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A 'sting in the tail'

Within minutes of this motor appearing on ebay the word went round 'it's one of Ted Vanner's', and so it turned out to be. This was one of his very earliest, built to be mounted horizontally with an integral bevel gearbox underneath. The use of Belvedere Smith castings dates it to well before the first war and originally it had an atmospheric inlet valve.

 Some years later Ted extended the cam box and cam shaft so that both valves were mechanically operated. The engine was featured on the MPBA stand at the 1952 ME Exhibition and was possibly built for LEDA IV or IDA. The sting in the tail? The vendor had taken the hull to the tip!!!     Dec 09                                                 


Found in a most odd place!

A large model boat turned up on ebay recently, and lurking in the depths of the engine compartment could be seen just a corner of an engine mount and wheel. Nothing to do with the boat, so a deal was done to buy it 'unseen'. When it arrived, it turned out to be this superbly engineered 5cc rear rotary valve racing engine and mount. Someone obviously took a great deal of time and care on building this motor, but it seems that it was never quite finished. The current plan is to fit an ETA 29 piston and liner to get it running. A complete mystery at present, but a wonderful example of what lengths engineers went to in the latter days of tethered car racing. Proves as well that you can never tell where something interesting will turn up.
                                                                                         Nov 09


This is how it all starts!

Probably the most successful 15cc motor of the modern era was built by the late John Rose and is now being run very successfully by his son Mike. A and B class motors must be home constructed and the starting point is usually a set of castings. Like all of his motors, large and small, John produced his own castings, and these are the complex patterns and core boxes required to make a schnuerle ported 15cc two- stroke. Thanks to Mike Rose, OTW intends to publish a much more detailed appreciation of the hydroplane racing career of his father, whose B class record has yet to be beaten, 12 years on from his untimely death.
                          Thanks to Mike Rose for pictures and information.   Oct 09


Two 'Mystery' Hydro Motors.

Eric Offen has kindly sent photos of this pair of two stroke hydro motors. The further one has an American look to it and would appear to be later than the one on the right and intended from the start for glow plug ignition. The other looks from the earliest days of the use of two-strokes and for spark ignition, although the timer and carburettor are missing. Neither has any facilities for exhausts, with the ports being cut directly into the cylinder wall. The rotary valve motor has 360 degree porting, while the side port has the exhaust directly above the inlet. Any thoughts?  Thanks to Eric for these items. Sept 09


Another Suzor Motor.

Mons Gems Suzor is revered for his contribution to tethered hydroplane racing and the development of two-stroke engines for racing, yet he was active in so many more fields of modelling. He supplied engines for model aircraft, broke the free flight duration record in 1936, produced books and magazines about all aspects of modelling and was equally well known for his steam engines and locos. His shop supplied designs and castings for a variety of motors, including this 30cc motor. The mounts and carburation indicate that it was not intended for racing, although it has managed to blow a chunk out of the cylinder in true 'boating fashion'.
Thanks to Dave Noakes for discovering this item and Eric Offen for the photos.  Jul 09.


Another Faro motor.

In 1935 Ken Williams designed a high camshaft 30cc four stroke for his new A class boat Faro, which went on to hold the outright British record from 1940. Unusually for a model, and almost certainly due to Ken being the manager of a foundry, the crankcase was cast in magnesium alloy. This particular engine was built by fellow Bournville Club member, Bill Morris from a set of castings Ken had made available. While the original motor ran on spark ignition throughout its life, this one was converted to glow plug and run on methanol. Like so many four-stroke hydroplane motors, it blew the barrel and head clean off the crankcase, leaving just the flange. A spare barrel and piston was donated from Faro, which has enabled this vintage motor to be restored to running order.                  June 09


A piece of flash steam 'history'

One man above all others is associated with flash steam hydroplanes, and that is Arthur Cockman. He built his first 'IFIT' in 1930 and spent the rest of his racing career refining and developing the FS plant and hulls through to IFIT 9, still running in the 1970s.  The engine shown here was amongst a number of items discovered some while after his death in the 90s. It is the twin cylinder motor built in 1936 for IFIT 5, later rebuild and strengthened for use in IFIT 6, which was the most successful of all Arthur's boats. This motor powered the boat to numerous regatta victories, a new flash steam record and 1st place in the ME speedboat competition in 1949. Happily, this historic motor has survived with all its pumps and attendant pipe work.                                  May 09


How much!

Larger motors, colloquially and somewhat disparagingly known as 'doorstops' have largely steered clear of the excesses of the collectors market. The Grayson shown on the left, and the Stuart AE from the opposite ends of the 1930s certainly disproved that theory. Having seen a water cooled Gannett sell for £330, the surprises continued when the Grayson went for £400. This caused a few intakes of breath and sucking of teeth, but nothing compared to the disbelief and amazement when the Stuart sold for, wait for it, £1420. No doubt a very happy vendor and several very perplexed 'doorstop' enthusiasts.
                                                                  April 09


Another of Westbury's Atoms.

This is the 30cc Atom III that was produced in the very early 1930s and is again reputed to be one of Westbury's own engines from the Bowden collection. Again a relatively long stroke motor, but with rear rotary valve induction. In 1932 Westbury produced a 15cc motor in collaboration with Bowden, called the Atom Minor. This motor had little in common with the larger version as it reverted to side port induction, more appropriate for model aircraft use. An even smaller 6cc version followed called the Atom minor MK III, again side port and with an integral fuel tank for aircraft use.

This is another gem by kind permission of Dave Noakes, photographed again by Eric Offen.  Mar 09


A Cornish collection.

This original and unfired Bailey pulse jet unit came from a collector in Cornwall along with the 'Worlds Fastest Tethered Car' and associated Jetex unit. Jetex manufactured a whole range of motors powered by solid fuel pellets and an equally large range of car and boat models and kits. The car used its own box as a pylon!

The jet unit is very similar to the Dyna Jet and uses a reed valve with multiple petals on the intake. Starting requires an air supply and a spark coil to energise the plug. Once running the whole process is self sustaining as long as the fuel supply lasts.     Feb 09