This has not been a great month for me, but if things come in threes, at least it is over. First, as you'll see in the lead item, Robert Washburn, editor of Strictly IC, left us April 14. Then a few days later, the bass player I played music with for ten good, fun years died suddenly while watching TV. He was an active, fit guy, Best Man at my wedding, and only a few months older than me. Finally, Buster the Chocolate Burmese suffered sudden and complete kidney failure and was gone a day after going off his feed. Buster would always sit by the mouse pad as I composed these pages, having cunningly noticed that if he draped himself over the mouse, I'd have to touch him every now and then, and being touched was truly one of life's great pleasures to B. I miss him so much.
Somehow, with nothing done on the web site until the last few days of the month, it has all come together and we have a massive "issue", both in terms of reading, and of pictures. Some of the words are mine, but a lot have been contributed by others, for which I'm always grateful. The update zip file this month is 29 MB. That's going to push our bandwidth to the limits amd may tax your connection timeout, so consider buying an Upgrade disc instead. Model making during April has all been of the aeromodelling kind, as you'll read in this month's ACE piece.
A lot of time has also gone into creating another web site related to my research that some out there may find of interest. The work centers around being able to create annotations that any reader can attach to specially prepared web pages (easy), as well as totally arbitrary pages (very difficult). This is described on the DANNO home page. The work is beta at this stage, but it is open source and we've got another 15 months to make it ready for prime-time.
I've not had a good anti-microsoft rant for while, so I hope you'll excuse me if I cheer myself up with a tiny one related to the DANNO project. The annotation client code needs to run with any computer type, in any web browser that any client chooses to, or is forced to use. Initial development was targeted at the Mozilla based browsers as we know they implement the W3C standards. These are Firefox on PC, Mac, and Linux, Safari on PC and Mac, and Netscape Navigator. With that working, we tested the code against Google Chrome on PC, and Opera on PC and Mac. It all worked fine.
Naturally, no version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer will function against our W3C code base—all being utterly non compliant with any standard; deliberately so in my humble opinion. Having to maintain two distinct pieces of code to perform the same function is painful and costly, especially when the line count is in the thousands. But having no choice, we built an experimental version especially for IE7. This was mostly successful, although not in 100% of the test cases. About then our contact engineer at Microsoft suggested we test against IE8 which had gone on general release a few weeks back. Surprise, surprise: neither version of our code would play nice with IE8. But IE8 turns out to have an "IE7 compatibility mode". Switching that on makes it work against our IE7 specific version. Whoopy-do. I suspect many people are in for a wonderful surprise if they "upgrade" to IE8, which our contact had not been able to run because his laptop is configured with the latest version of the new, yet to be released, Windows operating system, which does not support their new browser!! There, I feel better now...
Vale: Robert A Washburn
Bob Washburn passed away on April 14 last. He was standing up and just collapsed and was gone. I'd think that nobody who reads these pages regularly needs reminding who Robert was, and what he did for this hobby. I'm referring of course to Strictly IC (SIC), the first magazine dedicated to the design and construction of miniature internal combustion engines. SIC was launched as a bi-monthly magazine at the start of 1988 by Robert and his wife and partner, Frances. Together, they produced 84 issues. The first was dated February/March 1988; the last issue has a cover date of December/January 2002. At this time, both were in the 70's and retiring for the second time. Bob and Frances had married rather late in life during 1970 while both were working for the Boeing Company. They both left Boeing shortly after, although at differnt times, and founded a hobby shop called Kent Hobby, after its location in the state of Washington. They owned and operated this business for the next fourteen years, retiring for the first time in 1984.
It was while operating Kent Hobby that Robert became first aware, then fascinated by people who were actually making their own engines. This led to the bug biting Bob, the production of scrap, and eventually a pair of nine cylinder, Cox cylinder-based radials after a design called the Tarantula that had appeared in R/C Scale Modeler magazine. That was about 1976. By '78, Bob had set up his own backyard foundry, and that in turn led to his producing an eleven part series for Home Shop Machinist (HSM) magazine detailing the construction of a replica of the 1936 Sky Charger. The first part appeared in the Jan/Feb 1985 issue of HSM and was followed by ten more well detailed and illustrated parts. Next, Bob designed and built a three cylinder two-stroke radial based on Cox .020 cylinders called the Triscamp, again published by HSM. The feedback Bob received convinced him that that a market probably existed for a magazine dedicated to nothing but model internal combustion engines. He knew he could not supply all the material to fill the pages of a bi-monthly publication, nor did he want to, but by this time, he knew enough people who he believed could supply the content. So Strictly IC was born, listing Roger Paul, Bob Paule, Bruce Satra, and Roger Schroeder as the prime contributing editors.
