Model Engine News: June 2010


Special Features:

   Vale: Phil Smith
   Vale: Ted Martin
   Where Are They Now?
   Adelaide Aeromotive
   Spring Winding
   Gallery and Shows
   DC Ltd
   Rotec, Again

Regular Features:

   Editorial
   New Books and Magazines This Month
   Engine Of The Month: Reeves 3.4
   Tech Tip of the Month
   Standard Stuff
Creative Commons License   

 

Editorial

I've had a monster busy month on the software project that has been my life for almost two years now. I've been performing major refactoring and adding features using scripting alone—things which usually would require a plug-in. But "plug-in" code for browsers is browser specific, and a security hazard, so we must do without so our code will run in any web browser and not get itself prohibited by nervous IT departments. As usual, Internet Explorer provides most of the frustration through its quirks and non-compliance with standards. How Microsoft can look anyone straight in the eye with pride while that pile of feted dingo's kidney continues to live is beyond me. HTML, CSS, and Javascript that performs as expected inside all other web browsers fails in unexpected and mysterious ways in IE8 (we just refuse to go anywhere near any older IE version—life is too short), and when it does run, side by side comparisons show that IE can be an order of magnitude or two slower than the others.

Looking at the MEN site logs, it seems user land is getting the message too, as IE is now consistently below 60% where once it was at 90. For the most part, Firefox is the winner, now pushing 30%, and Google Chrome has passed Safari at about 5% compared to Safari's 3. I will concede that IE renders fonts quite nicely, but Safari does that job equally well, and runs fast as well. And I see that IE9, already out for evaluation, will not run under XP. Looks like a Microsoft ploy to wean us away from something that works to something that forces an upgrade to Windows 7 (don't mention Vista). There. I've not indulged in a good spot of Microsoft bashing for a while. I feel better now, and we can get down to business—sad business first...

Vale: Phil Smith

There won't be a British, Ozzie, or Kiwi aeromodeller active in period 1950 to 1980 who has not built at least one Veron kit. The man behind all those designs—perhaps about 100, all up— was Mr Phil Smith and I'm sad to report that Phil passed away in the early hours of May 23, 2010. The photo here comes from Aeromodeller of August 1948 and shows a young Phil being presented with the Queen's Cup by the Queen herself at the 1948 Northern Heights Gala Day for his performance under the then new "12 oz formula" rules. Phil had begun model making in 1933 and become designer for Veron in 1946, remaining in that post until retirement in 1981. During this thirty-five year tenure, he produced every conceivable type of model, both aircraft and boats, from the very simple "Quickie" series to sophisticated scale designs for radio control, with four amazing ducted fan free flight designs for good measure!

Among his designs are names which have become household words in countries where Veron kits were sold. For instance, his Cardinal sport free-flight cabin model is an almost perfect introduction to free-flight power and has delighted thousands. Other designs included control line models like the Combateer and his range of Tru-Flite stick and tissue scale rubber models, twenty-seven in number, ranging from WW I biplanes, through the usual suspects for WW II fighters, to a couple of Goodyear racers of the 50's. I've no clear idea what his relationship was with Veron's board, but whatever it was, it allowed him to continue to sell plan copies for his designs after leaving the company. These were provided complete with paper copies of the all important "print wood" sheets for most of his designs. The listing I have shows 76 models designed by him, though I know there are others not shown in the listing (Veron's once vast line of solid scale models bear the unmistakable Phil Smith stamp in the plans).

Phil remained an active aeromodeller, or "modellist", as he preferred to say, virtually right to the end. Those who met him say he was a gentleman of the old school, always willing to talk about early kit designs, both his own and those of the other British icons of the period—in fact his plan service grew to include notable designs from Veron's competitors, Like Mercury's beautiful and large scale free flight cabin models, all with copies of the original printed wood parts.

I'm sure other, more informed tribute pages to Phil will emerge. This tiny one is offered in exchange for the thrill I got as an eight year old lad flying his Quickie Provost control line model for the first time, and well over forty years later, launching his scale Lavochkin 17 ducted fan free flight on a flight that received a standing ovation from the members of the Brisbane Free Flight Society. All things must pass, but I suspect Phil Smith's influence will live on for quite a while yet.

