So Winter down under is officially over and Spring ushers in a new cycle of rebirth and bush-fires—yes, they've started already. All three capital cities of the eastern coast of Australia have experienced the hottest August temperatures ever recorded, as have several rural and regional centers. Now the thing with records is someone has to be around when they are set, otherwise no recording, and no records. As we are those doing the recording and obsessing, it could be that this is all just normal variation, making us the lucky ones who get to see it first hand. Leaves me asking what second prize might be. Oh well, as they say, that which can't be changed, must be endured. Preferably in air-conditioning.
The North American Motor Boys were giving me a bit of ribbing about the unusual time of year (for them) that we hold what we call winter down here. That seemed to be a rather insular view of the world and got me wondering about the population distribution between the northern and southern hemispheres. If the Wikipedia can be believed, about 90% of the world's 6.8 billion live in the northern hemisphere. On the short scale, that places 680 million in the southern hemisphere, of which poor little Australia contributes 21 million—3% for our hemisphere, or 0.3% of the total, if I've got the zeroes right. And we are going to implement a carbon tax on our tiny little economy down here before anyone else on the planet to save it from extinction. Yea. Right. Good plan. Should have a really major impact.
Ok, enough of this gloom. I'm going to briefly break self-imposed tradition by mentioning some workshop equipment for sale. I do not ever plan to open these pages to anything remotely like a forum, or blog, nor include paid or un-paid advertising. That said, circumstances force a MEN Member to offer his complete workshop for sale. The photo gives an idea of what this includes. As all this is quite heavy, you will need to able of collect it, or arrange transport from the Wide Bay area of Southern Queensland, Australia. Anyone seriously interested in the entire shop content, drop us an email through the address at foot of this page and I'll pass it on the the vendor.
We have a lot of good stuff this month, including quite a lot of new items added to Page 15 of the Gallery. But first I have to pass on a couple of sad items, news of which arrived at the last minute from both sides of the Atlantic...
Vale: Malcolm "Nemett" Stride
I'm sad to pass on the news of the sudden and tragic passing of Malcolm Stride, late in August 2009. Malcolm, a resident of Burghfield Common, near Reading, UK, was well known to readers of the Model Engineer as "Nemett" after the pen-name he chose for much of his writing for that magazine. I think it's fair to attribute a good deal of the resurgence in interest with model internal combustion engines in the ME to Malcolm's IC Topics column, the Lynx bar-stock four-stroke construction series, and his book on Building Miniature Internal Combustion Engines. I've been corresponding with him by email since he restarted the IC Topics column and had found him to be a helpful, open person, very easy to get on with. I say "restarted" as he saw his column as the continuation after many years of the Petrol Engine Topics column previously authored by Edgar T Westbury. The "Nemett" nom-de-plume was a contraction of one of those used by ETW for some of his non-IC related writing: Kinemette. We also shared many common opinions and had moved from TurboCAD to Alibre Design as our drafting tool of choice at about the same time, exchanging ideas, techniques, and experiences with that package right up to the days just before his death.
Many will know that Malcolm had been offering plan sets and construction notes for his single and two cylinder engine designs for sale through his web site. The site is no longer active and circumstances are such that the plans can no longer be obtained. If this changes, I will let every one know. Writing news items like this is always difficult, this one more than most, given the circumstances. But I expect Malcolm's book will remain in print for a long time and that is a better legacy than many leave behind.
Vale: Jerry Howell
Jerry Howell, designer of the lovely V4 seen here, along with many other fine designs, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday August 29, 2009. For the past 17 years, Jerry had been helping model engineers with plans, shop tools, and many other hard to find items from his home base in Colorado Springs, USA. I'd traded emails with Jerry on and off over the years and passed on information he had generously provided on a range of subjects. Jerry's family have stated their intention to continue his work, although there will naturally be a period of mourning and disruption. Model Engine News offers our sincere condolences to them. More details can be found on the Jerry E Howell web site.
