I was worried that this month's Model Engine News would be a bit light on content due to my being away for a ten days at the 11th European Conference on Digital Libraries. Well, not a bit of it! In fact based on the size of the Members' update download zip file, it's one of the largest ever. Quite a bit of it was put together in Budapest and the international transfer lounge in Frankfurt where I found a power point for the laptop. But thanks also go to a whole party of people who provided copious photographs and text for the issue.
The Great Australian Drought continues and we'll find out next week what "Level Six Water Restrictions" will mean to us. Thoughts of rainfall returning to normal have evaporated and we are now starting to see all the unexpected impacts. Lack of water has caused failure of wheat, citrus and grape crops. Access to international freight means we won't go without, but costs are starting to rise visibly on staples like bread and wine. Politicians on all sides are sharpening up their fingers for a protracted bout of pointing and blame-shifting. Quite depressing, really. Still, for the average city dweller, it's not life-threatening, just costly and inconvenient. For the man on the land, it's another matter altogether. But in comparison to developments in places like Burma, we really have little to complain about.
I haven't mentioned site stats for a while. The month of September set a new record for unique visitors and page views with nearly 15,000 different readers and 158,000 pages. Add all the images downloaded to view those pages and we end up with 12.5 million "hits". The most popular page is always the monthly news page, followed in September by the Engine Finder and the Engine Gallery, of which, the Les Stone Tribute page was the most popular. It sure is nice to be appreciated.
The Model Engineering Exhibition conducted by the publishers of the magazine, Model Engineer should need no introduction to readers of these pages. The event scheduled for December 2006 had to be postponed, but good things come to those who wait, and the 76th ME Exhibition (by my reckoning), took place over September 7-9 at the Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire (England, naturally). As they have in past years, Eric Offen and John Downey kindly took photos of subjects related to our Internal Combustion focus. These have been formatted into a new Shows and Exhibitions page. Click the preceding link for the Shows Index, or the picture of the brilliant Napier Dagger to go direct to the coverage page.
A Watzit Answer
It's always good to receive positive identification of a Watzit, and even better when more than just a name is supplied. The engine pictured is a sibling to Watzit #74—an engine that also appeared in issue 4245 of the Model Engineer, June, 2005. If you click the link, or the thumbnail, you'll be taken to Watzit in question which has been updated with a link to The Answer which was authoritatively supplied by Paul Knapp of the Model Engineering Museum. The goal of MEM is to preserve and exhibit the wonderful treasures designed and built by model engineers as a "floating" exhibition in high-traffic, aviation locations like major airports and airplane museums. It was founded in 1999 by Paul and Paula Knapp and was first located at the Champlin Air Museum in Mesa, Arizona. Generally, the collection is on display for around six months at any one location, although it was so popular at Sky Harbor in Phoenix, Arizona, that the exhibit was extended to two and a half years! When on display at Denver International, 43,000 people passed by it per day. Have a look at the MEM website which now has a permanent link in the MEN Link page (sorry for taking so long, Paul ).
MS 1.24 Revisited
Take a moment to refresh your memory regarding the MS 1.24 diesel and Ken Croft's version from 2004. Now click on the picture of the pattern to see Les Stone's new version of the MS 1.24. We could call this Les' September 2007 engine, following on from the Monsun he made last month! In honor of the occasion, the Model Engine News MS 1.24 page has been updated with the GA page from the MBI planset for the engine to show the internal details—Yet Another engine I simply must get around to building, someday.
Elfin 249 Replica
A little while ago, I received an email from Hobby Club saying they had supplies in of an Elfin 2,49cc diesel replica. The email said it was "excellent quality", but they'd be crazy to say anything else, wouldn't they? I've not seen one physically, so I can't really comment one way or the other. The asking price is US$129.95, which is not cheap and may indicate better quality than the Russian ABC Elfin "149" replicas which varied between ok and atrocious. If anyone has direct experience with one of these, I'd be pleased to pass on your findings.
