Engine Running #3

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Ignition leads

Today was going to be the day to start the engine, but no luck yet ๐Ÿ™

First I had to make 10 brass screws with a sharp points to install the ignition leads into the magneto’s. Made them by putting the screw with nuts in the electric drill machine, and an angle grinder to make the point.

After that I, checked all 10 ignition lead connections with a spark plug, see right photo.




The axle going into the magneto has a clever way of setting the ignition timing. The 3 nuts you see here, lock a disk that is connected to the axle. By loosening up these nuts, you can change the timing of the magneto so it fires the spark plug at the right time.


After setting the timing of the magneto’s, connecting all 10 ignition leads, connecting the oil tank, and the fuel tank (will show you that one tomorrow), it was time to try and start the engine.

With the ignition switched off, the throttle closed, the primer control open, I spined the prop a few times to suck fuel into the carburetor. Then with the ignition on the throttle a bit open I tried starting but no luck so far.

I think I need to get more fuel into the engine. After I primed the engine, I didn’t open the mixture control, assuming that there would be enough petrol in there to do at least something, but I was wrong.ย I will also check if the spark plugs work. I know they do, but check that to see if the work at this crank speed.

Been doing some more reading on the mixture control, and it shows that I didn’t have a clue, did I !!!!

You need the mixture control fully open, to create a rich mixture. Then once its running you start leaning it for maximum RPM, for the current throttle setting. That throttle setting was the only thing I could find in my Velie manual. The say have it at 1/8 open.

So looking forward to tomorrow !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Is it going to run

To get you out of your suspense, I can tell you that the engine didn’t run today ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™

The sparks generated by the 2 magneto’s are just not there when I hand start the engine by swinging the propeller.ย Yesterday it definitely sparked, but that’s at a faster spinning rate.

So going to find someone here in NZ who apparently has done lots of them. Chad told me to ring a guy he has worked with/for who will know the man I am looking for.


Earlier today, my fuel tank, and the mixture control:




Nicki on the controls, in case it goes, ย ๐Ÿ™ it didn’t.



I started to do some work on the magneto’s. Have a look here.


EXCITING its running

A very very exciting day here. One very happy man with a radial engine that’s just started !! ๐Ÿ™‚ย That work I did (see above) did pay off ๐Ÿ™‚

Only had it running at idle or just a bit faster. But that’s a very good start. Need to find out how to adjust the mixture control and throttle to get it going faster !!

VERY Exciting !!!!


Only 2 problems

We have a day of here in NZ (Queens birthday) so a bit more time for me to play with the engine ๐Ÿ™‚

After talking again with Glenn, he mentioned that the engine should start after priming it. I did that yesterday but never worked. So this morning I primed it a lot more (longer) and yes starts immediately, every time. GREAT.

Still two problems I think:

1: After I had the engine going for 5 minutes or so today, thought I better measure the compression. I noticed that one cylinder was hotter than the other 4 ๐Ÿ™

Anyway, my son and I measured the compression, and its all relative I suppose, but this is what we got:


Sensing the temperature of the valve caps and the cylinders with our hands, we noticed that the cylinder with the highest compression was the coolest and every cylinder with a lower compression got hotter and hotter, and the #5 cylinder with the lowest compression was the hottest.

So need to do some work here…… ๐Ÿ™

2:ย Second thing is the carburetor. I am very confident that I am not getting the full mixture into the engine. It starts OK with the throttle closed, and goes a bit faster when I open up the throttle a bit, but loses power if I give it a bit more air again.

The mixture control does work, because if I slowly close it the engine does go slower at some stage, and wants to stop. But its like there is not enough fuel when I let more air in.

When I move the throttle fast, a pump inside the carburetor, pumps extra fuel into it and that definitely makes it go!! But using the normal mixture control “circuit” it doesn’t get enough juice.

Below you see me starting the engine. I know now how to start it properly. Prime it well !!!

