January 2018

From the Editor - January 1st , 2018

Happy New Year! It's hard to believe that we've managed to survive another year - indeed, it seems like only yesterday that we were recovering from the effects of New Year's Eve  2016, and now here we are heading into 2018!   How did we survive yet another New Year's Eve, and where did the last twelve months go.....?!?

A milestone worth noting here is the impending 80th birthday of "Engine Collector's Journal" (ECJ) publisher Tim Dannels' wife and indespensable helper Betty. In case any of you want to send birthday greetings, this happy event will take place on January 4th, 2018.

I've had the pleasure of meeting both Tim and Betty in their hometown of Buena Vista, Colorado, USA, and I can confirm that Betty is at least as knowledgeable about model engines, especially those from the USA, as I am! Tim freely acknowledges that he couldn't keep up the invaluable work that he does on this subject without Betty's help. I'm sure that you'll all join with me in thanking Betty for her efforts over the years and wishing her a very happy birthday indeed, with many more to come! 

I'm glad to report that reader engagement with this web-site remained strong during November, the last month for which complete data are available at the time of writing. The number of hits in November established yet another new high monthly figure of 558,817, staying comfortably above the half-million mark and beating the former record of 534,521 set in October 2017. The visibility of the site is evidently being well sustained.

As might be expected, these hits translated into a modestly increased total of 14,022 actual visits - a slight increase over the October figure of 13,947, albeit still a little below the record March 2017 total of 14,268. The number of pages accessed actually fell slightly to 77,139 for a per-visit average of exactly 5.5 pages - a little down from the October average but still indicative of a healthy ongoing level of visitor engagement. Thanks to all of you for being a part of that!

Some of you may be wondering why I pay such close attention to the monthly visitation data for this site, to the extent of publishing the information with every Editorial. It's really very simple - these figures allow me to monitor the level of interest in what I'm doing here. They also allow my readers to remain abreast of the general level of ongoing interest in classic and collectible model engines. No sense preaching to a non-existent congregation! In a very real sense, those numbers are my incentive for spending the very considerable time (and money) required to keep this up. If the numbers eventually fall to marginal levels, that'll be the time to stop. Until then - onwards!!

Despite my repeated admonitions not to do so, people have continued to try to register on this website. As I've already stated repeatedly, this has no effect whatsoever - it's simply an artefact left over from the generic platform's intended use as an on-line sales site. Since this is not a sales site, the registration feature is redundant and I make no use of it whatsoever. Please don't bother - it simply creates unnecessary cyber-clutter! This message will clearly have to remain a regular feature of these Editorials...........

Over the past month, I've once again had the good fortune to hear from an amazing number of valued contacts from around the world, including Andrew Boddington, Maris Dislers, David Burke, Derek Butler, Paul Rossiter, Geoff Peacock, Alan Strutt, Sergio Montes, Miles Patience, Simon Blake, Ferenc "Somi" Somogyi, Mike Cook, Luis Petersen, Peter Valicek, Bill Schmidt, Vivek Sharma, Mike Conner, Johnny Shannon, Tom Coletta, Johnny Shannon, Don Sohn, Tim Dannels, Lars Gustafsson, Ken Croft, Peter Rathke and Jim Dunkin. Sincere apologies to anyone whom I may have inadvertently missed in the crowd!

The contact from Ken Croft was particularly welcome, since Ken forwarded an illustrated article on the subject of diamond lapping of an iron-and-steel piston/cylinder combination to a perfect fit and finish. Ken is a highly respected former member of the now-defunct Motor Boys International group of model engine constructors. Having successfully constructed some 40 engines, many of them replicas of rare or unusual historic designs, to an amazingly high standard, Ken's views on all aspects of model engine construction are well worthy of close attention!  This article is certainly well worth a read - I've added it to my Technical Topics pages on this website. Check it out, and also have a look at Ken's photo gallery of the various engines that he has built over the years. You'll be inspired .....!

The blog site has continued to generate a certain amount of traffic - thanks for that. The new security protocol has completely eliminated the spam traffic which I was constantly intercepting and trashing - a real load off my back! I've also successfully initiated the new image-uploading feature. At the outset, there was a problem - you could only post a comment if you uploaded a picture or file, because it was initially made a required field.  We've fixed that, and now you can post with or without an upload of any kind. 

