HELLO my name is Samson

You can call him “Little Sam” as he makes his long-awaited introduction to the world


| April 2006



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How does one feel after 18 months of pattern making, machining and assembly of an engine? What is one's reaction when the idea becomes reality and far surpasses the boldest of expectations? What is accomplished when the model performs exactly as the full size engine, even duplicating the idiosyncrasies? The only way these questions can be answered is to go through the process yourself. Only then can you fully appreciate the scope of what is involved. I dare say that John M. Kroyer had a similar appreciation for his first prototype.

Building these small scales reveals a wonderful technology that is hidden from modern perception. Machine design, which looks deceptively simple when built on the bench, reveals the gracefulness of much beauty and a complexity not seen with the naked eye. Study reveals the greatest appreciation for beauty in design combined solidly with the best engineering practice of the day. The fact that nothing frivolous is ever found in good design is not an accident. These great men of long ago who originated these engines combined the gracefulness and majesty of art in the form of gray iron castings and lathe-turned parts.

These small-scale engines built today are a modern-day legacy to those men of long ago who lifted the yoke from our backs with the wonderful power of explosive vapor turning a flywheel.

"You don't need to be a mechanical genius or shop wizard or possess a million dollar machine shop to build your favorite engine in miniature."

Little Sam started as a desire to capture the essence of the early Samson engines in a size that lends itself to display in the home. I built Little Sam two ways in my mind before I even lifted a pencil. The first version involved the casting process, which at the time I was unfamiliar with. The fabrication process is possible, although very tedious in the attachment of many small parts to assemble and no way to replicate it. However, the casting process provides an easy solution to all of the characteristic forms used in Samson gas engine construction. Plus, if the model was successful, I could easily create another one as a result of already having the patterns made. This was a deciding factor, as well as my appreciation for the look of true castings in construction.

One of my basic goals was to build it as it could have been when presented to the patent office. I also built it in such as way that it cannot be differentiated from one built a century ago. The final goal was to create an accurate representation of an engine instantly recognizable as a Samson engine with all the unique features identifying as such.