Model Engine News: February 2011


Special Features:

   Vale: Vic Smeed
   Cabin Fever
   Tlush Correction
   Son(s) of Mills
   New Gallery Page
   Another Mini-Weaver

Regular Features:

   Editorial
   New Books and Magazines This Month
   Engine Of The Month: Reeves.H18
   Tech Tip of the Month
   Standard Stuff
Creative Commons License   

 

Editorial

Just in case the news has not reached you, after ten years of devastating drought, the eastern states of Australia have been hit be a series of disastrous, record-setting floods. As I write this on January 30, they are by no means over. Towns flooded twice already this year are getting ready for the third assault, and two cyclones (like tornadoes, but rotating clockwise) are brewing in the Coral Sea and heading this way. One of these ("Yasi") is rated Category Three and will cross the coast later this week. Evacuations have been recommended for some areas.

Where I live in Brisbane, the flood came close to the record set back in 1974. Since then, a bloody great big dam has been built, precisely so there'd never be another '74. Then we got so paranoid about running out of drinking water during the drought that when the rains really started falling, Wivenhoe was over 100% full! As the river started rising and we knew we were facing another big one, authorities had no choice but to open the flood gates as the dam was over 190% full! The photo here shows a before and during shot of an area not far from Downtown. You can see a whole sequence of these on the ABC web site.

Even though the flood peak was not quite as bad as '74, the population of Brisbane has more than doubled. Apart from the extra housing (many along the river), the downtown area that used to be wharf warehouses, single story buildings, and pubs in '74, is now wall-to-wall high-rise office towers, all with extensive underground car-parks and plant equipment! Even now, two weeks after the peak, Downtown is mostly dark at night as they try to replace and test the plant. The net result is far greater damage and property loss from a smaller flood. The overall damage estimate to just restore the infrastructure in all the affected areas is astronomical. We'll be a decade recovering, and not much will get built while this is going on. Worse still, at last count we have thirty-five confirmed flood deaths, with many more still missing as unprecedented flash floods that raced through close-by rural areas.

MEN Central sits on top of a very high Brisbane hill, so we had no problems and did not even loose power. If we went under, New Zealand would be in trouble! Ruthie and I are now suffering survivor guilt, but never mind, the government is proposing to apply a "levy" to most workers through our compulsory health-care system to raise money to replace infrastructure (people earning less than $50K pa, or directly affected by the floods are exempt, somehow). I'll be forking out about $5 a week for the next year or more, so I suspect that all feelings of guilt will dissipate rather quickly. Oh well; that's about the cost of a Latte Grande, and surely anyone earning big bucks can afford that in a good cause. Enough disasters already; let's talk of other things...

Vale: Vic Smeed

Vic Smeed, the designer of the delightful little free-flight sport cabin model named the Tomboy passed away in early January. Vic's sport free-flight models have and continue to be the subject of club "single model" competitions and events the world over because they are quick, easy, and inexpensive to build, fly beautifully, and remind us oldies of the days when all this was new and exciting (these days it's old and exciting).

I remember Vic for a number of reasons, not all of them aeronautical, so decided a Vic Smeed Tribute Page was the order of the day. Normally, I would have dashed off an email to Ron Moulton for background and anecdotes, but alas, Ron—once a work colleague of Vic's—has left us too; the guard is changing and the number of people with direct association to the old masters is dwindling swiftly. Strangely, the Internet has been remarkably silent in relation to Vic's departure, so the Tribute Page is a result of pure literature search, but I think that if all you know of Vic Smeed is the Tomboy, Madcap, and Pushy-Cat, you are in for a surprise. Be sure to visit this month's Book Review too, as we look at a trio of books compiled by Vic that I call the "50 Series".

Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever is one of the Premier model engineering conventions held in the US annually. The 2011 even took place over the January 14/15 weekend and was well attended by exhibitors and the public. MEN Member, Hank Helmen generously emailed a series of photos of some of the Internal Combustion displays at the shown plus some of the people associate with IC model engineering, so click trough to the Cabin Fever 2011 Page for some beautiful models and photos of several "Names" who have appeared again and again in these pages.

Tlush Correction

An astute and avid MEN reader from Barcelona emailed last month to question the displacement stated for the David Jensen Tlush review posted last month. A second's thought was all that was required to confirm his suspicions: the Tlush is a .61, not a "65" as quoted in the review. Even though this is not my mistake (for a change ), MEN must apologize for propagating incorrect information. I'm always reluctant to make changes to scanned and OCR's material as this reeks of "revisionism" which I try to avoid, but in this case, the changes have been made. Thanks Josť Manuel!

