| December/January 2003

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A big part of the old engine hobby is actually something quite small: the scale engine. And you might be surprised to know that scale engines have been around almost as long as their full-size counterparts. Jean Schoenner, for example, started turning out small-scale and working model engines from his shop in Nuremburg, Germany, in the early 1880s.

In 1900, Henry V. A. Parsell Jr. and Arthur J. Weed published Gas Engine Construction, a guide for amateurs interested in building small-scale engines. Packed with detailed information - ranging from theories of operation to methods of engine construction - Parsell and Weed's book is an excellent reference work for anyone interested in gas engines and engine construction, and it's especially useful for scale engine builders. The book, by the way, is still available, and you can order a copy by calling us at (800) 678-4883. Cost is $13.95.

But it's my opinion that scale engines - and scale engine builders - haven't received their due. Building a scale is an intensive endeavor requiring patience, skill and ingenuity. Talk to anyone who builds scale engines: They'll tell you there are more than a few tricks to pulling an engine together.

And let's not forget 'parts' engines. These can be quite ingenious, created by grafting together an assemblage of parts from a variety of different engines. And there are compressor engines, which seem to be riding a wave of popularity. Built from old compressors, these engines are an exercise in ingenuity, requiring the builder to source and fabricate the needed parts that will turn an old air pump into a working, four-stroke gas engine.

And there are the folks who just go it alone, building scale engines from whole cloth, machining and fabricating every single part. Eric Brekke, Parkville, Mo., fits into this latter category, and his latest project, a third-scale 4 HP Alamo, is a thing of beauty and a testimony to the art of scale engine construction. Turn to page 20 to see his amazing work.

Rusty Hopper, an engine buddy of mine who's into scale and parts engines, agrees with me that model engines (as he likes to refer to the general subject) haven't received their fair share of attention. Rusty wants to see this situation change, and to that end he's been compiling a list of suggestions to help anyone interested in building their own engine, whether it's a scale, a model, or something built from old parts.