Modeler’s Corner

Lubricating at Scale


| August 2005



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Hello again, everyone. The show season is in full swing, and so far it's been another great year. I have discovered many new and great models - and the people who go along with them - along with more ideas: I'm now looking for plans to build a model out of an old doorbell. These are electrically excited, and run very quiet and smooth. If anyone has plans, please feel free to mail them to me at Gas Engine Magazine or e-mail me at rustyhopper@hotmail.com

A fellow hobbyist and I spent the better part of an hour the other day discussing different types of lubricants, and we decided graphite is still some good stuff. Graphite powder has been around forever, and is one of the slickest compounds you can get. Yes, you can find lubricants with higher and lower temperature ratings or with better surface adhesion, but if you check their content, you'll find that almost all of them contain graphite. I haven't had any around the shop lately, so my friend offered me 4 ounces of graphite powder to use on my models. It's been refreshing to get my hands on some again.

I like mixing a little graphite with oil, and it will hold for a fair amount of time. Better yet, I have also mixed powdered graphite with a little grease. This mix uses very little graphite, and although it's black and dirty, it works great.

A few years ago, I built one of my first flame eaters and was informed by Jerry Howell of Colorado Springs, Colo., to try making a graphite piston for one. Well, after a quick search I found graphite rod available in 1-inch diameter, 12-inches long, and I've used about half of it now for pistons.

With this type of piston the graphite rolls over itself and the piston is almost friction free. I have bored into the end of the graphite and drilled across it for the wrist pin, and it has held fine, without cracking or any type of breakage.

I have yet to put graphite pistons to the test in a gas model, as I'm worried the fuel will dissolve and break down the piston while running and cause major damage that can't be repaired.