Vale: Ted Martin

Another name from the post-war engine design period left us in late May. This was Mr E. C. "Ted" Martin, the British born designer of the AMCo 3.5cc diesels who became the engine reviewer for Model Airplane News following his emigration to Canada in the early 1950's. About the time that he passed the MAN engine review baton to Peter Chinn, Ted's design for an advanced twin ball race 3.5cc diesel appeared as a three part construction series in the magazine, starting in the April 1956 issue. A fourth part giving his recommendations on running-in appeared in the July 1956 issue. Ted passed away on May 21 at the ripe old age of 88. By coincidence, Adrian Duncan was in the process of chasing down a contact with him to extract information regarding AMCo's early days and we will be presenting more information on him and AMCo in a forthcoming issue. It may be timely to dig out all the drawings of his 3.5cc BB diesel too, designed to be hogged from the solid, and to bear an uncanny resemblance to the 3.5 BB engine he had designed for AMCo.

Where Are They Now?

In the early 1970's, Scott Hass built about 17 Cox based opposed cylinder twins like the one seen on the right of this photograph. They were shown and sold at the Toledo Expo, then he moved on to other projects and places. He was recently reminded of them by finding some parts in a box. Curious about where they might be today, he turned to the Internet, launching a search on "Cox Twins". Perhaps not surprisingly, this returned a plethora of porn sites , and Model Engine News—a different sort of porn site. Well we don't know where they got to either, but perhaps someone out there will have some information. The question will be knowing if they are Scott's work, or someone else's

There has been an surprising amount of Cox tinkering undertaken over the years to produce twins, including .040 and .098 versions by our own Roger Schroeder. Roger approached the full, double throw crank problem by placing the shaft pieces in a jig to hold alignment as the pins were carefully brazed to the central disc with rods in place. Fine slots are cut into the edges of the central disc into the bores for the pins to provide a channel into which the silver braze can be applied and a small steel heat-shield is used to keep the pinpoint flame away from the rod big end during the operation, hopefully keeping it from gluing the big ends shut!

Scott found an alternate approach which will make his engines easy to spot, if disassembled. He too used a jig to position a disc carrying the rear crankpin and silver brazed this to the shaft, sans conrod. The rear rod simply slips over the pin, but to fit the rod to the front pin, he ground away enough of the big end to allow it to be snapped onto the pin. A small segment of brass tube was then soft soldered over the gap. This is probably the unique signature that will identify Scott's work. Email us if you've seen one and we'll pass it on to the builder.

Adelaide Aeromotive

As ozzie readers will guess, Adelaide Aeromotive is based in the city of Adelaide, in the state of South Australia (Taipan Territory). The operation is run by David Burke, whose work producing new old Taipans and Glow Chief engines we've seen before. AA also offers a rebore service for Burford engines, a service which I'm sure a number of owners will welcome. Clink the logo to visit the web site and get an idea of what DB will be offering. The link has also been added to the Commercial Section of the Links Page.

Spring Winding

Making your own springs for needle valves, poppet valves, whatever, is not difficult, though it is expensive in terms of the price of the wire involved if you have to buy it a meter at a time from the local model store (or the local music store in the form of guitar and banjo strings). For a needle valve, applying tension during winding can be done with a couple of blocks of wood. For poppet valves, we want a bit more precision and repeatability as the tension on the wire during winding has a direct impact on the "rate" of the spring (see the 2004 review of Tubal Cain's book on the subject). The gadget seen here was made years ago to a design that appeared in SIC magazine and provides just the ticket. Even better if you pop the mandrel used together with a note as to the wire diameter, and the knob setting into a little plastic bag and file it away, you stand a good chance or reproducing the same spring some time in the distant future.

But the cost of the wire continues to be a problem. I recall reading an account of a technical school teacher who needed a whole lot of springs for a school project where the budget was tight. As I remember the story, he tried using small diameter MIG welding wire with success and I've often thought of doing the same. A spool of the stuff runs about $30 here and while it represents a lifetime supply if it works, it's thirty bucks down the drain if it doesn't, so has anyone tried this? Or can someone who is MIG equipped send me a meter or so for trial? Pop an email to enquiries@modelenginenews.org.

Gallery and Shows

We have a lot of new entries in the Gallery this month. Page 16 was not really room enough to include all the photos, so two of the new entries are teasers which link off to separate pages. This was necessary to really do justice, as it were, to the subjects. Here you'll find Ramon Wilson's completed 5cc version of the ED Racer, Chris Turner's opposed twins, and Graham Meek's completed ETW Seagull. We also have shots of the ML Midge built by Mike Atkinson, builder of the first plans-built MEB Humbug for which he received a complimentary MBI Plan Book from MEN (that enough M-TLA's for you?). Mike already had a copy and has kindly offered his prize to the next builder to send a photo of a running Humbug—send your photo evidence to us through the email address at the bottom of this page and we want to see smoke coming out the exhaust, a free wheeling prop being turned by an off-camera fan are not going to get past our slightly glazed gimlet eyes!

