So the year is half gone, again, already. I know it's not just me because others are also wondering why time is passing faster than it used to. Remember when writers predicting the future were all thinking we'd have endless free time to pursue the arts, travel, education? Here is Oz, the Government is set to pass a bill increasing the retirement (and pension) age for males from 65 to 67. I don't ever plan to retire—I love what I do way too much, but I do have sympathy for workers who chose to spend their life in say building construction, or some other physically demanding form of employment. As a consequence, in their late 50's they find themselves with myriad body part dysfunctions and are effectively being told by some polly who would not work in a vat of yeast, too bad, Sunshine, the carrot has been moved. SF writer Larry Niven coined an appropriate profanity for the future having nothing to do with recreational sex for a change: "tanj", standing for there ain't no justice, and ain't that the truth more than ever?
But happy 4th to all our US readers and especially to the lucky folk in Washington state: let off a few small explosions for me! Our Nanny State banned the sale of fireworks so long ago, only us old codgers remember what fun it was. Though aeromodellers can still indulge, in a way. The photo shows Barry Frederickson getting his Bell X-1 under way at a C/L and FF gathering held at Maryborough (Queensland) earlier this year. It's powered by a "Rapier" rocket motor—the totally disposable modern equivalent to the old Jet-X motors of the mid-twentieth century. By all accounts, these are a far more practical proposition. Who recalls the precious seconds lost after ignition trying to pull the little bit of ignitor wire out of the hot jet orifice prior to launch? Those were the days! Just not very good ones...
We have another monster issue for you this month. It sure didn't start that way and I'm truly going to try to cut back a bit next month. As well as all the links from the News Items below, be sure to check out The Gallery, Watzits, and the Engine Finder for new entries. During the month, I've also produced a new set of CAD drawings for the little ML Midge. This lot were done using the Alibre 3D Parametric modelling package described here in the January 2008 issue. The reason for this was an increasing number of requests for a Metric plan set from readers in England, Australia, and the Continent. So the new set is primarily metric, though dual dimensions are given on the drawings. Of the two plan sets, I feel the original TurboCAD set has more character, but the metric set includes isometrics which I know are a great help to beginners trying to turn drawings into components for the first time. You can order either set for $US15 including air postage, or both sets for $20. Payment is by PayPal. Now down to business...
Barr & Stroud
In the last two issues of Strictly IC magazine way back in 2004, editor Bob Washburn published drawings for a scale model of the Barr & Stroud sleeve valve single cylinder motor cycle engine designed and built by Pieter Dekker. Over the past few weeks, Lee Hodgson of Ageless Engines and I have been discussing this because of Lee's current focus on the sleeve valve arising out of the prototype Bristol Hercules he is building. Lee has observed that the timing diagram (sheet 7) has the inlet opening 5° After Top Dead Center. He also suspects that one sleeve port may have been drawn upside down. SIC is a terrific resource and a great testimony to RAW's energy and drive, but we all know it is not without the occasional error and omission. I say this in the most understanding way, knowing first hand how you can produce what feels like a CAD masterpiece, only to have your ego shredded when the drawings make their way to the workshop. Lee has been in contact with the designer, but sadly he built his engine many years ago and did not keep any notes. So the question Lee and I have is has anyone else actually built one of these, or examined the plans in sufficient detail to make any conclusions about the timing events? Even if you haven't, perhaps you fancy the intellectual challenge. If so, we'd truly like to hear from you; just email MEN Enquiries. Any updates will be published here for the benefit of all.
Bristol goes Mercedes
Here's a piece of news that it just so totally understandable: Brian Perkins, the builder of the fantastic pair of nine cylinder, sleeve valve Bristol Aquilla radials, and poppet valve, sixteen cylinder Bristol Hydra radial, has started a web site that will detail his latest project as it progresses. As noted in the November 2008 MEN issue, Brian wrote a series of articles for Model Engineer on his Hydra construction saga subtitled "...Finishing the Engine that almost finished me". So it should not come as a surprise that his new project is neither aeronautical, nor a Bristol. Instead, Brian is constructing a one third scale model of the Mercedes W 165 Grand Prix open wheeler. His web site provides a lot of tips for constructing impossible parts without exotic equipment; well worth visiting from time to time.
MBI Plan Book
It's always a real buzz to see my modest efforts in CAD drafting work converted to metal. The Motor Boys' Model Engine Plan Book (second edition) contains a Baker's Dozen of plan sets, one of which is the little 0.46cc ED Baby. Builders can order a set of castings from Roger Schroeder's Classic Engines, or do as the builder here has done and hog the crankcase from barstock. See Page 15 of the Gallery for more photos and details. The Motor Boy's Plan Book is now supplied on CD in pdf format, suitable for printing to a hardcopy for the workshop. This keeps the cost way down, especially the shipping cost. You can order it using the PayPal by clicking this link. Some buyers have reported a problem with the But it Now link, while many others have had no trouble at all. Having totally failed to nail down the cause, if you have trouble, or don't have a PayPal account, send me an email and I'll reply with a PayPal "invoice" that lets you use a credit card or PayPal. This has worked painlessly for everybody.
