Quality Made in Canada Shooting Star Technology

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Shooting Star Technology is happy to provide this brief report for those who were unable to attend S.A.M.S. in person.

The good folks in Dutton, Alabama recently hosted the first annual Southern Amateur Modelers Show. Up until now, there has been a gap in American model engineering shows in the South. There is no doubt that S.A.M.S. will become in the South what P.R.I.M.E, N.A.M.E.S., and Cabin Fever Expo have become in the West, Mid-America, and East. The first year for any show is often small since many people don't want to go to the trouble and expense of attending a small show, and will wait till the second year- a real chicken or egg situation. On the other hand, there were well over a hundred engines and models, and everyone had a good time. We at Shooting Star Technology committed to attending soon after our first contact with the S.A.M.S. organizer, Kevin Bonner, based on Kevin's enthusiasm and sincerity. Putting on a show is a huge undertaking, and Kevin is to be commended for his effort. To his credit, everyone who filled out the information forms also pre-registered for next year's show. Honestly, a couple mistakes were made in organizing this show, namely the Friday-Saturday show instead of Saturday-Sunday, and the lack of national advertising- both things Kevin will remedy for next year. Also, a larger hall is in the works with ample motorhome parking.

Look for our Shooting Star Technology booth at the next years show !

In the previous show report, the sound files had proven to be popular, but the steam enthusiasts were shortchanged because of the lack of my recording ability for very quiet engines. I have improved this to some extent for this report, so I will bias the coverage in favor of the steam engines this time around.

There was a wide range of models shown at S.A.M.S. They ranged from simple miniature custom engines to extremely detailed historical scale models. Jimmy P. displayed this plexiglass frame - (sounds) uses about the simplest valving possible in a steam engine-the wobbler. In this design the connecting rod and piston are one solid piece, so the circular motion of the crank is accomodated by allowing the cylinder to rock. This rocking motion alternately allows the moving cylinder port to be exposed to the fixed pressure port or the exhaust port depending on whether the piston is before or after top dead center. A pretty clever design in its simplicity, really, and the plexiglass lets you have an x-ray view into the workings.

This is Kevin Bonners version of a Silver Angel. (Sorry- no sounds- Kevin was running back and forth the whole show and I never caught him long enough to fire up his engine for me!) The plans for the The Silver Angel are, of course, available from Bob Shores. Kevin also showed this little red horizontal engine - (sounds) . Another neat little engine - (sounds) of Kevin's was pretty interesting. This is a 3-stroke engine which seemed to use the crank as part of the valving, although I never really did figure out the valving in detail on this engine. The exhaust is out of the center of the flywheel through a hole in the crank. Part of what Kevin does for living is design complex, unusual mechanisms so it's not surprising that he likes the curious engine designs you don't see often, like this double cylinder scotch yoke - (sounds) drive engine. This one looks simple yet elegant, somehow, when it's operating. When I figure out how to make a little video clip that doesn't take forever to download, this is the first one you'll see.

One of the reasons to go to a model engineering show is to learn the history behind the engines from the interested people who have researched them. On such person is Marlon B. He explained that this steam engine - (sounds) with a rope-drive output was developed for use in a rock quarry. The harsh environment meant poor life was obtained from the regular flat drive belts. Somehow they got the idea to use a rope drive and this turned out to be a much more durable system. Marlon's example uses orange poly belting in place of the rope, but you get the idea.

Way back when steam engines were considered modern, there were courtroom patent battles on every aspect of their design. It seems almost unbelievable now, but somebody actually managed to patent the crankshaft as a method to convert linear piston motion to rotary motion! Marlon B.'s epicyclic model - (sounds) is an example of an ingenious attempt to circumvent the crankshaft patent. The geometry is worked out so that as the inner gear rolls around the inside of the internal gear the flywheel end of the connecting rod travels in a straight line.

Another of Marlon's engines is this half-sized popcorn engine - (sounds) , so named because they're often seen running popcorn machines at engine shows.

Larry H. displayed this two-cylinder wobbler - (sounds) . Larry also displayed this grasshopper engine - (sounds). It uses the lever effect of the upper beam to allow a larger slow-moving piston to drive a crank at a higher speed with less crank throw. Here is wood framed example of the same type of engine.

