Engine Assembly #2

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Glued crankshaft assembly together

Today I am starting with the assembly of the engine!!!

Glued the crankshaft assembly back together πŸ™‚

After talking with Tony from CAMS (who put new bushings in the con rods) we decided to use Loctite 680, a retaining compound, to “glue” the crank pins in the master con rod. Also the locking screw is glued in the master con rod.

All went really well. HAPPY with it. The beginning of a really nice machine !!!

Next will be putting the 2 part crankshaft into the master con rod πŸ™‚




Spend a few hours on Sunday looking at magneto’s and valves. Trying to understand how the timing of the valves and the magneto’s is going to work.
So far I haven’t changed the timing of the valves, but it can easily changed, know now.
Too scared I am doing something wrong. But after trying to understand and talking with Glenn Peck (see top of the page), and a colleague here at work who is VERY interested in it all, I now understand a lot more of this beautiful simple engine.

Also learned from Glenn that the timing of the magneto’s can be changed easily. I was reading that in the manual, but didn’t understand, but that’s because, I didn’t see one little detail on the coupling that drives the magneto. Will show later when the time comes to change the timing.

Also found out how all the plumbing of the oil lines is going to work. BEAUTIFUL, really simple.

So all good πŸ™‚

Looking at the manual, I need to do the timing of the valves first. This can only be done without the magneto’s installed, so that’s what I will do next.
But it does mean that I need to put the cylinders on the crank case. This means the engine is going to be to heavy to lift.

So what I am doing now is create a steel frame that the engine sits on while assembling. The same frame can then be pulled of the table with an ancient old trick of round bars to roll that construction that is going to weigh about 110kg, onto my trailer, and with a hinging point it will be pulled up straight so I can run it. Got it !!!!! ? Will show you later πŸ™‚

But I decided now that after the frame is ready, I am first going to test the whole oil lubrication system, now the cylinders are still off. This way I should be able to see the flow of the oil through the machine, while I am driving the oil pump with my electric drill machine (probably).

Also today (doesn’t stop does it) I found out that my propeller, the beauty of the Bleriot has been picked up by the transport company from the manufacturer and is on its way here !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Old engine frame

This is the frame I mentioned earlier. It’s going to be on the workbench while I am building the engine, and then slide onto the trailer like you see it here.

On the trailer I will bolt some pieces of L steel.
A pin will be inserted through the tube you see welded into the frame here, to make it hinge until it’s all upright.
Then with two more bits of bracing steel it will be held up, ready to do testing πŸ™‚



Added the gear case cover today, and as you can see the engine is slowly starting to look like an real engine now and back on its original frame……

Looking good doesn’t it πŸ™‚ !!!!

Next job is the oil lubrication system, so I need to add the sump and start organizing the hose connections from the oil tank to the pump and into the engine, and then drive the oil pump with my electric drill machine.


Oil pump gaskets

A while ago I assembled the oil pump, but afterwards I realized that the 2 gaskets that I made for it were to thick. It would lose too much pressure. So tonight I took the oil pump apart, and made 2 new gaskets from ordinary printer paper. Assembled it again, but noticed that the cogs where just touching the walls. So took it apart again and added another printer paper gasket on each side. I think it’s OK now. Ready for tomorrow’s first oil pump test !!

Oil pump test


Today, the big day, testing the oil pump and making sure the oil gets into the crank shaft and onto the master con rod.




Yes………….. All went well, but forgot to take a photo during the test where I had a big plastic container under the engine to catch the oil dripping from the engine.

And something else went wrong. When I filled up the oil tank, only one of the hoses (glad I used transparent ones) filled up with oil. Only later I realized that one of the tubes coming from the bottom of the tank was going all the way to the top of the tank. So that one was the inlet and the other tube is the outlet. And of course had them the wrong way around, so had to swap them around.

Didn’t have the electric drill going as fast as the engine would go, but there was definitely oil coming out from the crankshaft where the master con rod sits, So I was quite happy.
I also saw that the pressure relief valve was working as oil was coming out of the pump and back into the tank.

So one think I need to check is the oil pressure, and if its not high enough when the engine is running at full speed, I need to check that relief valve. Maybe I will try the oil pump on its own and just pump into a pressure gauge to check if that relief valve is not leaking a bit to much……


And back on the work bench, preparing for the next task:Β Cylinders !!!!


Crank case studs

Hmm…. a bit of a setback. I always knew that a few of the cylinder studs (the bolts sticking out of the crank case that the cylinder is bolted onto), would have to be replaced, but I just assumed I was just going to get them out and replace them.

