January 2015

From the Editor - December 24th, 2014 

Well, here we go into Christmas 2014, to be followed immediately by yet another year - 2015!  I'd like to start by wishing all of the members of the extended model engine family who make up my readership a very warm and fulfilling Festive Season with family and friends, and a happy and prosperous New Year to follow. Thanks for being here!!

Last year was incredibly busy for me, what with getting my new web-site set up not once but twice and having to play catch up with the unpublished articles that had accumulated, as well as keeping up with my several other lives! I'm just beginning to realize how much work my late and very much-missed mate Ron Chernich put into his superb "Model Engine News" (MEN) web-site! You never really appreciate things like that until you walk a mile or two in the other guy's shoes, as I've been attempting to do lately.

I'm still not done with the catch-up task - you'll see more of the piled-up material appearing here over the next few months. I will get there eventually, after which I hope that things will settle down into a more reasonable routine, with only one or perhaps two new articles each month as in the old days. That's about all that I can manage on a regular basis, what with all of my other commitments. 

The revised site seems to be playing well so far - last time I checked the statistics a few days ago, I found that in the seven weeks since it first went on line, I had hits from over 720 individual computers worldwide, a number which is steadily growing. Those computers represent individual users, who have accessed a total of over 20,000 pages on the site at last count. These statistics are quite pleasing, since they show that what I'm doing here is seen as worthwhile by many of those who share my passion for historic and unusual model engines. If no-one was using the site, there would be little incentive to continue!

The geographic distibution of the users of this site is also quite interesting. So far, users from Great Britain are in the majority, with Australia running a fairly close second. Canada and the USA are almost tied for third place, with Canada currently holding a slim edge. However, I've had smaller numbers of hits from an amazing range of countries, including Sweden, France, Spain, Norway, Romania, New Zealand, Italy and Hungary. The word is getting about!!    

This edition has actually been posted a week or so ahead of the theoretical January 1st, 2015 schedule. This is mainly due to the fact that the Christmas/New Year period is pretty much all taken up with various seasonal activities, leaving me with little opportunity to get things sorted during the run-up to January 1st! Moreover, the first part of January is largely booked up with musical and other commitments. So I decided to get a jump on things by preparing this issue early. Look upon it as a Christmas bonus ..............I'll be back to the normal schedule beginning on February 1st, 2015. 

Since last time, I've added a number of new items. The Rivers Silver Streak Mk. I article has been augmented thanks to some comments received from readers Andrew Longhurst and Mel Lyne - thanks, guys! Comments of this sort from readers are always welcome. New engine articles have been added on the David-Andersen engines fron Norway as well as the Owat 5 cc diesel from Bradford, England and the almost-forgotten Ueda range from Japan. All of these articles and many more besides may be accessed through the ENGINE ARTICLES button on the toolbar.

Something of genuine significance to those of us who take an interest in model diesel development during the pioneering era is the publication for the first time ever of an English translation of Jan David-Andersen's ground-breaking 1944 book on model diesel construction and operation. As far as I'm aware, this was the first-ever publication on this subject world-wide. It was a privilege to place this historic document on the "PUBLICATIONS" page on this web-site, with the full endorsement of Jan David-Andersen himself.  

Under the TECHNICAL TOPICS button, you'll find an in-depth article about the operation of fixed-compression diesels, a subject about which more misinformation has been spread about in the past than almost any other topic I can think of! My recent very successful test of the Owat 5 cc fixed-compression diesel reminded me once again that the operation of such engines is perfectly straightforward provided you understand what you're doing and why, and proceed accordingly. Hopefully my comments, which are based on decades of hands-on experience, will encourage a few more enthusiasts to give their fixed-compers an outing now and then!

There's also a new article under the TECHNICAL TOPICS heading on the subject of operating twin-plug model glow-plug engines. This interesting matter was brought to my attention during the preparation of the previously-referenced Ueda article, since a number of that company's products featured twin plug heads. I think that this article may surprise many of you! 

