This month's issue comes to you from Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City, which ever you prefer. The traffic here—which is mostly motor scooters and trucks—has to be experienced as it sure can't be described. The system, if there is one, would best be described as "organic", having evolved to suit the users; rules are largely non-existent, or ignored. That no-one dies every minute is a tribute to the quiet accommodation the millions of riders make to each other. My laptop on the other hand has not been so accommodating and neither have the broadband connections. Still, I think I can have you reading this on schedule even if some of the auto-checking I use to check links and build the update is less than 100% on the ball for various reasons. But I'll revise and fix any problems after I return home around February 3. Now, to business...
Classic Model Engine Kits New Home
And now, the grand announcement that you've all been waiting for... A Drum roll if you please, Mystro... (reaches for the envelope) ...and the 'winner' is, Hemingway Kits (UK). All the patterns and associated stuff for the Classic Model Engine Kit range previously available from Roger Schroeder in the USA are now on their way to the UK where they will be well cared for by Kirk Burwell, who is the head honcho at Hemingway.
Kirk has good credentials for this as some time ago, he took on the model engine casting kits previously sold by Woking Precision (UK). These joined the excellent line of kits for tools that have been the mainstay of Hemingway over the years. I've built many of the tools in the GHT Collection from old Hemingway kits and have been very impressed with what Kirk has done to improve the kits, plans, and instructions (see MEN, January 2007 for an example).
The Classic range is large, so the question becomes what models should Hemingway concentrate on first? Roger cast largely "to order" in his basement—though doing so in the height of a Kansas City summer was not high on his list of favorite things. I rather doubt he did more than cover his costs, but that was all he wanted to do—mostly he wanted others to experience the great joy that comes of making your own, working model engine from scratch. Kirk on the other hand has to show a reasonable commercial return from his work, so you might expect the kit price to be higher than before although this will be offset by an increase in quality as the foundry work will be fully professional.
I have my own ideas on what should be re-issued first. The Deezil is number one because it is a good first engine project; not too large and not too small, even if it does require thread cutting and deep boring. Other good candidates, of varying complexity, are the ED Baby reproduction, the Vivell 09, Nova 1, Weaver-Ransom 1cc, and M&M. Those with a real bent for the dawn of miniature gas engines might go for the Original Ohlsson, or the Browns. Then there's all the rest of the designs from the Classic range, including the ones Roger decided to "retire".
So Kirk and I are seeking your help. What do you want? Send your thoughts to us by email using this link. If enough requests are received to make a meaningful statistical sample (ie, at least two ), I'll let you all know the results. And who knows? You may even get your wish!
While on the subject of Hemingway, I should make some mention of where the ETW Whippet project is, since one of the two should long ago have gone back to Kirk. One engine is assembled, the other ready to assemble. The assembled one has had one "first start" attempt using the traditional pull cord around the flywheel method with a "Modelectric" transistor switched coil and two NiCads through a set of tungsten points. The spark was simply not hot enough and nary a sound was heard. As the whether temperature at the time was over 30° C (no-one ever said I was smart), I quickly gave up and retired, perspiring heavily, with thoughts of how to engage an electric starter and a much better coil or capacitive discharge system, to deliver a good, hot spark. How to engage the starter? Perhaps by making a rear drive-dog so the starter tries to tighten the nut onto the shaft rather than undo it as it would at the flywheel end. And where to get a CDI unit at reasonable cost. Decisions, decisions... More to come.
Thompson Tarantula, Again
Last month, we added a Tarantula page with the text of the old Scale R/C Modeler article, and some questions of our own. Well though none seem to have been built, those drawings sure got around. A nice email from Paul Knapp arrived to let us know that the actual original Tarantula is part of the Craftsmanship Museum Collection which is on public view at Vista, CA. If you can't get there, goto the Miniature Engineering Collection of Internal Combustion Engines and scroll down to image 147. This is harder than it sounds because all the photos you'll see on the way tend to divert attention!
The plans are hand drawn, accompanied by instructions banged out on a clankety-bang manual typewriter. About the closest anyone came to building one that I know about so far is our old pal, Ed Szczepanski. Ed did his initial "build" in CAD as preparation for an actual metal build. As so often happens, other projects then got in the way and the computer model is as far as it got. With his kind permission, the Tarantula page has been updated to show his cross-section of the engine that may answer a few of your questions.
