What a month! What with planning for the relocation of nine fully loaded six foot equipment racks full of servers, routers and tape robots plus their associated under-floor cabling, arranging demonstrations of Extensia's shared Electronic Health Record system, putting out local fires, building a Roy Clough Little Dragon, and preparing the March issue of MEN, I've been more busy than the proverbial lizard drinking! To top it off, even though February is a short month, the bandwidth allocation of the web site (10GB) went critical earlier than expected, so I decided to delay pushing out this issue until I was closer to the time when the March allocation of bandwidth commences (March 1 in the USA, where the server is located, but March 2 here). All this is my excuse for not getting March on-line as early as many of you have come to expect.
I'll also apologize for not including material sent to me by kind readers where I replied it was great and worthy of inclusion. It's probably lost in the absolute chaos of my electronic desktop. I've been asked how I manage to accomplish so much; "badly" is my answer at the moment. Oh well, enough of my winging. This month, we take a break from the examination of model engine construction projects for beginners that has been a feature for the past five months. The reason was a pang of conscience over my criticisms of the venerable Little Dragon. It bothered me so much, I felt I just had to make one exactly to the plan to verify or refute my own findings (and you won't believe how difficult I found that self-imposed restriction). This is done—sort off. That is to say that the engine is finished, but the little monster won't run! I'd planned to present the complete build feature this month, but it will have to be split. So this month, you get part of it, and next month we'll see the end, including what had to be done to get the damn thing to run. And BTW, the Poetry In Motion shot that has nothing to do with anything is Roy Summersby's F1C, snapped after the 7 seconds of noise and white-knuckle drama is all over.
And you may have noticed that there has been nary a peep out of Bellevue, nor the computer press about Bill Gates' Cure For Spam. The two years is up Bill. Where's my cure!? Could it be it does not exist? Ok. Enough. I've had my fun on that one and can sit back smugly saying "I Told You So", while my in-box fills with offers of drugs I hopefully will never need.
March happens to mark my birthday, so in celebration I'm be offering a free gift to all MEN Members; ie, those who have purchased the MEN Only CD. Just go to the password protected Members Page and you'll find a link to the plan set for the current bane of my existence—namely a CAD redraw of the 1950 Roy Clough Little Dragon plan. Next year, if I reach it, my birthday will have a zero in it. That will require a really big celebration. Now, since no pioneers have died, we can skip the Vales of recent times, and look at the follow-on from an earlier one...
The collection of the late OFW (Peter) Fisher will go to auction next month on Friday, April 21, 2006. Until then, you can view the items through
Invaluable Chrystals Auctions (Isle of Mann). There are 262 individual lots, painstakingly identified by one of aeromodeling's living treasures, Ron Moulton. Ron did not have the luxury of examining the actual objects, having to rely of small prints of multiple objects and his considerable experience. After doing the hard work, he sent out his list to other experts, including the Motor Boys for conformation.
But with 262 items and a highly distributed process, errors are almost inevitable. So as you peruse the web site, or the catalogue (available only by snail mail and non-electronic payment), please be aware of the following:
- The Lot 108 Atom is .09 cuin, made by Arden. Not .049 by Garami.
- The Hurleman (Lot 111) is .488 cuin, not cc.
- and Lot 56 is a DC Merlin with "FROG 80" engraved on the case for some mysterious reason.
As well as engines such as the Eta 5 seen here, the collection includes a number of models designed by Peter, complete with engines, as seen above (all bearing Peter's most distinctive design style). There are also a number of "extras" not actually from the Fisher collection. All the usual British suspects are there (including a couple of Yulons), plus examples of less common European engines and a good representation of US opposed twins (drool). The web site gives an indication of possible prices (in pounds Sterling remember), although what each will actually fetch if someone really want it may be another matter.
More Sugden Madness
Ozzie Motor Boy, Vincent Chai, has completed his first pour of Sugden Special crankcases from his die. The result is outstanding—as we'd expect from Vincent given his mastery of this process gained through his Battiwallah project. Eagle-eyed readers will notice the variation in the venturi mouth among the castings. Vincent reports that this was the most troublesome aspect, but he is now satisfied with the result. He kindly offered to write up the process if I though anyone would be interested. I conducted a quick straw-poll (of one, namely myself), and replied that MEN readers would be positively slathering at the bit for this description. So expect it in the fullness of time...