So that’s what I started doing a few days ago, and I managed to get the first one out, but it was not easy.Β But the second one snapped off. Luckily there is enough left to get that one out, but I need to change my strategy.

From what I have heard and read, I need to heat up the crankcase, and then it should be easier. Because I want to replace about 10 studs.Β So today I decided to take whatever I have assembled up to date, apart again. Didn’t like doing it but it’s best to do it so I can heat up the crank case…..

Taking it apart was easy now, now I know how it all works.

By the way, I have found the replacement studs in the States, California I think, so that’s good, because it’s all imperial, and not available here in New Zealand.

So as I am going to heat up the crankcase I have decided that I am going to get all the studs out ( I HOPE !!!!! ) and get new ones for all of them. Hopefully it won’t take to long before I get the new studs here.

Baking the crank case

So today after talking with Warren at work, I decided to heat up the engine in the (electric) oven. So this Saturday I will have to open the kitchen windows and “bake” the crankcase for a while at 150 degC or so till it’s just right.

Apparently the alloy expends a bit more than the steel studs, and that should be enough to get the studs out that need replacing !

Just checked, and yes the crankcase fits perfectly πŸ™‚


Studs coming out

Have been baking today πŸ™‚ , but before I did that, I took all the valve lifter / rollers out, see left below.Β The heating up works ! I managed to get 25 of the 40 studs out. The last 15 didn’t want to get out because the double nuts I had on the studs where slipping.



Tomorrow I will try to weld the tip of the studs, that should stop the nuts from slipping………


Welded studs

First I welded all the remaining double nuts, like you see left here. And after heating it up again, I managed to get all 14 double nutted studs out, easy !
Only the one stud that snapped off at the very beginning failed, even though I had a nut welded on top. Will have to take that to a company who can spark erase, which is the reverse of welding, done by reversing the polarity of the welding cables.




Removing that one stud

Today I took some bits into work to be welded, plus the crankcase, to take to the spark erosion company. But I was thinking during the day, that I couldn’t get the broken stud out, really because the nut wasn’t properly welded to the stud. So after talking with Warren, my friend who knows a lot and is really interested in all I do here, I decided to take the crankcase into the engineering shop as well. Was going to ask them to weld a nut onto it and possibly try to remove the stud while it was hot. Otherwise I would try it at home again after heating it up in the oven.

But no, heΒ just welded a bit more steel on top of the nut to make it a bit longer, put a clamp on it and started wiggling it.

There was no movement, so Isaac, the guy, yes have to mention the engineering shop now “Thorpe Engineering” here in Christchurch, did some more welding, to heat it up a bit more, and YES, it started moving and slowly the stud came out !!!!!!

VERY happy Isaac !!!!!!!!

I could see he had done that before, so glad I took it in. Well done !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So took the crankcase home, and started cutting paper gaskets again, preparing for the build again πŸ™‚

Oil hoses

Been doing some work on the engine for a change. Getting ready for building it up. This time I am going to make sure all the oil lines are there or at least ready to install, so I don’t have to worry about getting the fittings etc. when the engine is t heavy to carry around. Will make a photo of what I have soon.

Attaching oil hoses

In the 3 photos below you see what I did today. Started attaching oil lines to the sump, the green unit on the left here in the first photo. The sump hangs underneath the engine and collects the oil that has been pumped into the bearings. Being a radial engine, you can not have oil sitting in the crankcase. That’s the reason this engine is called a dry sump engine.

The sump collects the oil and an oil pump empties it continuously and pumps it back into the oil tank.

On the far left is filter that basically has a sif in it to collect debris. It is going to catch anything, basically protecting the pump. The idea is that this filter is checked frequently, and any “evidence” of a problem will be catched in here.



In photo below: the left connection, is where the oil is pumped into the crank shaft. The connection on the right is a drain, collecting oil from the gear case back into the sump.


And as you can see, the crank shaft is back in again, including the front cover with the 2 bearings. Tomorrow the gear case will be attached and then back on the engine frame, so I can start attaching the 5 cylinders in the coming days !!

Mounted cylinder #1

Forgot to “report” that I got the 40 studs back from Warren, my colleague. He has taken of the shoulder and taped a bit more thread on it !!! πŸ™‚

Today I mounted the #1 cylinder, easy.
First I screwed the 8 new studs in with Loctite, and after tea I did the cylinder, see below





And here he is. You see the counterweights of the crankshaft, and the piston in the lowest position, just popping out , into the crankcase.