Restoring a Basket Case
I was about to write that I hoped you all appreciate the restraint shown in the title for this piece when the subject engine is a Hope B, but then noticed the H word had crept in, so let's abandon all pretence at puns, bad and otherwise. During Adrian Duncan's research into the vanished Hope range of model engines, he splurged on an eBay basket case thinking it may reveal information even if it could not be restored. Well, all turned out well in the end and Adrian has documented his restoration. Click the thumbnail or follow this Hope B restoration link to read how it was done.
A New Axial Four-Stroke
I'm very pleased to be able release information about a new, unique, axial, rotating piston four-stroke designed by Michel Arseneau (Canada). The engine is called the MI-8 and I should have included zero side-thrust in the list of its attributes too, but the list was getting a bit long! Michel has been working on the design and the all important patens for quite some time and is now in a position to "open up" on the design details. Have a look at Simplicity Motor Works for specifics on the Mi-8, including some very nice CAD animations and video of the prototypes in action, or visit the Moteurs MA web site for some background on Michel's other designs. You can't place orders just yet, but Michel plans a 250cc commercial engine and a 2.26 cuin version suitable for R/C airplanes, hellis, and cars.
Sadly, KEO engines who once provided excellent plans, castings, gears, bearings, and ignition systems for a beautiful Wright J-5 "Whirlwind" has gone 404 again. After being alerted by a reader, we tried our best to re-establish contact, but failed utterly. Links have been removed from the Links Page and the Suppliers Page. To all those thinking that they really should have bought a set while they had the chance, let that be a lesson to you! It certainly is to me, even though I thought I'd learned it already.
New Members' Free Plan
Late last year, Jens Eirik Skohstad of Bergen, Norway, send me a set of plans he'd drawn in CAD for the David Andersen 1cc diesel asking for my comment. Jens Eirik has been a long time MEN reader and frequently directs forum posters to these pages for answers to their questions—saving me the trouble, and besides, we Australians don't like to blow our own trumpets. My feedback was simple: could I make his plan set available to Men Members? Yes, said Jens Eirik, not a problem. So Members go to the Members' page for your pdf download of the D-A 1cc diesel, kindly made available by our friend in Norway.
New Books and Magazines This Month
The unexpected and pleasant surprise for January was a package from Frank and Vicki Anderson containing the latest versions of their Blue Books. The Anderson Blue Book, now in it's 5th edition, lists collector and online auction prices for American model engines between 1911 and 2009. We reviewed the 4th edition in MEN, July 2006, so I won't repeat that—all the good things said then are equally true today. What you are not going to find in the Blue Book is 1/2A engines, for that you need new Anderson 1/2A book, first released in 2006. As I've not given a full review of this useful work before, let's see what $19.95 get you.
Anderson's Blue Book 1/2A Model Airplane Engine Guide, by Frank and Viki Anderson, covers small American model engines of up to 0.075cuin displacement manufactured between 1948 and 2007. Following the convention introduced in the first Blue Book, the Andersons allocate a sequential "A-number" to each engine listed, so we know that there are 246 models listed in the book. Again following their established format, engines are listed in alphabetical order by manufacturer. For each manufacturer, products appear in release date order with the model if available. Each has a brief description which summarizes distinguishing features, followed by the prices recorded in recent times for sales within MECA and eBay. The listings are accompanied by a photo page to aid identification.
The book does not end there though. The listings fill 19 of the 31 pages. The remainder are filled with copies of articles on 1/2A engine manufacturers that have appeared in the model press over the years. These cover all the usual suspects: Testors, Cox, Wen-Mac, Shuriken, and a gaggle of others as described by Dave Thornburg in Model Builder magazine.
You can check out the Anderson Blue Books at Anderson's Website. The 1/2A book is US$19.95 plus shipping and handling. You can pay by PayPal, check, or money order. This would be a must-have book for serious American 1/2A engine collectors; recommended and four stars .
