Ring the bells (close the doors)! This month marks either our tenth birthday, or maybe our tenth anniversary as I sure feel wedded to keeping this website and its readers happy sometimes. The first page written for public consumption was the Anodizing How-To page which went on-line in September 1998. That grew with some Restoration Project pages, plus other things being added sporadically for about a year until I decided the site needed a What's New page to let readers know, well, what was new! In June 2002, I decided to put some structure into things and the current, monthly format was launched to wide acclaim—except for Charlie Stone (Western Australia) who complained that it should be weekly!
Until June, 2004, the content was generously hosted by the research company I worked for, the Co-operative Research Centre for Distributed Systems Technology, or DSTC for short. It even dovetailed with some of my research into resource discovery on the World Wide Web (there, didn't know you were part of a cunning experiment, did you?). But DSTC found the need to frequently move content around which confused readers, so I decided to buy a domain, settling on modelenginenews.org, rent some server space in the USA where most of the readership base is located, and the rest is pretty much as you see us today. MEN is funded by me, assisted occasionally by sales of our MEN Only DVD, and MBI Plan Book on CD. Some months pay for themselves, some don't. I'm not particularly worried as the occasional email from someone we've helped, or a thank you note from the family of some model engine pioneer we've paid tribute to, make it all worthwhile.
In the time we've been on-line, the 'web has grown from a market place for books and auctions (and yes, pornography) for those adventurous enough to risk being frustrated by learning how to use a computer, to a ubiquitous part of everyday life accessed by desktops, laptops, and portable devices like 'phones and tablets. I don't blog, tweet, nor do whatever it is Facebook-ers do, but my life would be poorer and more difficult without the instant communication and access to knowledge the 'net provides. Even though it's not that obvious, the MEN website has adopted new technology "under the hood" as required along the way. Before I retired from research late last year, this gave me a way to see how web technology behaved outside the lab. At the same time, the web site has allowed me to meet hundreds of talented model engineers and occasionally, help them create better and better models, develop and share techniques, and generally spread the love we all share in creating things. Who could ask for more.
A quick search says a tenth anniversary is "tin", or "aluminum"; rather appropriate somehow, and searching around for some connection between these two gifts during the past month, I'm proclaiming I've been given aluminum in the form of a cleaning job on the most disreputable and gunked-up OS 40 imaginable. It has spent the last 38 years in a rusty tin box since I left Civil Aviation and joined International Computers Limited in 1976, thus dropping out of model making for the next twelve years. I'm really sorry I did not take a "before" shot, but the "after" shot shows the engine all clean, freed-up, and ready for the nose of a new carrier deck C/L model that's nearing completion. The magic treatment is a slow broil in anti-freeze for half an hour or so. You will be amazed at the results and you don't even have to take a toothbrush to it—the gunk just falls off, probably helped by the bubbling broil action.
Now, just what do we have for you in this Tenth Anniversary Bumper Issue? Well first off, there is a bonus free plan (Members only, why aren't you one?) Then there's more words and images than we've ever added in any month up until now. There's Adrian Duncan's masterpiece on the Feltnam Fliers, three OCR'd David Janson reviews, two new FAQ entries, a couple of very informative technical pieces from the late Duke Fox, a revision and expansion of the ED Story, a review of Dave Fenner's latest mini-lathe book, and all sorts of other stuff. In fact, I'm a bit worn-out now. Think I'll go read a book for a while—for next month's book review, probably!
Vale: Aeromodeller (1935-2001-2012)
Word of the latest demise of the venerable UK magazine, Aeromodeller, has been circulating during the past month. The first issue appeared in November, 1935, making it the second longest running publication dedicated to model aircraft in history to date (Model Airplane News has the honor of being the winner in the longevity stakes, being launched in November, 1929). Since 2001, Aeromodeller has been an "insert" provided with the magazine Aviation Modeler International, which has also ceased publication.
From Volume 1, Issue 1, of November 1935, Aeromodeller remained in constant monthly publication until 2001. Even through the darkest days of World War II, the publisher somehow found the paper and the content to keep issues flowing. Like most publications, it had its ups and downs. I'm sure magazine content is rather subjective and affection may tend to grow as years pass, but most modelers I know speak wistfully of Aeromodeller's "Golden Years" as being the issues of the 1950's, though the 80's and 90's weren't half bad, either! We also agree that the magazine content took a nose-dive in 2001 and its first demise was more of a mercy killing. The revived insert magazine was not awful, but somehow the magic was missing and I can't find much sadness over the latest passing. Let's face it, the world has changed and model making is not what it used to be—although I acknowledge I'm speaking through my own tastes and prejudices in expressing this probably contentious opinion.
