The Machinist's Art

Scratch-built 4 HP Scale Alamo Showcases Missouri Man's Skills

| December/January 2003

Detail of the nameplate on Eric Brekke's third-scale 4 HP Alamo, which was crafted on a computer-aided milling machine. The program file for the nameplate  contained 700,000 bytes of information.

It's funny how a little interest can build into something big. Or, as in this case, something small.

Up until a few years ago, Eric Brekke, Parkville, Mo., didn't have any particular interest in old farm engines. A machinist by trade, his engine interests ran towards old cars and trucks and the Detroit Iron powering them. Even so, as his skills grew, his interests likewise expanded, and he became interested in scale engines.

About five years ago he launched into his first scale project, a steam-powered road roller built from plans. With its 100-psi boiler and two-cylinder engine (complete with reversing valve), the roller is an impressive bit of work. Satisfied with the roller project, and with his interest in scales growing, Eric turned his attention to building a Dick Upsher four-stroke, single-cylinder, vertical miniature gas engine. When he finished the gas engine in the fall of 2000, Eric took his scales to the Lathrop (Missouri) Antique Car, Tractor and Engine Club show. Figuring it was simply a good opportunity to compare his skills with other scale engine builders who might be on hand, Eric never could have guessed that one little trip to an engine show would ultimately launch the creation of the Alamo engine you see here.

Right side view of the engine, scratch-built, belt-driven water pump visible in front of flywheel. The aluminum box attached to the skid is a pressure-sensitive flow control for propane.

Left side of engine, with machinist's caliper thrown in for scale. Eric made a special sheet-metal brake to form the cooling trays.