Engine Of The Month: The BR Elfins
This month, Adrian Duncan describes everything you ever wanted to know about the Elfin ball-race diesels, plus several things you probably never thought to ask! Commercially, they were not a roaring success. But love 'em, or hate 'em, Elfin's ball-race diesels were genuine out-of-the-rut designs in many ways. Some say they look like refugees from the plumbing bins at Home Depot. Others—like me—see a purposeful looking engine that would not only survive a high speed meeting with terra firma, but would perhaps cause more damage that they receive (Fliers! Replace all divits!) The engines were produced in three displacements—although disappointments might be a better term—1.49, 1.8, and 2.49cc. The 1.49cc Elfin BR has been covered before, but we hope this new piece places it in context with its larger brethren and provides a complete picture of these "unique" engines.
Tech Tip of the Month
I'm not sure if this is a "Tech Tip", or a "Note to Self". Regardless, it's worth a mention, or reinforcement. How many times have you seen words like "...pull the work through one turn by hand before applying power to the lathe...". I've sure seen it more than once and received a number of surprises in my early days of self-taught (self-fraught?) machining before the wisdom behind the concept became second nature. Luckily none resulted in bed or saddle damage, although the piece of pressed steel that holds the felt wiper on the front of the carriage does show signs of having been carefully straightened! But we learn and it's now second nature to pull the work through a full revolution before applying power, in most cases. This precaution occasionally results in a surprise; not often thankfully, but often enough to ensure it remains part of the routine.
The operative word in the previous paragraph would be the "in most cases" bit. The exceptions are times like when the carriage is way up the other end of the lathe, or the work has already been turned and I've simply repositioned the cutter, not having changed any part of the set-up. Well we live and learn and the latest lesson involves brazed tip tooling. The work was a cast-iron locomotive wheel (don't ask).
Cast-iron is wonderful, useful, versatile, but dirty stuff. The pulltruded or centrifugally cast rod we use for cylinders, pistons and other such things cuts like butter, after you get through the thin outer "skin". Complex poured castings are the same, although the skin is thicker and they can be prone to "chills" or "cold spots" which are regions harder than HSS tooling. It's a sobering experience to watch a carefully ground HSS toolbit being merrily machined away by the work! One cure for this is to use carbide tipped tooling. These need to be ground with a special "green" wheel, but as I have one of those for the Quorn and knew I could borrow some brazed tip tooling from a buddy, this seemed the best insurance against possible chills in the castings.
The first operation on the wheels was to face the rear of each in the 3-jaw chuck and true the edge of the rim area so they could be reversed and centered accurately in the 4-jaw chuck for drilling of the axel hole and facing the front side. Easy-peasy. Facing was to be done on the outer "tire" and inner "boss". But as the edges had casting runner protuberances, a headstock pull-thru was in order to ensure that the tool was clear before power was applied. Hence the surprise when on one casting, having taken the first cut across the tire under self-act, stopped the lathe, moved the tool in to near the the center and reapplied power, there was one almighty BANG! that rotated the quick-change tool holder. Emergency stop and examination showed one thoroughly stuffed tungsten-carbide tooltip.
The tooltip would have been about 1/4" from the lathe axis before the excitement, hence my complacency. Besides, I'd already done the pull-thru check at the rim. Well, at the center, a partially ground away riser (or something) located off-center stuck out just enough that first contact with the tooling was on top of it rather than at the cutting edge and hard things are brittle things. Result being end of work for the day while another tipped tool was ground, radiused, and honed. Some explanation and restitution to the tool owner will be required too and I can just hear the laughter now. Grrrr. Sigh.
I learned something today, as the say on TV. This little accident was nothing more than inattention, complacency, unnecessary haste, and a bit of stupidity. All now duly noted and paid for. It can be hard to think constantly in three dimensions. And just because you are close to the axis where tool speeds are low when facing, don't let your guard down. When dealing with complex or large shapes, pulling through a complete turn before applying power until you know the tool path is clear for all the work is good practice and even better insurance. It's bad enough to learn it the hard way, but even worse to get bitten again after you already think you know it.
Another new engine in The Engine Finder is the 1936 Fergusson Condor. The one seen here was built some time back from reproduction castings and original plans by US Motor Boy, Les Stone. The other on the new Condor Page belongs to UK Motor Boy, Eric Offen and may be an original Fergusson.