[4]

Rotary Internal Combustion Engine

[3]
[10] Like what you see?
Click here to donate to this forum and upgrade your account!

Boojie

Active Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 18, 2019
Messages
54
I’m curious if anyone here has ever built or worked with an air cooled Rotary Internal Combustion Engine such as was used on WWI aircraft. ( or knew someone who has). These are odd beasts considering the crankshaft is stationary and the block and pistons rotate around it.
Note I am NOT referring to a radial engine (in which the block is stationary).
 

ch2co

Grumpy Old Man
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
984
Me thinks you guys are a little bit crazy. A person could get hurt playing with a thing like that!
Sure looks like fun.

Grumpy
 

Flyinfool

H-M Supporter - Silver Member
H-M Supporter - Silver Member ($10)
Joined
Apr 29, 2019
Messages
231
The "visual effects" are due to the camera acting like a strobe light taking the individual frames of the video. In person you will not see that happening, it will just be a blur the whole time it is spinning.
But that does look like fun.
 

Latinrascalrg1

Brass
Registered
Joined
Dec 9, 2016
Messages
739
The "visual effects" are due to the camera acting like a strobe light taking the individual frames of the video. In person you will not see that happening, it will just be a blur the whole time it is spinning.
But that does look like fun.
Thanks for the explanation and I was Quite aware of this but i hope you can agree that does not negate the cool effects that are filmed in the clip! Fwi you could actually see this effect in person to some degree if you use a stobe light... the effects would be dependent on the speed of the light flashing along with the motors rpm.
 

matthewsx

H-M Supporter - Silver Member
H-M Supporter - Silver Member ($10)
Joined
Jan 2, 2019
Messages
516
Odd indeed, I think the original builders would have had suspenders and hats with straps under the chin ;)
 

markba633csi

Platinum
Registered
Joined
Apr 30, 2015
Messages
4,180
I've heard about those engines- don't know how they do the fuel and ignition? Slip rings?
 

Janderso

Jeff Anderson
H-M Platinum Supporter ($50)
Joined
Mar 26, 2018
Messages
1,706
Many years ago I heard about these rotary engines. I thought it was a joke.
Who the heck would build an engine where the crankshaft is stationary and the propeller is bolted to the engine block?
I would imagine balancing this configuration was a nightmare.
It's problematic from many different angles.
But, wheels were square once :)
 

benmychree

John York
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Jun 7, 2013
Messages
3,618
Another thing is that the relatively heavy rotating mass made turns problematic, the plane would act differently turning one way than the other.
 

T Bredehoft

Active User
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Dec 27, 2014
Messages
3,083
I saw a film from WWI in which some of the engines were spinning, never knew about it before that, what a concept.
 

Janderso

Jeff Anderson
H-M Platinum Supporter ($50)
Joined
Mar 26, 2018
Messages
1,706
The gyro affect.
I had heard something about that John.
I remember when I would rev my BMW Boxer engine, the bike would rotate slightly to one side.
 

Superburban

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Jan 2, 2016
Messages
950
I always love watching those engines. I guess one could say they were amung the first multi cylinder engines that had no distributor. The coil was stationary, and the spark jumps the gap as the cylinder goes past it.

Another forgotten cool item from that time, is the inertia starter. Some were hand crank, some were electric, and some were either.


 

jcp

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Nov 29, 2017
Messages
167
Here's some more on the Gnome rotary in a Sopwith Pup at Fantsy of Flight.
 

MikeInOr

Active Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 1, 2018
Messages
262
I recall reading these engines do not have carburetors. I read these engines have only 2 speeds.... on and off. To adjust airspeed for landing they would turn the gas off then back on to slow down. The rotating mass of all those cylinders would restart the engine when the gas supply resumed.