Leak down tester

Have made this creation. Will be my leak down tester, something Ayden suggested.
I am going to use it to compress air in the cylinder while its in the high position, to find out where each cylinder is leaking, valve or piston-rings. I have modified one of the old spark plugs. Warren is welding a little fitting to it so I can connect it to the hose, ready for the test this Saturday !!!


Ready for a leak down test

Engine is inside again ๐Ÿ™ , ready for a leak down test !! Basically pumping air in the cylinder with the piston in the highest position, and checking how long it stays under pressure, checking where it leaks. More about the results tomorrow…….



Did my leak down tests today. Basically pumping it up while the piston being tested is at TDC (top dead center), that is highest position.

Found out pretty quick that this is DANGEROUS.

Nothing happened, but with compressed air, and a propeller on the engine, the prop wants to go one way and its hard to keep in position. So for a quick test I made it go on purpose.ย It’s like a real engine starting, FAST.

OK back to my test results.

The sound of escaping air for all cylinders, sounded the same, for all of them its the rings I think.ย I base this on the fact that moving the prop around a bit while under pressure, the leakage in 3 of the 5 changed quite a bit. So this is in the TDC region, where the valves are NOT moving. So if the leakage changes when moving around at TDC then it must be the rings.

Also with no exhaust pipes on at the moment, I couldn’t hear anything change when closing the exhaust with my hands.

My test results is basically the time it takes to leak down from the pumped up pressure of 5 bar to 1 bar, after closing the valve (see photo above, valve with the red lever).

The values in the first column are the last weeks compression results, and the second column the time to leak from 5 to 1 bar.

Compression / Leak


In both tests, the 3 best (Cyl #1, #2, #3) are still the 3 best but in different order. The same for the 2 worst results (Cyl #4, #5). So that’s sort of OK.

So next step is talk with Warren tomorrow at work about these results and take the cylinders off.ย No idea if this is a better problem then bad valves. I just hope that new rings are available, and that is just a case of swapping the rings.

Also today, I started taking the carburetor apart again.

Making sure it all works. With the 10 minutes of running I have clocked up now, there a few things I know work, like the priming. And yes that looks good. Now looking for the problem with the mixture control…….

Machining valve seats

Just an update on what’s been happening in the last few days:

Yes spoken with Warren about my findings, and decided to take the worst cylinder of, see what it looked like.

Guess what, its not the rings, they are good, its the valves.ย One little problem though, I broke one of the rings. It just snapped ๐Ÿ™ Ah well just something else to organize.

With all the hissing of leaking air and me trying to hold on to the propeller, it was hard to really detect where air was leaking while on the engine.ย On Tuesday When I had the cylinder and piston at work we did some experimenting with the piston in the cylinder. With the spark plugs in we noticed air coming out of the exhaust valve as I was pushing the piston into the cylinder.

So that was that, I decided to go to one of the shops that did a lot of engine work and I knew did cylinder and valve stuff.

I had decided to start lapping that exhaust valve of cylinder #4. But when I got there, the guy said that you can’t just lap the valve, as it might be too much out. It has to be machined first.ย He had a nice little setup for machining valves, and he showed me why machining was necessary. Having it in this machine, spinning the valve around and slowly taking some material of the surface that sits against the seat in the cylinder, you could see that one side of the valve was just not touching the seat.

So that’s why it had to be machined, and then lapped.

Lapping is basically some grinding with a grinding paste against the seat in case you don’t know what I am talking about. I didn’t know anything of this. Its all new for me to. So learning lots, as you do when you are being thrown into the dark. Hmm not sure if this is how you say it, but anyway you know what I mean ๐Ÿ™‚ย That Wednesday evening I decided to do all valves, as I was sure that all rings are good. There was just too much variation in all cylinders.

So I took all cylinders of that evening, removed and marked all valves so they can all go back into the original place, and took them back to the same shop today for machining.

When I got there, he just did the remaining 9 valves while waiting for them. It only takes 10 – 20 seconds each. So that was good.ย On my way back to work (during lunch time) I picked up valve lapping paste, and a little tool to twist the valves while in the cylinder to lap them. SO that is going to be my Saturday job, lapping valves and putting cylinders back onto the crankcase…… Well more like Saturday and Sunday I would say knowing me, wanting to do it all good, and having other family things planned for Saturday afternoon.

