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Engine Building



Wherein we witness the evolution of a would-be machinist



**Click on any pic for a larger view**


My first engine. This is the “Lucy” oscillating piston steam engine, built from plans found on the internet. It is made primarily of clear plastic and runs on about 30psi and up of compressed air.



Haynes hot air engine. A stirling engine built from Vincent

Gingery’s book. I turned the fins from aluminum rather than using the folded sheet steel called for in the plans. Also, he has you casting the base and flywheel, but I made them from stock. My first attempt at brazing - attaching the end cap on the transfer cylinder - was not pretty but it worked. This engine takes a while to get up to speed, but it will run all day once it gets going.


A beam engine from the now-defunct web site The design for the drivetrain for the steam chest was flawed and would not turn the cam that runs the valve. I improvised a bit as evidenced by the bearing on the connecting rod resting on a cam block. Believe it or not it works, but not well. I was concerned with the brass tarnishing so I took it apart and lacquered all of the brass and aluminum parts. This genius move made it so stiff it won’t run at all. But is sure looks nice and shiny!



Stirling-powered fan from plans by Jerry Howell. It has a graphite power piston and transfer cylinder bushing. I found this material to be quite a challenge to machine due to how brittle it is. Also, I would be ashamed to admit how many transfer connecting rods I ruined before I got it right. My brother Jim can take credit for the compound angle cuts in the propeller hub. The end result is a real good running engine. Instead of using an alcohol lamp for a heat source I made a small gas burner. Also, notice the hole in the base, under the burner. I did that so I could take the four long support legs off and replace them with short ones with the bottom of the hot cap flush with the bottom of the base. This way I can put it on top of the wood stove and use it for a hot air circulator. However, so far I haven’t been able to get it to work in this mode because the cool side is getting too hot. I need to come up with some sort of heat deflector or something.



Single-cylinder, air-cooled farm engine from plans by Hamilton “Dick” Upshur. This is my first foray into internal combustion. It was truly challenging and served to teach me more about precision machining as well as a number of tools and techniques that I hadn’t tried before. The entire engine was made from stock with the exception of the timing gears and the cast bronze flywheels. I can’t tell you how gratifying it was the first time this little engine fired and ran. Admittedly, I had an advantage, as it turned out that Dick Upshur lives just around the corner from me and was more than happy to help out when I needed it. He sells plans for this and a number of other engines of his own design. You can reach him at 610-696-3464.


The only improvisation I did on this engine was the cylinder, which I made in one piece from steel hex stock. The plans call for an aluminum head and cylinder with a steel liner.






Current Project




I am now working on the Bob Shores Hercules. Here are some


pics of some of the components I have finished to date:



Top half of block with cylinders             Piston with connecting rod.                  Crankcase with crank, main bearings,

and tappet guides.                                                                                                        rods and pistons.




Cylinder head.                                                                                  Camshaft with bearing and timing gear.








Progress since the above addition:




Valvetrain parts, head, timing cover      Valves, springs, retainers and pins        Assembled block minus timing cover

and starter clutch.                                     (I'm not happy with how the springs    and head.

                                                                      look so I'll probably redo them)





Left-front view of assembled parts so far.                         Right-front view.










At this point the engine is essentially done. The radiator is the


last major component, and I'm working on it now. I've been


trying to start it but no luck so far. The compression is not what


it should be, so I need to work on either a valve or ring issue.





Engine on its stand/ignition box. I used        Right view. Note the water pump. I made       Left side view.

the MJN Exciter coil and a 6 volt gel-             a centrifugal pump instead of the gear

cell battery.                                                         pump to lessen drag on the engine.




Stay tuned…


Contact Steve