I think the guys in the video would get farther if they added a couple of wings!
 

silence dogood

Active User
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Jul 10, 2013
Messages
425
Many years ago I heard about these rotary engines. I thought it was a joke.
Who the heck would build an engine where the crankshaft is stationary and the propeller is bolted to the engine block?
I would imagine balancing this configuration was a nightmare.
It's problematic from many different angles.
But, wheels were square once :)
Actually, one of the advantages of these engines were that they were balanced and did not need a counterbalance like many of the early fixed blocked engines. They also did not need a flywheel. Well, let's face it. the engine block is the flywheel. And since the block spins, it was an easy way to keep the engine cool. These early engines did not have a lot of power, so this was one way to get a higher power to weight. One interesting thing is that the intake valve was mounted in the piston. 30 years earlier there was a motor cycle that used a 5 cylinder engine of the same principle.
 

NortonDommi

Brass
Registered
Joined
Nov 15, 2016
Messages
554
Anyone interested in Man's ingenuity should have a look at 'Some Unusual Engines' by L.J.K.Setright.
 

john.k

Active Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 4, 2018
Messages
222
There were many ingenious details in the Gnome engine..........Ford made them,and developed a method of forming the finned barrel by wrinkling a steel tube ,then welding the whole into a finned barrel.....the cylinders were near paper thin for centrifugal force reasons,and made of hard high tensile steel.....the barrels were also egg shaped in the bores because the front (leading) surface cooled better than the trailing parts............if an engine cut out on takeoff,the plane would dive sideways into the ground,due to gyroscopic effects......
 

Bob Korves

H-M Supporter - Sustaining Member
H-M Platinum Supporter ($50)
Joined
Jul 2, 2014
Messages
6,835
I always love watching those engines. I guess one could say they were amung the first multi cylinder engines that had no distributor. The coil was stationary, and the spark jumps the gap as the cylinder goes past it.

Another forgotten cool item from that time, is the inertia starter. Some were hand crank, some were electric, and some were either.


Those are radial engines, not rotary engines...
 

tghsmith

Active Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 10, 2019
Messages
46
this type of engine since the late 1800's was termed as a rotary engine or a rotary radial engine,, wankels or the type started out as pistonless or pistonless rotary engines, most likely didn't advertise well making buyers think parts were missing..
 

Bob Korves

H-M Supporter - Sustaining Member
H-M Platinum Supporter ($50)
Joined
Jul 2, 2014
Messages
6,835
Well, in the early 1970's I was taking an evening metalworking class at a local high school, project based, no books. Making individual projects, use the tools you are checked out on, ask for help with the others. One of the guys attending, Scottish, would play his bagpipes before class, a real character. He was making intricate parts from blueprints, castings, and bar stock. I asked him what he was making, and he told me he was making carburetors for Le Rhone rotary engines, and then explained to me how they worked. He told me that the carburetor was not installed on the engine, it was installed on the rear side of the firewall (!) and the air/fuel mixture flowed into the center of the stationary crankshaft. When the planes were scrapped after the war, a fair amount of engines were saved from the scrap heap, but most of the carburetors were burned with the wood and fabric airplanes they were mounted to. So, he was making a run of the carburetors off the original plans. He also invited me to his nearby house after class and showed me the two complete Le Rhone rotary engines he had on display there, one on a test stand and in running condition. We did not start it at 9:00 in the evening...

Between the large amount of gyroscopic force that the engine made, the fuel system behind the firewall, the engine only having an on/off electrical system on the stick to control the spark (switch on, full throttle, switch off, no power), the fuel being gasoline mixed with castor oil, which flew out of short exhaust pipes in a circular stream around the spinning engine, and into the pilot's goggles and lungs (strong diarrhea creator), and the large amount of yaw and pitch change caused by turning the engine on and off, it was quite a handful to fly. And we have not talked about the primative aircraft, which the Wright Brothers only invented 15 year earlier. Probably more pilots got killed by the aircraft itself than being shot down by the enemy. The scarf around their necks was about the cold, open cockpits and the oily goggles, not the dapper upper class pilots of lore. It did not stay a glamour job for long, guys could (and did) die quickly in those planes.

If you ever look closely at a WWI fighter plane, they are CRUDE designs, and quickly built! The pilots were quickly trained, and in a single seat aircraft, you ultimately check yourself out to fly it. They explained how it worked, patted you on the back, and off you went. What could possibly go wrong???
 
  • Like
Reactions: jcp
[5] [7]
Top