Motor Boys Book Update
Isn't the Internet a wonderful resource? In times past, authors who discovered errors and omissions in their published work would have to wait for a second printing to have any hope of disseminating a correction. There were certainly a few groans amongst our group after we received our copies of the Motor Boys Plans Book and spotted all the things we missed during proof-reading. Most of these groans were emanating from Yours Truly, having been solely responsible for the drawings themselves. There are two in particular that continually haunted my dreams until it finally dawned on me that I could publish the corrected drawing pages here as downloadable pdf files. This would allow owners of the book to print them and paste them into their copies. And since I won't be making full plan sets available—only isolated pages—sales of the book won't be hurt; if anything, folk who have not bought the book will download the drawings and decide to buy the book for the full set! So visit the MBI Book page by clicking the thumbnail picture, or the link, and get the corrected plan pages for the Mite 09 Diesel, and the Fig Tree Pocket Twin; speaking of which...
Fig Tree Pocket Marine
My old friend and mentor, the late Russell Watson-Will, would be positively tickled pink by the efforts of engine builder Malcolm Beak. Malcolm decided that a marine version of Russ's Twin From Fig Tree Pocket was just the power-plant required for a project he had in mind, and has set about adapting it to his envisaged task. The project is not yet complete, but has reached the stage where it looks like and engine (and so can be carried around the house for extended periods of admiration as required). More pictures and some words regarding fortuitous accidents can be found on Page 8 of the Engine Gallery.
Little Dragon Construction
Last month, I reviewed the Roy Clough Little Dragon design from the perspective of an engine for first-time constructors. I did not set out to slam this design, but ended up doing just that and it has weighed on me ever since. Was I right, or way off the mark? The only way to settle the matter was build one as close to the published design as I am able. I knew there was one feature I would not be able to force myself to reproduce in a month of wet Sundays, namely the threaded pressed steel washer as a prop driver that Roy was so proud of. But all the rest needed to be per the plan—at least initially. So refresh your memories by re-reading my criticisms of the design, then click the pic to read the first pages of Building the Little Dragon and see how far or wide of the mark my arm-chair critique turned out to be.
If you have not visited the Home Page of Ageless Engines for a while, now is the time. Lee Hodgson has been hard at work refining the already highly successful radial engines pioneered by his father to make them better, more efficient, and more easily constructed by builders who, while accomplished model engineers, have not tackled the processes involved before. Lee is also at work on the development of a model sleeve valve engine based on the 14 cylinder Bristol Hercules. Being highly pragmatic, Lee is debugging the basic cylinder, sleeve, and actuation mechanism in a single cylinder demonstrator. I'm sure there are many readers out there who hope Lee will publish plans for the single as well as the scale engine. So check-out Lee's site and be sure to visit the links to Progress on the Sleeve Valve Project, Notes on the 5 Bears Website, and Improvements to the Plans.
Since we included a picture of an F1C model in flight, a picture of the sort of technology that's dragging them skywards these days is probably in order. This is not the engine used in Ray's model, but a Nelson, specially reworked with reduction gearbox, folding prop, and a prop brake system. The motor run of these models is 7 seconds. That's an eye blink of ear-shattering drama and vertical, ballistic climb. After this, the model must transition instantly to the slow, majestic glide mode. This requires quickly stopping the engine and folding the drag inducing prop, hence the folder and brake system. It also involves automatic, momentary activation of the stabilizer to "bunt" the model's attitude over into glide trim—which is vastly different from power trim. And all this must work each time, every time, totally without human intervention and regardless of conditions. If it does not, run! An interesting feature of the Nelson is the planetary gearing that reduces the prop speed while allowing the spinner tip to turn at crankshaft speed for engaging the electric starter. Thanks to Tim Dannels for supplying the photo. And while talking about Tim...
New Books and Magazines This Month
Hold the presses! Just before this month's issue was put to bed, the mailbox disgourged an unexpected treasure: Volume 30 of The Engine Collectors' Journal. Even though ECJ is available by subscription, when a six issue "volume" is complete, editor/publisher Tim Dannels makes bound volumes available to rabid librarians like me who prefer this format. The latest release seen here comprises issues 169 through 174 (January 2005 to November 2005). It can be yours for a mere US$17.50 (Europeans add an extra $6.00 for postage; Australasians, $8.00). Contact Tim (email@example.com) for more details.
Volume 30 is a terrific set. In addition to articles of interest to collectors—like The Bob Holland Story and the continuing Master Index of Fox Engines, we get Roger Schroeder's Mills P75 replica construction series with plans, photos and full details. I helped out in a small way by building one of the prototypes to debug the plans and castings. My example runs just like a real Mills, outperforming the Indian Aurora replicas. The engine is not an out-and-out beginners' project, but will certainly reward any model engineer who is comfortable with thread cutting and making small custom cutters. The volume also contains full construction details for Bert Streigler's Gasket Cutter. Now it should be apparent that in this case, I'm obviously far from un-biased. But I think this is a must-have book. Top recommendation. Be sure to mention to Tim that you read about it here.
