Miniature gasoline engine

Originally published at: Miniature gasoline engine | Boing Boing


How many horse/pony’s that put out?


I get the joke, and it’s the one always made about model engineering videos, but I would hate for that to discourage anyone from getting in to this amazing hobby.

This person is using Sherline machines which are little baby machine tools that are very inexpensive and anyone can use them on their kitchen table. If you want to go bigger, second hand older machines like a 9” South Bend come up on Craigslist and such for a couple hundred bucks that need some love to be brought back to life. The tooling, like drills, endmills, etc, can be purchased gradually as you need them. Anyone can get started in hobby machining and make engines like this relatively inexpensively.

The time investment is real, but most hobbies involve lots of time- that’s kinda the point. It’s about the journey, not the destination. As soon as you finish one model engine, you immediately start on the next one.


As an aging meat popsicle, I can attest to the value of a hobby[s]. Dear Wife and I swear by them, it is essentially a never ending journey, and an enjoyable one at that. When you do find a good fit [hobby] for your needs it will enrich your life and likely the lives of others.


That was fascinating


…or you could just buy one for $170.


I have improved the joke!


I’ll recommend Nevil Shute’s novel to any tinkerer:

‘“Trustee from the Toolroom” is an adventure story in which a model engineer–drawn to some extent around Edgar Westbury–plays the leading part. When he was writing this story, Nevil borrowed volumes of the MODEL ENGINEER from me so that his references to a Congreve clock would be accurate in detail. There was nothing casual in his writing, and there was no guesswork in his own workshop - for he was a true model engineer in spirit, and a member of our Melbourne SMEE.
Before he left England he completed a one-eighth h.p. horizontal single-cylinder petrol engine to Stuart Turner No 800 castings and added a mechanical lubricator. It was described and illustrated in ME of 27 January 1949. He brought it with him to Australia and displayed it working at one of our exhibitions.’


One of these things is unreasonably expensive.

I can’t say this in public, but I can’t help thinking that high fuel prices are good for the environment, and that if fossil carbon isn’t expensive, people will keep putting tons of it it into the atmosphere.

I acknowledge that I’m a member of the elite, and that many people can’t do their jobs from home (unlike me) and most Americans live more than two miles from their job (unlike me) and most Americans can’t take public transit to work (unlike me), and that these high prices mean real suffering for many people. But I can’t help noticing that when gas isn’t expensive, a lot of people decide that the best way to commute is to buy a gigantic vehicle and travel to work in it by themselves.

I’m not trying to be a jerk about this, but it certainly does seem that we’re fucked.


I also find it discouraging when people looking into a hobby are convinced they need a ton of expensive equipment just to start. Sadly this is sometimes done by people in the hobby.

Often (in various forums I am in) some of the more experienced folk will be picky about someones choice of equipment, because their choice is better. Yes its true that the higher end device is often better in some real way, but you can still do a lot with more basic tools. And often you learn a lot building within the limitations of the tool you can afford, and that helps you choose which higher end tool you may eventually upgrade too and where to spend your money as you develop your skills.

I know little about machining (metalwork is not currently in my making skillset) but the prices of entry level milling and cnc devices are low enough now that I am thinking it could be fun to start learning. (I have my eyes on a Proxxon mill at the moment) Sure my first project wont be an engine of such increadible intricacy as the video but thats a goal not a starting point.

So yes lets encourage instead of discourage!





$1,000 worth of precision shop equipment

Might want to add a zero there. Or not.

Also cool to see a sidevalve flathead engine. I guess lawnmowers and such still use them but I kinda forget about them because they’re not used in cars.

I have found that within every hobby, there are those that just want to have fun, and those that take it very very seriously. The conflict between them is real, and where people place others on that line is often not where they would place themselves.


Crunch the numbers and report back to us.

edit: I ran the numbers and got around 2.5 hp, which is certainly too high. Very high performance 2.5 cc RC engines make about 1.6 hp. The biggest assumptions here are geometry (bore & stroke & compression ratio) and rpm, and then f/a mixture. Feel free to add your suggestions for those values and I can run them again.


The post originally had the extra zero, but was removed per input from @VeronicaConnor above.


Absolutely- the gatekeeping in hobby machining is very strong. Not just that you aren’t worthy if you don’t spend X dollars, but also if you aren’t a white American man with a southern accent or a British white man from Yorkshire. Don’t get me started on those forums. :roll_eyes:


or you could buy a much better looking engine meant for model airplanes for a fraction of the cost


True hobbies attract a very diverse range of intentions.

I often find it amusing what people will get really “passionate” (aka be jerks) about.

For example in some model building groups people can get very vocal when someones chosen colour doesnt match the “correct” choice. Uhm, we are grown adults building imaginary plastic space ships, maybe we can just have a little fun here :wink:


Kenan Thompson Awww GIF by Saturday Night Live


I sometimes fantasize about meeting BBS comrades, but there’s no one else here whose shop I’d like to get a tour of more than yours.

No kidding. Try looking for reasonable recommendations for a bicycle from bike forums that doesn’t run $1500+. They make it sound like you’re going to be on the side of the highway stripping down gear cassettes if you spend less than a grand. It’s totally lost on them that some people don’t want to be head-to-toe in branded spandex and clicky shoes; they just want to take a nice ride with the kids occasionally and get some exercise.

Hear hear. Most useless internet comment ever; “why would you want to do that!?!

Because I do and my identity isn’t tied exclusively to my hobbies? Because sometimes good enough is actually good enough?