Perry J. brought this model of a 4 cylinder Panther aircraft engine - (sounds) .

Here are only a few of the many engines Dave M. brought. One is the PM Research flame licker - (sounds). Here is one of Dave's custom built - (sounds). engines. Here is a PM Research #1 - (sounds). and a Stuart Twin - (sounds). . Dave also had a PM Research #3 - (sounds). This V10 Vertical Engine - (sounds). is usually driven by the Stuart 500 boiler shown with it but at model engineering shows, the engines are always driven by compressed air rather than steam for safety. Dave points out that the engines sound different when running on steam. Here is another of Dave M's custom built engines - (sounds).

Notice the date stamped on this brass model - Jan 6 1898 ! It appears model engineering has been around a long time. Dave M. found this at an estate sale (if I remember correctly).

Emmet L. brought this Otto Langen - (sounds). . This engine has a gear rack attached to the piston, which drives the flywheel through a one-way clutch; a sort of ratchet effect.

John H. builds historical scale models of cranes. This one is a walking dredge . It's called a walking dredge because it is self-propelled. It lifts itself on the walking pads and pulls itself forward. Notice the nice detail on the dredge bucket . Those are real miniature rivets! This is John's model of the first steam shovel from 1843. Notice that it uses only flat metal bolted to wooden beams for structural components. No polished brass here - just authentic looking parts.

John's current project is this Hulett ore unloader , which was used to unload ore boats on the Great Lakes into rail cars. These huge machines date back to the 1800's and the last one was built in 1954. John works from detailed plans and photos such as this and this to produce detail like this.

This is Stan N.'s model, one he has dubbed "Stanley's Steamer" - (sounds)

If you've never seen one of these - (sounds) actually running, it may be hard to appreciate how they work. Harry C. pointed out that this was a 6 cylinder engine with 5 moving parts! The flywheel has 3 of the cylinders and the other 3 are in the smaller wheel with the vertical axis. The the pistons are double ended, and L-shaped. I'll try to get a video of this thing running slow-it really is pretty neat.

This is another of Harry C.'s steam engines with classic sounds!

Mel S. brought some beautiful engines up from Florida with him. He told me this is a 1/3 scale model of a rare Hagen engine - (sounds). The Hagen was the only gas engine built in the state of Kentucky. It uses an interesting fuel pickup method. Fuel sticks to a loop of chain which is belt driven off the crank. At the top of the loop the fuel is flung off the upper sprocket through 180 tiny holes to atomize it. The fuel-air mixture then travels to the intake port.

This beautiful engine was built by Bruce H. Look at the mirror finish on the rim of the flywheel- that is POLISHED cast iron. This is another fine example of Bruce's work. The photo does not do it justice. The paint job is magnificent. We at Shooting Star Technology are particularly pleased with these engines as Bruce uses our product- the CBX Digital Readout -in his shop. All of these engines were running, but unfortuantely it was approximately at this point that I began taping over part of my show tape, so I can offer no sound files.

Here is an old Maytag .

This radial engine was built by Julian M. It shows good workmanship . Julian also built this Aloris-style tool post. He also made a big set of tool holders by the lost wax casting method. The first step was to build a mold to make the wax parts. This mold used two slides to form the dovetail and holes in the part. Here is the wax part as it would appear coming out of the mold. Many wax forms are joined together on a wax tree and the whole thing is dipped in a ceramic slurry which solidifies onto the wax forms. After several dippings, the slurry becomes mechanically strong enough to enable the wax core to be melted and baked out. Then, 1018 steel is poured into the ceramic mold, and you've got a whole pile of steel tool holders! Now obviously casting steel is a big project for the hobbiest, but making lost wax masters is not out of reach at all. The pressures involved are orders of magnitude lower than plastic injection molding. All you then need is a cooperative foundry to cast your parts in steel.

I'll leave you with one last neat sound for which I have no corresponding photo. It was a green steam engine with a polished brass flyball governer.

All in all, S.A.M.S. was a good show this year, and with a bigger hall reserved for next year and more advertising planned , it is destined to become THE model engineering show for the South.

Comments and/or corrections are welcome

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