Also made a little video, of the inside while I move the crankshaft around, so hopefully that gives you a bit of an idea what I have got here.

Last cylinder

The last cylinder gasket plus the gasket for the air/fuel inlet. And the last cylinder mounted.

The rest of the day I “played” with my new oil pressure sensor and gauge to check if the oil pump was creating enough pressure. And yes that all worked fine: 100 psi. Except the oil pump was leaking through one of the gaskets, so tomorrow I will cut a new one, not just printer paper but real gasket stuff. I used two layers of printer paper as I wanted this one as thin as possible so it wouldn’t leak internally and would create enough pressure. So hopefully with this gasket its OK….




Gasket in oil pump

Yes made new gasket of paper that I used in all other places in the engine, a bit thicker than what I had before in the oil pump.

And as expected, I had to adjust the pressure relief valve that’s built into the pump a bit more again, but still getting the 100 psi, and the pump is not leaking anymore now!! So that’s ready now to be placed on the engine. But before I can do that I have to check the timing of the valves. Will make a photo of that tomorrow, so you see why I can’t install the pump yet.

Valve timing

This the ramp I used to raise the back of the trailer, so I could slide the frame with the engine on it onto the trailer. Works perfect like this πŸ™‚ No fancy lifting devices required !!!!



WOW, look at this πŸ™‚


Really really beautiful ——->


What I am going to do today, is set the valve timing. I am really lucky with an old engine like this one (85 years old !!!) that I have a really simple but good manual that describes all this, and more…. See below the page on the valve timing.



It was all very easy. As simple as described in the manual πŸ™‚

And now when moving the prop around and looking at the two valves, it works just nice as it should !!!!


To finish it, I used stainless steel lock wire to secure the 4 bolts………………………


This is going to be really beautiful !!
In front of my Bleriot πŸ™‚
Lucky me !


Magneto couplings

Installed the magneto couplings today. Two of them as there are two magneto’s for 2 spark plugs per cylinder. That’s the round thing with the 3 pin’s pointing downwards. These 3 pins and the 3 pin’s on the magneto side stick into a ring about 5mm thick, build up from different layers of fabric stuck together, to create a “flexible” coupling.

Also as you can see here I added the back of the engine, here at the bottom, the green “thing”. It is used for mounting the magneto’s and the oil pump.


Cogwheel onto the oil pump

Put the cogwheel back onto the oil pump. Used a 4mm roll pin to lock the cogwheel on the axle driving the pump. As the original pin was thinner, I had to use a drill bit to make the hole a bit bigger. Ended up using a Titanium Carbide drill bit. The steel of the cogwheel was so hard. Good I suppose !

After the pin was in, I widened up the two ends so it can’t go anywhere.

Also started to attach the steel braided hoses with a black outside. There are 3 short ones, some very short, which makes it just a bit harder but not impossible. And then there is one long one for the fuel and a thinner one for the oil pressure sensor. Looking good !!!


3 Of the 5 hoses

Here are 3 of the 5 hoses. The 3 here are oil hoses. 2 That you don’t see here are a hose for the oil pressure sensor as it shouldn’t be mounted on the engine, and the last one, the 5th one, the fuel hose. What you are looking at is the bottom of the engine.


At the bottom of the image you see the fuel pump, with two sections.

  • The bottom section is the high pressure pump, with the brass inlet from the oil tank on the right. To the left is the pressure relief valve that can be adjusted. Left from that is the high pressure oil hose going into the engine. That oil under pressure (80 – 100 pounds/square inch) gets pumped into the crank shaft. While flying that pressure is not allowed to drop below 60 lbs.
  • The hose you see in the middle is a drain, that drains oil from the gear case into the oil sump, the small green unit at the top of the image, with fins on the outside for cooling the oil.
  • The bottom of the oil-sump goes through the brass fitting that has a “sif” in it, back through the third hose (the right one) to the second (top) section of the oil pump, the scavenger pump. Before it gets into the pump, a temperature sensor measures the oil temperature. The brass fitting on the left side of the scavenger pump returns the oil back to the oil tank.

The “sif” is not original. I want to make sure I can inspect what goes through the oil system after a flight, by simply opening this “sif”. This also protects the oil pump in case something goes wrong in the engine. The “sif” can also be removed completely if that’s required for some reason………

Primer valve

The carburetor:

There is a primer valve that supplies fuel into the engine. First thing you do when starting, is close the throttle and spin the prop around a few times with the priming valve open. This will suck fuel into the carburetor.

