22 S. Cane Court Houma, Louisiana 70360
I saw the model Reid engines for the X first time at the Burns and Homer Engine Company display at Zolfo Springs in 1987. The slow speed, quiet and vibration free operation was impressive. Also impressive was the size, especially when compared to the capacity of my seven inch lathe. When I got back home I showed pictures and information obtained to Bill Chauvin. Bill, who once owned a machine shop, has constructed many models from kits and several freelance engines. Bill was impressed and I convinced him that two engines would not take much more time than one, since a lot of time is spent on planning and setting-up.
We first ordered a set of blue prints. After carefully going over each one, Bill said we could do it, no problem. I still had some doubts considering Bill's 12 inch lathe and the 14 inch diameter flywheels. Two sets of castings were ordered and they arrived 30 days prior to Bayou Old Time Engine and Power Association's spring show in Houma, Louisiana. We were determined to have the engines ready for the show.
I took all the small castings and made the pins, burners, etc. while Bill tackled the larger parts. Bill put in 8 hours per day on the lathe and did the milling in his home workshop at night. I worked each night and the engines began to take shape. The 14 inch flywheels were solved by borrowing time on a larger lathe at a local machine shop.
Construction went forward with no problems. The castings were of excellent quality and the drawings were easy to read. Construction and assembly was one thing, getting them to run was something else. I had seen the two running in Florida so I knew that they run. We came up with two concurrent problems. The needle valve for the carburetor gas supply was gotten at a local auto parts supply. It was not a true needle valve and did not give a sensitive adjustment. They were later replaced with a micrometer adjustment flow control valve. We could never get the burner to get the tube hot enough for ignition. We changed jet sizes and probably made a dozen chimneys of various designs. To get the engines running for our show we used a propane torch for heat. One theory we had was that the bottled LPG gas in southern climates may be a lower heating value or higher ignition point than that from colder climates where the burner was designed.
Both engines made it to our show. Admittedly not in their present condition. Mine was unpainted and both had makeshift cooling systems and gas supplies. They still drew a lot of attention and questions.
The engines are to blueprint except for the fuel valves and burners. Modified propane torch heads are being used for heat. Bill is using propane for the burner and bottled LPG for fuel. I am using LPG gas in both. Acrylic enamel in Carmine red was chosen for the paint. Bill has a radiator made from an auto heater core in the thermosyphon cooling circuit. I have fabricated a steel subbase and mounted engine No. 21 on a brick red mosaic tile floor. With the copper cooling tank and brass piping, it is presented as one from a powerhouse instead of from its oilfield heritage.
The engines have now been to three shows and have been real crowd pleasers. We have learned that they can be a fulltime job explaining their operation. Can you imagine explaining the working of an open crank, 2 cycle gas engine with hot tube ignition to someone who probably does not know how a spark plug works.
We had lots of fun building and now enjoy showing them. Burns &. Horner is a first class operation with a quality product and assistance is only a phone call away. It has been 14 months since completion-Bill and I are faster machinists than writers!