"Model Petrol Engines" by Edgar T. Westbury (1896 - 1970) was published in 1947 by Percival Marshall & Co. Ltd. of London, England, quickly becoming one of the model engineers' Bibles of its day. The scope of the book is rather more narrow than its title might be taken to reflect. No attempt whatsoever is made to review commercially-available model spark ignition engines of the day - rather, the book may best be summarized as an in-depth account of Westbury's personal approaches to the design and home construction of model spark ignition engines, both two and four stroke.The designs featured in the book are Westbury's own for the most part. There is no coverage of commercial designs at all. This stems from the fact that Westbury was a lifelong advocate of home construction of model engines, a view which was very much in keeping with his position as Associate Editor of "The Model Engineer" magazine.
This book appeared at a time when Britain was in the throes of post-war austerity and expensive manufactured goods such as model engines were beyond the means of many individuals. However, mechanical skills were relatively common during what may be termed Britain's "late industrial period" (in many cases as a result of service to wartime industry). For many people possessing such skills, the only way to obtain otherwise prohibitively expensive luxury items like model engines was to make them yourself. Many talented individuals did just that, with Westbury and other like him as their guides. This was the Golden Age of model engineering, and Westbury's book must have assisted many individuals to get started in the field.
Given its lack of descriptive material on commercial engines of the early post-war era, this book will probably have little practical value for most of today's model engine aficionados. However, it does offer a fascinating look into the thought processes of a very talented model engine designer and builder of the early post-war period. As such, no present-day model engine builder could fail to find it interesting.
Westbury's work far outlived the man himself - his designs continue to be constructed by today's model engineers, with commercial castings still being available for a number of his designs. A tribute to Westbury's life and work may be found on Ron Chernich's "Model Engne News" (MEN) web-site.