Saturday, November 22, 2014


 In my library are several books showing all sorts of mechanical movements, and I got an idea that building a number of those movements into a machine would make for an interesting project to work on. And it did. The above picture show the results after working at it for about a month and a half. The two pictures below are the side views.

 Here is a video of the mechanisms being cranked into action.


Friday, September 26, 2014


After seeing a Ringbom engine operating at a hobby machinist gathering and being intrigued with it, I decided to build one myself. I already had a booklet about them in by library written by Dr. James Senft. According to the information in the book they were invented by Ossian Ringbom in 1907. However there is no evidence that any of the engines were ever built. Using a patent drawing Dr. Senft had worked up a set of construction drawings for a miniature working model, which I used as a basis for this model, except I doubled the size, and changed some of the materials to be able to use what was on hand.
The cold end of the displacer cylinder was machined out of solid stainless steel. The hot end is a piece of drain pipe or tube. The displacer is a small shaving soap container. The power cylinder is a piece of automobile shock absorber, and the flywheel is a roller that I picked up at a swap meet, etc. etc.
     It is rather strange. Below operating temperature, both starting and stopping it rocks back and forth in half revolutions.
However after it reaches operating temperature it runs in full circles, and it will run either direction.
In this video it is running at about minimum operating temperature. Slightly more heat and it will run faster.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


For a long time I've had a desire to build a replica of Henry Ford's First engine. The engine is a simple looking thing built mainly of pipe fittings before Henry ever got started into making automobiles. I'm sure he just wanted to see if he could build a gasoline engine that would run, and he did. The year was 1893.
    Just as I was looking for another project The Home Shop Machinist magazine came out with a construction article on the engine. What better time to build one than now? First thing to do was search the Internet and I was able to find a couple pictures and other information. My engine is not an exact duplicate of the original. More of a compromise between the article and the pictures that I found. But a close representation.
The first order of business was to gather what materials were on hand and then a trip to the hardware store for a few pipe fittings.
Every day I managed to do a couple machining  operations or make a part or two.
Here is a close up of the timing gear, exhaust cam, and sparker switch (breaker points).
Finally the completed engine. In an attempt to duplicate the original the parts were mounted on an old weathered board.
Considerable time was spent hand cranking the engine and using starting fluid. I never could get it to pop more than once or twice, and I was beating my hand against the board. So I built a cranking adapter that fit the electric drill. This made it so the engine could be cranked faster and easier, and I finally got it so it would run a couple seconds at a time on it's own.
     A whole week was spent trying everything I could think of to get it to run continously. Finally an adapter was made and it was switched over to propane. Same old story, just a few pops at first, but the more I kept trying and adjusting the better it ran until, well look at the video for yourself.
During the process I learned a few things perhaps I can go back the the drip lubricator and get it to run on gasoline, but out of time for today. Actually I'm pretty excited to have it running at all.

Friday, August 8, 2014


Time for another engine project and this time the Kimble Engine out of Elmer Verburg's book was selected, because it is different. Rather than a piston it has a vane.
The engine was invented by Emory Kimble near the end of the 1800s and manufactured by the Comstock Manufacturing Co. in Michigan. The original engines ranged in size from 2HP to 45 HP, and were produced at a rate of about 25 per month. In addition to the US, shipments were sent to a number of foreign countries.

The model is a simplified version of the original, and is constructed of brass, stainless steel, with an aluminum base. It was under construction for about a week.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


It was time for another model engine. This time I picked a Lehmann Hot air engine because it has such an interesting linkage motion.
The Lehmann engine was developed and patented in Germany, but the particular one I built the model of was manufactured in England by W H Bailey Co. under a license agreement around 1860.
Construction was carried out looking at an illustration that I copied out of a book. It is not and exact scale model, but a pretty close representation. At first glance it looks complicated, but is really a pretty simple engine.
To start I needed to find some tubing for the cylinder and displacer. I had a 5" long piece of tube from a Bimba air cylinder that could be used where the power piston operates, but it was not long enough for the hot tube, so I tried rolling up some sheet metal for that and also the displacer. When they turned out OK, I proceeded with the patterns for the castings.
I only needed to make patterns for the water jacket and stand it sits on. I was able to use a base pattern from previous models.
A graceful curved spoke flywheel like was used on the original German engines was poured, but I changed my mind and ended up using a straight spoke, round rim wheel like was used on the Bailey engines. Fabricating and machining proceeded a little bit each day until yesterday it became a complete and working engine.

 Except for the bolts and screws, it was built entirely from scraps, even melted down some old motorcycle parts for the castings. It turned out great and is one of my best running hot air engines. From what I've read about them, the original engines were some of the best. It has been a most satisfying project. Construction time approximately 5 weeks.

Monday, June 16, 2014


While trying to think up another project to work on I built a Mini Engine that did not use up a lot of time or material. It was finished Father's June 15, so I have been telling everyone that it is my new Baby.
It really runs to, but goes so fast it is just a blur, take a look.
Got the engine done, and posted on the blog, and I'm still thinking about a next project, so I do not know if it helped or not.