Bob Washburn Shop Auction
For those who are, or can arrange to be in the Seattle area on Saturday, September 26 next, you have the opportunity to attend an auction of the shop equipment belonging to SIC editor and founder, Bob Washburn. All proceeds will go to Bob's widow, Frances. Anyone who knows anything about SIC will know that producing and distributing it was very much a team effort between Robert and Frances, so a more worthy cause would be hard to imagine. Until the day of the auction, you can view a list of what will be on offer by going to http://www.auctionzip.com/ and entering the code 19441 in the Auctioneer ID# box at the top right of the screen, then selecting Washburn Shop Estate entry. From the photos, all the equipment is clean and has been well maintained, which is as one would expect for a man of Bob's meticulous nature. It is also really good to see the auction being held by a man like George Christensen who knows and appreciates Model Engineers' equipment and tools. It worries me that all too frequently, such equipment ends up at the tip rather than passing on to someone who will appreciate and use it, as did the previous owner.
Five cc diesel by Sparey, out of Hemingway
Kirk Burwell at Hemingway Kits (UK), continues to expand his line of revised kits once provided by Woking Precision. The latest is the venerable Sparey 5cc, aka the Aeromodeller 5cc Diesel. The picture here shows the specification page from the new plan set and is typical of the work Kirk is expending on modernising these old designs, while retaining the character and authenticity. Showing how thorough Hemingway are, Kirk contacted us this month regarding some question in the timing of the old monster. This was quickly sorted and I can attest that the plans are a faithful but modern redraw of the ancient ones. I call it a monster because one of mine bit me, as any large diesel is want to do when a bit flooded. But for all that, it is an easy engine to build, an easy engine to start (provided you don't flood it), and a good runner, considering the design is over 60 years old and harks back to pioneering days. Yes, it weighs half a ton and vibrates like a front-load washing machine with a load of beach towels, but it has class. See the Suppliers page, or commercial section of the Links page for contact details.
No, not an ailing saurian, but an actual working, plans built example of the Strictly Internal Combustion Kirk/Washburn Water Brake Dynamometer. On the recent page devoted to evaluating model engine performance, I voiced a broad and ignorant statement that none had ever been built. You'd think I'd know better by now. An email arrived setting me straight and pointing to the work being done at the University of Idaho where a team of seniors have modelled the design in Solidworks and built a fine example of it which they are using to evaluate the torque curves for engines and drive trains they are developing. More details can be seen and read on the "Hyrollers" website. The unfounded assertion on the Testing Page has been corrected and while doing that, I spotted all the places I spelt brake, break. These too are fixed and I'm off in search of a toothpick; I'm acquiring quite a taste for crow, but it tends to be a bit stringy in places...
Last month, our Tech Tip was inspired by Chris Boll who provided a picture of his enlargement to 1.8cc of the delightful little ML Midge. Chris has offered the plans of the engine to all readers of this website under a Creative Commons non-commercial, attribution required license. I will be drafting the sketches using Alibre Design, not because they need it, but more so we can provide the isometric views of parts which help less experienced builders and plan readers visualize the components. At this time, the 3D model is complete (the easy part) and fully dimensioned plan sheets for the first components produced (the not so much hard as long and tedious part).
New Multi-purpose 2,5cc Diesel
According to their web site, the Parra 2,5cc diesel has been in design and development for over two years with extensive testing by the best racing and combat specialists of Spain and Ukrania. The first version is all steel (piston and liner one assumes; not the crankcase ) with an AAC version to follow soon. The web site has nice photos of the crankcase die and some internals. These show a smoothly angled inlet tract in the crankshaft, bronze bushed big end in the conrod, and a push-pull contra, all supporting their quality claims. They have cunningly made the propnut and contra hex the same size, and claim a very short "2 tank" run-in period, though the old cynic in me notes no mention is made of the size of that tank! At 110.00€ (including free mounting screws, but excluding muffler), this is not an inexpensive engine, however it is really great to see a company producing this sort of quality for such a small, specialized market. Under those circumstances, the price may well be justified. Think they should bundle the muffler though.