We also have some shots of IC exhibits at the 2010 Harrogate Model Engineering Exhibition (UK). Again we have Barrie King to thank for these. The engines at the show may, to a certain extent, be by the usual suspects, but the subjects seem to be mostly new. Also as usual, most of the action was live steam centric with the usual mind numbingly beautiful, complex examples of that peculiar model engineering fixation. Appreciate them for what they are and the work that goes into them, even if they are not precisely your "bag".

DC Ltd

Spitfire, Sabre, Dart, Rapier, Merlin, Bambi... all magic names from the glory days of diesels. There's a new entry in the People Section that falls in the "not exactly people" category as it mostly pertains to the company Davies-Charlton Ltd, although of necessity, it must recount some first-hand experience with Mr Hefin Davies. What of Charlton? Well, we have not been able to establish for a fact that there ever was a "Charlton", but we can't say that such a person did not exist either. Back in the 70's and 80's, I ran the company which acted as the Asian master distributor for the microcomputer software company, Ashton-Tate. We signed the agreement with George Tate in his first year of operation (from his garage, complete with model planes, naturally), so I can state for a fact, that there was no "Ashton". That name was the invention of George's PR consultant, Hal Lashee (as was the product name "dBase II", if you recall such things). Much later, after the company had become gigantic and filled with people rightly or otherwise convinced of their own self-importance, a parrot was purchased, named Ashton, and plopped down in the reception of their Culver City offices—the same offices where poor George would later die at his desk, largely un-noticed by the very important people. So there is adequate precedent, but lacking evidence one way or the other, we have to allow the possibility there was a Mr Charlton and you can read all about it in The Rise and Fall of Davies-Charlton, which forms a nice complementary piece to the ED Story.

Rotec, Again

This was almost a book review item because the item was prompted by an article in the latest (paper) copy of Sport Aviation, the monthly journal of the Experimental Aircraft Association. I've been a member since 1969 when I earned my private pilot's license and started construction of a Thorp T-18 sportplane. I've been thinking of dropping membership lately because the magazine has degenerated into a montage of smiling head and shoulder shots, occasionaly interrupted by airplanes. Back in the 60's and 70's they actually ran serials describing how to build airplanes. Progress. Well recently, something was stirred them up in Oshkosh and the EAA has gone very modern with quite good video tips on their web site, regular emails to members, and the latest: a makeover of Sport Aviation. To offset the change to a dull and unattractive quality of paper rather than glossy stock used previously, the technical content seems to have increased, even if not back to what I'd call the glory days. One item last month was an interview with the Chernikeff brothers, which leads us at last to the photo: that's the engine Paul built back in 1998 to power his giant scale GeeBee.

Since then, Paul and Matt Chernikeff have made a thriving small business out of manufacturing seven and nine cylinder radials for use in home-built aircraft. The "real" engines look almost exactly like the prototype model sized engine seen on the cover of Airborne #169, which has more than a passing resemblance to the Ageless Hodgson Radial, with pushrod tubes and rockerbox covers added, neatly countering the critics who say that the Hodgson looks like no radial ever made! By all means pay a visit to the Rotec Radial web site and remember, real airplanes have round engines .

New Books and Magazines This Month

The latest addition to The Library is a small but exquisite volume called Swedish Model Engine Encyclopedia, compiled by Ulf Carlén, ISBN 978 91 633 1942-6. The book is soft covered, printed in full color, and runs to 42 pages, although Ulf states in his Foreword that the book is incomplete owing to the scarcity of information regarding some of his subjects. To my knowledge, this is the first book produced exclusively on model engines designed and made in Sweden.The engines are presented in alphabetical order, from BROM to Typhoon. Addition chapters introduce us to Swedish Kits and plan built engines and some miscellaneous engines built in very small numbers. Arne Hende naturally gets a section all to himself, as does Ivan Rogstadius.

Ivan, you may recall, pioneered home construction of "diesel" engines in Sweden. The design, based on the Swiss Dyno, and full plans appeared in two Swedish publications during 1943. We were fortunate to be able to make contact with another Swedish model engine historian, Lars Gustafsson, who was able to locate Ivan and meet with him on a number of occasions and interview him to record his recollections of the early days of compression ignition engines. Recently, Lars and Ivan—who is 94, fully mobile and alert—visited the Stockholm Technical Museum to view the model engines made by Harry Fjellström. The material gathered by Lars and currently being assembled by Adrian Duncan will appear in MEN later this year.