10 Valves ready to be lapped:



Lapping valves

Started lapping valves today. Just grabbed the left one without thinking what the compression used to be on this one. But when finished, I tried pushing the piston into the cylinder. Beautiful compression here. No leak in exhaust and mixture inlet.

Then I noticed that this was originally the best compression cylinder. Ah well its good that the compression is still quite nice !

Second cylinder (#4) I did here was the one with the worst compression earlier on.ย After I was finished lapping the valves here, again, tried pushing the piston down, and again, really good compression!

WOW yes it’s working ๐Ÿ™‚ 3 more to go………

New valve guide

Almost there. Did the last 3 cylinders, but with cylinder #5 I noticed 2 little cracks in the valve guide. This valve guide is basically a brass tube that slides into the cylinder and the shaft of the valve (see photo on right) slides up and down through this.

I managed to slide it out, and yes a piece at the top of the guide is about to break off. Well I don’t think it will just fall of, but its not right. If I grab it with a pair of pliers I can pull it sideways.

If it did fall off, it would fall on top of the backside of the valve and if I am lucky it would be blown out of the exhaust. Or if I am unlucky, it would fall on top of the piston, when the valve opens.

Don’t want to rely on luck, so this part needs to be replaced.

This valve guide (M302) would cost me US$0.75 in the good old days (1928). But no parts can be bought anymore, so needs to be made.ย Rang Tony, a colleague this morning from a previous work place who did this kind of work all the time, and I am going to meet up with him in the next few days, so he can make me a new one.

Should be very simple.

So the planning is still to get all the cylinders back on the engine next weekend!!

In the mean time I have been taking the carburetor apart to try and find my fuel problem. That’s still work in progress. Complicated things these aviation carburetors………

By the way, the compression on all 4 finished cylinders looks really good. No more leaking valves!!!!


Well all I did was try to push the piston down into the cylinder, and I couldn’t, as it kept on popping back.ย The real test comes when its back on the crank case, when I do the leak test.

Piston rings

Today I went to a shop here in Christchurch, Cliff Bond Ltd, who make piston rings !! ๐Ÿ™‚
They had the ring I needed, It’s a 4 1/8″ * 1/8″ compression ring. Was only $8.74.
The slot in the piston needed to be enlarged a tiny little bit. Was done in a few minutes. All perfect.

Just put the ring in and slotted the piston into the cylinder. Yes compression looks good ……..

Valve guide issue

Hmm, maybe not so good news. More delays.

Yes I have my new valve guide, looks beautiful, but I think the the original valve guide didn’t have the hole for the valve stem to go through right in the centre. Will have to look into that soon.

What this means is that the valve head doesn’t sit right on the valve seat, meaning its going to leak, even if I lap the valve. There is just to much misalignment.
So now the valve is symmetrical, the valve seat might have to be machined. BUT this might not be so easy, meaning expensive, as the cylinder head is not separable from the rest of the cylinder as its one unit.

Ah well one issue at a time.

This is so far the only real issue I have found in this engine, so maybe I shouldn’t complain ๐Ÿ™

Just a nice description of all the parts around the valve, in case you are lost …..


Seat needs machining

No engine work yesterday. Been helping a friend building a little shed most of the day.
So back on engine duty today ๐Ÿ™‚
First I put the #1 and #2 cylinders back on the engine after I quickly checked them for leaks through the valves. No leaks so yes these are on now.
Next cylinder to work on was #5. This is the one with the new valve guide. I had a quick go trying to lap it with a coarse lapping paste, but quickly gave up. Not possible, the valve seat needs to be machined first ๐Ÿ™

Valve seat machining company

Just been to an “Auto Restoration” place. They do the valve seat machining all the time. He showed me the tools they use. Just what I thought they would look like. Some creation that looks like a valve and sticks through the valve guide, and then the pull from the stem end, and twist it around till the whole seat is cut away and flush with the valve head again.

