Letters and Miscellanies

From-scratch engine's life at sea

Seaengine.jpg

Wayne Leffler’s made-at-sea engine.

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This one-of-a-kind engine was built with a lathe, drill press and torch, without plans or blueprints.

It was started in 1942 on a floating machine shop between Mexico and Pearl Harbor, and finished in May 1945 at a U.S. Navy base in the jungles of Humboldt Bay, Dutch New Guinea. The spark plug was purchased in San Diego before leaving the United States.

By my poor memory, the bore and stroke are 7/8-inch-by-1-inch. It runs at 8,500 RPM and it built of iron, brass, copper, aluminum and stainless steel (flywheel). All of the aluminum parts (piston, cylinder head and rotary disc valve) were whittled from a piston out of a Japanese Zero aircraft engine. The ignition coil is handmade. For jump spark (3 volts), I used two flashlight batteries. Breaker points came from a wrecked Sintella magneto.

There are no lapped joints and no gaskets, not even a head gasket. There are no piston rings and no sealing compound. The piston was lapped in with Bon Ami. It has high compression even to this day. The total time run was approximately 20 minutes. I hesitated to run it longer, as the wrist pin seen through the exhaust port is badly worn.

Wayne Leffler
7924 Soper Hill Road
Everett, WA 98205-1250