I'm stll exploring the limitations of this new feature. It invites readers to upload a number of different file formats. Image files in jpg format upload perfectly, as do video clips in mov format  (I've tested both), but there have been several attempts to upload Word files in doc or docx formats which have only been partially successful. The posts show that a file has been uploaded, but for some undetermined reason the notification doesn't work as a link for readers of the blog site. The uploaded files do come through - in my Administrator capacity I can open them with no problem. This is the route which Ken Croft used to forward the previously-mentioned lapping article in Word format. It's just that regular readers don't seem to be able to access the document directly, as I can. No idea why..........

I'm not sure that I can fix this. I've discussed the matter with my IT guru Todd Higden of Frontline Multimedia, and it may be a limitation of the free plug-in that was used to create this feature (I like free!). However, I suspect that the main application will be the sharing of images and/or video clips with other readers, and that seems to work perfectly, at least with jpg and mov files. The feature also allows readers to send Word documents to me personally - I can always share them later on the main web site, just as I have already done with Ken Croft's article. So I still see this new feature as being very useful - hope that time proves me right! If you plan to upload a file, please remember that the maximum document size limit is 32 MB - should be ample for everything but really long video clips.

Turning now to this month's feature articles, we return to Scandinavia for a close-up look at a relatively little-known racing engine from Denmark - the Mikro 5 cc model of 1951. Although it has often been characterized as a Dooling 29 copy, an in-depth evaluation reveals that the Mikro is in fact a completely original design which, while undeniably incorporating certain elements of the Dooling layout, nontheless embodies a great deal of original thinking. This well-made unit performs at a very acceptable level by 1951 standards, doing great credit to its designer and manufacturer, Kaj Nielsen. It undoubtedly deserved a higher level of success than it actually achieved.

By way of a New Year bonus, I've also included another installment in my series of tests of classic 2.5 cc racing engines of the 1950's. This time it's the turn of the 1957 Vltavan 2.5 from Prague, Czechoslovakia (as the Czech Republic was then). This potent-looking unit was basically a clone of the very successful MVVS 2.5/1956-D design which had distinguished itself at the 1956 World Control Line Speed Championships. The Vltavan copy was simplified in certain respects, also being constructed to less exacting standards, as a result of which its performance did not match that of the MVVS originals. However, it was a far better performer than its "legend" suggests, hence doubtless doing an excellent job of fulfilling its intended role by providing the average Czech modeller with a readily-available competition engine with which he could gain invaluable experience.

For next month I plan to tackle a subject that's far closer to home, for me personally at least! I was born in Australia but grew up in England from the age of 7 onwards,  hence cutting my aeromodelling teeth in the latter country. However, I have lived in Canada since 1966, when I turned 19 and left school (s-o-o-o-o-o long ago now!). Despite this, I find upon review that I have never featured a Canadian engine either on the late Ron Chernich's now-frozen "Model Engine News" (MEN) site or here on my own still-active website.

Now I'll be the first to admit that Canada is definitely not the first country that comes to mind when the subject of commercial model engine manufacturing comes up! In large part this is doubtless due to the combination of two factors – one, a huge geographic area which created a very wide spread among a relatively small population and hence a highly fragmented domestic marketplace; and two, the presence of a ready source of competitively-priced engines which were produced to a high standard immediately south of the border in the USA.

However, a few brave souls did test the waters! Among them was the maker of Canada's one and only all-out racing engine, the 10 cc (0.604 cuin.) Monarch 600 from Toronto, Ontario. Next month's feature article will be an in-depth review of this extremely rare and very interesting Canadian design from the early post-WW2 era. I'll also include a summary overview of the Canadian model engine manufacturing scene in general. 

I think that's it for now. I'll be back to you with another issue on or about February 1st, 2018. Meanwhile, best wishes for a productive year in 2018, and may the heady aroma of diesel fumes or burning nitro assault your nostrils frequently............... !


Adrian Duncan 

Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada


Note regarding material to be found on this site - unless specifically otherwise noted, all images and text which appear on this site are my own work, and I hereby assert my right to be recognized as the originator of this material. For the record, this material is made freely available to all upon two firm conditions:

  1. No commercial use of any kind is to be made of any of the images or text posted on this site without my express written consent.
  2.  No use of any kind, commercial or otherwise, is to be made of any material published in any form on this site without full and open acknowledgement of the source.

Adrian C. Duncan

Coquitlam, BC, Canada