What do you get when you take a grizzled Aviation Professor with a lifetime of amateur woodworking experience, give him access to laser cutter, and ask him to make art? Really awesome iconic engine inspired kinetic sculptures designed to hang on walls. The first two models are ready for production, and are being introduced to the world in this Kickstarter.
The first model I would like to introduce is a 7 cylinder radial engine. It is inspired by the famous engines that powered Lindbergh across the Atlantic and America to victory in WWII. The art-deco styled cutaway (standard sized) is nearly 16 inches in diameter - large enough to look good hanging on most walls. It is full of authentic working features - including a classic master and slave rod system. The pistons and valves move accurately enough to be used as teaching aids in a University classroom. When you spin the prop flange, you can clearly see how a three lobed cam plate can operate the valves to seven cylinders without missing a stroke. The original prototype is shown below.
Only a few minor changes have been made since building the prototype. The only change you will be likely to notice is that the numbers on the cylinders were reversed to go around the opposite direction. The production models will have this and other tiny changes, and perform even better than the prototype. Careful waxing during construction will make it sound less like a duck call.
The second engine model I would like to introduce is a V-Twin. It is inspired by the legendary Harley Davidson (R) Sportster engines from the late 50's. Legend has it that this engine is actually a radial engine with all but two of the cylinders stripped off. This certainly makes sense, as the radial was still the powerplant of choice for bombers and airliners when this engine was introduced. My representation prominently features four individually geared camshafts, a genuine blade and fork piston rod arrangement (like the Merlin engine in a P-51 Mustang), parallel valves, a cog-belt primary drive, and an operational three speed transmission that actually shifts.
The V-Twin prototype engine also went together well. The video below shows it running. The only changes I have to make to it are the profiles of the pulleys between the engine and the transmission. This is why the transmission is not moving in the video. I have not been able to re-cut the pulleys, as the laser cutter is waiting for parts. (See the challenges section).
If you would like to view the plans to build this engine, they can be downloaded here, or you can see them in video format here. They are "PDF"ed in double size, so that that you can zoom in and see extreme detail.
By now, you should be aware that these are advanced kits. They each feature hundreds of small and large parts, all of which have to be glued together and fitted. You will have to trim, sand, and glue to tight tolerances if you want the engine to work when you are done. Assembling the engines requires attention to minute details such as timing marks that must be properly aligned. Some of the gears must be glued to dowel rod shafts without allowing glue to touch any other parts. This link shows a computer animation of the radial engine going together.
I do not recommend using a motor to spin these engines for more than a few seconds, as they do not have bearings and will wear out quickly. It took me about 10 hours to assemble each of the the first prototypes.
Finally, I am offering these kits in standard size (as shown in the videos) as well as in larger sizes. You will be able to learn more about these and future kits at www.MorrisModels.com after this Kickstarter concludes.
Baltic Birch and Oak never looked so - technical. If you like kinetic wall art and engines, please share this with your friends. In order for these kits to be available to the public for affordable prices, we need to sell enough kits to buy a laser cutter. Otherwise, the project will be cancelled. This is a project that is bigger than any one person, so please share it with your friends!
I do need to give special thanks to Mike Flemming, who allowed me to cut the prototypes on his laser cutter. Here he is with the the first partially punched cut plate.
Risks and challenges
I have built working prototypes out of my engines, and have no issues with quality or functionality. Where I do have issues is with the laser cutter. I need to purchase a 80 watt plus unit in order to cut quickly and consistently through the plywood. Cheap made-in-China cutters cost about $3000. Good quality made-in-USA models that meet my needs are closer to $12,000. I hope to buy used, but that may not be possible or practical, and that is the reason for the high cost of the kickstarter.
The next risk I face is the ability to complete the kits. Each kit I make will take a little over two hours on the laser machine. I will have to pace myself to maintain my real job while I fill orders. If the machine I buy breaks down, this could farther delay order fulfillment. I have given myself several extra months to allow time for multiple break-downs and repairs.
My final challenge is to supply the non-laser cut parts. Each model requires a few "bits and bobs" that will need to be purchased in bulk. These include valve springs, the V-twin belt, and a few fasteners. It also includes a complex stepped shaft in the V-twin transmission. All of these will have to be gathered or fabricated. Again, this is part of why the time frame to fulfill orders is as long as it is.
Let me finish by assuring people that I am no "spring chicken" - I have a long history of fulfilling orders and packaging and shipping items all over the world. If this Kickstarter is fully funded, you will receive your product on time, and probably early.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)