Recall the golden years of aeromodelling with these pictures of engines commonly used for control line model planes in Australia.
Model aero engines are fascinating in themselves, which is why people make collections of them. Engines from all over the world found their ways into control line models in Australia, and some established themselves as outstanding favourites. This page shows a few of them. By clicking on any one that interests you an enlarged version will appear.
1. An attractive looking 2.5cc diesel was the ED Racer, similar in appearance to more powerful engines of this size developed later. Crude cylinder porting and some dubious choices of materials limited its performance.
2. The OS Max 1 series of glowplug engines were eagerly sought after in Australia. Compared with anything else available they were powerful, extremely well made, strong, reliable, long-lasting, and inexpensive ! Demand was such that the shops could not get enough of them, so hopeful purchasers often had to place an order then wait.
Coming in .15, .29, and .35 cubic inch sizes the family of engines all looked pretty much the same. The .35 size became a favourite choice for control line stunt and open combat competitions. The .29 size was successful in class 2 teamracing. The .15 size was mainly used as a general purpose sports engine but did win some speed competitions. Australian agent for OS, Tony Farnan, actively attacked the competition circuit using these engines, and won so much he was unkindly referred to as a "pot hunter" by some envious of his success.
3. The very best engine obtainable for 2.5cc teamracing in its early days was the Oliver Tiger from John Oliver's engineering works in Britain. They came in plain and modified versions, and many were the Australian class A teamraces won by somebody or other's mod Olly. These engines were successful in free flight and other events too, and experienced a resurgence of popularity during the 1970's for FAI combat, where their ability to be restarted instantly after a crash was found to be just as important as the marginally greater power of glow plug units.
4. The Eta 15 Mk2 diesel was the first relatively cheap racing diesel to prove superior to the legendary Oliver Tiger in FAI teamracing. It was soon followed by the more robust Mk3 Elite which was even more successful. Internationally these engines won world championships, and in Australia were still winning National events more than ten years after their introduction.
5. Equally successful in FAI teamracing (and more so in rat racing) was the Super Tigre G20 15D from Italy. According to Ron Wilson who raced these engines for years, the secret to getting them going well was in the fits of the engine's components. On the rare occasions that the fits were right, these engines could be record breakers.
6. This Taipan 2.5cc diesel was an Australian made engine of the mid sixties. Gordon Burford of Adelaide produced a bewildering variety of engines, starting in 1947 and retiring in 1974, selling engines under the names Gee Bee, Sabre, Glo Chief, and Taipan. A description of Gordon's engine manufacturing business deserves a page of its own and can be seen here.
7. Meanwhile, OS had improved their range to give us the Max3 series of engines, characterised by large diameter crankshafts and a plainer exterior finish. These engines were still competitive, and had been available and in use for more than a year when bolt-on exhaust mufflers became available for this range of engines, offering a chance to reduce the loss of control line flying fields caused by complaints about noise. But some racing enthusiasts resisted efforts to introduce compulsory use of mufflers in competitions, claiming that they caused engines to run too hot.
8. Enya of Japan produced a complete family of engines similar to the .29 cubic inch one shown here. This engine came complete with carby inserts of different diameters, and a high compression cylinder head to experiment with. In teamracing the Enya challenged the dominance of OS, with many claiming the Enya was faster. In combat and other competition events too, Enya achieved some success.
9. Merco of Britain produced some motors that became popular for stunt work in Australia during the 1960s. This picture shows the 35 model, fitted with muffler.
10. This Fox .35 Stunt engine is typical of the economically produced American range. Its short crankshaft requires a blunt nosed aeroplane if the engine is cowled, an unpopular feature that gave rise to propeller extensions to effectively lengthen the shaft. Unlike most of the engines pictured on this page, the Fox 35 is a survivor, still available at the turn of the century.
11. The Eta 29 from Britain follows the design layout of a classic speed engine, but its greatest success came in class 2 teamracing (called class B in Britain). It was unusual in having an aluminium alloy piston fitted with two piston rings as used in full sized engines. Careful running-in was all that was required to prepare one of these engines for record breaking performance. At one time (in 1964) Eta 29 Mk6c engines held the teamrace records for Britain (6minutes 8seconds), Australia (6minutes 24seconds), and New Zealand (6minutes 40seconds). Meanwhile the Americans, faithful to their American engines, were yet to get under 7 minutes.
12. The Bugl was one of the first commercially available specialist built FAI teamrace engines having schnurle porting, built-in pressure refuelling valve and engine shutoff, plus many other refined features. It revolutionised FAI teamracing in Australia during the mid 1970s (at the same time roughly doubling its cost).