Final Touch

Little Sam gets his name in brass


| October 2007



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Little Sam ran all season with this set-up: a 1-gallon barrel for cooling and propane for fuel.

Little Sam has been to several shows out here in California, accumulating over 50 hours of running time, and has never missed a lick. The little 1/3-scale Samson gas engine has proven itself as steady and reliable as its bigger brothers. It runs like a watch on propane. I consider it a Samson gas engine in every respect, a smaller version fully representing John M. Kroyer's ideas and a full member of the family of engines built by Samson Iron Works in Stockton, Calif.

When the final update appeared in Gas Engine Magazine in April 2006, it showed a finished engine all ready to run with the bugs worked out. But you may have noticed a very important final touch missing.

That final touch was the one thing Little Sam needed that I couldn't build in my mind. It was too small, too detailed and too complex. I thought about it and could never come up with a practical solution.

Isn't it strange how engine guys have the best of luck? When I first informed GEM of my intentions to scale the 5 HP Samson webspoke, Richard Backus, editor, printed my inquiry asking for practical suggestions for pattern making be sent to Modeler's Corner via Rusty Hopper. Shortly thereafter, I received a wonderful letter from a fellow named Roland Morrison. This letter was filled with encouragement and practical advice, and he also suggested he might be able to help with the final touch. Because he himself had been down this road and realized how difficult it is to create this scale final touch.

I was intrigued! That was the beginning of a great friendship with Roland. By now you may have guessed the final touch is the lovely miniature nameplate fitted to Little Sam. It captures every single detail of the early builder's plate in high relief. My wife, Melissa, swears it's the most beautiful piece of "man jewelry" she's ever seen. I think so, too. The little nameplate makes the engine, giving it a pedigree, and has become the focal point of Little Sam.

Roland is an interesting guy and everyone should get to know him. When you do, you'll find another guy who partners with Roland producing the most exquisite scale engine developments you can imagine. This other guy is a soft spoken, gentle "Minnisooootan" who has a big smile and firm handshake. Did I mention he builds the most exquisite scale engines? (All to exact scale, using the lost wax process.) Nothing common for these guys: Kansas City Lightning, Mery vapor engine, Gade air-cooled and some in development I'm not allowed to mention.