ED Story, Part II
More like part IIa, really. What you get this month is activation of the two links on the ED Story main page to the pages describing ED's engines and another for the ED R/C units, kits, and accessories. The former is still a work in progress which will expand over time. It gives 3-view drawings of most of the engines ED produced, plus an explanation of the serial number scheme that will help owners to date the ED engines in their collections. Incidentally, the Model Flying web site, home of the venerable RCM&E (Radio Control Models and Electronics) magazine, has featured the ED Story and added a link to it. Nice to be appreciated—thanks, RCM&E!
2.0 or 1.0.1?
Have you noticed how computer related jargon is creeping into the mainstream? Not long ago, I read a rather enjoyable alternate history novel with the title World War 2.0 by John Birmingham (a UQ alumni), and I swear, If I hear "up and running" one more time, I'll just scream! All this has a point. A reader emailed me a reference to an article in New Scientist with the tag Petrol Engine 2.0 Promises Green Gains. The article describes an approach to charge stratification that has now become practical through microprocessor control. You can
read the piece on-line at New Scientist, though I don't know how long the link will remain available. It states:
The new idea is to have an additional, smaller chamber attached to the
cylinder containing the spark plug. When the engine is idling, the fuel
cloud is injected into this chamber and ignited.
I rather suspect that the researchers at Queen's University, Belfast, are well aware that the idea of a "bulb" in the cylinder head is anything but new and that the claim is a result of over-enthusiastic science reporting by the journalist. The scan at the top of this news item was taken from the Rolls-Royce Crecy book reviewed here in November 2005. It shows the design by Harry Ricardo used more than 60 years ago. I often think that there is very little that is really "new" in internal combustion engine design—which is not to say that there is not a lot of "old" ideas which were not practical then, but are now.
New Books and Magazines This Month
Please tell me that this month's book does not signal the onset of a deathly affliction with gas turbines! I have a nagging fear that it might, even though the smell of burning kerosene can never replace burning ether. Past reviews here have featured biographies and auto-biographies of pioneering engine developers such as Roy Fedden, Stanley Hooker, Lord Nuffield, and others. The latter two made mention of Sir Frank Whittle and the troubles he encountered developing England's first jet engine. The technical and material problems were difficult enough without the near impossible impediments imposed by the same officialdom that needed his engine! There are a number of books on Whittle available, both in and out of print. Deciding that the time had come, I selected the one by John Golly on the basis of Bill Gunston's name appearing as the "Technical Editor". It turned out to be an engrossing but depressing read.
Genesis Of The Jet, by John Golly in association with Sir Frank Whittle, published by Airlife, England 2004; ISBN 1-85310-860-X. The publishing history notes that this book was first published in 1986 as "Whittle: The True Story", with the Airlife edition appearing in 1996. The 2004 impression is a paperback release of 272 pages with an additional 15 glossy plates of photographs. The appendices contain simplified line drawings of the Power Jet engines designed by Whittle, from first to last. The writing is clear and not "scholarly"—meaning it is not littered with bibliographic references to end-notes, although the major sources consulted are cited at the end.
I doubt that there is any aviation buff who does not know that Frank Whittle was responsible in some way for the development of the jet engine. But it turns out that there is a lot more to the man than that. The title "engine designer" carries connotations of a serious and studious type of man; one whom the English would term a "Boffin". Whittle was that, but he was also an RAF pilot who took delight in snap-rolling a biplane fighter on take-off so that the recovery to upright spun the wheels! The book, written in association with Whittle, contains numerous first-person quotes and anecdotes of his early career before he became consumed by the task of proving his theory that flying fast meant flying high, and that to do so, a new form of propulsion was required. Most remarkably, this theory was put forward by him in a paper written as an RAF apprentice at the tender age of 19, before being discharged from the RAF as a Leading Aircraftsman so he could rejoin as a Flight Cadet.
The first part of the book is entertaining and uplifting as we follow his time at school, how he became an RAF apprentice (and used model airplane building to escape team sports—a ploy I used too!), followed by training as a pilot, then an instructor, and time served as a test-pilot for Naval Aviation—the latter with some amusing and self-deprecating experiences related by Whittle himself. But even through this time, his idea of the gas turbine as an aircraft propulsion system remained with him, eventually leading to his offering it to the RAF and British Government, who rejected it! Whittle, still a dedicated, serving officer, was granted a patent for the concept in 1930. You could almost say that this marked the start of his troubles.