All, however, may not be lost! A UK based movement is afoot to gather support for the revival, again, of Aeromodeller as a stand-alone magazine (brings to mind a past Prime Minister of Australia who, on returning to the party leadership after a major political defeat, described himself as "Lazarus with a triple bypass"...) If you want to do your bit, have your say, etc, follow this link to an independent survey which is intended as a lever that may help some publisher decide to take on Aeromodeller yet again as a magazine dedicated to free flight, control-line, and indoor model aircraft (note no Radio Control, a type covered well enough elsewhere). I've taken the survey and found it made me think consciously about aspects of our hobby which usually reside comfortably and vaguely in the hind-brain, so no bad thing, even if for that alone.
New Members' Free Plan
To mark our tenth anniversary, Model Engine News pondered long and hard over which plan in our list to offer MEN Life Members as a special free gift. The decision (pass the envelope please) is the MS 12, a rather delightful little 1.2cc side-port diesel, designed and marketed by the Model Shop of Newcastle, hence the "MS" of the name. Our plan set came about when Motor Boy, Ken Croft, discovered what they were selling for to collectors (see MEN, February, 2004). To accompany our plans, the late Roger Schroeder made patterns and built a prototype (that makes three prototypes built by three Motor Boys, Les Stone, Ken Croft, and Roger Schroeder, all from their own castings). Roger intended to add the MS12 to his engine range, but what with one thing or another, this did not happen. His patterns were sold to Hemingway Kits (UK), where presumably, they reside today. But nothing would stop a resourceful model engineer from hacking a case from the solid, or even making a new pattern and casting one, or two (the plans dimension the pattern required). If you do, drop us an email so we can share...
Thanks to prompting by a reader, I've added a new review written by the late David R Janson to his Index Page. In choosing which of the available Janson reviews to scan, OCR, and format, my strategy, or perhaps "philosophy" would be a better term, has been to choose subjects which are interesting and for which I can add color photographs of the subject to enhance the text. The PAL "55", being a spark ignition in-line twin, sure fits the "interesting" qualification, and while I don't have a photo pf the subject, I can at least scan the original sources of all the items David used to illustrate this review, so we don't end up with scans of photocopies which I happen to think are just too dreadful for words. As for obtaining a photo of an original PAL "55", it would appear from the article that these are your real and actual rocking-horse droppings; just ain't no such critter! Maybe someone can prove me wrong and supply a photo of an actual engine, though reading between the lines, I rather doubt it.
So with this revelation that I can do justice to Janson reviews for which I don't have actual examples available, I went looking and found more that can be fleshed out adequately without reverting to scans of the rather bad photocopies of photocopies in the printed review copies I have. First, is the much maligned GHQ. We mentioned this one just recently when reviewing Bernie Winston's Model Gas Engine Handbook. Not only does the book contain the operating instructions of the GHQ and plans for the "REAL", it was Winston who turned the nicely made Loutrel into the rather dreadfully made GHQ! Another case, along with the Deezil, of an engine so bad it has become a sought after item. And as if anyone needs reminding, the Deezil was also a decent design, terribly executed, by different members of the Brothers Winston!
By an erie coincidence, just after OCR-ing the Janson GHQ review, I blundered across another, later review of the GHQ, written by Stu Richmond for Model Builder magazine of June, 1987. The gold in this review is a letter by Bernie Winston himself, in which he discusses the history of the GHQ. Needless to say, his take is somewhat different, but he certainly adds more historical background to the engine's origin, crediting the original design to a "Mr Redfield". Both Bernie and Stu mention that the engine was designed for opposite to "normal" rotation, confirmed here by the 1937 MAN ad which clearly shows the cast aluminum prop, pitched for clockwise rotation. However, as a side-port, the engine timing would be symmetrical, so unless there was something strange about the timer assembly—and I can't think of what that might be—it should run equally well in either direction. Hence I think we can rule out "trying to start it backwards" as the cause of many owners' frustrating and largely fruitless starting sessions.
