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Model Gas Engine Handbook

The "Model Gas Engine Handbook" is a compilation of information on classic spark ignition engines assembled by Bernard B. "Bernie" Winston of America's Hobby Center (AHC) fame. The book was actually published by Winston Publishers and sold through AHC. It first appeared in 1944, subsequently going through at least six printings totalling 38,000 copies - there may have been more. Naturally, glow-plug and diesel operation are not covered - neither had reached America when this book was prepared.

The book is softbound in a 75/8 x 51/2 format, with 150 pages printed on rather cheap paper. Much of the material comes from engine manufacturers of the period, making this as much a compilation as an original authored work. However, all the contents have been re-typeset in a consistent font and style.

The cover page subtitles the book "A complete manual of the Theory and Practice of Model Gas Engine operation". It begins with what the author calls a "Preface and Apology", stating that "Since this book is not encyclopedic, many phases may have been touched on too lightly—or indeed, not at all." A little at odds with the "complete" claim in the subtitle!

The book is divided into fifteen chapters, including operating theory, fuel mixtures, ignition wiring diagrams, useful mathematics, a list of quite valid "don'ts", specifications of principal engines (reproduced from "Model Airplane News" (MAN) with permission), blueprints for building two model gas engines and instruction sheets for selected "principal engines". As such books go, it is actually quite good and reasonably comprehensive. Although much of the information is now dated, it still provides an interesting overview of how things were done back then as regards model engine management. It is without doubt a useful "period" reference.

The chapter providing instruction sheets for "principal engines" will be of special interest to collectors who may have acquired an example of a particular type and are wondering what the manufacturer may have had to say about its operation. 38 types are covered, with detail varying between a couple of paragraphs to several pages with photos and drawings—in short, whatever the manufacturer provided. All of the popular types are there, including the Brown Jr., the Cannon range, the infamous G.H.Q., the Atom, Ohlsson, OK (single and twin), Elf, (single, twin, and four-cylinder), plus many of the more exotic types such as the Comet, Hornet, McCoy, Megow 199, G9 and Silver King. The Feeney four-stroke even gets a page.

Copies of this book still show up from time to time on eBay and elsewhere. Anyone interested in classic model spark ignition engines will find much of interest in its pages.