Talking with the guy, it looks like its quite normal for old valve guides to have a hole in it that is not central. So yes this is why the new one, where the hole is nicely central is creating this problem.

Yes the machining of the valve seat will be done this week, so I can put the last cylinder on for another test run this coming weekend. Still need to find out why the carburetor didn’t get enough fuel in the engine….

Are the rings leaking

Put the fourth cylinder on today and decided to start doing a leak down test on the 4 cylinders I have installed so far. A lot of escaping air, but none through the valves I think.

I will confirm that in the weekend after I have taken of the mixture inlets, so I can check those a bit better as well. Basically going to pump up the cylinders again and use a candle flame to see if any air comes out of the exhaust or mixture inlet.

The leak down test was disappointing. All four cylinders leaked down from 5 to 1 bar in about 5 seconds, same result as the worst cylinder last time.
With the one cylinder still off, I can definitely hear air coming past the piston rings.ย If the candle flame test in the weekend confirms that the valves are good now, then I am going to replace all the rings ๐Ÿ™

When will it ever stop!!!!!!

Finished cutting the exhaust valve seat

Got a call today from Rob at Auto Restorations. He finished cutting the exhaust valve seat!

Picked it up at lunch time and spoke with him about my piston rings. He explained me how they work:

When the mixture is ignited, the rings are pushed down in its grooves in the piston, and then get pushed outside against the bore of the cylinder, sealing it.
Possibly just filling up with compressed air might not seal it, which is what I see.

So he convinced me to try and run the engine with the current rings.

And then I suddenly realized that there is a vent coming from the crankcase. So all I need to do is check how much (exhaust) gas is coming out while the engine is running. If I connect a hose and put it in a bucket of water I can see how much the rings are leaking!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh yes Rob also lapped the valve, and reamed the valve guide as it was a bit pushed in halfway as it was pressed into the cylinder.

From Wikipedia: A reamer is a type of rotary cutting tool used in metalworking. Precision reamers are designed to enlarge the size of a previously formed hole by a small amount but with a high degree of accuracy to leave smooth sides.

So all good.

So tomorrow I will put this cylinder back on the engine and do my candle flame leak test for the 10 valves.

More tests

This is whats been happening yesterday and today: Apart from family things, I started testing all 10 valves using the candle flame test. Moved the piston in the TDC position and pump it up to about 5 bar and hold the candle flame under the exhaust and the mixture inlet. Here are the results:

Candle flame leak test
CylinderExhaust valveMixture valve
#3OKLeaksFixed mixture valve.
#4LeaksLeaksFixed both.


So a bit disappointing but ah well, just needs more lapping I suppose, and hopefully that’s it and no machining.

So I started with cylinder #3, and yes lapping that mixture valve fixed it ๐Ÿ™‚ no problem !!!!

Then today I started with cylinder #4 and hoped to finish #4 and #5. Lapping both valves in #4, took two lap sessions ๐Ÿ™ This means cylinder off, lap valve, cylinder on : A lot of work……..

But anyway after a lot of work for this one, my candle flame test gave me a good result.ย No more time left for #5, so hopefully that one can be done tomorrow ๐Ÿ™‚ And then all valves are done !!!!!!!!!!!

All valves are GO

Lapped the exhaust valve of cylinder #5 tonight again. This was the one that Rob from Auto Restorations also lapped, and still leaked a bit. But yes now its not leaking anymore. Also quickly checked the mixture valve of this cylinder.

So YES all 10 valves are sealing nicely now.

In the next few days the engine will go on the trailer again, where I will probably take the back of the engine off, to check the valve roller / lifters. Somehow they sometimes make a clicking noise ๐Ÿ™

Clicking noise

This morning I removed the back of the engine to search were the little clicking noise comes from that I sometimes hear.




But couldn’t find any problems here. All rollers move nicely, no trace of any of the wheels rubbing against the housing of the rollers.

