Final Approach A Time for Building
Tim Rinaldi’s Pratt & Whitney JT8D Turbofan
MANY MODELERS HAVE TRIED scratch building with varying degrees of success. Building with only the materials you can gather yourself, not provided by a company or hobby store, can be daunting at best. How about trying to build a Pratt & Whitney JT8D engine using only recycled cardboard and hot glue?
Tim Rinaldi, now 16, began his modeling career making Lego models from scratch.
As his skills progressed and he refined his talents, Tim became interested in remote control. Borrowing 10 servos, some receivers, a radio, and batteries from me, Tim (at age
14!) designed and built a biped robot that could walk forward and backward and move its arms. He entered it into Connecticut’s
2016 Durham Fair and was awarded a firstplace ribbon and a special best-in-category award for his age group.
Another category for youth exhibitors at the Durham Fair is “Creative Use of Recycled Materials,” which requires youth to build items using only recyclable materials. Intrigued, Tim set out to build a jet engine made out of the sheet metal of tin soup cans. He referenced the Internet when researching the composition and function of jet engines, completed the project, entered his work in the Durham Fair and, once again, won for his age category at the 2016 fair.
This all led to the building of his signature accomplishment to date: a Pratt & Whitney JT8D Turbofan jet engine. While visiting Pratt & Whitney, an aerospace manufacturing company in Connecticut, Tim caught a glimpse of a fullscale engine cutaway on display in the lobby. He was so impressed by what he saw that he decided to replicate it. With pictures that he took of the Turbofan, he began to design and create his own model.
Reminiscent of his use of recycled materials for the Durham Fair, his model was made out of brown cardboard and hot glue. His revolving Turbofan blade is 7 inches in diameter, and the length of the engine, from nose to end cone, is 33 inches. The fan revolves around a simple 1/3-inch wooden rod, and the circumference of the engine is a whopping 21.98 inches. It’s a model of substantial size, weighing in at 2 pounds. Tim spray-painted his engine with two different shades of silver to match the original engine at Pratt & Whitney.
He began constructing the model on June 26, and finished it on August 8, 2017, in time to win again at the Durham Fair. In fact, he was awarded a special best in show award for the uniqueness of his creation.
The model caught the attention of an engineer from Pratt & Whitney, who saw it at the fair. Fascinated, he invited Tim to bring his model engine to Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford. Tim joyously accepted. In the spring of 2018, he brought his engine to Pratt & Whitney, where he was greeted by Pratt executives and given a tour of the manufacturing facility and the company’s museum. He presented his engine to a body of engineers, staff, and executives, where he was acknowledged and congratulated for his amazing model.
Eager to continue his creativity, Tim is planning his next project: a cardboard V-8 engine with working pistons. The amount of thought, design, and engineering skills that have gone into the completion of his projects should encourage us all, at any age, to forge ahead with our own ideas, to realize that we can make something unique that is our own, not out of a manufacturer’s box. Who has the time? The ingenuity? The passion? Tim did. So can we.
Tim Rinaldi, age 16, with his homemade model of the Pratt & Whitney JT8D Turbofan engine.