Over the past month I've replaced my two ancient home desktop machines with new "small-footprint" computers. The small qualifier relates both to their size and energy consumption, so I'm feeling very green. The first to get replaced was the Linux box, which got an OS upgrade from Fedora Core 5 to Fedora 13 (they've dropped the "Core" for some reason). This machine holds all the website source repositories and provides a secure shell (SSH) and HTTPS gateway between my home network and the Internet, allowing me to work on the website from anywhere. I'm not brave enough to even think about connecting an OS made by Microsoft to the Internet, even through a firewall! Besides, I can open a SSH session to the Linux box and open a remote desktop session from it to the Windows box, so there's no need to make the Windows box externally visible. The cut-over to the new Linux box was accomplished in two evenings—call it 6 hours tops—for OS install and configuration of local mail server, subversion server, print server, security configuration, general software development environment (Java, C++, Perl, and PHP), and restoring my user data and work files from backup. Flushed with success, I turned to the new Windows box (you can see what's coming..)
The new machine came with Windows 7 Professional installed. I lasted one short evening with that before giving up in disgust and sending it back for a "downgrade" to XP Pro. The Vista heritage in Windows 7 was obvious, meaning nothing is where it was for apparently no better reason than to convince the punters they must have got value for money; plus all the MS partners get to sell new sets of door-stop sized books, not to mention training courses, just so you can find where the same old stuff has been hidden. Anyone think my cynicism is showing? I could maybe have lived with that, but I quickly struck a show-stopper mounting all the Network Attached Servers (NAS) I have: a 2TB (mirrored) D-Link DNS-323, a .5TB QNAP TS-209 used mostly for bit-torrent work, and a 6TB RAID-5 QNAP TS-559 Pro that provides the household with video on demand. The mirrored D-Link was the important one as it holds all my program archives. Naturally, no matter what I did, Windows 7 would just not recognize it and without it, I could not start configuring the environment I need for CAD and Web site maintenance. Going "back" to XP Pro fixed the problem and the build of the box took a mere 28 hours, including some very frustrating reversions to OS "checkpoint restores" when a failure during the installation of the HP scanner drivers due to the virus protector resulted in a machine that would no longer talk to me! I really, really don't want to do this again anytime soon. In fact, ever would be good.
Even now, releasing this month's issue, I'm finding little things that still need fixing, but it's mostly good, including a giant new monitor for CAD (1920x1200) which replaces the old 1600x1200 that decided to die part way through the build (why me, Lord?) Amazingly, all is well with rainfall in the Wide Brown Land too! September rainfalls were the highest for the past 90 years and our major wheat producing regions are forecasting a bumper crop—the best in decades, which is good given the disastrous drought conditions they've been under for about seven years. Provided that is, they don't get flooded out before harvest time, or the locusts that are emerging after the long dry don't ravage it, or the chemicals that get dropped on the locusts don't kill the wildlife that would normally control some other pest. Who'd be a farmer. Despite this, in the cities, we are still under water restrictions. Ahh... the joys of modern living.
On other fronts, I'm extremely well with all problems under control. My doctors are happy and my energy levels rebuilding slowly but steadily. The messing about with dear old Microsoft—who must surely challenge Lucas for the title of Prince of Darkness—has rather consumed evenings, so I've still not got anywhere near the shop except to clean off some surface rust and take another stuck-chuck remedy shot. This one is, what can I say? ...simply brilliant and you can read about in this month's Tech Tip. I must also mention that Dick Kidd passed away after a long fight with cancer on September 27. I took over as Webmistress for Dick's Australian Control Line Nostalgia web site and Australian Control Line Forum a few years back and Model Engine News will continue to subsidize them into the foreseeable future. Vale, Dick, and thanks for helping to keep C/L alive. So down to business...
Brian Cox, upon reading last month's piece on the ETW Atom Minor Mk3 on glow ignition, took the time to send in this shot of his unmodified example happily running on glow ignition and standard (as opposed to hi-nitro) fuel. Living in France, Brian offered some theories regarding geospatial differences which may account for his engine's ability to run unaltered on spark or glow. Of course, Motor Boy David Owen was visiting at the time and may have led Brian astray with certain birthday celebrations. Or could it be that given normal machining differences, Brian's engine came out with a tad higher compression ratio, while Rob's ended up somewhat on the low side? However, the photographic proof is impossible to ignore and perhaps Brian can try applying the more dense French country air on the next problem...
