A Brief Word

| April/May 1993

Recently, one of our Pennsylvania readers called the GEM offices to complain that he has had conversations with many of the GEM subscribers, 'and they all feel that the Reflections does not answer any questions.' This reader said that 'all he does is refer readers to books and ask others for answers. They [?] feel that he [?] should be able to answer technical questions.' Thus speaketh one of our readers!

Our caller asserts that 'all we do is refer people to books.' In many cases we can provide answers to the questions, but with well over 2,000 engine companies in the U.S., it would be naive to think we have built files on all of them. In other cases, we frequently refer readers to American Gasoline Engines Since 1872. There is no other book that covers the gas engine business so extensively. Using a referral to a specific page rather than printing chunks of the book seems to us like an efficient way of saving time and money.

Our caller further growls that we ain't technical enough! The truth is, that we'd love to present a chapter sometime about gas engine design, proportioning, and balancing. The greatest problem is that we haven't figured out a way to couch it in language that the average reader can understand. Many of our readers are new to the hobby, many others are interested in the historical aspects, and many aren't interested in the technical aspects. However, we'll try to include more technical material each month.

Finally, ye olde Reflector states in his own defense that he's been involved in the research of internal combustion engines for over a quarter century now. The more we dig, the more we find that we don't know anything at all! Even a major builder like Fairbanks-Morse has its share of surprises. This company even built a couple different models of side shaft engines! In other words, we make no claims to knowing it all, and we're certainly not going to blow smoke at someone to cover up that fact. So, if we don't know, we're not at all apologetic about turning it over to our readers.

A final point . . . the Reflections column is now, and has always been intended to be, a clearinghouse for information. In many instances we can supply answers, but in many others we can't. We believe that a significant part of this column lies in its ability to serve as a 'matchmaker' for folks needing assistance on a specific problem. We're sorry that our caller finds our approach so distressing. Besides, our hobby is so broad, so enjoyable, and so immensely rewarding, that we're not positively inclined to broach further discussion of the matter.

As this copy goes to press (early February) there are nearly fifty people already signed up for the coming Engine Tour to England in June. If you're interested in going, contact the GEM office at 717-392-0733 for a brochure. Signup will end sometime in April. We just received a very nice letter from Arnold Sayer in England, inviting us to see his collection if possible. He has about 50 engines, with the earliest one being of 1892 vintage. Numerous of his engines are either hot tube or lamp start styles. Examples of the Sayer engines are shown in Photos BW-1, BW-2, and BW-3. The Drake & Fletcher engine of BW-3 is believed to be the only remaining example.


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