These gentlemen provided content, but more importantly, the conveyed enthusiasm and the conviction that ordinary people could do this too, if they wanted. So readers became builders, who became authors in turn—yours truly amongst them. And it was Robert's initial drive and conviction, backed by Frances' tireless help that made it possible. It's a sad fact that we all have to go, sometime. Relatively few make the best of that time to be a positive influence on many others. Robert A Washburn did, and through SIC, has left a legacy that will continue to delight like minded people for decades to come. Vale, Bob.
Quite an appropriate name for a four cylinder in-line four-stroke capable of turning in excess of 20,000 rpm, don't you think? Canadian Member, Dave Sage, is the current custodian of Albert Hutton's magnificent racing engine and has kindly supplied some photos of the engine and it's very extensive test cell. And it's fitting that this news item follow on from our short tribute to Bob Washburn as the engine featured in articles by Albert which appeared the first two volumes of Strictly IC, and was even more extensively covered by Robert himself in his regular column in Model Engine Builder. In creating the Olympus Racing Engine page, I located no less than twelve magazine references to it. I'm sure there are more. If you know of some that I've missed, please let me know.
April is NAMES month and Dave Sage (see above) has sent pictures of a rather superb Bristol Mercury he saw there for the enjoyment of the many of us unable to attend. Motor Boy Les Stone was there (garnering more winnings for his show-quality engines) and has provided us with pictures of things he found of interest. The NAMES organizers always prepare excellent coverage on their own web site, but we here can take a niche-view, so check out the new NAMES 2009 page.
Cornell on BSC
This month's episode of Gordon Cornell's Model Engine Development series concerns Break Specific Consumption and fuel metering for the Super Fury series of engines. BSC is of special interest to Team Racers as it indicates how long an engine will run on a tank of fuel, and what the power produced during this time will be—all of which relates to laps and where you might be in relation to the competition at the end of it, all things being equal which they seldom are.
As part of the exercise of formatting this part of the series and refining the text, I re-read some pioneering work done on this subject by Ron Warring which appeared in Aeromodeller. In his BSC tests, Ron tested some glow engines on diesel fuel! The surprise to me is that not only did they run on this fuel, they were close in terms of rpm to the methanol numbers. He noted that the battery had to be left attached to keep the engine running—as we would expect since there would be no catalytic reaction between the fuel and the platinum glow plug element without alcohol—but the BSC figures for a glow engine running on diesel exhibited a dramatic increase, and with today's lightweight batteries, it's something to think about.
All of the MED series are informative, but I urge you to read this part carefully. Gordon raises some aspects of model engines relating to fuel, additives, and test procedures that I don't believe have ever been examined this closely before. It has certainly increased my understanding of what I though I already knew. Equally worth noting and remembering is the way Gordon set about making those "punched-out" needle valve clickers seen in the photo above, without using an actual punch and die! Very smart.
How about I just move this heading to the Regular Features section and be done with it? Oh well... My ACE is still not running due to a month when every spare moment went into repairing my venerable old Genesis for what may be a swan-song performance at the Queensland State F2B Championships scheduled for the first weekend of May. All the ACE needs is a piston, but my lack of progress has allowed Les Stone to leap over all of us and produce the first running ACE replica from the Free Members plan set available from this site. His replica engine started up straight off and produced results right on the numbers of the original—as we'd expect from a master builder like Les.
The prototypes used castings made by Roger Schroeder's Classic Engines. Following experiences machining these by all three of us, Roger has refined the patterns and now offers a proven set of three aluminum ACE castings for US$20.00, plus postage. The Classic Model Engines web site has been updated to show the new three piece set for the ACE, and to reflect a minor increase in costs on some items, so please check the new catalog before ordering. And if you are building an ACE, remember that you can save yourself a whole lot of difficult, needless pain by ordering a moulded ACE fuel tank from David Owen.
There are a lot of nice things about running this web site, one of which is receiving emails from people who are connected with some of the great names of the past. This is made possible by Google. Yes, I know there are other search engines, but the one most seem to turn to is Google and I author these pages so that they stand a fair to middlin' chance of being indexed by the Google-bot, hence the occasional surprise email.
