More running in

Today I went back to hopefully get the engine running better. Last time I noticed that with one magneto switched off, it was running on less then 5 cylinders. Also noticed 2 really oily spark plugs.

So today I cleaned all 10 plugs, and ran the engine twice, for about 10 – 15 minutes.

Yes its running nicely now on both magneto’s individually. And checking the spark plugs afterwards, they are all looking good. Some are a bit to clean, indicating a mixture that’s maybe a bit to lean (fuel / air ratio a bit to low, so not enough fuel). This makes it run hotter. And yes that’s what I see. Trying to stop it running, doesn’t work, it keeps on igniting as its to hot inside, so I think I definitely need to change the mixture ratio. Make it richer……. That’s for next time 🙂

Running again

Started the engine again, for the first time after assembling with the new pistons, that now have a new oil collection groove just below the oil ring.

But first I had a good look at the carburetor, decided to take the top cap of my SU carburetor off to put new thin oil in the oil damper for the piston that controls the mixture ratio. I had normal engine oil in there that was to thick at the current low temperatures. So yes did that first before starting it.

After priming the engine, it started first time, as always 🙂

But I noticed that of the two magnetos, the original one isn’t firing all 5 cylinders so that will be my next little side project. Trying to find out why its not 100%……

All cylinders of again

Today I took the 4 remaining cylinders of again, so I can get the piston’s out. I left all pistons inside the cylinder so it’s easier to get them home, but the piston in the top cylinder, #1 piston slipped past the bottom ring. I couldn’t get it back in easily so pulled it out completely.

To my surprise I did find oil on top of piston #1. Wow so hard to believe.

With the new oil grove that Richard is going to add to my pistons, all that oil will be scraped of the cylinder and thrown back into the  engine.

So even the top cylinder that I thought would be running OK, should run better without that oil in there. CAN ONLY GET BETTER !!  🙂

Cutting new oil collector slots in pistons

Went to see Richard today who designed my pistons. Showed him what the problem was that I am having at the moment, and he agreed to cut a new slot into the piston with drain holes, just under the oil ring, to get rid of oil that splashes onto the inside of the cylinder, especially the #3 and #4 cylinders as they are pointing down.
So that’s great news. The bad thing is that it means I need to pull the remaining 4 cylinders off as well…..

Oil rings

After talking with Wayne last week, we decided that something was wrong with cylinder #4. We thought that a ring was probably broken but…

This is what I found. No broken ring ! 😊 But there was something else Wayne noticed. Above you see the new piston left and old one right.

The oil ring normally is a split ring with holes behind it. This is good for normal engines with the cylinders pointing up (normal in cars). But with engines with opposing cylinders and radial engines you need more oil “catching” as there is more oil splashing around. With my old piston (right) this is done with a big grove under the oil ring, and lots of holes. When the engine is running, the oil on the cylinder wall gets scraped off and “drips” back into the piston and then gets thrown back inside the engine.

With my new piston’s that extra oil catching mechanism is not there.

This means that

  • There is oil getting into the combustion chamber, and that’s not helping the combustion.
  • The film of oil prevents the rings from bedding in, as there isn’t good contact. This means the rings won’t seal as well as they could.
  • Plus I also might have gabs in my rings that are possibly a little too wide.

So I am going to make a little modification to my two bottom cylinders, #3 and #4.
And re-check the ring gabs 🙂

Or maybe a piston ring

I keep on changing the reason why we think the engine is not performing anymore. This is after I put the new pistons in a couple of months ago…..

Today Rutger (my son) and I went back to the hangar after we dropped of the Bleriot on its trailer from the Omaka CF2017 trip just over a week ago.

We assembled the plane again. I took the opportunity to put some new foam in the gab between the root of the wing and the fuselage, and this time I used a electric bread knife to cut of the excess material. That looks 100% better then what I did last time (this was quite a few months ago) .
One thing I noticed immediately when I was pulling the Bleriot of the trailer is that it was dripping a lot of oil from one of the exhaust outlet’s. Something I have never seen before. I didn’t understand and stopped thinking about it as I was busy putting the plane together.

UNTIL, I was finished and was about to leave, when Wayne arrived at his hangar. He said he had been thinking about my engine, as you do when things aren’t right 🙂

He recons one of my piston rings is broken.

That’s when it clicked inside my head:

  • My previous thought about having problems with my exhaust didn’t make sense for one reason: “How is it possible that the engine was deteriorating over the days during the show”.
  • The oil was dripping from the exhaust right next to the cylinder #4 that had the really dirty spark plugs (note that cylinder #4 is at the bottom of the engine, so after stopping, it fills up with oil dripping down inside the engine)
  • Wayne did notice a few weeks back, that one cylinder did have less compression then the other ones. Probably this one.
  • I might not have been able to see the oil dripping out as this will only happen if the exhaust valve is open, and that depends on the prop position Not sure if it is but will check that next time.

