Is This True?
May 3, 2006 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Car and Driver magazine, I have been told, had an article many years ago that described a person who built his own engine. He supposedly made the crankshaft for this engine with just a file and a hacksaw. I believe my source of this to be trustworthy. Anyone familiar with this person or with the article?
posted by Raybun to Technology (6 answers total)
This probably isn't what you are looking for, but Charlie Taylor is known for building a homemade engine.
posted by lemhuxley at 11:09 AM on May 3, 2006

Back in the day, either C&D or Road&Track actually ran fiction...short stories. One of my faves was about this guy who made these insanely detailed scale models of common cars. Detail right down to the oil pans leaking. Turned out he was some nutjob genius who had invented a miniaturization machine. They were real cars shrunk down to 1/24 scale.

Perhaps the guy making a crank with a file and hacksaw was one of these bits of fiction?
posted by Thorzdad at 1:18 PM on May 3, 2006

Well, there's no particular reason that an engine can't be 'hand made'. With enough skill you can make anything by hand.
posted by delmoi at 2:29 PM on May 3, 2006

My metal shop teacher at RISD was fond of telling us that every machine today was built with another machine and so on and so on until you got back to someone who was really good with a file.

I do remember a Peter Egan story he wrote for R&T where he dreamt being abducted by aliens and being forced to build a car from memory. He said it looked like an ugly Lotus Seven.
posted by machaus at 3:28 PM on May 3, 2006

If you go to a German technical school (Fachschule) for machine trades or mechanics, you will learn to file, by hand, drill rod (round metal dowel stock) into square cross section +/- .05 mm. You will make, typically, by hand, or with simple machine tools, such as a lathe and perhaps a horizontal mill, either a working model scale steam engine, or a gas or deisel internal combustion engine. Most student graduates keep their working model engines all their lives, and you can tell a great deal about a man's training by examining his model(s).

It is more an excercise of mental discipline, manual practice, and effort, than it is exceptional talent or tremendous skill to do such a thing. The file is simple to work, but in terms of craft and delicacy of achievement, it makes a scalpel look like a sledgehammer. Over time, the file teaches the mind things about metallurgy that can only be discovered through the fingers. You do similar excercises, at a finer scale, in watchmaking school.
posted by paulsc at 4:55 PM on May 3, 2006

While you're at it, I read an article when I was a kid (Popular Mechanic or Popular Science or one of the auto mags) where a guy modified an Opel and used a small gasoline engine to drive a generator and used a starter as the motor and achieved 75 mpg. I believe thearticle to be credible, so why isn't anyone doing this, or am I the only one to remember it?
posted by JamesMessick at 6:43 PM on May 3, 2006

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