A short time back, I received an email from Jean Hards-Nicholls, daughter to the late Harold Kemp. I know of the Kemp and "K" engines through research into early diesels, but did not know anything about Harold Kemp himself. But what we could supply to Jean allowed her to track down people and piece together a background on her father's time as an engine designer and builder immediately in the period immediately following the Second World War. So the story of Harold Kemp—Engine Builder has been added under the Pioneers heading of the People section in the left-hand navigation bar. To flesh out the story a little, pictures of the K Hawk and K Kestrel have joined the K Vulture in the Engine Finder. Jean was unable to confirm or deny whether her father actually had any connection with the "K" venture which carried on after Kemp Engines sold up. If anyone can shed some definite light, please contact us through Enquiries.
Wrong Again, again...
What can I say? It's just been pointed out to me that the venturi on the later versions of the famous Mills Bros engines is a forging, not a casting. Doh! All the tell-tale signs are there, and I'd stared at the thing long and often enough while measuring it for the 1.3 reproduction plans that premièred in Issue #1 of Model Engine Builder, yet somehow the penny just did not drop. An email from Jon Fletcher (Aus) correctly points out that the unusual "parting line" down the venturi is not a parting line; that would be a thin flash. The process of forging aluminum uses a pair of dies to hammer the alloy which has been heated to a critical temperature of approx 600°C where it becomes plastic (it will melt at about 650°C). This produces the rather thick "seam" seen on the part due to a feature of the dies which have to provide someplace for the excess material to expand into. After forging (which can increase the strength of the material by up to 35%, according to aviation expert, Graham White), the parts pass through a trimming die to remove the excess. Finally, they would be machine tumbled to remove the sharp edges, producing the artefact clearly seen in the photo here. Now we know. Thanks, Jon!
Bobcat Makes Noises
Malcolm Nemett Stride emailed to say that his in-line twin-cylinder four-stroke has had it's first run. The NE15-IT Bobcat engine is similar in some ways to his earlier NE15S design which was serialized in the Model Engineer. Malcolm has more photos and a video of the engine being started on the Nemett Website. Plans for the Bobcat are in final editing and you should be able to buy a set before too long. Malcolm has used Alibre design to produce this set, including using its ability to model parts in a chosen material to help with balance calculations. If the success of the NE15S Lynx is any gauge, we should be seeing quite a few copies of the Bobcat appearing in short order.
New Books and Magazines This Month
As I've mentioned about this time every year for about as long as this web site has been in existence, an annual highlight for me is the arrival of the new volume of the Engine Collectors' Journal (ECJ) from editor, publisher, and Motor Boy, Tim Dannels. Now I know many like to take their ECJ fix on a regular basis, so subscribe to the journal on a regular bi-monthly release schedule. Me, I like to OD, binge, immerse, whatever, in the bound volume Tim releases each time he has produced another six issues. This format also suits my library storage requirements better as ECJ is a most valued and frequently referred to resource, along with Tim's American Model Engine Encyclopedia (another volume of which is slowly taking shape, by the way).
So what's in ECJ Volume 33? Well as can be seen from the first/last cover scans, we revisit the Morton M-5 and its offspring, the M-4 and M-42. In issue #188, the Brown Model "A" and Bill Brown's "high school engine" get some more coverage. A pair of unique and sleek racing engines appear in #189, and the Bantam Twin (Ron loves twins!) is featured in #190. Numbers 191 and 192 see the good old Deezil get some recognition, along with all the reproductions this often maligned engine has inspired. Of course, there's lots more. Each of the six issues runs to twelve pages. At US$17.50, that's a lot of reading enjoyment for a small outlay. ECJ bound volumes are available from The Publisher, or by visiting the ECJ Website. A well deserved Five Stars and tell Tim you read about it here (which helps keep the graft flowing ).
Engine Of The Month: x2
X2? wasn't that an Alag, or something? In this case, no; 'x2' means we have two Engines Of The Month. This comes about partially to make up for there being no engine of the month last April, and partially because after preparing a review from Adrian Duncan as EOM, I got rather carried away revising a page to fit in with another feature for the May issue. The result grew and grew until it reached the point where it was quite obviously another EOM! So the result is twice the fun; first Adrian's latest review:
Adrian Duncan is back this month with a short-lived Japanese marque known as Strong Motors which appeared briefly in the mid 1960's. You'll be hard pressed to find any of these, or the related Kamikaze twins. Although the engine design might be viewed as "dated" at the time of release, the construction reflected a Japan that had truly reached it's stride in terms of quality and attention to detail. To dovetail with this page, David Janson's review of the Strong 45 twin has been added. We are also grateful to Mr Allan Strutt (England) for photos of the twins and his NIB 19.