Back to Swedish Model Engine Encyclopedia, this is a self-published work, like most of the books today dedicated to model engines. You can order your copy direct from Ulf using PayPal. The cost is US$38.00 which includes world-wide air mail postage. Ulf apparently knows that the market for his book is global, so there is an English language version available. Ulf's email address is ulf.carlen@united-efforts.se. Altogether, this is a wonderful little book containing information which you are just not going to find anywhere else and we have no hesitation in rating it at the full five stars . Now, I just know I've seen a cover layout like that before... where... ?

Engine Of The Month: Reeves 3.4

Reeves engines were one of those British products that enjoyed a very brief stroll in the park in the period shortly after World War II, consequently they are a bit rare and few get to see one, let alone run it. But Adrian Duncan was lucky enough to start collecting before he, or anyone else, knew he was collecting, so he has a couple of examples of the Reeves 3.4 to show and to put through their paces. Along the way, we also meet the later Reeves 2.5cc Goblin, and the earlier Reeves 6cc sparker, and hear about the "Reeves' one hour compression test guarantee". As usual, to get to the review, click the thumbnail picture, this link, or look it up in the Finder.

Tech Tip of the Month

Last month, I mentioned a tip advocated by LBSC for a simple, but rather dubious way of manually hacksawing to a straight line. The doubt is mine, and not that it will work as described—Curley was a very practical and highly productive model engineer—more of a question as to whether this is an honourable thing to do to the jaws of your vice. An email from an avid follower in England followed and provides more practical, real-world experience about the technique. I'll get to that in a minute, but first a diversion to set the context.

My old mentor, Russell Watson-Will, once remarked to me that hard-on-hard was never a good idea. Russ had followed the plans explicitly for his version of the "5cc Aeromodeller Diesel", designed by Lawerence H Sparey. As was common in the early days, Sparey specified a steel conrod, optionally case hardened. The big end was unbushed, resulting in the "hard-on-hard" contact and a catastrophic seizure during first runs. Russ said he was able to separate the bits with some difficulty, re-machine the crankpin, and fit a bronze bush to restore his engine. As designed, the Sparey conrod is a long, slender thing, and I recalled a story related by George Aldrich, our late friend and fellow Motor Boy. George and Duke Fox were investigating design aspects aimed at improving performance and discovered that within reason, the stiffer the rod, the higher the RPM. So for my own Sparey 5, I fitted the largest 2024-T3 aluminium rod I could swing in the space available and the pair ran about as well as any example could be expected to with no trouble, so store away Russ's advice: hard-on-hard is generally not a good idea.

By now, you should be well ahead of us and have figured out that the jaws of a bench vice are hard, and so are the teeth of a hacksaw blade. What is going to happen when they are forced into working contact? Well, as Sancho Panza says in the musical version of Don Quixote, whether the stone hits the pitcher, or the pitcher hits the stone, it's going to be bad for the pitcher—or in this case, the saw blade teeth. Saw teeth have a "set" to provide the very necessary working clearance for the blade. Coarse saw blades actually offset adjacent teeth in alternate directions, just like a wood saw, but above about 24 TPI, the set is provided by making the teeth side of the blade wavy. After some contact with the vice jaw, the tooth set on one side suffers. Curley's wheeze continues to work because to cut his straight line, the operator is forcing the saw blade down onto the jaw, perhaps unconsciously twisting it as well. Meanwhile, the blade damage intensifies.

The end result, as described and validated by our correspondent, is a saw blade with no set on one side that will no longer cut straight, freehand. The reason should be obvious: the teeth set has become asymmetric and the blade will tend to follow the path of least resistance, which is towards the side with the set. This he knows for a fact through having, in years past, been the technician who had to change the prematurely worn-out hacksaw blades at a training college where an instructor advocated the LBSC dodge to the students! On the other hand, I've proven the trick works a treat, provided you have a nice line scribed on the work to align with the jaw top. But note the scratches on the top of the vice jaw created by just one cut.

So now you have the Tip, and the anti-Tip. Curley's trick works as advertised, but if you use it and intend to make freehand cuts too, best keep one blade for one job, and another for 'tother. And avoid unbushed steel big-ends too, even though ED seemed to get away with it on their long-stroke diesels!

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