So yes, I have one spare set of rings, so the next time I am going to the airport, I will start taking of that one cylinder, and hope that it has a broken piston ring. Hopefully it hasn’t damaged the inside of the cylinder. Wayne recons it should be OK, I mean, no damage…. Hope he is right.

I wonder if that ring, if it is broken, did break while running or maybe it got damaged at the time I put it in. Who knows.


Exhaust ring

Next to me in the big BP hangar, is a really nice little by-plane made by Louis McNair, his dad Robert and grand-dad Wallace:

McNair Aeroplane Co

What I want to talk about is what Wallace had to say  !!  🙂

He has lot of knowledge of engines, so started talking about the optimum valve timing etc. Straight away we were checking mine 🙂

Exhaust closing about 20 or 30 deg past TDC, and mixture opening about 5 to 10 deg before TDC. Yes he was happy with that.

Talked about a few more things, and then the discussion switched to the exhaust collector ring.

What I have is basically a collector, picking up all the exhaust and spitting it out down below. All nice, BUT


The big problem engine people have is that when the piston get’s to TDC position (Top Dead Centre), the exhaust valve is still closing and the mixture is already opening (see above)

When a piston is in this position, and another cylinder is just pushing all the exhaust gas out, into the exhaust collector, you have the situation where “foreign” exhaust gas is entering another cylinder that is just about to start sucking up a fresh amount of mixture (Air and Fuel).

This action basically stops the mixture from entering its cylinder for a while, and even worse, this exhaust gas will stop it from burning properly I think….

So basically you need to make sure that each cylinder has a long enough exhaust pipe, to contain 2 exhaust cycles I think (calculated using volume, and speed, and …..) before they can be combined into one big exhaust pipe.

This of cause is very impractical, so on old engines you often see stubs on each cylinder. No common  collector, just a short bit of pipe, and off it goes into the air.

Now to prove that my engine has the same problem, I made this Excel spreadsheet showing the exhaust and air intakes of all 5 cylinders. And yes theoretically I have this same problem. Not to bad for some of the cylinders because sometimes the distance from the exhausting cylinder to the cylinder getting mixture and the distance to the collector outlet make it unlikely that exhaust gas will go the wrong way. but there are definitely situations where it will go wrong:

Piston position for Exhaust and Mixture cycle only

You can see that at the TDC of every piston movement/ position, were the mixture valve is opening and the exhaust is still closing, another exhaust valve has already opened (exhaust valve is open before, during and a bit after the rising curve and the mixture is open just before, during and a bit after the falling curve).

And because that exhaust valve is opening early, the exhaust gas is already flowing out of that valve and into the collector ring.

So for every cylinder where a mixture valve is opening, another cylinder is already exhausting gas.

Not every combination will cause a problem as the opening exhaust valve could be on the other side of the collector ring somewhere.

Below is a list of cylinders with opening mixture vales and exhaust valves blowing exhaust gas into them:

So maybe not such a problem having an exhaust ring but worth to try without the whole ring collector.

Just a comment on the Velie that was on the Bleriot picture I send to Jack in the US, that one had stubs !!!! See below 🙂

You can clearly see one stub on the left, in the shade two on the top right side by side for the top cylinder and the one to the right. And then there will be two at the bottom, but I can’t see them !!   🙂

I always thought that was, because it was cheaper and easier that way, but maybe there was more to it !!

Air inlet trumpet

Today I mounted the valve rocker covers, forgot yesterday…

Had help from Nigel Sheppard today. He also helped me last time (2 years ago) machining a bit of Alu for my stick.

This time we were talking about the air inlet of my SU carburetor. Currently there is nothing mounted to it.

So air basically goes from the big wide world, past these sharp edges into the carburetor. This creates lots of turbulence, and doesn’t help good carburation (mixing fuel and air).

So he was going to make a trumpet, or a bell curved piece of steel. Wasn’t going to be easy. He remembered that Wayne (I think his name was) from the Car Museum, next to the Aviation Heritage Centre used the same carburetor in his Jaguars, and might have something I could use.

So of I went to see him, and there he was talking with two other guys, we recognized me, and said, Oooo there’s the Bleriot man !!  🙂

Anyway, yes he had one I could have !!!!!!!!! Great 🙂

So went back to Nigel, who welded a mounting plate to it !!

Its on the carburetor now, looks great.

Might build a air box around it, with an air inlet facing forward later, to improve it even more.

bell horn

At least this will improve the air flow a little. All little bits help !!!!