Sparey ".8" Inlet Woes
Isn't that nice? Shame on you if you did not immediately identify it as a Sparey ".8" cc, which we all know is actually of 0.63cc displacement. The Kiwi builder of this engine is Ross Purdy. Ross emailed early in September saying that while the engine would run on a prime (port or inlet), it would not sustain and what did I think might be the problem? Well I'm always ready with a wild theory, especially as Ross's email came hot on the heals of Brian's startling evidence, and remember, the Sparey is a Northern Hemisphere design!
However, considering the evidence, and remembering back a long time ago to my first home built diesel—also the Sparey ".8"—I went out on a limb and suggested a cause for the problem other than our unfortunate antipodean location. My engine would sort of start, but would barely run and stopped at the drop of a hat, or touch of the needle valve. It fired on a prime, so it was probably mechanically ok. And it would fire after a good choke, so transfer and induction were probably ok too. Suspecting it was not able to draw enough fuel to keep running, I found a piece of brass tubing that was a neat fit in the venturi, specified on the 1947 plan as 0.15" (#25 drill). This reduced the inlet to about 0.12" and fixed my problem so well that it remains in place to this day, as seen in the photo. So I suggested Ross try something similar. He did, closing the inlet diameter down to 2.5mm and reports that his engine now runs like a dream. For comparison, the .75cc Mills has an inlet diameter of 0.125", while diameter of the inlet on the much larger 2cc AHC side-port is only 0.14" (#28). So Sparey ".8" builders take note and I eagerly await the photo from the northern hemisphere of a per the plans Sparey running with that heroic inlet .
Watzit Mini Diesel
We've not had a Watzit in a while, so when Bert Streigler sent in this photo of a rather small diesel he'd recently cleaned up, I thought it was worthy of the name, even if we suspect it will never be identified, being a definite one-off. Making really tiny diesels is about the biggest challenge a Model Engineer is likely to face (ask Ken Croft how many cylinder/pistons he made before getting his half-size Weaver to run). The problem is that as the size gets very small, achieving the fits required for adequate compression to make a diesel self-ignite becomes quite hard. Minor imperfections in circularity at 15mm bore matter a lot less than the same imperfections at 5.5mm bore! But it can be done, with perseverance (read how Mark Lester overcame the difficulties building a 0.24cc Clan from MBI plans). But seems our Watzit may have been doomed from the start. Click the thumbnail to read more, and don't forget to scroll up because there's An Ill Wind blowing strong just before the diesel.
They're Still Out There
What you are looking at here is a Davies-Charlton Wildcat II kit, circa 1948. Found in a loft in the UK, it is absolutely complete with blueprint, company leaflet, castings, raw materials, and genuine, vintage surface rust. I'm sure there are other treasures like this lurking out there. It's just luck of the draw that when they are found, the finder has some idea of what it is and does not chuck it in the bin! The DC Wildcat II is a solid 5cc side-port diesel that started DC Ltd off in the model engine business. Engines were available ready built, or as kits, both fully-machined ready-to-assemble, and "raw" as seen here. The blueprint is interesting as it shows the "e" variant which had no engine lugs! Mounting was accomplished by drilling thru the holes for the front bearing housing mounting screws, then tapping 6BA either end, thus providing a sort of backplate-mount for the car crowd. Expect an in-depth review of this engine in the near future. And who knows? Maybe even a redrawn plan.
Better Than Original?
Dan Vincent noticed that the Arne Hende Tribute Page listed the Elf "Corncob" reproduction, but did not have a photo of one. This Dan has supplied which shows engine #003 which Arne showed to Dan on what turned out to be his last visit to the USA. The original "Corncob"—which could never be mistaken for the AH repro—can make some claim to being the first of the miniature, commercial engines, having been named "The smallest engine in the world" in Ripley's Believe It Or Not back in 1934. Numerous reproductions exist as do excellent home-built examples that can be hard to tell from originals, like this one built by Bert Streigler. The most unusual "Corncob" must be this one, a diesel, made by Stan Pilgrim. Lastly, have a good look at the box in the background of Dan's picture. Arne sure achieved quality in this projects, making some of them more valuable than the originals!
Motor Boy, Les Stone, continues to make steady progress with his Chenery Gnome which we saw here last month. In this shot, Les has just finished the nose piece which also forms the prop mount shaft as being a rotary, there is no conventional crankshaft. As you should understand, concentricity in this component is absolutely critical, so Les has finish turned it in-situ using a plug in the rear of the crankcase which accurately positions it on the lathe axis. Also visible are the dummy crankcase screws located between the cylinders. The real Gnome had a split crankcase which trapped locating rings machined on the bottom of the cylinders to retain them. Les Chenery wisely redesigned this to a solid ring, threaded for the cylinders. As well as Les' fine machining, I have to admire the pile of fine swarf in the background!