To round it off, an article by the late Hamilton Upshur appeared in the August/September, 2000 issue of SIC magazine (#76) which detailed ways to turn your GHQ into a "runner". Prominent among the tips is to replace the pressed steel piston Bernie was so proud of with a machined one. In his article, Upshur credits the original design of the GHQ to a Mr ML Weiss, basing this assertion on an article by him in the November 1931 issue of The Model Maker magazine (USA), adding that rights for the Weiss engine were obtained by Louis P Loutrel, and that complete plans for it, under the name "REAL", appeared in the April 1933 issue of The Model Craftsman magazine (USA), and reprinted in Bernie Winston's Model Gas Engine Handbook under that name. Confused? You should be—I certainly am!
But wait, there's more. A long time ago, some kind reader sent me photos of a renegade chain-saw-like engine going by the name of the Maloney 100. And what should I find while leafing through the Janson review book? You guessed it: an actual commentary on this—to my mind—monstrosity. So this page too has been OCR'd and formatted. I failed to locate one advertisement for the engine that David Janson included in his review. Although I have the April 1996 issue of MAN, the ad he says is from there, is not. Worse, by my calculation, John Maloney had lost his fight with cancer by that time and World Engines was no more. Searches in earlier MAN issues also failed to find the page, so I've had to make do with the copy of a copy. I rather suspect the ad appeared in RCM, not MAN, and if anyone can provide a full color scan, it would be appreciated.
We are always ready to admit it when we've made a mistake, and this month, we have to say sorry to the late Henry Orwick (of Orwick engines). In our Johnson BB .36 R/C review page, we'd incorrectly described Henry as late at a time when he was very much alive. Following an email from a former employee of Henry Orwick, we've revised the start of the story and and cross-linked it and the American Modeler story describing their 1964 visit with Dynamic Models. In fact, the AM article corroborates the revision provided by our informant and as always, we are happy to come clean when we've made mistakes and correct them when solid information is received. We're sticking to our guns in calling the Johnson Ball Bearing R/C engine a "36" though, since that's how it was advertised (see illustration).
Building the Westbury Atom Minor Mk III
In the April 2012 issue, we reviewed Edgar T Westbury's book on the 6cc Atom Minor Mk III spark ignition engine. Last month, we added a new page dedicated to the Atom Minor Mk III which included a photo of the engine recently completed by Jan Huning (UK), and another of the engine disassembled for the camera. Jan has kindly offered us photos he took during construction, plus descriptions of why he did what he did. Now no way can we refuse an offer like that, so a new Atom Minor Mk III Construction page has been put together. This month, we present machining the crankcase. Next month, we'll see how Jan tackled the front and rear covers.
Building the Other Atom
UK builder, Mike Nelson, has undertaken the construction of an Arden Super Atom from original magnesium castings. To start off, he's done a superb job of creating 3D models of the engine that you can view on his Building the Super Atom website. Ray Arden's Atom had many unusual features, such as thru-piston transfer porting (a'la M&M), a "snap" action timer to prevent contact bounce, and a rather unusual fuel/air metering system—all packed into a .098 displacement package. To make matters even more interesting, the castings pose work-holding challenges requiring fixtures at a level of complexity to make one doubt one's sanity when producing a single engine! Mike does not plan a complete documented build, but will post highlights of the jigs and tools he has to make. Worth keeping an eye on...
New Books and Magazines This Month
Back in the December 2009 Issue, our Book of the Month was Dave Fenner's Mini-Lathe book, #43 in the Workshop Practice Series. In this book, Dave shows how to "blueprint" this inexpensive piece of equipment, and modify several aspects of it to increase its capability to that approaching a Myford ML7 of fond memory. Well, call me an elitist snob, because I'd previously ignored the Asian "mini-lathe" as a piece of inaccurate, low quality junk, suitable only for convincing the owner they needed a real lathe. Dave's book changed my mind, modulo the fact that as unpacked, you really need to do some work on it to address the reasons it is inexpensive. In the intervening years, the mini-lathe has undergone some changes and improvements, so Dave has released a new book to keep up with the times.
Mini-Lathe Tools and Projects, by David Fenner, Special Interest Model Books, Dorset, 2012, ISBN 1854862650, is #48 in the popular Workshop Practice Series, which began so long ago with Hardening, Tempering & Heat Treatment, by "Tubal Cain", aka Tom Walshaw. This book follows a similar pattern to Dave's previous work, beginning with a tour of the upgraded mini-lathe which describes the differences from the previous model. These include a brushless DC, speed controlled motor, and a lead-screw guard. The latter is a good idea, but as it is a simple channel which covers the full length of the lead-screw, the designers have had to do away with the top half clasp nut! Obviously everything still works well, but strangely, I have a bad feeling about this, Luke.
