BLACKBOURN

THAT’S AN ODD PLACE FOR AN EN­GINE

Unique Cars - - CONTENTS -

YOUR RE­SPONSES to Mor­ley’s in­ter­est in en­gines you’ve spot­ted do­ing un­usual jobs have made good read­ing. Car and truck mo­tors have been adapted to power fish­ing-boats, cin­ema gensets, con­crete-truck drums, a Bren-gun car­rier, even glider tow air­craft. What next?

Od­dball en­gi­neer­ing has al­ways given me a buzz.

I still re­mem­ber be­ing an ex­cited 12-year-old spot­ting ads in the Amer­i­can Pop­u­lar

Me­chan­ics mag­a­zine for items like plans to build a mower-en­gine-based petrolpow­ered pogo stick and even a DIY pulse-jet rocket-mo­tor for your push bike (“What could pos­si­bly go wrong?” I hear Ed Guido mut­ter­ing).

I ad­mire the imag­i­na­tion of in­di­vid­u­als who come up with ap­pli­ca­tions en­gine de­sign­ers hadn’t dreamt of. Then there’s the in­ge­nu­ity they demon­strate in mak­ing the thing work ef­fi­ciently. And more of­ten than not the end re­sult show­cases some first-class en­gi­neer­ing. Most im­pres­sive is that in many cases this stuff is done in a back­yard shed or mod­est work­shop with none of the fi­nan­cial and tech­ni­cal re­sources big busi­nesses take for granted.

It’s one thing to see en­gines do­ing un­ex­pected jobs, but some­thing else en­tirely when the reimag­in­ing in­volves chang­ing the con­fig­u­ra­tion and func­tion of the en­gine it­self as part of the ex­er­cise. My nos­tal­gic at­tach­ment to Ford f lat­h­ead V8s (yeah, I know, ‘It’s time to move on, Rob’…) means not much f lat­h­ead news gets past me. How­ever a re­cent item on a US site sur­prised me. This f lat­h­ead V8 had been re­branded as a Schramm air com­pres­sor. It wasn’t that Mr Schramm & Co had used Henry’s bent-eights to power com­pres­sors – they had been con­vert­ing them to air com­pres­sors. With new heads, man­i­folds and mod­i­fied valve-trains Schramm used the end cylin­ders to op­er­ate as four-cylin­der, two-stroke com­pres­sors. The cen­tral pairs of cylin­ders con­tin­ued to op­er­ate ‘nor­mally’ as four- stroke V4 mo­tors to drive the things (I can’t help won­der­ing what sort of ex­haust note they pro­duced).

The Amer­i­can Schramm set-up shouldn’t have caught me out en­tirely be­cause I re­call see­ing a sim­i­lar thing done here with V W Bee­tle mo­tors. In this case two pots com­pressed air while the re­main­ing two pro­vided power. They were used by small con­trac­tors back in the day. While V W com­pres­sors could only drive a sin­gle heav y jack ham­mer, the guys knew that at least they would start when you turned the key. That was a big con­trast with third- or fourth-hand heav yduty diesel com­pres­sors that were weary old ma­chines by the time lit­tle guys could af­ford them. In that con­di­tion they could be damn near im­pos­si­ble to start on cold morn­ings. Many cre­ative and some­times risky pro­ce­dures were used to coax the old diesel girls into life, in­clud­ing spray­ing petrol or even ether into the in­take sys­tems as they cranked them over. This was well be­fore prod­ucts like ‘Start Ya Bas­tard’ ap­peared on the scene to take the risk out of the ex­er­cise.

Sud­denly I’m see­ing the mes­sages from Can­berra that Aussies need to be more ag­ile and as­pi­ra­tional in a new light. How about a tem­plate for a multi-func­tion mo­tor that would hand­somely power an off-grid shed? Yep, I’m imag­in­ing some­thing tasty and af­ford­able set up on a stand as a sta­tion­ary en­gine down the back of the shed be­hind the Cobra, the XU-1 and the Sun­beam Tiger. Per­haps a V12 Jaguar mo­tor, with two pots adapted to air­com­pres­sor duty for the air­tools and the hoist, leav­ing 10 to run a two-stage gen­er­a­tor. The first stage would sup­ply all of the shed’s ba­sic elec­tricpower while the sec­ond pro­vides arc-welder cur­rent. Ra­di­a­tor heat could warm the shed in win­ter – cool­ing fans for sum­mer could be belt-driven off the crank­shaft pul­ley. An ex­haust-man­i­fold heat ex­changer could boil water for a cuppa…

Now, who’s got a nice Jag V12 they don’t need?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.