On Model Building

Gas Engines

Content Tools

2024 Gambels Way, Santa Rosa, California 95403

A few years ago, while attending a show, I spotted a small engine nestled among some big wheeled hit and misses. What I saw was a vertical Perkins, a tiny version of the real thing. The owner/builder explained to me the possibilities of gas engine model building.

The engines pictured are as follows: A Galloway cast by Richard Shelly, it sits on an oak base with inset Bocote wood skids. The Fairbanks-Morse cast by Tom Stuart sits on a base made of Cocobolo wood. The Olds is a Paul Breisch casting resting on a maple base. The Fuller & Johnson cast by Ed Chick sits on a tulipwood base.

For people not familiar with gas engine models, I'd like to say that when purchasing a model you receive cast pieces of brass and iron. When done machining these parts you end up with the beginning of an engine. Most models also come with a chunk of cast aluminum that will become the piston. Now you can store, under the work bench, the fixtures and jigs you built to hold the cast pieces you machined. I use factory-made timing gears, but if you have the tooling you can cut your own.

With the casting out of the way, there are things still to do. You need a crankshaft, cam, valves, rods, pins, studs, lots of springs, and a bunch of other stuff. With all this completed, a little paint on the cast pieces, a full assembly job and base. There it is, sitting there all done you can almost hear it running! Well, from my experience I can tell you it's going to be a little bit longer before it's running. Tuning in the springs, setting the carb, the timing, seating the valves and rings, getting the governor to act 'normal' well, it's all worth it in the end.

The four engines pictured all have one-piece cranks, all miscellaneous parts are brass or stainless. I run them all on propane. It takes some time to figure out the setting and timing, but once that's done they run fine. It's a little easier to set up on gas. Cold starting on propane can be tedious at times. I've built my carburetors with chokes, which helps. I've played with ignitors on the engines, but have decided to stick with spark plugs at this point. When someone out there comes up with a scaled down ignitor that is as trouble-free as a CMG spark plug I'll convert.

I'm in the process of building a stove pipe Domestic model by Richard Shelly. It's a neat little side shaft. I'm looking for a DeBolt casting of a vertical Perkins. If anyone out there can help me locate one I'd like to hear from you.

On closing I'd like to thank, for their help and knowledge, the men who made the castings, model builders Homer Stevens, Bob Carr, Mike Moyers and Jim Gehringer; also Leo Fellman for his help with propane regulation, and Bob Schneider for the use of his wood shop.