While on the subject of engine plans, a note from Mike Nelson arrived to say that all the plans for Brian Turner's FD2B Stunt Engine are now complete and available from the Brian Turner Custom Stunt Engine web site. The engine was developed as a more powerful, bar-stock version of the Stalker 61 and Brian and Mike are to be commended for making all their hard work freely available. Brian is currently working on a short stroke version of his re-design. More details will be available soon.
Never Too Early
Among the requests we get on a fairly regular basis are ones from parents eager to encourage their children towards engineering and science through participation in a school project, or Science Fair entry having to do with model engines. This is difficult because we are 110% behind this sort of activity, but know that building a model engine that runs can require a year of part-time work for an adult in order to gain the necessary skills, not to mention the cost of equiping a suitable workshop which can easily run into thousands of dollars. One such enquiry arrived during the past month. In this case, junior is just eight years old, but keen as mustard; what to do? As his parents had no mechanical background, it occurred to me that a scale model plastic kit of some full size IC engine might fit the bill for "show" part, enabling our budding engineer to learn about how an engine works and mount a compelling demonstration through the "tell" bit. I remember assembling a Monogram Wright Cyclone 9 radial kit at about that age (with a cut-away cylinder showing a moving piston—wow ), so did a quick google search and found a site offering kits of both plastic engine models and screw together, working, Stirling engines. These are not inexpensive, but what today is? I'm sure there must be dozens more sites like it. The entries on this one carry Customer Product Reviews, some complimentary, some not. This sort of openness is good to see and should help prospective buyers who are eager to ease their budding engineer into what could be a life-long quest for knowledge, make an informed decision.
This month's instalment of Model Engine Development contains a reference to Bill Wisniewski, a master of engine design and development who passed away in 2007. In linking Bill's name to this Obituary entry in the April 2007 MEN page, we discovered that the links in that piece had quietly gone 404 Not Found on us sometime in the past two years. This has been fixed with the help of Pete Soule, one time editor of the Control Line column, Round 'n Round that used to feature monthly in MAN. Pete is now the Webmaster for www.microair.info, a website dedicated to C/L speed and team racing. The site is well worth a look, but Pete tells me that that domain is about to go away and will be replaced with www.faiclsocal.info". This new domain will host the Valley Circle Burner's Club info (Southern California's oldest control line club), and news from the Southern Cal Air Racers.
Also missing from the people list was the link to Les Chenery, designer of many working scale engine designs who also passed away in 2007. This too has been rectified in the People Index.
Gordon Cornell on Engine Testing
Gordon Cornell's Model Engine Development series comes to a logical conclusion this month with Part 9: Performance Evaluation. As usual, Gordon imparts some proven, pragmatic techniques for determining the effect of changes in design on performance, and a simple means by which you can measure how your Super Fury measures up to his prototypes. Gordon uses "calibrated propellers" for his tests. This is a very simple solution to a very tricky problem that can be surprisingly accurate, although there are some caveats. For more on the subject of model engine test devices, see this month's Tech Tip.
A Hit and Miss OS
Dietmar Kolb wrote to let me know that the URL of his web site has changed (see the Links Page) and that he has modified an open rocker OS FS 60 to a "Hit & Miss" engine. While the maximum RPM for the engine is about 5,000, the lowest RPM is a mere 500. The compression ratio has been reduced fom 9:1 to 5.5:1 and the engine is operated by "Chain saw gasoline". This means the gasoline is Alkylate fuel. This is an environmentally adjusted fuel for motors not fitted with catalytic converters that is free from practically all the dangerous substances in ordinary fuel. Alkylate fuel is best for the 2-stroke engines. Dietmar added 16% of synthetic oil to the fuel and demonstrates the engine running with a heavy flywheel. Pictures of the engine are on his website (click the thumbnail picture) and a video showing what max and min speeds look and sound like are on UTube v=zcUysG7OX0o.
New Books and Magazines This Month
No new books this month, but there are a few items that have been appearing in Model Engineer and companion magazine, Model Engineers' Workshop that are worth a word or two. My information on MEW is up to date as my copy arrives air-mail, by subscription. My copy of ME on the other hand comes from a local news agent and is about three months out of date by the time I see it (with the exchange rate being the way it is between England and Australia, a ME subscription is just too expensive). So it will be no news at all to actual subscribers that since March, the ME has been including a free plan stapled into the center. One side carries a Martin Evans live steam loco. This will be a six part set, so the reverse side of each sheet carries a complete reproduction of the plan for one of Edgar T Westbury old designs. So far, we have the Zephyr, a two-stroke ETW IC engine, (mentioned in the April MEN issue) and the Trojan, one of ETW's steam engine designs.
