22 S. Cane Court Houma, Louisiana 70360
I saw the model Reid engines for the X first time at the Burns
and Homer Engine Company display at Zolfo Springs in 1987. The slow
speed, quiet and vibration free operation was impressive. Also
impressive was the size, especially when compared to the capacity
of my seven inch lathe. When I got back home I showed pictures and
information obtained to Bill Chauvin. Bill, who once owned a
machine shop, has constructed many models from kits and several
freelance engines. Bill was impressed and I convinced him that two
engines would not take much more time than one, since a lot of time
is spent on planning and setting-up.
We first ordered a set of blue prints. After carefully going
over each one, Bill said we could do it, no problem. I still had
some doubts considering Bill’s 12 inch lathe and the 14 inch
diameter flywheels. Two sets of castings were ordered and they
arrived 30 days prior to Bayou Old Time Engine and Power
Association’s spring show in Houma, Louisiana. We were
determined to have the engines ready for the show.
I took all the small castings and made the pins, burners, etc.
while Bill tackled the larger parts. Bill put in 8 hours per day on
the lathe and did the milling in his home workshop at night. I
worked each night and the engines began to take shape. The 14 inch
flywheels were solved by borrowing time on a larger lathe at a
local machine shop.
Construction went forward with no problems. The castings were of
excellent quality and the drawings were easy to read. Construction
and assembly was one thing, getting them to run was something else.
I had seen the two running in Florida so I knew that they run. We
came up with two concurrent problems. The needle valve for the
carburetor gas supply was gotten at a local auto parts supply. It
was not a true needle valve and did not give a sensitive
adjustment. They were later replaced with a micrometer adjustment
flow control valve. We could never get the burner to get the tube
hot enough for ignition. We changed jet sizes and probably made a
dozen chimneys of various designs. To get the engines running for
our show we used a propane torch for heat. One theory we had was
that the bottled LPG gas in southern climates may be a lower
heating value or higher ignition point than that from colder
climates where the burner was designed.
Both engines made it to our show. Admittedly not in their
present condition. Mine was unpainted and both had makeshift
cooling systems and gas supplies. They still drew a lot of
attention and questions.
The engines are to blueprint except for the fuel valves and
burners. Modified propane torch heads are being used for heat. Bill
is using propane for the burner and bottled LPG for fuel. I am
using LPG gas in both. Acrylic enamel in Carmine red was chosen for
the paint. Bill has a radiator made from an auto heater core in the
thermosyphon cooling circuit. I have fabricated a steel subbase and
mounted engine No. 21 on a brick red mosaic tile floor. With the
copper cooling tank and brass piping, it is presented as one from a
powerhouse instead of from its oilfield heritage.
The engines have now been to three shows and have been real
crowd pleasers. We have learned that they can be a fulltime job
explaining their operation. Can you imagine explaining the working
of an open crank, 2 cycle gas engine with hot tube ignition to
someone who probably does not know how a spark plug works.
We had lots of fun building and now enjoy showing them. Burns
&. Horner is a first class operation with a quality product and
assistance is only a phone call away. It has been 14 months since
completion-Bill and I are faster machinists than writers!