Son(s) of Mills

If the Mills Bros engines are not the most copied model IC engines ever, I don't know what is. This version is one I was not aware of until David Owen sent me the pictures and some accompanying words. It originates in Australia (like a certain well-known Mills .75 reproduction), being made in small numbers in the mid-90's. The thing that impresses me the most about the engine is the way the designer managed to totally retain the charm and looks of the Mk II Mills 1.3 while producing a throttle-equipped R/C engine! Click the thumbnail to the DS 1.3 R/C Diesel page.

New Gallery Page

It's a new year, so I've started a new gallery page. You can reach it via the Gallery Index, or go direct to the Engine Gallery, Page 17. Incidentally, the first entry on the new page has required an update to Page 7, the Roger J Schroeder Tribute page.

Another Mini-Weaver

Readers may remember the work done by Dave Miner (Seattle, USA) on using wire EDM to profile crankcases. Dave's first test was the Owen Mate 2cc DIY Diesel where the crankcase was made from a section of extrusion. The wire EDM produced excellent results, so Dave applied the technique to a Weaver 1cc diesel. That project too was a complete success, so Dave has reduced the Weaver profile a little. The case seen here will fit inside the standard Weaver. As can be seen, the process yields a perfect outline with only some turning and boring required. Much better than the buckets of swarf in recall from my Weavers!

New Books and Magazines This Month

In what has become somewhat of a tradition here at MEN, we compliment our tribute to the late Vic Smeed by reviewing a sample of his work as an author. Vic was a prolific writer with some 32 books to his credit as author, editor, or compiler. This month we look at a trio of books compiled by Vic, each containing "50" in the title. All were published by ARGUS Books Ltd, England, in the 1980's. They are:

These are soft cover, approximately 8x11-1/2, printed in black and white with 96 pages. The quality of reproduction of photos is mediocre as they have been reproduced from original magazine images, a process which seldom reproduces detail all that well, tending to be a bit "dark", but the line drawings and plans are fine. All are out of print, but a quick look on The Advanced Book Exchange, and Amazon indicates all can still be bought for prices ranging between $15 and $150. In case you are unaware, ARGUS was the publisher of Aeromodeller at the time these were published, so a certain bias may be expected—especially in the case of the "Fifty Years of Aeromodeller" title—but the others are able to take a broader view. Let's look at them in an order which will not at first be obvious.

"Flying Models: Favorites of the Fifties" (1986) is a compilation of models, both magazine plans and kitted, which appeared between 1950 and 1959. Smeed argues in his Introduction that this constituted the "golden years" of aeromodelling. I won't repeat his argument in support of this assertion here except to say he makes a good case. After the well thought out Introduction, each page presents plans and illustrations reproduced from magazines or kit plans, frequently laid out so as to obscure each other, with excess white space taken up by photographs and illustrations of models, R/C circuits, and notes on their significance by Vic.

The pages and models are arranged in chronological order, starting "1947-50", and ending "1959". They include, well, favorites, such as "Blue Pants", "Peacemaker", and "Rascal" (C/L), the "Rudder Bug", "Smog Hog", and "Astro Hog" (R/C), "Black Magic", "Ebenezer", and "Roaring 20" (FF), numerous rubber-driven models, and a few "unorthodox" designs. Some you could build from, but others lack a sheet or two of a multi-page plan set, and others are artfully obscured preventing the whole design being seen.

I defy any aeromodeller of about my generation from picking up this book without unintentionally becoming entranced. Each page will bring back memories and some will lead to vague feelings of "why don't I build [another] one of those?". The example page I've chosen shows an Australian design from 1959 called the Ringtail. I built one of these from the free full-size "Model News" plan in 1959 and am now thinking I should build another! I rate Flying Models: Favorites of the Fifties as a Four-and-a-Half Star book , loosing the half mark because he always manages to obscure some plan I wanted to see the whole of, and show the whole of ones I don't give a smeg about!

The next, titled "Model Flying: The First Fifty Years" (1987), covers model aircraft during the first fifty years of the Twentieth Century. The general format follows that of the previous book with plans, 3-views, illustrations, and photos presented chronologically. Each page covers a span of between one and three years, depending on what Vic Smeed could find of interest for the period—and presumably manage any copyright issues associated with it. The sample page was selected because it has a Morton M-5 on it and a model designed by Charles H Grant, founder of Model Airplane News, and leading (and loud!) proponent of the "center of lateral area" theory that dogged US model designers for decades. His C/L delta seen here sure has buckets of that thar lateral area stuff to spare.

