Saturday, October 19, 2013


My friend Dan Jenkins who lives in Idaho, had purchased plans and a materials kit for a miniature Launch Engine from Little Machine Shop in California. Dan finished his engine a couple months ago, and he thought I ought to look at the plans, so he mailed them down to me. They arrived just as I was finishing up on the Gyro Governor project, and being without a workshop project I immediately started to work on it. It was a quickie job and took less than a week, even though I only worked on it a couple hours a day. A few things were changed from the plan to accommodate materials that I had on hand, and the diameter of the rotary valve was reduced, I certainly did not want to experience another problem like I had with the Comber engine of several weeks ago. Other than that I followed the plan. This little engine took off running the first time air was applied, and it runs equally well in either direction depending on which port is hooked to the supply. Fun little engine for "Show and Tell".
It has already been placed on a display shelf along with some other similar sized models. Below is a video showing the little Launch Engine in action.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


A couple weeks ago I was thumbing through one of my old mechanical books looking for inspiration of something mechanically unusual to build for a next project, when I noticed a simple illustration of a gyroscopic governor. That triggered my memory of seeing one many years ago, at an antique machinery show. Searching my old photographs turned up a single picture of it. That seemed like a suitable project. I've never seen a governor like it before or since. At least it ought to make for a good conversation piece. I have no idea what it was used on, but suspect it was probably some kind of internal combustion engine. The name plate says it was built by Harris Machinery Co. in Minneapolis.

A casting for the governor yoke required making a new pattern, but for the rest of the castings I was able to use on hand patterns and things. I rammed up extra molds so I would not have to make another heat in case of defects, but it turned out I did not need them. I can use the spares for other projects or simply remelt them.

Work on it progress a little bit at a time over the past couple weeks until today when it became a completed model. It certainly works, but perhaps not as smoothly and efficiently as a fly ball or fly weight type governor. Perhaps that is why we no longer see them in use. But for me it is a fascinating bit of history. It deserves a spot on the display shelves.
     Here is a short video. Notice how the control lever moves as the speed of rotation is changed.