Back to the book: the first chapter covers unpacking, inspection, and tests Dave performed to determine actual motor speed and torque. His findings on the latter are very favorable. Each of the remaining fourteen chapter are devoted to a piece of tooling, or a modification to improve the utility of the machine. Model engine builders will like Chapter 15, "Knurling", which details how to make your actual knurling wheels, including one specially for plunge knurling prop drivers! For this, Dave uses a special knurl which looks like a bevel gear. This prevents the "skipping" effect which a parallel knurl must induce as we try to make one side of it turn faster than the other—a physical impossibility, and the reason so many prop drivers look so ragged, even commercial products! I really must make one like that described, someday...
The biggest and best change from the previous books in the series is the change to the use of full color pictures throughout the book. Let's face it, it takes real skill and experience to properly light and shoot photos which must be published in black and white. the late George H Thomas, as well as being a master machinist, was also a master photographer. Today, the simple digital camera with auto-focus and all the rest makes it too easy for anybody to take perfectly acceptable photos, as long as they can be viewed in color. Hats off to the Workshop Practice series publisher for making this change, or perhaps the cost difference today for full color vs black and white has become small enough not to matter.
Other items dealt with in the new mini-lathe book include a turret tailstock attachment (suitable for any lathe, really), a taper turning attachment, a saddle stop, dividing head, lever fed tail-stock, etc. The book also covers saddle adjustment and how this can be improved through the use of tapered gib strips. While reviewing the book, I noticed that two photos appear to be the same (figures 9.12 and 9.14). I asked Dave about this and he responded that another photo had been rotated 90° and that some of the illustration text was smaller than he'd have preferred. Turns out that's life in the publishing world today and we just have to live with it.
I gave the first mini-lathe book four and a half stars and have no problem awarding the same rating to the new one. I should also mention that the new book does not replace the first as there are modifications in the first (such as the lead-screw hand-wheel) which are equally applicable to both machines. Likewise, owners of the "old" mini-lathe should not ignore this volume just because it specifically targets the new mini-lathe; many of the projects are applicable to either machine, and some can easily be used on machines other than the "mini-lathe". You can order the book through Amazon, and other booksellers, such as TEE (UK) .
Engine Of The Month: Rivers Engines
As is fitting for our Tenth Anniversary Issue of MEN, we have a wopper of an engine review for you. To me, the Rivers diesels, the Silver Streak, and the Silver Arrow came and went in a flash (how fitting). Their main claim to fame seemed to be some weird sort of crankshaft bearing which the model press made a big deal of, but here in Australia of the 1960's, I never saw one, nor heard from anyone who had. Many years later, I obtained a CS replica Arrow, ran it once (after cleaning it out), was mildly impressed, then put it away. When Adrian suggested Rivers as an Engine of the Month, that seemed like a good idea to both of us. What came as a surprise was how much interest the story gained as Adrian shook the bushes, how much information fell out of said bushes, and how bloody big the final review is! I've even noticed that some browsers fail to render the background all the way to the end of the text, implying a browser issue I've never encountered before, and suggesting the piece is so long, it should perhaps be split in two. So far, we've resisted, but please, if you experience this rather psychotic attitude in your browser, let us know about it, together what browser and version you are using, and on what operating system. Something may need to be done after all. Even so, enjoy the saga Adrian has dubbed, The Feltham Fliers.
Tech Tip of the Month
We have two tips this month, both coming indirectly from a casual reading of the David Janson review of Duke Fox and his 20cc twin. Janson makes mention of the Info-mercials run by Fox Manufacturing in Model Airplane News during the late 1980's under the title, "duke's mixture" (he didn't use capitals, so neither will i).
Now I have to confess that I'd rather ignored these as trivial after scanning one which I then saw as being along the lines of "...I've had the flu but I'm better now and so will you be if you buy Fox motors..." Turns out I was very wrong. Yes, there's some folksy talk, and a definite commercial undertone—as one should expect in a commercial masquerading as a documentary—but the actual technical content varies between sound and excellent, so I'm now in the process of reviewing them to see what gems from a past master we should preserve. This month I have two for your education and edification.