Our second engine is an extensive rewrite of an existing review—although "review" is a bit misleading as the previous version of the Kemp K4 page contained nothing but four pictures and no actual words! That has been rectified in spades, as seemed appropriate, given the induction of Harold Kemp into the Pioneers section. The updated review describes the construction of the first Kemp engine, a 4.4cc side port diesel from 1947. The description includes details of the world's most complicated fuel cut-out system. We've also added photo spreads of the K Hawk and K Kestrel diesels to accompany the K Vulture, and K Falcon. Words will follow, some day.
This change is for MEN Members. The engine timing calculators and CamCalc depend on their being supplied by a web server, so they won't run straight off the DVD using only a browser. Until a couple of weeks ago, if you tried to access them this way, you got a screen full of code. I'd never been completely happy with this, and following an incident suffered by a Member, set about making those pages detect whether they had been loaded from a web server, or just hit locally by a browser. In the latter case, they now redirect to a page that explains what has happened, and what to do about it. Very neat and clean, now. The new versions will be in the Members download for May, and naturally will be included on all new and upgrade DVD's.
The second change is more subtle and is for everybody. Mostly I try to align photos and pictures with the text that describes them. Sometimes this is either not possible, or the photo itself needs a caption. But creating a table with a photo and a little text field is a lot of work, and editing text onto photos is not only more work too, it is not un-doable. There is a simple solution: the HTML <img> tag used to define the thumbnails used to link to the large scale pictures has an optional title attribute that will display in a little popup if you hover the mouse pointer over the picture (try it on the little frowny face above). So starting from now, a title will be added to those pictures that I think need some extra words of explanation. Note that not all pictures will get this treatment. So if you are confused, mouse over the picture to see if it has hover-text. If so, good. If not, drop me an email and I'll consider adding something.
Two new pages in the Watzit and Gallery sections got created this month. On them, you'll find an early Japenese sparker, another link to the Olympus, and a rather Victorian looking table-top engine as pictured here. The reason for starting new pages is to keep the loading time per page down to something reasonable. The problem it creates is finding things later. Model Engine News now has 803 separate pages on-line. The MEN Only DVD has 1,432 pages and those 629 extra pages will never go on-line, so there is some real benefit in joining up. As usual, a big thanks to all who have bought the disc. Hosting this web site commercial-free is now costing a bundle per year. I could not keep it up without those DVD sales (hint to non-members ).
Incidentally, the main page hit counter silently rolled over the 1 million visitors mark sometime during April. This only counts visitors to the main page and so is no real indication of site traffic. Still, it's a milestone of sorts.
Tech Tip of the Month
Now how, you might ask, can this happen? Easy. Old castor oil emulsifies rather nicely into a good grade of glue. Given a cylinder that does not want to pull out, but seems to want to rotate, apply strong torque. But if the piston is well and truly glued in place to the cylinder, something is going to give. This is not the first time we've seen this. Cast your memories back to the case of the blue head Taipan. Slightly different result, but same cause. The cure is heat.
I'll say it again: you can un-gum engines that are castor'd shut with a little heat.
Heat—got it? Heat. HEAT! HEAT!! HEAT!!!
Don't be tempted. If you own a vice, the dreaded multi-grips, or some other implement of destruction, send them on vacation until the job is done. They can apply more torque than lightweight engine components can stand—and yes, I've done it myself by applying the correct head removal tool to an engine I thought had a ball and socket piston/conrod. There was the tiniest tink sound as the steel conrod snapped in two. The expletive from moi was somewhat louder. Less than a minute with the hair drier allowed the stuck piston—complete with wrist pin and a separated conrod little end—to be pushed out with a pencil.
In most cases, you don't need a lot of heat. The amount put out by a hair dryer sneakily borrowed from She Who Must Be Obeyed will be quite sufficient for the average job. First fit a nice, large prop to the engine, then set it down and prop up the hair dryer so that the hot air is blowing over the cylinder and crankshaft journal area. Now go away for a few minutes. Try it periodically using the large prop to rock the shaft back and forth using hand torque only. This way you won't break anything. In a very few extreme cases, a gas-axe flame applied very gingerly may be needed. All you need to do is get it hot enough to be uncomfortable, but not to the point that burns skin, and hold that for a short time. Like magic, the castor goes soft and pretzels are avoided.
Finally, take care to put the hair dryer back in exactly the same place that you found it. With luck, she'll never know.