Continuing our description of Gordon Burford's Australian made model aero engines, well known during the years of popularity of control line in Australia.

1.  This 2.5cc diesel sold in hobby shops during 1957 came to be called a Taipan, but the engine itself carried no identifying name.  Its appearance differed only slightly from the Sabres being sold in 1955 and 1956.  Anyone wanting a plain bearing 2.5cc for a trainer or sports flying would rarely need an engine much different from these Taipans, but that did not stop Gordon from changing to completely different designs several times over the next 15 years, starting in 1957!

Gordon's eldest son Peter joined the business in 1958, initially as an apprentice machinist, ultimately as manager of the plant up until Taipan called it a day.  In the earlier years of Burford production much of the metal machining was done by sub-contractors; notably by Frank Bargwanna, Ken Garret and Jack Dowling.  At the beginning of the nineteen sixties, typically Peter would have cast the crankcase, Gordon ground the shaft and the cylinder, Frank made the bush, piston and contra piston and machined the eccentric crankpin, Ken made the con-rod and needle valve assembly, Jack machined the casting, backplate, thrust washer, head, cylinder and shaft blank and Gordon ground the piston and contra and honed the cylinder for the final fit.

2.  This group of four engines shows some of the 2.5cc plain bearing designs Gordon produced under the name Taipan commencing in 1957.  Another not shown was a 1959 model featuring rear drum valve induction.

3.  There were twin ballraced 2.5cc Taipans produced as well, culminating in the black headed series of 1972 shown on the right, the last of the 2.5 Taipan diesels.  This series was considered by many to be the best of all the Taipans.

How did the twin ballraced 2.5cc Taipan diesels measure up against the world's best?  In teamracing, where diesel is king, not many of our regular competitors seriously tried the Taipan.  It was only in combat that successful flyers were often seen using them.

4.  Meanwhile, a variety of Taipan 1.5cc diesels was being produced having some resemblance to the 2.5cc Taipan designs.  Most of these 1.5cc engines went into control line beginners trainers and sports models, with smaller numbers going into free flight models as well.  Malcolm Pring used one of the ballraced series to set a very fast record in half-A teamracing.  Others had competition successes with Taipan 1.5cc diesels as well, although it must be said that control line competitions for 1.5cc were never as popular as competitions for the larger engine sizes.

5.  After dropping the name Sabre, Gordon's glow plug engines were for a while named Taipan.  Initially, some of the engines themselves were unbranded (actually using castings made in Sabre dies that had the name ground off), but they were sold in boxes carrying the new Taipan name, containing instructions for the Taipan 29 & 35.  Gordon produced a Glo Chief 29 based on the American Fox in 1957.  It was accompanied briefly by a Glo Chief 35 with similar Fox styling.  These Glo Chief 35s have become quite rare, not often being seen today, even by collectors.



6  By 1958 new glowplug engines were in production, such as the Glo Chief 35 shown in the photo at right.  Following models were distinguished by attractive gold anodized cylinder heads.

In 1959, then again in 1961, Brian Horrocks won the Gold Trophy for control line aerobatics in England, using a Glo Chief 49 that Gordon had sent him.



7  The restyled Glo Chief 19 shown here is accompanied by a genuine Burford muffler made to suit.  Similar Burford mufflers were made for Glo Chief 29, 35, and 49 engines.  Like most Glo Chiefs of their era, the 19 was available with a throttle.  A picture of one may be seen here.  A throttle was not often wanted for control line flying, but was usually demanded for radio control.


8.  Eventually the name Taipan was restored to Gordon's glow plug engines, and new Glo Chiefs stopped appearing.  Pictured here (on the left) is a 1967 model Taipan 1.5cc glow, interesting in that it had a ball and socket rather than the more common gudgeon pin for connecting con-rod to piston.  On the right is a Taipan 3.5cc glow engine of 1972.

9.  Many observers felt that this high performance 15 represented the pinnacle of Gordon Burford's long career as engine designer and manufacturer.  It went into production in 1973, was equipped with twin ball-race and Schneurle porting, and could be purchased either with or without the throttle shown in our picture.  Magazine test reports indicated that this Taipan's performance was right up with the world's best production engines of its size.

10.  In 1974 Gordon retired from the manufacturing business and passed his company over to son Peter.  The business had come a long way since its beginnings in Gordon's backyard workshop, operating at its peak with 20 employees in a purpose built factory at Belfast Street, Grange, and producing around 1000 engines a month.  Sales were made to several countries world wide, as well as to the Australian market.

Gordon Burford and Co. called it a day and ceased production of model aero engines in 1976.  There were several contributing factors.  A 1977 announcement mentioned the staggering development costs of a new Taipan R/C 40, a project that was abandoned and offered for sale to a different manufacturer.



In compiling this report David Kidd's scant knowledge has been augmented by numerous articles and pictures previously published elsewhere.  Thanks are offered to all who contributed, especially:

Ivor F - "Australian Production Motors" - published in The Australian Modeller Nos. 7, 8, and 9.
John French - "Gordon Burford the model engine man" - from The Aeromodelling Digest 1993
Ron Chernich - website Model Engine News
Peter Burford - website pb engine Australia
Maris Dislers - for proof reading and suggesting corrections to the text.
Bob Allan - for supplying additional photos

You can now buy the ultimate reference book all about Gordon Burford's Engines:

The cover of Maris Dislers' new book

Order your copy direct from the author by responding to his advert here.


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