Colonna Novi V8
Ron Colonna has been making model IC engine for a long time. He is one of that elite group of model engineers who select highly sophisticated full-size subjects, then proceed to produce scale, fully working models of them, using the same sort of machines that the rest of us struggle to produce a single cylinder model on. Ron's latest creation is this Novi V8 and you can read more about it on Page 15 of the Engine Gallery. More information on the engine can be read on Ron's web site which you'll find under commercial links on the Links Page. Like most of Ron's work, the Novi, despite appearances, is made from bar-stock. No castings were abused or injured in the production of this engine. Now have a second look at the blower housing. How he did it is detailed in the Gallery entry, and for why he did it, we need to move on to this month's book review...
New Books and Magazines This Month
When Ron Colonna sent in the pictures of his almost complete Novi V8, he asked as an afterthought if I'd be interested in a copy of his book that details how to build a working, quarter-scale model of the Offenhauser 270 four-cylinder, double overhead cam, water cooled, spark ignition, four cylinder racing engine. If there is one thing I like more then twins, it is graft. Especially when it arrives in the form of engine construction plans. I suspect that I'll never live long enough to build all the engines I now have plans for, even assuming I had the talent required. But every set I read through teaches me something new, which is why I jumped at this chance.
The full title for Ron's book is Building the 1/4 Scale 270 Offy: A Workshop Manual — No Castings Required, by Ronald J Colonna, revised June 2000, USA. This is an example of Desktop Publishing (DTP) in action: 128 pages printed on each side, spiral bound, profusely illustrated with black and white construction photos, with complete CAD plans and machining instructions detailing how to make each and every part, including the special purpose cutters where required.
After a comprehensive Specifications page, the book begins with a brief history of the full size engine, so I can now pontificate with confidence that the 270 Offenhauser dates back to 1937 when the Indianapolis Motor Speedway rules were changed to allow higher fuel consumption than previously. The "Offy" 270 would go on to win many races in the following three decades.
With history and model specifications established, Ron then describes how the book came about. He had begun corresponding with Bob Wasburn before SIC began publication. This led to him authoring articles in the early issues. Under Robert's urging, Ron later documented the build on the quarter scale version of Meritt Zimmerman Cirrus Mk I for SIC readers. Encouraged by Bob and reader feedback, Ron decided when starting his build of the Offy, that he would produce drawings and machining instructions as he went along. This is no small task, especially for a subject as complex as the Offy, and doubly so when all parts are to be machined from bar-stock. The effort consumed two years and Ron figures he could have built the engine four times over in this period with the effort that went into producing the CAD plans, writing the text, and doing the book layout, not to mention learning all the software tools used in the process.
The book contains 39 Sections, 36 of which are dedicated to a part, or set of related parts. The order reflects the logical sequence in which the engine should be built. As usual, the sequence is arranged so that critical parts can be made to fit already machined ones. Of course, this is not the only sequence that could be followed, and the setups Ron describes are not the only way the parts can be machined. They are however a proven way that has been validated by other builders, though experienced model engineers are always free to ignore the words and just follow the plans. The plans themselves are distributed through the book alongside the text that describes their machining and the photos showing details of assembly and machining setups. Ron built his prototype in his home shop which has very standard type machinery: a 12" Atlas lathe and a knee type mill. No CNC involved, in fact Ron's shop is not even DRO equipped!
Obviously any model engineer tackling this subject should have significant experience, but builders are not the only audience for books like this. Would I recommend this book for beginners? Sure, but not for building—more for the wealth of techniques it describes and the inspiration it provides to develop your skills for other projects. I know many model engineers are hesitant to tackle a bar-stock engine. Perhaps after reading the text and seeing the pictures, that fear will be diminished and the reader might decide to try out some of the techniques on other projects. Looking at the results, it is hard to credit that all the Offy parts began as lumps of solid stock. Of course, the satin finish imparted by bead blasting helps, contrasting nicely with the polished finish on turned parts. The final sections describe the Hall-effect ignition system and distributor hiding inside the faux magneto, final assembly, and running. Ron is quite forthright about his own experience here, explaining how he debugged problems with his own engine in the ignition, gasket, and oil seal departments. The final section lists the materials and special components required, along with the places you can obtain them from.