Our January 2006 issue had some pictures taken at the 75th Model Engineer Exhibition. One of the ambitious projects on display was a Napier Sabre. The item did not give the builder and elicited an email asking who the builder might be. The answer (quickly provided by UK master modelers Eric Offen and Brian Perkins) is Mr Clen Tomilinson, the builder of the fantastic Clentec, a variation on the Napier Deltic. This reminded me of a book I'd bought a few years back on the Napier company and their engines which is certainly worth mentioning here.
Images of England: Napier Powered was compiled by Alan Vessey on behalf of the Napier Power Heritage Trust. It was published by Tempus Publishing Ltd in 1997, and reprinted in 2000 (ISBN 0 7524 0766 X). The cover picture shows the output pinion being lowered into the phasing gear case of a Deltic (by a worker wearing a wrist watch, as observed by the author on the copyright page). It is essentially a pictorial history of the internal combustion engines developed by the company (the engineering company D. Napier & Son was founded in 1808; their involvement in engine and motor carriage work commenced at the turn of the century—19th to 20th, that is).
The history of Napier's engine development is covered in five chapters. The first covers their origins in pre-WWI racing cars and boats and foray into automobile manufacture for civil and military use. The second centers on the Napier Lion that powered between-wars racing planes like the Schneider Cup racers, cars, hydroplanes, and the occasional military aircraft. Chapter three describes the "H" period when, under the guidance of Major Frank B Halford (designer of the Cirrus), Napier produced the remarkable H-configuration Dagger and Sabre power-plants. Chapter four covers the Deltic diesels and the remarkable turbo-compound Nomad. The last chapter describes Napier's move to gas turbines.
The book contains 128 pages and appears aimed more at the engine enthusiast than the engine historian. I say this because apart from the three pages devoted to Acknowledgements and the Introduction, all the remaining pages carry one or more half page photographs with relatively few words of explanation—a "coffee table" book with good breadth but not a lot of depth. This is not a criticism as that is exactly what the book sets out to do. On the occasions I've needed to refer to if to clarify a point, name or date, it has proven quite adequate to the task. I was going to conclude "Moderately Recommended" until I checked Amazon for price and availability. It is listed second-hand from one of Amazon's associate sellers at a mere US$94.29 (strange figure), which is a *lot* more than I paid for my copy!
Engine Of The Month: The ML Dragonfly
Mark Lubbock, designer of the highly popular ML Midge diesel, has kindly provided Model Engine News some details of his Midge-inspired opposed twin. Mark's design embodies pragmatic solutions to design problems which echo solutions arrived at fifty years ago by another twin designer, thus giving us the opportunity for a bit of historical naval-gazing on top of Mark's comments regarding his successful twin. Click the thumbnail picture, or look up the Dragonfly Twin in the Engine Finder.
Tech Tip of the Month
This month's tip arrives from Nick Jones, our ETW Kiwi expert. We see here Nick's example of a gadget that has been on my list of "gee, that sure would be useful..." tools for a long time. It's a universal fixturing plate for holding odd shaped items. Nick points out that the idea is not original and examples are frequently seen at Model Engineering shows. His is 4.5" diameter and 1" thick with 19 holes about 11/16" diameter, but it's probably a case of making it to suit individual requirements in conjunction with whatever is available in the scrap bin. Nick honed the 19 holes to fit a plug gauge so that the steel location pins are a really nice sliding fit, saying that this was the most tedious operation! It's best to start with a small selection of round and hexagonal pins and add to this as each job dictates. Square headed pins and some with a concave cut or "V" cut into them would also be useful.
This shot shows the jig holding an arm from a batch of Delipina-like external honing tools that Nick has been making. The plate could clamped to the mill table (or rotary table) for milling; or held in a 3-jaw or 4-jaw chuck for facing operations in the lathe. The 4-jaw chuck would also allow parts to be set-up in the lathe with a wobbler for accurate drilling and reaming operations. Altogether, a most useful gadget to have in the bottom drawer that will save you hours of work even if only used infrequently.
Another Chennery Gnome
Somehow, the URL of a web site featuring pictures of a Les Chenery Gnome 9 cylinder rotary under construction got passed to me during the month. I can't recall how, for which I must apologize. The site URL is http://peter.xciv.org and also features an Eric Whittle designed flat four (drawing for which appeared in SIC), and a three wheel Morgan kit car. All display superb craftsmanship and make wish I had the time to tackle projects like these. Well done, Peter.