The back that I took of looks fine as well.

So started spinning the propeller of, just in case its the crank shaft, master conrods or any of the other 4 conrods.

And yes the sound comes from cylinder #2 !

So next; taking cylinder #2 off.


With a bit of cloth below the conrod of cylinder #2, I can spin the prop around and check the sounds coming from the inside.

I notice that there is about 0.5 – 1 mm movement of the master conrod, sliding left – right over the crank pin of the crank shaft. After squirting more oil to the left and right of the master conrod, where that little bit of movement was, the noise there is reduced.

When the engine is running, oil is pumped in between the crank pin and the master conrod. SO this shouldn’t be a problem when the engine is running.

First thing tomorrow, I will put cylinder #2 back on, and see what happens…

Also the back will go on and them I will make the engine ready for another run !!!!!!

Started “her” again

Early this morning started getting the engine ready again for a test run, while watching quarter final soccer game between The Netherlands and Costa Rica.
By the time the first 90 minutes of the game had finished with a score of 0 – 0, I had finished putting cylinder #2 back, and put the back of the engine back on again.

For the 30 minutes extra time I had to stay inside and watch. No one scored, so it finished with penalties shots. In the end “we” won 4 – 3 !!!!!

OK back to the engine, Nice even compression now on all 5 cylinders, and no bad clicking sounds.

And at 4 we started “her” again.

Starts good, with a beautiful sound!!!!

But still that problem with the carburetor, not getting enough fuel into the engine. So that’s the last little problem to solve. I keep on saying last little thing here, last little thing there. A bit scary because you never know.


If I read this back in a year or so I might think: lots more problems came up and have solved, but you just don’t know….

Didn’t think it would be solved because I didn’t see anything that would cause this.ย Taking the carburetor into town tomorrow and talk with people about my problem.

So I have the feeling from now on that engine stays in the shed, nicely wrapped up in a sheet to protect it from, who knows what….

Planning to have a engine starting party with BBQ coming Sunday to celebrate this milestone ๐Ÿ™‚


Today I had a good look at the carburetor here with Warren at work.

You know how it is when you look at something that you have been looking at a long time. A pair of fresh eye’s do sometimes work. We (well Warren) noticed that the “needle” of the “needle valve mixture control” was unscrewed for about 4 or 5 mm.

But I never thought that could be an issue as in this position the valve is closed when the control lever is in the full lean position. But talking about it I think that I might have unscrewed it and cleaned it when I was taking everything apart, but possibly not screwed it all the way back in again (did this half a year ago so that memory is GONE).

Anyway, we screwed it all the way in again. From memory as I mentioned that would have been 4 or 5 mm, so quite a bit. So maybe, hopefully this is all it is. Maybe this needle valve isn’t suppose to close completely. Thinking about it now, writing this, this could be right, you don’t want to be able to close it completely, as it will kill (stop) the engine when the throttle is open. The engine runs in idle happily when the throttle is closed using the fuel from the idle “channel”, even when the mixture control is closed, but you don’t want the engine to stop.

Anyway tonight I have cut myself a nice new gasket for the carburetor. I will put it all back together tomorrow and hopefully start the engine soon again. Being the middle of winter here, I might not be able to do it until Saturday, not enough daylight left when I come home from work.

Another option I have is the “main metering jet”. I can take it out completely to give me more fuel to go through the “main discharge nozzle” into the air stream. That would make it far to rich, but an idea, just to try out.

I should make a drawing about this carburetor with all the channels controls and things. Very complex but good to have, and something to fall back to when there are problems. Now its all fresh in my head I should do that ๐Ÿ™‚

Carburetor findings

OK the whole carburetor is back together, with the needle of the needle valve mixture control all screwed in as mentioned above.

And also noticed that one of the jet’s is not the right size, but that might be OK. The “name plate” on the outside of the carburetor shows jet sizes.ย The “Main Metering Jet” is correct : #48. The other jet size on the plate says : AB #50 but the installed one is #53. No idea what AB stands for but I assume its the jet for the fuel pump. The bigger the number the smaller the hole, for some reason.