The first has been OCR'd in its entirety and formatted as a page, with all due recognition of sources. It deals with the relative merits of ball bearings vs bronze bushings vs cast aluminum for crankshaft main bearings; and also on the relative merits of lapped - ring - and A.B.C piston cylinder combinations. I agree with absolutely everything he says. You should read it now and come back here when you've finished.
As I said, no disagreement, although he has left out cast iron and needle rollers as bearing types. This is probably understandable as this infomercial occupied a full page of MAN, and he packs a lot into that full page 'mercial. By coincidence, Adrian Duncan touches on the use of needle rollers as opposed to ball races as the crankshaft bearing in our Engine of the Month in this issue. It's too bad Duke is no longer with us as I'd like to hear his take on the use of cast iron as a main crankshaft bushing. Gordon and Peter Burford really liked CI as a bushing material and frequently employed it in their Taipan engines. Apart from good wearing characteristics, the graphite content provides a degree of "natural" lubrication. See our AHC construction series for an inexpensive source of CI bushing material.
Another bushing material not mentioned is aluminum oxide (anodizing) to increase the life and reduce friction in a plain aluminum bushing, and to prevent galling of the shaft. Still, in all an excellent analysis which I'm ashamed to admit I ignored due to my naturally cynical inclinations .
The second set of words of wisdom from "duke's mixture" relate to knowing just how much nitromethane is optimum for a given engine. This is not a case of more is better, and I'm going to take the oppertunity to Rant Yet Again against the misguided soles (nearly wrote something else) who advertise what they call "nitro engines" on eBay. THERE'S NO SUCH ANIMAL! (grrr, grumble, bah, humbug...) The reason Nitromethane is added to the methanol/oil mixture used in glow plug engines is because it acts as an ignition advancing additive. Just how much should be used depends mostly on the engine's compression ratio, and to a lesser extent on the plug (which can also alter the compression ratio in some cases). So there is an optimum for the quantity, below which you are not reaching the maximum available power, and above which you are just wasting money, and maybe causing damage! Duke explained this in his August 1987 "duke's mixture" informercial. The Boys have discussed his suggestion and find no problems with it, aside from the proviso that the glow plug used for the test should be in good condition. To ensure wider exposure to Duke's procedure, I've put on my Dorothy Dix mask and added it to our Frequently Asked Questions page (some claim the mask provides a distinct improvement...)
Gits Type Caps in the UK
Our Suppliers Index page lists the real and original source for those little Gits caps that frequently adorn old fuel tanks, and today, are just as frequently broken, or missing. But obtaining one or two at a reasonable price, especially if you don't live in the US of A can be tricky. One of our readers has emailed a UK source for them. Checkout Adams Lube Tech Ltd. They can supply for just £0.67 each, though because of a reasonable £10 order minimum, you may end up buying 15 or so of them. Good thing for a group or club to do. And yes, that's an unmachined Merco 49 casting to the right in the photo, which has nothing whatsoever to do with Gits caps!
This section is intended to alert you to little things that are hard to expand to a full news item, or cunningly wind into the Editorial, but are worthy of note never the less.
- In the page on kitting up your workshop, I had the headstock taper of the Myford "Connoisseur" wrong; it is 4MT, not 3MT, and so it provides 25mm of headstock pass-through. All a bit moot now, sadly...
- The ED Story update is complete.
- We've added a tribute page to model engine and kit pioneer, Ben Shereshaw, OCR'd from a lengthy piece found in American Modeler, January/February, 1966. This piece will have added significance in times to come...
- Keeping up with changes in web addresses is near impossible. Lucky for us, a reader noted that the URL for the MLA die filing machine as built by from musical instrument maker, Frank Ford, has changed. See MEN, January, 2008
- New information from the Upshur SIC article has required Yet Another revision to our review of Bernie Winston's Model Gas Engine Handbook, as we now know the origins of both plan sets included in that volume, and the significance of the names "REAL", and "AERO", which are applied to them.
- The How-To Index page did not have a reference to the Anodizing page. Does now.
- A reader emailed the link to an engine project called The Firefly that is worth having a look at. It's great to see people undertaking and sharing projects like this.
- We heard from the "third man" who had experienced a failure in his CS Twin (mentioned last month). The engine has now been returned, all fixed, under warrenty. The only cost incurred was air postage to China. It's good to hear CS after-sales service is apparently top class, at least.