Author Topic: New member, maker of diagrammatic models  (Read 365 times)

Offline theodoregray

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New member, maker of diagrammatic models
« on: August 14, 2019, 04:16:47 PM »
Hello model engine community! My name is Theodore Gray. You can read about some things I do at http://theodoregray.com but I'm here specifically in connection with engine models. I write books about various things, mostly Chemistry in the past, but now I've started writing about my life-long engagement with mechanical things. I have a book coming out in a couple of months ( https://www.amazon.com/How-Things-Work-Everyday-Machines/dp/0316445436 ) about how various mechanical devices work, illustrated with many photographs of real things, and models I've made to illustrate how they work.

That book doesn't include any engines, but I've just signed the contract to write two new books, first one about engines (very broadly defined) and then one about tools (also broadly defined).

The models I make for my books are different in style and intent from what most people think of as a model engine. My goal is maximum abstraction, more like a schematic diagram in physical form than a working model (i.e. none of my engines will run on steam or air, instead they are transparent (literally), simplified, stylized representations of just the key ideas in each mechanism.

My website http://mechanicalgifs.com shows the couple dozen models I have, of which half a dozen are steam engines (plus a 7-cylinder radial engine). Scroll down this page a bit to see my collection of engines: https://mechanicalgifs.com/model-categories . To get an idea of the motivation, these two models have longer explanations of the idea:

     https://mechanicalgifs.com/models/right-angle-steam-engine
     
     https://mechanicalgifs.com/radial-engine-car

I also have a video of an early prototype of a 3-cylinder internal combustion engine model you might find interesting:
This model is now significantly improved (better crankshaft and distributor contacts, better wire management, etc), and I hope to have it for sale before too long.

I'm interested in engaging with this community for three reasons: to get your feedback on my designs, to get suggestions for new engine designs that might be interesting, and to contact members who have models that I might be able to photograph to include in my new book on engines.

For example, right now I'm thinking about making a schematic Corliss engine model, and would also like to photograph some of the really nice Corliss engine models I've seen posted by people who I think are members of this community.

Please contact me if you are interested to collaborate in any way. If you have models to photograph, I and my photographer can come to you, and you would of course be welcome to keep and use the photos and videos we take any way you like. We're based in the midwest (specifically Champaign-Urbana in East-Central Illinois), but travel regularly and could probably make it nearly anywhere for the right photo opportunity.

Thanks!

Offline theodoregray

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Re: New member, maker of diagrammatic models
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2019, 04:17:24 PM »
Oh, and I can be contacted most efficiently by email at theodore@theodoregray.com

Thanks again,
Theodore

Offline cnr6400

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Re: New member, maker of diagrammatic models
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2019, 04:23:28 PM »
Like the valve springs in the video - made of rubberbandium, I think?  :Lol:

Very nice model. It reminds me of the Offenhauser 4 cyl speedway engines.  :ThumbsUp:

Offline theodoregray

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Re: New member, maker of diagrammatic models
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2019, 05:08:02 PM »
Yes, I am very proud of my valve springs! I had used actual metal springs in my Pin-Tumbler Lock model, and was very worried about the cost and mechanical complexity of using real springs for the valves in the engine. It was one of several things that made me think the model might not be practical (the others being the crankshaft and distributor). So I was tremendously pleased with myself when I figured out how to make not one but ALL SIX valve springs with a single rubber band. It works remarkably well for costing maybe half a cent.

The new crankshaft is now made with a photolithography printer and looks way better. And the distributor wiper is CNC milled from thin brass sheet (because that's much more cost effective for making them by the dozens v.s. having a stamping die made, which I don't have the facilities to do myself).

When I first made the model I showed it to a drunk auto mechanic friend of mine who used to build NASCAR engines and he immediately praised the design as being a high-performance style (dual overhead cam). I made it that way simply because this design has the fewest moving parts (no rocker arms, no lifters, etc), but of course that's also why it's the highest-performance design at high RPMs.

Offline b.lindsey

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Re: New member, maker of diagrammatic models
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2019, 05:18:48 PM »
Hi and welcome to the forum Theodore.

Bill

Offline mklotz

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Re: New member, maker of diagrammatic models
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2019, 06:31:17 PM »
I've built Ted's combination lock model and his model verifying Pythagoras' theorem model and can testify that they are very carefully built, easy to assemble, and work well when finished.  They're great additions to your display cabinet and an easy way to explain the marvels of technology to the mechanical hoi polloi.

Ted, it would be exciting if you could offer a model engine that actually worked.  If you're not already acquainted with Fluidyne engines and pumps, here are some urls to give you the idea.

https://hackaday.com/2011/03/09/simple-fluidyne-engine/


Those are all powered with torches but years ago I built a fluidyne engine sans pump using stacked plastic sheet and blocks very like your models employ.  Cemented into this arrangement was a power resistor.





 By heating this resistor with a current from an exterior power source I was able to obtain the pulsation that could be used to drive a simplistic water pump (basically two flap valves in series). 

Give it a thought; if you make one, I'll buy it for sure.
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Offline theodoregray

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Re: New member, maker of diagrammatic models
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2019, 07:08:32 PM »
Interesting idea, I had not heard of this type of pump. It looks like it's the same principle as those toy boats that run on a candle?

The problem with gluing the acrylic sheets is that it's not something I can expect people to do on their own, since (if you want it to look good) it requires a special solvent cement and a lot of practice to get it right without ending up with a lot of bubbles. Gluing the parts ahead of time would mean it's not a model anymore, and the labor cost would make them very expensive finished gadgets.

I thought about making a water siphon clock the same way, with glued sheets and spacers, but rejected the idea for the same reason: too hard and/or too expensive.

Some day I may branch out into making injection molded parts, and then a lot of things become possible. But that requires having a reliable way to sell thousands of them, not just a few hundred. Right now, selling just through my website, I am limited to laser cutting, 3d printing, and milling. I actually have a small injection molding machine, and a vacuum forming machine, but have not yet developed the skill to make molds for them (and the injection molded parts would be limited to very small things).

The photolithography printer could probably make the whole pump as one part, but the cost would be very high, and the walls would not come out clear enough to be satisfying.

Online sco

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Re: New member, maker of diagrammatic models
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2019, 07:27:45 PM »
Welcome Theodore!

How about a disk type engine: http://www.modelenginemaker.com/index.php/topic,5274.0.html

Simon.
Ars longa, vita brevis.

Offline mklotz

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Re: New member, maker of diagrammatic models
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2019, 07:44:08 PM »

The problem with gluing the acrylic sheets is that it's not something I can expect people to do on their own, since (if you want it to look good) it requires a special solvent cement and a lot of practice to get it right without ending up with a lot of bubbles. Gluing the parts ahead of time would mean it's not a model anymore, and the labor cost would make them very expensive finished gadgets.


Gluing is not a requirement.  I think the whole thing could be made of separate parts held together with through bolts much as the parts of your combination lock are assembled.  I doubt that a gasket would be needed to make it water tight but, even if it did, it's just one more cut out part.

As a test, see if the bead loading funnel made from parts supplied with the Pythagoras model will hold water if the narrow end is plugged; might have to torque the bolts a bit.
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Regards, Marv


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