So this fuel pump jet is smaller than what it should be, but I have seen squirt of fuel, so that’s likely OK and I don’t think it will affect the fuel flow into the main fuel injector.

OK all ready to put it back on the engine. Probably tomorrow ๐Ÿ™‚



I also made a sketch of all the tubes and valves and things inside the carburetor. As soon as I have converted that into a nice drawing, I will post that just below here.. Its nice to see how it really works. Easier to think about the issues.


Running faster

Yes carburetor is working a lot better now !!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I can open the throttle a bit more now and the engine goes faster, that’s what we want!!!

I don’t run it to fast on this frame on the trailer as I don’t trust it, so that will have to wait till its on the proper frame on the fuselage when the whole plane is finished.

Having a “Start the engine BBQ” tomorrow, so all just finished in time !!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Better sparks

Got my second magneto back today from Warren, here at work. He glued a powerful magnet in the rotor, and integrated 2 new capacitors that go across the contact-er. Beautiful spark now even at low speeds!!!

Will put that on the engine soon and check the distributors of both magneto’s and then everything should just be fine ๐Ÿ™‚

Weight of engine

Decided a little while ago that I wasn’t going to try this “new” magneto and adjust the contacts in the distributor until the engine is on the plane in its final place….

Just to save time. Might as well do it all at the very end, when the plane is ready and the engine goes on.

Got a chain hoist from work to lift it from the trailer (below left) and was using the bathroom scales to measure the weight (below right) Its 118.5kg, including the 2 bits of angled steel.



So the weight of the engine with the red engine frame and the 2 bits of L profile steel is 118.5Kg


Minus 13.2 Kg for the 2 bracing bits of the same steel with the same length is:
105.3 Kg for the engine, assuming that my new engine frame will be similar in weight.

Just looked up the weight of the Rotec engine Pascal used, the R2800. That one is 102Kg, so just perfect !!!!

Its identical, if the red engine frame is 3 Kg………..

Starting the engine frame

I started with the preparations for welding the engine frame. The engine frame determines the position of the engine.

So to balance the plane, I need to finish most of the work on the Bleriot so I can “weight” the wheels and the stick, and calculate the position of the engine.

For the welding I am making a jig that holds the 4 engine mounts in front of the steel frame that has been mounted at the front of the fuselage.ย For this I got the round 4130 * 0.049 steel tubes, a sheet of MDF board a few threaded rods, nuts and washers.ย Still the wings to paint but this coming weekend I am hopefully ready to do my calculations.

More to be revealed soon ๐Ÿ™‚

Engine measurements

Had the engine of its frame today to check two things:

  1. First measure the positions of the 4 mounting holes.
  2. And secondly, find the “centre” of the weight of the engine which I need for when I am ready to calculate the size of the engine frame to balance the Bleriot.

Cutting steel

After some preparations my dad did last week, I started building up the engine frame. I made a jig to hold the 4 engine mount bits of steel tube that will contain the shock absorber rubbers.
Started cutting the bits of steel that need to be welded into it.
The engine will point down 2deg and right 2deg. A bit scary, when you see it as its really obvious….



After adjustments engine frame good to go

Another long night in the garage last night and early this morning at work finishing the last few tubes for the engine frame. So its all finished now, and dropped the whole jig with tubes of at an engineering shop for welding.

This means I should get it back before the weekend, so I can mount the engine !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bit of a setback…

I picked up the engine frame after it was welded, and all 4 engine mounts have moved closer together by about 2 to 5mm. Didn’t want that to happen, so first thing tomorrow morning I am going back trying to find a solution.

Re welding bits which I don’t like, or finding other shock absorbers that have a non centric hole, so the mounting point can be moved slightly by rotating the shock absorber…..

Will keep you posted ๐Ÿ™‚

Yes engine frame seems to be fixed now, just tried it on the engineย  ๐Ÿ™‚
Paint it tomorrow and then onto the fuselage !