With the kind permission of the original author and publisher, I've also added Maris Dislers' edited translation of a very interesting article by Finnish stunt expert Kai Karma on the subject of making piston rings. Many of us these days are using older engines for which spare parts are not available. Kai's approach to the making of new piston rings is very straightforward, being well within the capabilities of anyone who can carry out basic metal turning operations in a lathe. Hopefully this may help to keep some of those older motors going for a while longer............ 

I've added a few more titles to the PUBLICATIONS button as well. I plan to use this feature to make readers aware of some of what I consider to be the more important or interesting documents for serious model engine aficionados to have in their libraries for reference. Only if the history and provenance of these little mechanical marvels is preserved and disseminated will interest in their collection and conservation be sustained in the long term - indeed, that's a primary motivation for the development of this web-site. 

One item worth noting in particular is the inclusion of David Burke's Englsh translation of a 1977 article by Danish team-race expert Luis Petersen in which the relative performances of a number of then front-running team race motors are compared. This should be of great relevance to those among us who are interested in the development of team race diesels over the years. 

I have also continued to chip away at the GALLERY, although this is an area which has a lower priority for me than getting the articles up to speed. It will receive further attention as and when I find time to work on it. At present I'm treating it more or less as an "appetizer" by focusing on engines which appear either in articles on this site or on Ron Chernich's "Model Engine News" (MEN) site. In the latter case, direct links to the relevant articles on MEN are provided. The general rule is - if you see it in the Gallery, there's more detailed information avaiable either here or on MEN!

The more observant readers will notice a new category that has crept onto the bottom of the side menu at the left of the main entry pages. This is the SOURCES category, in which I will present contact information for a number of sources of hard-to-get engines, model engineering items and other goodies that may be of interest to model engine enthusiasts, particularly those involved in the restoration of these little wonders. Please note that I will only add to this category if I am personally completely satisfied that the source in question is one that I may honestly and objectively recommend on the basis of demonstrated merit. The inclusion of a given company on my list does not reflect any commercial relationship between myself and the company in question. Inclusions on this list are not for sale - they have to be earned through the provision of superior products and service over a period of time. I will restrict myself to listing sources that I myself have found to be useful on the basis of repeated personal experience, as may others like me. I'm very much open to suggestions from readers for further inclusions, but I will reserve the right to decide on all inclusions in this category, as with all other categories on this site.  

As far as further engine articles go, my next priority will be to finally fulfil my long-standing commitment to former Hungarian Speed Team manager Ferenc Somogyi by publishing his fascinating inside history of the MOKI venture from the very earliest days right up to the end. My plan is to make this article the centre-piece of next month's updated edition of this web-site. 

Speaking of which, my current plan is to have a new edition up as of February 1st, 2015. It may be somewhat more sparse than this issue, due largely to the time limitations imposed by the intervention of the festive season as well as my other commitments in early January 2015. However, once all of this activity is behind me I should be able to devote a bit more time to this project and get caught up once more. Please bear with me!

One welcome development over the past month or so has been the beginning of a trend towards readers actively seeking to help me in this work by submitting anecdotes and images for possible inclusion in my articles. I welcome such assistance with open arms - as I have said before, this is your web-site as much as mine! Complete illustrated articles are particularly welcome - indeed, the number of these already featured on the site is steadily growing.  

The one thing that I ask is that when submitting images, you do what you can to send them in publishable form. This mostly means making sure that they're in focus and reasonably well lit, and that the entire subject is well centred in the frame with some clearance around it for fine adjustment and little or no extraneous detail to distract the viewer. I can do some fine-tuning at this end, but having to extend image boundaries and remove distracting extraneous details takes a lot of time that I'd rather not spend. That said, I'd far rather have a less-than-perfect picture than none at all, so please by all means send what you have, even if it isn't perfect!  

In closing, I'd just like to wish you all once again a very happy festive season for 2014 and a fulfilling and prosperous year to follow in 2015. See you all next time!!

Adrian Duncan

Coquitlam, BC, Canada