Chad my propeller manufacturer told me he had lots of problems with his Velie (like my engine) as this primer valve was leaking when the engine was running.
So what I did here is, I left that valve closed and sprayed fuel into the hole you see below, just above the throttle flap, and waited.

Nothing happened, the fuel didn’t leak down through the valve, so it must sealing alright πŸ™‚


Champion C26

Started spending some time looking at this spark plug. By using the good all “Google” I found that this was a Champion C26. Some history:

1920s – 1930s :

  • Champion began development of spark plugs specifically for aviation industry.
  • Champion Aero-1 plugs sparked world’s speed record (318 mph) and world’s altitude record (38,793).
  • Champion spark plugs helped power Aeronca Dowager, first successful U.S. light plane.
  • Created Aero RA, a low-profile spark plug with radio dome shield.
  • Expanded facilities for ceramic research.
  • Pioneered the C-26 spark plug.
  • Developed industry’s first aluminum oxide insulator.


So I am looking for a replacement of this spark plug. Trying to understand what parameters are important for finding the right replacement.Β And then there are the ignition leads. Do I use just plain old copper, compression leads or shielded leads……


C26 replacement

OK found some more info. There is a replacement available now, but in the US and sort of expensive. So the one you see above is the C26, the replacement is the M41E. Hoping that I can use an ordinary one, that’s available here. Will see….


Control panel

Made a temporarily control panel with all instruments for the engine. Voltmeter to make sure battery is OK, as other instruments will be low if the battery is running out. Others are oil pressure, oil temperature and tacho. I have wired up everything except for the tacho as I need to do a bit more work for that.

The two switches are for controlling the two magneto’s, the ignition system πŸ™‚


As you can see above and below, yesterday I did all 10 push rods for controlling the 5 exhaust and 5 intake valves. The tappet clearance is set to 0.035″, just under 1mm.

Also as you can see below, the oil tank is there now. I am using the original one for now, but will be using another one on the Bleriot.


And the heat exchanger to de-ice the carburetor. Hot exhaust gas goes through it to preheat the carburetor and the air fuel mixture, stopping it from freezing up.



And last thing today, the carburetor πŸ™‚
Not much left now (oil connections to tank, magneto’s, spark plugs, ignition leads and a control line to the fuel control needle on the carburetor). Later I am going to make a ring exhaust, properly connecting the exhaust of all 5 cylinders. But for now not worried about that.


Spark plugs

Got an email from Chad:


These low compression engines will tolerate any number of different plugs.

If you must have noise canceling then you should go shielded but since the mags are not set up for shielding you’ll have to ground the woven exterior of the standard modern aviation mag wire. Of course there may be some automotive wire that will do the same thing but I don’t know. You must however stay away from carbon core automotive wire – they must be wire core.

This is not to say that non shielded installations will in fact cause radio interference. You might experiment first before investing. My experience is that some do – some don’t!

So yes that’s what I wanted to hear so that’s good. This means I am going to find some local available spark plugs, and wire them to the magneto’s

Ignition timing

Picked up 10 spark plugs today. They are a Champion D16.

I also started working on the magneto’s. In the past it just all looked complicated, with timing, and so many cog wheels etc.Β But now I understand it all, it looks pretty straight forward.

The engine needs to be timed to fire at 30 deg ahead of centre. So to do that, the engine is turned in the direction of rotation until the #1 piston is coming up on compression and is 30 deg ahead of top dead centre.Β So that is where I want ignition.

Now I need to set the magneto right. This magneto has a rotor with the magnet and a small gear. The distributor has a large gear that is driven by the small rotor gear.

On the same rotor, is a cog that drives the contacter. So first I position the rotor so the contacter is about to open.Β Then I mount the distributor with its large gear in the position where the #1 ignition lead is “in contact” with the high voltage coil. There are two marks on this distributor that show me exactly where that is, so that’s easy. And yes when the distributor blocks are in place I can now see that the distributor is exactly in the right place.

That’s the magneto timing set really. Now turning in the direction of rotation, the contacter opens when the distributor is exactly over the #1 contact.

So that’s done, all I need to do now is mount the magneto’s on the engine. There I can “disconnect” the magneto from the engine with 3 nuts, so I can move the magneto so it’s firing exactly at 30deg ahead of centre , but I will do that in the next few day’s.