Taipan 40 R/C
No. 10 in a series compiled by David R. Janson,
SAM #273, AMA #78416 and MECA #210-04.


In September of 1975, the old, well established model engine firm of Gordon Burford & Co, 16 Belfast St, Grange, Henly Beach, South Australia, was beginning the production of their long planned Taipan 40 R/C, with front exhaust, ABC, and Schnuerle scavenging with beautifully designed and cast components. Some 1,500 production units later in January, 1977 a terse announcement in RCModeler noted "the staggering cost of developing this superb engine exceeded the resources of our company and we now offer the complete Taipan .40 R/C project for sale". The announcement went on to state that full technical support was available and to contact Mr. Peter Burford etc. The company had gone bankrupt!

Gordon Burford had built his first model engine, a diesel, in 1946. In 1949 he entered commercial production under the name "Gee-Bee Products" and quickly became established as Australia's leading model engine producer; in fact until the bankruptcy the only one most of the time. This first 1.5 diesel named the "Sabre" was followed by others over the next five or six years and at the end of the 1950's a new series "Glo-Chief" line was introduced and then in 1966 Burford coined the new name, "Taipan" which was an Australian snake. The new Taipans were very, very good engines, beautifully cast and machined of the finest materials. Initially the engines were imported by Jerry Johnson "The Motor Man" of Woodland Hills, CA, then Aristo-Craft Miniatures, Corp. of NYC, briefly a 61 by Flight Models, Inc., Deer Park, NY and then the majority in the late sixties and early 1970's by Hobby Shack of California, including the ill-fated .40 R/C glow! Admittedly a "small" operation when compared with the Asian "giants" of OS and Enya, their impact on the market was minimal but they had many satisfied customers. From the .06 diesels, the 1.5 and 2.5 diesels, the range of Taipan model engines covered the 09s, 15s, 21s and the 40 with two 61s manufactured in 1968 and 1972, neither of which successfully competed with the other sixites of that era!

Flight Models, Inc. began importing the second model 61 renaming it for their company, the Flight 61, but it did not "move" and was quickly discontinued. And so Burford & Co. was planning to enter the "big time" world of the most popular size engine, the .40 R/C and every effort was made to design, tool up for and manufacture their Taipan 40 R/C model engine. Their effort was so great that they ceased all other engine production, concentrating solely on their 40.

An upbeat and "right in your face" Hobby Shack (Buena Vista, CA) advertisement in the April, 1976 MAN brought the new engine to the hobby industry's attention, noting ABC * FRONT ROTOR * TWIN BALL RACE * SCHNUERLE * TAIPAN 40 R/C at $68.99 discount! And nine months later the entire project was for sale! It simply wasn't enough to use pressure castings, have a "different" design, features that many other 40s had and a competitive price to sell well and sustain the old company back "down under"! It was of distinctive appearance with the exhaust port part of the front cylinder, a finned pressure-cast aluminum head featuring a deep almost hemispherical combustion chamber with wide squish-band, full ABC cylinder set up and a carburetor of unusual appearance and the special muffler that bolted straight on to the front exhaust duct. All in all it was a handsome engine. The removable black nylon backplate had "Taipan Australia" moulded into the deep recess. The "Snake 40" on the bypass added to the design. No engine review tests were ever done on the short-lived 40.

Collector interest for this small production model engine has waned since the entire project was purchased by the RJL Co. of California where it was added to their large "stable" of engines offered for sale. Gordon Burford and his son Peter have manufactured a few small "repro" type engines in recent years, including the Sesqui 1.5 diesel, the Mills .75 diesel and a beautiful copy of the old Deezil .12 diesel. Regrettably the company is no more!


Editor's Note: the above is not entirely accurate, but as it is not entirely wrong in any particular either, it is presented as written, without alteration or qualification. Consult other Taipan entries on this site for more complete history regarding Gordon Burford's engines, and the superb little modern diesel made his son, Peter.


This page reprinted from "Model Engine Designer and Manufacturing Profiles" by permission of the author, Mr David R. Janson.



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