April 2015

 From the Editor - April 1st, 2015

Happy April Fool's Day, everyone!  I thought of devoting this issue to the subject of knitting (about which I know nothng), but decided than none of my readers would be fool enough to read it despite the day! So I elected instead to stick with model engines!

On a far more serious note, many of you will already have heard the sad news regarding the passing of yet another key figure in the history of the British model engine manufacturing industry. The latest departure is Ken Bedford of ETA fame, who left us suddenly on January 20th, 2015 at the age of 91 years. Few individuals having a keen interest in model engines will be unaware of the ETA range of model engines with which Ken was associated from 1947 until 1974. I have been planning a number of articles about these engines, and this event serves as yet another stark reminder that the time to record such histories is now given the rate at which the pioneers are departing. Ken left a great legacy which is well worth recording for posterity. I intend to do what I can in that regard. 

Speaking of which, following my rant of last month regarding the criticism that my articles are too "wordy" (see the March Editorial), I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of contrary email that poured in. Without exception, all of those who wrote in were extremely supportive of my work, saying in effect that they were really glad that someone was making the effort to assemble all of this information. They echoed my comment that no-one has to read anything if they choose not to do so, going on to say that their choice was to read it allboth because they enjoyed doing so very much and because they wanted all the information. Basically, I was told to ignore any nay-sayers and just get on with it! I really appreciate the support - big thanks to all who wrote in. 

Now, back to the matter in hand! This month we were going to be down to only two new articles - I've warned you repeatedly that we've been heading in that direction! However, I received a bonus in the shape of a very interesting submission for the "TECHNICAL TOPICS" secion fom reader Dave Causer. Dave has considerable experience with rebuilding both the Allen-Mercury (A-M) 35 and the JB Atom, both of which use composite pistons with internal gudgeon (wrist) pin carriers which make it impossible to change the con-rod without dismantling the piston assembly. Problem was, how to go about this? Dave's article explains the construction of these components and tells us how to go about dismantling the composite pistons for servicing. A very useful bit of knowledge, for which I'm very grateful to Dave!

As far as new engine articles go, we have two additions this time. The first is another left-over piece of old business - the early FROG "bicycle-spoke" models. My original article on these engines appeared in March 2008 on the late Ron Chernich’s now-frozen “Model Engine News” (MEN) site. Since then, a great deal of additional information has come to light, along with a number of corrections to our previous understandings regarding these motors. Accordingly, it has been judged necessary to publish a comprehensively updated article on this web-site. 

The second new offering is a comprehensive hstory of the replica and retro engines manufactured during the 1980's by the small English firm of Dunham Engineering. Many people remember the products of this company, but their full story seems to be less widely known. No more - the new article tells all..........

For next month, I have two articles scheduled. The first represents what I think is my final remaining catch-up project following the hiatus of 2014 - the completely revised and corrected story of the Alag engines from Hungary. In this, I was aided once more by my good friend Ferenc "Somi" Somogyi, whose earlier contribution to the telling of the MOKI story on this web-site has already been widely read.  Hopefully this time I'll get it right! 

The other new piece will be the first-ever in-depth look in the English language at the work of one of the less well-recognized figures in the model engine design field during its Golden Age - Giovanni Barbini from Italy. Barbini's B.40 TN glow-plug model surprised almost everybody in 1956 and 1957 by successfully taking on the world, very much including the most prominent Italian model engine manufacturer of the day, Super Tigre. Barbini's diesels too were outstanding designs in their own right. This is an interesting story which is well worth telling in full. 

On a housekeeping note, regular readers will have noticed that many of the images that I cull from the 'Web or from the pages of old model engine articles are unattributed. This being the case, I should perhaps explain my policy regarding the accreditation of images. Wherever possible, I use images which I have taken myself. All images with my trade-mark pale green background (such as those of the A-M 35 and the FROG range included above in this Editorial) are my own work, and I don't bother to attribute each one to myself - it's a given. Some of the other images are also my own from years past, but I don't bother with those either because my concern is not with receiving credit but with telling the stories. However, the majority of the non-green background images were taken by others. Whenever I know the name of the photographer for certain, I name the individual in the caption. However, in the many cases in which I have no way of knowing the photographer's identity, I necessarily omit that information. This does not mean that I don't care - merely that I don't know. That said, if any reader recognizes their work in these pages and wants to be credited, please let me know and I will make the correction - can't say fairer than that! 

Speaking of communication, I hear more and more about readers who are requesting my email address from someone already "in the know" so that they can communicate with me directly. This is an issue with which I have wrestled long and hard! On the one hand, I love exchanging information and ideas with my fellow enthusiasts - after all, that's what this site is all about! On the other hand, I now have a readership of well over 1000 individual users, with more being added every week. If I gave everybody my email address and if even 10% of them started communicating on anything like a regular basis, I would be totally swamped by the email blob - the site would go down because I wouldn't have time to maintain it! I simply don’t have time to respond to a large number of emails while also preparing my articles and attending to my several other lives. I hope you can understand my dilemma – I’d like to maintain contact with everyone on an ongoing basis, but simply don’t have the time to do so. 

This is why I haven't posted my email address on the site and have asked all of those who are already in contact to refrain from passing my contact information along to others without my express consent. I’m fortunate in that my friends and colleagues who are already on my mailing list have almost universally respected my wishes. They seem to understand this issue and are generally very considerate, contacting me only when they have a very good reason for doing so or when a response from me is not required. If they were all like that, there wouldn’t be a problem. However, there was one guy who basically just wanted to chat about engines (something that I love doing too!) - he sent message after message, taking up a huge amount of time. I tried to stop it by explaining the problem, but to no avail. In the end, I had to block him! I hated doing that – after all, he was just an enthusiast, although perhaps a bit too much so and not listening too well..............

I think that the solution to this problem may be to set up a separate "email bag" in which all incoming model engine emails are collected, with an automatic response being generated to confirm that the message has been received and will be read, but also that a response may or may not be forthcoming depending on the topic and my time constraints. I'll look into this and let you know how it comes out. I'd like to fix this ............

I think that's all for now - happy flying, metal mangling and collecting, and I'll see you next month!


Adrian Duncan

Coquitlam, BC, Canada