New Books and Magazines This Month
A real unexpected treat arrived in the mail box this month in the shape of yet another top quality, small press edition from Country View Enterprises. Heard of the name but can't quite place it? Country View is our own Tim Dannels, editor and publisher of The Engine Collectors' Journal, an institution now in its forty-eighth year of continuous publication. Tim and his army of contributors have long tried to assist fellow collectors of US engines by cataloging them in The Journal. Some years back, Tim prepared his American Model Engine Encyclopedia. The AMEE devotes five pages to the products of LM Cox. Cox holds the record for the most model engines made by a single manufacturer; a record which I suspect will never be broken, given the current trend away from model IC engines towards electric. Makes sense, but still a sad day. Anyway, seems Tim thought Cox deserved more than five pages, hence the new volume.
The Cox Model Engine Handbook, by Tim Dannels and Dan Sitter, Country View Enterprises USA, 2010, ISBN 0-9767541-0-3, contains 68 pages of text, four pages of preface, and a very complete four page, multi-level index. Like the AAME, It is printed in full color on glossy, high quality paper and is spiral bound. The name Dan Sitter will be familiar to ECJ readers for his regular contributions to the Journal on all matters Cox. Dan was responsible for the 19 part ECJ series on Leroy Cox, his engines, the myriad of things that came out of Cox, and later, Estes. This book collects edited versions of 18 of these parts, enhanced with new material and outstanding color photographs. This was made possible by Dan shipping his entire collection to Tim for photographing key examples. This, along with the meticulous collection of information is what makes this volume so attractive and valuable to small engine collectors.
After the prefix, the CMEH gives a good overview of LeRoy (Roy) Cox (1906-1981) with photos of early and later premises as Cox Mfg Co grew. Next comes a section on the early die cast racing cars produced by Cox in the late 1940's using Cameron built engines. Then comes the major part of the book which is devoted to the many commercial Cox engine variations. The bewildering multitude of models are presented chronologically, grouped by displacement. Later chapters deal with Cox prototypes, and the Estes variants.
Now, for the $64,000 question: if you already have the EJC issues, is there value in the CMEH? I think there is. First, the color photographs are not only attractive, they really assist in identifying the differences—it's one thing to read about a beige backplate; quite another to actually see it. Second, the text has been updated. I made some spot checks and found differences for the better. Lastly, it's very useful to have all the series (less part 15) neatly bound in one place. A bonus is the page where Dan describes his research methodology, and why Cox catalogues come a bad last in providing historical data! Then there's Bill Bickle's index—four of them actually! This the raw ECJ issues do not have and it greatly increases the value of the material.
I'm rating this book at the full Five Stars and you can apply whatever close association filter you wish to this evaluation . I truely don't think buyers will be disappointed. You can order your copy using PayPal for the introductory price of US$35 (plus postage if outside the USA) from the Model Engine Collecting website and tell 'em Ron sent 'ya!
Engine Of The Month: Katipo
The New Zealand Katipo (Latrodectus katipo) belongs the same genus as the American Black Widow spider. As such it should be avoided although I'm told effective anti venoms exist. Like most things in New Zealand that are not of obvious British heritage, the name is Maori and means "night-stinger". So what's with these antipodean engine designers who name their creations after venomous critters, and which came first, the Katipo, or the Taipan? As we shall see in this month's expose on the Kiwi Katipo diesel, the model engine variety of Katipo needs to be approached with caution too, but not because it might hurt you! Curious? Click the thumbnail, or follow the link...
Tech Tip of the Month
Our item last month on Stuck Chuck Removal resulted in several emails from which emerged two additional cures—well one cure and one prophylactic, actually. Both are more than worthy of passing on, so the How to Remove a Stuck Chuck page has been updated. Please visit it again as one of the methods is so simple and effective that you'll be left wondering why you didn't think of it yourself—I sure am. Among the emails was another saying that the industrial machine shop in which the writer had worked always used the "block of wood on the bed and lathe in reverse" method which traumatized me at an early age (late 40's ). Guess it's all in what you become accustomed to.
QSMEE Exhibition and Trophy Day 11/14
For those who are or will be in the Brisbane area on the 14th of November next, the Queensland Society of Mechanical and Experimental Engineers will hold their annual Exhibition and Trophy day to showcase Members' projects, both finished, and not yet. Located at 122 Warner Road, Warner, Brisbane, Queensland (Australia), the Society track features an extensive layout in all gauges. Even better, some members build IC engines too! The track will open Saturday midday for early birds to run their locos, or arrange their displays. Awards will go to the best completed model, best uncompleted model, and best display. MEN will be there exhibiting, taking photos, and generally getting in people's way. For more details, contact Mike Ruska (0437374825).