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good beginner book - timing diagrams, etc

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des bromilow07/06/2009 12:02:34
7 forum posts
I purchased the "motor boys plan book" and am thoroughly inspired by what can be done, but wouldn't know where to start.
What is the best "dummies guide to building IC motors" book for someone who can drive their lathe, read plans, etc.. but doesn't know how timing diagrams relate to the manufacture of the motor?
The way I see it, the things I would need to understand would include timing diagrams, troubleshooting the motor, common faults, common tricks, and maintenance of the motor.
I would need to understand the basic terminology, and standard components (ie here is a bog standard carburetter for all 2 stroke motors between .5 and 10cc", and an understanding of what changes if you scale up or down.
maybe a big ask, but is there a book out there which covers some/ all of this?
I know if major areas there are clubs, etc to help, but I would not want to guess the distance to the nearest club for me. Forums are great, but  a lot can be lost in people's typing and descriptive skills. A book gives me the chance to read, veiw pictures, and reread.
John Ladlow07/06/2009 20:31:19
17 forum posts
Just joined this forum and saw this question. I am interested in your opinion of the Motor Boys book as I have thought of getting it in the past.
Regarding your query, I bought Malcolm Stride's book Miniature Internal Combustion Engines at Ascot a couple of years ago and it does most of what you say although it concentrates mostly on four stroke engines but has a lot on engine design and timing etc.
It is listed on Amazon.
One of my fellow club members has also built his 15cc single engine and it goes well.
Hope this helps
des bromilow08/06/2009 06:29:00
7 forum posts
The motor boys book is well worth the $10 it cost me (local Oz price) - it's basically a plans book of about 90 pages (PDF) with each motor taking about 3-8 pages.
The book assumes the builder already knows what they're doing, and it only focuses on the dimensioned plans, and maybe one or two "gotcha's" there is more focus on the history of the selected motors, why they were selected, design failings (if any) and modifications for modern usage.
I bought it because I'd heard of it, and the price was attractive. I didn't realise the level of pre-requisite knowledge and expereince needed, but if you've built one or two motors, you'll probably understand it much better than a total novice.
Thanks for the advice on the Stride book - it's already in my amazon watch list, but so are several others - I was holding off purchase of any more books until I got some feedback on a suitable one.
Malcolm BEAK08/06/2009 14:31:10
3 forum posts
There's a huge amount of information on Ron Churnich's site at It includes loads of "how to" pages and advice on suitable engines for first timers. It's been running since May 2002 with monthly "news sheets". Loads of links to other useful sites.
I also have the Motor Boys book, and have built the Fig Tree Pocket Twin, but as a water cooled marine engine. If you go to the above site, then engines, gallery, page 8 you will see a few photos of it.
jomac09/06/2009 06:57:42
113 forum posts

I joined the modelenginenews and puchased the DVD for $A70, this gives me access to the members only site, which has hundreds of articles from Model Engineer and other sources, they cover just about every article and plans about IC engines and relevant  articles on, machineing, casting, cams, etc etc, As an added bonus I recieved for free the whole of the Motor Boys book, in addition there are many more detailed plans for IC engines whose building details are on this site.

If you join this site you can download the monthly updates which at times can be from 4 to 27 mega bites in size, or, Ron will send you for a reasonable fee a CD update.

I know it seems like a plug for this site, BUT, I have learned a heck of a lot, not just IC engines but also machineing.

John Wood127/06/2009 14:42:37
116 forum posts
Hi Des. Very interested in this subject as I am in a similar stage of learning as yourself. I too would like to see suggested 'components' which can be used for a range of models. Things, as you say, like Carburetters and ignition systems - have a look at my posts elsewhere in this section. I am experimenting with Jan Ridder's petrol vapour carb as being a very likely candidate for the smaller engines and so far it looks excellent. I have also been experimenting with a Hall Effect ignition system, this has the advantage that there are no mechanical breaker points, thus reducing drag and no need to source suitable HT coils and associated parts. If just these two components were thoroughly tried, tested and recommended it would make tackling an IC project very much more straightforward.
Why do so many of the published designs glibly say things like; "I dug and old coil from the junkbox and found some contact breaker points from an old engine and I used those" and "I pinched a carb from a scrap engine I had laying about" Not very helpful for those who don't have junk boxes or enough experience to press such items into service. 
Timing is often dealt with by "near or just a few degrees before top-dead-centre". Now a 'few degrees' can be anything but to me it might be less than ten. I am now finding out the hard way that values of 20 or even up to 30 degrees is typical. I see aero engines recommending 25 to 30 using an electronic ignition system. I know this will vary depending on the actual system used but just give us a hint of what may be a ballpark figure. Starting is often dealt with by "....I gave the flywheel a good flick and it burst into life" Wouldn't it be nice? most of us tinker for days just trying to get the thing to fire let alone run. There must be certain common procedures which knowlegeable designers go through for starting an engine for the first time so please tell us mere mortals. Things like it's not enough to flick the flywheel you really need to turn the engine over quite fast using a rubber belt and an electric drill, whilst doing this you can gently adjust the carburetter to see if it will cough. Work out a method of keeping track of timing settings tried (make a card and pointer marked in degrees) and keep notes of results etc. etc.
I am trying all these things, slowly, and will publish any useful information on this forum to try and help others. Come of designers don't keep all the info to yourselves - PLEASE
All the best, John
mgj27/06/2009 15:59:17
1008 forum posts
14 photos
Oh  if its that sort of stuff you need, the RAC motor sports association has a very good book  on tuning 2 strokes. Tuned exhausts, exhaust theory, inlet and exhaust overlap, the effects of overlap on ignition timingtop speed and idle,  momentum and movement of air in inlet tracts, organ pipe theory in both inlet and exhaust. Open Loop and Schnuerle scavenge and the effects of head design. And the formulas and figures to allow you to work your own bits out.
The late  Colin Campbells book- The Sports Car (I think it was), but it may be "The Racing Engine" does the same for 4 strokes - very practical and down to earth. Google it on Amazon, they have a remarkably good out of print section.  Well written, easy to understand, and well worth having. A litle dated now in these days of  electronically mapped multi sensor engine control units, but the basic theory remains the same. All the maps do is apply optimum conditions over a broad range.
Again the 750 motor Club had a range of publications on the subject and very good they were too. 
Ian Abbott28/06/2009 10:51:26
279 forum posts
21 photos
Did a thoughtful post about the best book for learning.  When I tried to post it, the page logged me out and lost the post.

Can't be bothered to think it all out again, so,  find a copy of Newton and Steeds, Automobile Technology.  It's out of print, I think, mine's from 1963.
Best book ever written on engines and chassis.

I also have Audels Automobile Guide from 1917, which has some interesting diagrams and information on old engines and carburation.  

I can't check in them right now, they're still packed away from the last move.

As well,  have the books we used when I was teaching automotives in Canada, they're rubbish. 

You see both books in old book shops and car boots.  EBay might be a bit pricey.

Ian Abbott28/06/2009 11:45:09
279 forum posts
21 photos
Ok, senior moment there, with losing the post.

The correct title of Newton & Steeds is "The Motor Vehicle". 

I checked on Amazon and a 2004 copy, which now has Garrett as an additional author (I think the other two kicked the bucket a long time ago, as the first edition was 1929),  is priced at $74.99.  Something like the 13th edition.  I did see a fourth or fifth edition in a bookshop in York, I think, at something like five quid.  I'll look in Totnes on Monday, the used book shop there has some good stuff.

I haven't seen a later copy to compare with my  4th edition, so I can't comment on it.


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