Sunday, June 1, 2014


   For something unique and different this time I made a replica of an Elgin Cutlass Pistol. They were invented in 1837 by George Elgin, at a time when close combat was often with the use of knives, or swords. Adding a gun seemed like would be quite an improvement. The US Navy purchased 150 of them, and some were issued for use in the 4 year Wilkes South Pacific Exploring Expedition.
   They were the only pistol to ever be fitted with a knife, and the first to use a percussion cap, which gives them some historical significance. However the small number manufactured, is probably a testament to their usefulness in combat.
 Construction started by finding some good pictures of the pistol on the Internet, then enlarging them to the full size to be used as patterns. The main frame was cut out of the ugliest scrap I could find. Actually the only one I had with enough mass to it.
 Bits and pieces were slowly pared away to get down to the desired size.
 The barrel simply started as a strip of 7/8" steel plate. This pistol was a smooth bore, so it only required drilling it out to .540" (54 Caliber). Lot of chips milled off to get it to octagon shape.
The blade was sawed out of 11/32"plate. That was too thick for the blade, but needed to be about that thick to look right for the knuckle guards which are integral.
The excess thickness was milled off the blade in the milling machine using a fly cutter. Not a very efficient way of manufacturing, but OK I guess for a one of a kind replica. It got the job done.

 The lock parts were hidden from view in all pictures, so I had to guess at what they looked like. You see what I ended up with in the above picture. It works good and that is what counts. The main spring was cut from a piece of 2" wide x .048" thick heavy strapping or banding material. At first it was too soft so it was hardened and tempered. Now it works fine.
            The handle or grip was carved out of a piece of walnut.
Finally this morning after being under construction for a month it is complete and ready to be placed on display, as shown in the first picture of this posting. Although probably not the best fighting weapon, hopefully it will be a good conversation piece.

Friday, April 18, 2014


Time to add a new engine to the collection, and this one is a Non Compression gas engine. As I understand it was a concept being experimented with 100 or so years ago. The engines run on 2 cycle. A fuel charge is drawn in for part of a stroke, then the spark plug fires, igniting the fuel and driving the piston the rest of the stroke. The return stroke of the piston is exhaust, and the cycle starts over again.
The engines start and run fairly well, but simply do not develop any amount of usable power. That is why you never see anything but a replica model of one now days.
As with most any engine, a cylinder, crank, and flywheels, etc. were needed, and to expedite the job I poured castings, using some other castings that I had on hand a foundry patterns. Extras were poured in case there were defects I would not have to do it all over again. There were a couple minor defects, but I was easily able to pick out a set of good castings and proceed. (In a pinch I could have used all of them)
Machining proceeded, the engine was fitted with a cast iron sleeve in the cylinder and ball bearings for the crankshaft
The piston and piston ring were machined out of a hunk of automobile cam shaft. That is a high quality cast iron.
I elected to make a roller cam follower to operate the exhaust valve. Those 1/32" diameter cotter pins used to hold the pivot pins were a little delicate, but that is all part of the hobby.
The cylinder head was machined out of 416 stainless steel, and it is fitted with one of my homemade spark plugs. The valves look very much like automotive valves, but heads are only slightly larger than 1/4".      The intake is atmospherically aspirated, similar to most any old single cylinder engine.

Finally on April 15th it was ready for testing to see if it would run. Here is the video. Take a look for yourself.
During the initial testing the engine was running on propane using the demand regulator that I built last year. It will also run on gasoline using a vapor carburetor. And the ignition buzz coil is also one shown in a previous posting.

Friday, March 14, 2014


I'm not sure what inspired this project. Perhaps it was because Daughter in law Angie teaches classes at Golds Gym. Considerable time was spent browsing through images on the Internet of people exercising, and various kinds of exercise equipment trying to pick things that could be worked into an automaton and provide interest.
To start the process, silhouette type figures were cut out of hard wood using a scroll saw.
The blocks were then shaped with a Dremel rotary tool. Not exact, but close enough for whimsy. The figures are about 5" tall, and the faces about the size of a fingernail. Some parts were carved separately and either glued or pined in place. Dressmaker pins were were used for a lot of joints and mechanical connections. If some things look out of proportion it is because and artiest is licensed to exaggerate to attract attention to the work. There was a lot of preliminary fitting and testing as the work progressed, as can be seen in the above picture.
I prefer to not copy other people's work, but the Hula Hoop girl that I seen on You Tube was so unique that I had to bend my rules. All the rest of the figures of my own design. That was the most complicated figure, and it took 9 days to build.
The Hula girl is driven by gears, and I elected to make peg gears, because I think they are classic.
Motion is transmitted from the crank to the figures by cams, gears and pulleys. Here is a view into the mechanical compartment.
    Finally after working at it doing something every day, 7 days a week for a month and a half it became a working machine yesterday afternoon.
Now instead of going through a strenuous routine, all I''ll have to do is turn the crank a few turns and I'll have my exercising done for the day!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


About the first of the year friend Lowell got a new Dremel tool, and when a friend gets a tool, I want one too, besides, anyone who is anybody in hobby circles has a Dremel, so that was reason enough for me to get one too.
When I got it home I had to use it for something to justify it's existence, so I carved a cow out of a block of wood, looking at images from the internet as a reference.
Followed by a little milker person sitting on a stool. His arms were formed out of metal, because people who milk cows by hand get real "strong" arms.
Then came the tail. Cows are always swatting flies with their tail, and also the milker who is milking them. There is a bucket to catch the milk and then machinery under the platform that makes everything work, and last of all, a gaudy paint job. I'm not sure what kind of a cow it is, but suspect some kind of  cross breed. I've been told that Artists are licensed to paint things any color they want.