The second part of the book details his unswerving efforts to build and perfect his concept. This includes the formation of the company Power Jets, and their fight to deliver a new type of engine on a shoe-string budget with the obstruction of both government, officialdom, and industry. To be fair, there were individuals in all spheres who believed sufficiently in the concept and in Whittle himself and were able to assist at critical junctures. This is the part of the story I found both depressing and engrossing. Ultimately, we know that the concept prevailed and Whittle was recognized for his work and dedication. If history, epic struggles, commercial pride, greed, and official stupidity are your thing, you'll won't regret reading this book. I make no predictions however regarding how you'll feel during the process. For myself, I'm going to take half a star off the maximum rating for how angry and depressed the story made me feel—although the ability of a narrative to impart strong emotion is probably a clear indicator of an author who knows his stuff! So four and a half stars, and
available from Amazon, $29.95 .
Engine Of The Month: DC Tornado
In case you don't know, I have a serious twin affliction. This month's featured engine comes from the "classic" period of model engines: the 1960 Davies-Charlton "Tornado 5cc opposed twin glow engine (ok, so it went on the market in 1959, close enough). The engine is described by Adrian Duncan using an example in his collection that he flew extensively in a control line stunter for years until people started to make him serious offers for it. Adrian's photos are supplemented with some I took of a more complete example in Tim Dannel's Model Museum. The old page that simply displayed these photos with no text now redirects to the new page, so no external links have been broken.
We also have the latest engine acquired by Motor Boy, David Owen: a Mk2 Miles Special glow/diesel. I'm convinced he sent the photos in merely to drive me crazy with pure envy. So working on the theory that a problem shared is a problem solved, a new Miles Special Mk2 page has been added. The glow/diesel conversion is no simple gimmick: the engine includes two separate cylinder liners, head, and piston assemblies! As usual, links to all new and updated engine pages appear in the Engine Finder, and the Updates page.
And since the news content is a bit light this month due to my being away at a conference, I've delved into the bag of reviews Adrian has provided and included a mini-review of the delightful little Elfin 50. This is one I'd love for my Elfin line-up and when I saw an absolute basket case version appear on eBay some years back, I thought I was about to get one. The "bones" Elfin 50 which was missing more parts than it had sold for a staggering amount. Needless to say, my "fair" bid did not come close. As far as I know, there have been two Elfin 50 reproductions, one full size reproduction by the late Arne Hende, and one "miniature" 0.25 cc version. Another case of post-mortem popularity.
Tech Tip of the Month
This tip details a relatively simple restoration of what would have been a basket case: an engine with a broken crankshaft. It also contains a tip for ungluing engine parts that were well and truly stuck together. This problem would have been a complete show-stopper to the restoration as the cylinder liner had developed a sincere and seemingly inseparable bond with the crankcase and unless they could be non-destructively separated, restoration would be impossible. The usual cure for this problem is heat, but in this case, even lots of heat had no effect. Roger Schroeder suggested an unlikely home-brew penetrating solution that surprised me in its efficacy, allowing the simple broken crankshaft repair to go ahead. Roger will be enlarging on his solution (pun intended) in his Engine-uity column of ECJ in the near future, but visit the Restorations home-page and follow the link to the Curry Mills Repair Job for a sneak-preview. The heading photo shows a pile of "Curry-Mills" parts amassed by Bert Streigler as the past US agent for the Indian company, Aurora. Bert notes that there's not a crankshaft in sight because they all broke!
Here's one of those Pictures that is worth a Thousand Words (ok, it's three pictures, but why spoil a good story?) This idea came in from one of Model Engine News' long-time readers and supporters, Jens Eirik Skogstad. It was devised to measure the inside diameter of a recess in a bore where the size makes it impossible to remove the measuring instrument without compressing it first. The calipers are adjusted to the recess diameter and the DTI set to zero. They are then closed up to allow them to be removed. Once out of the bore, they are opened until the DTI reads zero again and the width at the tips measured. I probably would have just squeezed them against the spring and relied on the adjustment screw to have them return to the same dimension when pressure was released. Jens Eirik's modification removes all doubt from the operation.