This book is just what its title says it is: a Workshop Manual. The plans are complete and clearly dimensioned. The machining instructions are clear without being overly verbose (I could learn a thing or two from Ron's writing). Hints, tips, and trivia abound, including a clue as to why Ron Colonna likes to hog parts rather than cast them (he suspects that a couple of years on the casting floor of a local blast furnace during his younger years may have had something to do with it ). The book is quite reasonably priced at US$39.95 for domestic US orders, $40.95 in Canada and Mexico, and $44.95 for the Rest of World. You can order using PayPal from Ron Colonna's Model Engine Website, or by money order or check to Ron Colonna, 107 Lexington Road, McKeesport, Pa 15135, USA. I highly recommend this book to all model IC builders and enthusiasts .
Engine Of The Month: Super Hope 60
The amount of information that Adrian Duncan and Allan Strutt have unearthed about a range of engine I could not even conjure up a decent footnote over is just amazing. We've seen the Historical Overview and the Hope .29 cuin Models. This month, Allan Strutt takes up the saga, detailing the Super Hope .60 in all its marks and revisions. All of the Hope pages are interconnected by the customary forward and back links at the bottom of each page, so no need to come back here to find your way around.
Tech Tip of the Month
As some commercial manufacturers have discovered to their loss, making very small compression ignition engines is difficult in the extreme. They require the highest degree of precision in piston/cylinder fits and overall quality control. They are tricky to operate too, so even if the engine is good, an owner may fail to get it running through improper technique, leading to an unjustified bad reputation—or quite justified in some cases. For the amateur builder these two problems add together. If it won't run, it could be your starting technique, the fuel, the engine design, your build quality, or all the above! What to do?
The methodical approach is to eliminate the unknowns. Try the fuel in a known good engine, preferably as small as you can get your hands on. If you have a small commercial diesel and understand how to operate it successfully, then you can have some confidence in your technique and are now down to the design and quality of your work. Has anyone got one to run? Is there photographic evidence? Assuming the design is proven and you made no major changes, does the crankshaft spin freely with cylinder removed? Can you get it to fire on a port prime? If so, are there any obvious leaks that will prevent transfer? If not, and assuming it has any compression at all, is there any "bounce" when you flick it over? If not, you have a poor piston fit, or an alignment problem. Remove the contra. Does the piston move smoothly through the liner? A hint of tightness at TDC is allowable. Reluctance anywhere else is not. Above all, don't be put off by having to make a new piston and liner, or three... Persistence will pay off.
As well as the 0.5 Alpha and 0.1cc Nano designs by Richard Gordon that have appeared in the Model Engineer, our MBI plan range has a number of tiny diesels. These range from the 0.59cc Vivell, through the 0.46cc ED Baby replica, to the tiny 0.24cc Clanford Clan, and the sub-micro Dragonflea which can be built with a 0.11cc or 0.15cc displacement. Mark Lester (UK) has recently completed a Clanford Clan and got it running. Mark nearly gave up on it, spending three years and making four cylinders and five pistons before achieving success. He has been kind enough to jot down what he discovered in the process, so click the Clanford Clan link, or the picture of his engine to read about how he arrived at a technique for getting the right piston/liner fit on a micro diesel.
Round Peg in Square Hole
How do you put a round peg in a square hole? Sideways, of course! Sorry 'bout that chief, could not resist it. These photos were sent out by Bruce Satra of Vernal Engineering who has an absolutely wicked sense of humour. They show a little novelty engine designed by Elmer Verberg and built by Gary Gotschall (USA). Gary says it runs fine on 5-10 pounds of air (per square inch). Air enters the shaft through a rotary valve and passes through the web and crankpin into the hollow shafted conrod, and thence to the cylinder. Exhaust follows a similar path, exiting via another flat transfer passage on the opposite side of the shaft to the inlet, which presumably communicates with another port in the shaft bush we can't see in the photos. It's not IC, and would never fly, but it is Model Engineering in the finest sense of the words and I like it! See you next month...