It is a good thing that new ME and MEW editor, Dave Clark, is including these reprints. It would be even better if long-standing and well-known errors could be corrected in the process. At least the first page of the Evans plan re-issue includes a prominant note to the effect that as drawn, all the bits that have to fit between the frames, won't. The change is an increased spacing of 1/8", but figuring out everything involved is left to the builder. The plans are pre-CAD, so a complete fix would be expensive and the lack of an update, understandable. *Sigh*. I guess it's better to have fixable plans than no plans at all.
The latest issue of Model Engineers' Workshop (#152) has a note saying that Model Engineer now has a website. the URL is www.model-engineer.co.uk. As I write this at the end of June, 2009, the site has only been live for a few weeks, so it's early days. As well as providing a marketing point for magazine subscriptions and the Workshop Practice books (the former much needed, many would say), it has news of events, "Albums" of readers' projects, and Yet More Forums. Naturally I had to sample their IC Engines forum and was delighted to find more than a couple of people saying very nice, unsolicited (honest!) things about the Motor Boys Plan Book and this web site in general. So good start and let's hope that support is sufficient to let it live long and prosper.
Engine Of The Month: Hope Engines; Chapter 2
Adrian Duncan and Alan Strutt continue their in-depth look at the Hope engine range from Japan this month with all the .29 cuin versions the company produced. They also point out that the correct word sequence is "Hope New 29", not "New Hope 29" as the company itself called the engine their "New 29"—there being nothing new about the company! Alan and Adrian have poured a lot of effort into this part, arriving at compromises where they could not agree over some aspect when no clear evidence could be found. As usual, we always welcome questions and corrections.
When we started the Model Engine Development series, Gordon Cornell mentioned that he believed one of his tuned ED Super Fury engines had been used to win an early Australian 1/2A Team Race event and that it would be nice if we could track down the details. Well it's taken nine months and obvious connotations aside, David Owen has been able to examine and run this rather historic relic. See the new ED Super Fury page for details. Thanks go to all our Australian C/L friends who helped, or at least tried to track down this engine.
Tech Tip of the Month
Model engine performance measuring is about as tricky as it sounds. We've all seen test reports published in magazines and quoted by manufacturers that state figures for peak BHP and torque. Great. But how were the data obtained? Back in the hey-days of model engines, it was not unusual to find significant differences in the figures quoted in tests conducted by different magazines for the peak BHP, Torque, and the RPM at which these occurred—and, on the odd occasion where the maker unwisely opted to state a figure, neither ever seemed to coincide with the manufacturer's claim!
Testers were rather vague regarding the way the figures were derived too; the exceptions being the Aeromodeller Eddy-current Dynamometer used by Ron Warring in most of his tests, and the "calibrated propellers" used by Dick Roberts in his tests appearing in Aeromodeller and Model Engine World during the 1990's. One reason for this lack of information may be that as well as being a tricky subject requiring a lot of hours spent in developing a technique and suitable devices, the end result was a "saleable" commodity in the form of magazine articles, not to mention the pleasure I rather suspect the reviewers derived from getting their hands on examples of different manufacturers new and exotic subjects. Any wonder they guarded the secrets of their apparatus closely! However, there has been information about various techniques placed before us through magazine articles that provide a good starting place for someone wishing to get more methodical about obtaining sound, somewhat repeatable test figures. See the new How To Measure Model Engine Performance page for the options available to the amateur experimenter and references in the literature.
Surry, Surrey, and Sorry
An alert reader has pointed out that I don't know how to spell the Surrey which art in England, using instead the Surry (as in "Surry Hills") which art in New South Wales, Australia. I'd like to offer an excuse, but really, there just isn't one. Humble apologies to all who have noticed this and been less than impressed. The error appeared on the ED Bee page, and ten others. I could add it to my list of things I can't spell, but (1) it's already a very long list, and (2) I don't think it will happen again—my nose having been well and truly rubbed in it. We are always ready and willing to cheerfully make corrections to things that can be shown to be wrong, confusing, or misleading. If nothing else, it shows the stuff is being read!
A failure of a fail-safe happened during the preparation of last month's Members Update. The result was the inadvertent inclusion in the zip download of six Cookie pages with zero content that would replace the real ones when the zip was applied. Worse, since I use the download to update the master copy from which DVD's are cut, it's highly probable that all DVD's issued last month have the same problem. The Issues impacted are 3287, 3307, 3320, 3344, 3351, and 3392. The correct files are included in this month's zip file, so if you have the problem and apply the zip, all will be well again. Anyone who ordered a DVD or update last month and has this problem who wants a replacement disc, drop me an email for a free replacement. That should teach me to be more observant and more closely follow the release procedures I wrote for myself!