As might be expected, this book is more "chatty" with more text on the pages, especially in the early years where other material must have been hard to find. The last page credits no less than fifteen magazines as providing source material, so again, even though Vic Smeed was British, no matter which side of the Atlantic or Pacific you hail from, you are going to find things to tickle your taste buds. Some choices such the "Grant KG-3", the Wakefield stream-liner designs by Warring and Copland, and Leon Schulman's "Zombie" leave me saying "Yeah!", while others with two pages of full sized plan leave me saying "Why"? Of the three books, I find this the weakest, most suited to those with a fondness or curiosity about the history of aeromodelling; Four stars , and still available second-hand from Select Amazon Booksellers.

Our last Fifty-Series title is "Fifty Years of Aeromodeller" (1986). This is a wander through the pages of Aeromodeller magazine from the first issue in 1935 (when it was most definitely caller "Aero Modeller"), to the 1980's. The selections include plans (several in full size), advertisements, photos, and illustrations together with Smeed's running commentary injections. This time the order is not chronological—infact the final four pages are devoted to a full-size reproduction of plans for a scale rubber driven DH Leopard Moth which first appeared in 1936. For the rest, there's the a combination of "wow" and "why" selections which will strike different notes for different readers.

There is a significant overlap with "Flying Models: Favorites of the Fifties"—to wit, the 1959 "Ebenezer" by Bert Strigler. Either Smeed really liked this little all-sheet free-flight bipe (and why not, thousands of others have), or he considered it land-mark design. It's a kick a few pages later to see "Ebenezer Flea", an all-sheet version of the infamous Flying Flea in the tradition of Bert's concept. This is great and perfectly typifies the spirit of the Ebineezer contests that continue to this day: it doesn't have to meticulously follow the original outline, just the spirit.

Issues of the Aeromodeller, especially the per-war ones, are now very hard to obtain. This volume serves to satisfy my curiosity into these missing years and to a certain extent, slake any thirst to collect them—this was not Aeromodeller's Golden Period (I have the True Golden Period issues ). But to me, there's joy on every single page, so this one gets the full Five Stars and I'm sure anyone who grew up on a diet of Aeromodeller will find the same. Copies of the book can still be bought from numerous Amazon Booksellers using the following link: Fifty Years of Aeromodeller with prices ranging between $35 and $126 (some people are just plain greedy).

Engine Of The Month: Reeves.H18

Most of us will never get to handle a Reeves diesel of any sort, so we were lucky some time back to have Adrian Duncan write about the Reeves 3.4 in his collection. We know from books and old magazines that there were other Reeves models, but thought it unlikely one would ever be available for the once-over. Well, all good thing come to those who wait, or forget, I'm not sure which anymore. Adrian unexpectedly came by a rare Reeves H18, so this month he expands on the Reeves line with details and open heart surgery on this venerable diesel. Now, where to find a Goblin, the 4cc, and the updraft sparker...

Tech Tip of the Month

This month's tip will be—or should be—very old news to even mildly experienced model engineers, but as we've all got to start someplace, I though it worth mentioning a technique which really needs to be second nature to you if you are to do precision work.

The simple act of drilling and tapping a hole, generally a blind one, occurs in just about every model engine build, especially "beginner" engines where the ability to machine male and female threads may yet be viewed as a bit daunting, so is replaced by a lot of drilling and tapping. We all know that drilling creates a burr around the hole, getting worse as the drill gets blunter. The usual cure is to place a drill many sizes larger in the hole and rotate by hand a few times to cut away the burr. What beginners may fail to realize is that tapping raises an even bigger burr!

This illustration appeared in the ME, Issue 3292, March 1966 in an article by Duplex titled "For Schools", Part 4, on Tapping. It shows what will happen if you use the same deburring technique on a tapped hole, or even worse, run a drill into the tapped hole under power. Because of the thread "start", the dill is pulled off center and bad things happen. The correct technique is as shown: after drilling to depth at tapping size, drill just below the surface at thread clear size. Result: no burr and no problems.

One reason why this is important is because we will frequently rely on the tapped surface being perfectly flat to ensure an adequate seal between a crankcase and flange, Take for example, the front and rear covers of an engine like the Eze series by Tom Crompton, or the Boll-Aero, or Humbug. It may at first seem like a lot of extra work. It's not, and the difference using this technique makes is one of the things that marks the work of a true Craftsman.

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