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
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.
Starting with the next issue, we’ll run photos of your scale
or homemade engines, along with a quick tip from Rusty to guide you
in your construction projects. We want you to send in photographs
(save digital images at ‘high’ resolution or 300
dots-per-inch) of your scale or homemade engine projects, along
with any tips you may have picked up on the way. Send your photos
and tips to Rusty Hopper, care of Gas Engine Magazine. Happy