering designers: George H Thomas, and Edgar T Westbury. Kirk was experiencing initial difficulties, but now has the IC side of the business firing on all cylinders (if only he could get coils ). You can download a pdf version of the Hemingway IC Engine catalog by clicking the image at the right. The engine in the picture is an ETW Seagull that was built by my friend, Russell Watson-Will. Sadly Russ is no longer with us, but you can see some of his work on the RWW Gallery Page. It is a fine tribute to Russ that this picture of the Seagull also appears in the Hemingway catalog.
The Hemingway catalog lists 15 designs from ET Westbury, LH Sparey, Les Chenery, Eric Whittle, and others. Full kits include castings, barstock, plus gears, valve springs, and even finished piston rings where applicable! Castings only kits are also offered. Plans must be ordered separately. Hemingway ships overseas and accepts Mastercard and Visa, although they have no secure, on-line order service. There's a tiny voice emanating from under my bench saying, Whippet, Whippet, Whippet. Must... Resist... Voice...
Update: I was wrong! (please at least try to act surprised). Hemingway does have a secure on-line ordering service. Click here for full details.
Anderson's Blue Book 1/2 A Guide
A letter from Frank and Vicki Anderson announces that the 1/2 A model engine guide, pre-announced way back when, is now ready for shipping. This guide gives details of more than 250 engines with 150 pictures and includes a never before published article on Fred Baldwin's Shuriken .050 and .061 screamers. Like the 2005 Blue Book, it includes MECA and eBay prices for most engines based on observations made over the past five years. The price is US$27.95 including postage in the USA and Canada. Frank and Vicki moved back to Canada from Florida last year (one hurricane too many), so please email them for the correct postal address if you want to send a check. They also accept PayPal.
New Books and Magazines This Month
This is a book I've been sitting on for several months deciding on whether to inflict it on you, or not. Apparently, I've decided in the affirmative as here it is: The Two-Stroke Cycle Engine: Its Development, Operation, and Design, by John B Heywood and Eran Sher, published 1999 by the Taylor & Francis Group, NY, ISBN 1-56032-831-2; hardcover, 452 pages with numerous line drawings, photos, tables, and illustrations. This is a full-on text book for engineers and the reader is expected to be comfortable with undergraduate level math. The reason I finally decided to review it lies in the fact that for the careful reader, the explanations provided for what is taking place in a two-stroke engine are enlightening, enhanced if your ability to understand relationships expressed in equations is up to it.
I truly did agonize over including this one here; it is not light going and it is expensive. What tipped me over was the benefit I got from the authors' explanations of flow interactions while putting together the light-weight coverage of inlet considerations for this month's Tech-Tip. The book begins with a complete list of all the symbols, subscripts, and abbreviations used throughout the text. I wish more authors would do this as it helps tremendously. The first chapter is titled "Overview, Background, and History" and is exactly that. The next one covers some necessary Gas Exchange Fundamentals. After that we go into The Scavenging Process, followed by Intake and Exhaust Design. This is followed by a chapter on Combustion, then logically, a very lengthy chapter on Emission Control—the major issue today with the very efficient but polluting two-stroke engine. This is a chapter that model engine designers can easily skip with a relatively clear conscience: our engines are of miniscule displacement and there are few of them, operated very intermittently, so their emissions are unlikely to cause mass extinctions. The final chapters cover Friction, Lubrication, and Wear, then Operating Characteristics.
The sample pages here shows a small part of the treatment given to rotary inlet valves (It's a Rotary Valve, Jim, but not as we know it...). Mr Zimmermann rates a mention for his 1953 work, as should be expected, in the extensive chapter end-notes which provide further reading references for the serious engineer. This book is most definitely not for everyone, so I'm giving it three stars in the Book Review Index. But for those who are that way inclined, you will gain understanding of the many things to consider in two-stroke design and development.
And after that, a little light relief would not go astray, so here's a second one from The Library bookshelf: Not Much of an Engineer, the autobiography of Sir Stanley Hooker, Airlife Publications, ISBN 1-85310-285-7 (with the assistance of aviation author extraordinaire, Bill Gunston). Hooker rose to fame as the man who, in 1940, greatly improved the efficiency of the supercharger for the Rolls-Royce Merlin 45, then went on in 1941 to design the two stage supercharger for the Merlin 61. The effect was to increase the full-throttle ceiling of the Spitfire, first from 16,000 to 19,000 feet, then double that to 40,000 feet! This was accomplished at a time when it was sorely needed by the embattled little island.
Hooker's training was as a mathematician, hence the title which derives from a comment made to him by Ernest W Hives (charmingly referred to as "Hs") during his Rolls-Royce interview. This was not an unkindly comment and shows the foresight of Hives in recognizing the future need for people of rare talent, whether they knew what a Von Kármán Vortex Street was, or not (it's a pattern formed in the wake of fluid flow around an object, but today, we have Google to tell us that in seconds). From the Merlin, Hooker became deeply involved with the first jet engines—a natural progression given his work with turbines—and the rest of the book details his experiences with them, first at Rolls-Royce, then Bristol, then ultimately, at Rolls-Royce again in their hour of need. Although I'm not as fascinated by turbines as I am by pistons, I greatly enjoyed the story and the remarkable men who people it. It's almost enough to make me rush out and buy one of the biographies on Whittle. Recommended: four stars.
Engine Of The Month: The ED Story
Our subject this month is not just a single model engine, rather a whole range of British engines from the company Electronic Developments (Surrey) Ltd, universally known as "E-D". This very comprehensive article came about when MEN was contacted by Ron Reeves (UK), saying he was preparing a history of ED and its model engines and would we, perchance, consider hosting the results on the web? Now ED is a company I have a distinct soft spot for, so I leapt at the chance. There followed a frenzied collaboration with text and web page proofs exchanged over the Internet, culminating in a result both of us are quite pleased with. Like most projects, it grew in the making and release will be split over two months. This month we present Part I of The ED Story. This page covers the formation of the company, it's rise and gradual decline, with products, achievements, and people presented in chronological order. Next month, another page will cover all the engines, including three-view drawings prepared by Ron Reeves. The ED model kits, radio control units and accessories will appear on a third page which I'm researching. Thanks to all who contributed in gathering the information for this page.
We'd also welcome more material. In particular, the ED advertisements from Aeromodeller of the 1960's all featured a clip-coupon offering details of engines, radios, and accessories. Surely, someone has one of these tucked away in a bottom drawer someplace? If so, let us know and have your name added to those who have helped make the page possible.
Tech Tip of the Month
This month we look at ways of determining where to put the opening in a Front Rotary Valve (FRV) crankshaft to achieve a desired inlet timing. This tip diverges a bit towards a design discussion by briefly examining some pragmatic considerations relating to why and how the opening and closing points for FRV inlet timing are chosen. Don't Panic! There's no heavy duty math involved. No fluid flow, no thermodynamics, no P-V diagrams (although there really should be). In fact, if you use a CAD program, there's no math involved at all. But for completeness, a simple process to derive the solution using a scientific calculator is shown as well. The subject used for the exercise is the Updraft AHC Diesel, but once you understand the process, you'll have no difficulty applying it to any FRV, no matter where the venturi happens to point. The page is titled How To Time a FRV and can be reached through the picture, the link, or the How-To Index page.