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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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Tuesday, 5 November 2013

I've gone down with atavism

Barrett Bonden, mechanic-in-chief of my previous blog, Works Well, now lives in a Hastings retirement home, reading Scientific American. His grease-stained overalls hang on my atelier door; occasionally I don them as a pervert might his mother's wedding dress. Here's such an occasion.

MikeM, new to the Tone Deaf parish, asks if I have any thoughts on the Wankel engine. I do. I was working on Cycling and Mopeds when it was launched and one of my colleagues was present at that launch. "There's going to be problems sealing the gap between the piston and the cylinder," he told me. So it turned out.

Very odd, the Wankel. The piston is triangular and rotates in a figure-of-eight shaped cavity - hence the adjective, epitrochoidal. Unlike the reciprocating piston (ie, goes up and down) in a conventional engine, the Wankel piston rotates, with an inner planetary gear ensuring it follows its figure-of-eight path. Rotary motion is more efficient than reciprocating motion. This means the Wankel can go faster, engine speed being a measure of power developed.

One racing motorcycle used a Wankel. Bike races are divided into different engine capacities (1000 cc, 500 cc, etc) and people argued about whether the Wankel had three cylinders or one. Eventually the authorities agreed it had one and the bike cleaned up. Fin.

WIP Second Hand (47,571 words)
(Francine  said) We were fiercely and silently competitive. When a friend of mine got a B in the biology mocks I was secretly pleased. What a wretch I was. Yet we never boasted. It was a given that we were all looking for inhumanly high grades.  I had a single boyfriend during secondary education and he was just as much a zombie as I was. Disappearing finally into particle physics.


4 comments:

mike M said...

Mazda solved the apex seal problem to a great extent, I think poor fuel economy is the lingering issue. Their RX-7 and RX-8 series were very popular here in the States, and there are still many of them on the road. RX-7's won the 24 hrs. of Daytona 10 years running back in the 80's, and Mazda left a big mark at Le Mans in '91, winning overall with the 787B, the only non Euro/US team ever to win. Absurdly low number of moving parts in the engine, and very compact and light weight. I'm quite amazed that a backyard mechanic (No Mech./engineering school) came up with such unique design, and glad that he was at least somewhat distracted from his Hitler Youth activities. You've probably disappointed some regular readers by indulging me here, but keep the overalls close by. We are going to tear down a helicopter rotor over at Mykwerks.

The Crow said...

Robbie (and, indirectly, Mike):

This is such a happy coincidence! I was trying to explain the Wankel to my grandson, who'd never heard of it (he being all of 21 years). Given his Aspie's obsession with all things automotive, I was amazed he didn't know and that I might actually be able to tell him something new.

I knew there were problems with the Wankel, but didn't understand just what they were. Therefore, I am so glad BB still lurks in your overalls, Robbie. And, glad, too, Mike, that you asked Robbie/BB to comment on the Wankel engine!

Sir Hugh said...

Effective and interesting use of short sentences (in the snippet).

Roderick Robinson said...

MikeM: I should never have strayed into this territory. Or, rather, have forced you into doing the post in the first place. My knowledge is old hat and I'd forgotten it was Mazda who took the commercial steps that mattered (I was still thinking NSU - remember them?). Now you mention it, I remember the fuel consumption concerns. It makes me wonder if those who suggested that the engine was three-cylinder rather than one-cylinder (and thus three times the claimed capacity) were perhaps right.

I have hired helicopters a couple of times and posted the experiences. I know nothing about the technicalities other than that flying them seems to be non-intuitive. I look forward to your piece.

Crow: I took off the overalls to do the next post (The Refuge of a Scoundrel?) having found they fitted quite well. In a year or so I may do a piece about washing them.

Sir Hugh: I'm beginning to worry about short sentences, given my recent recommendations. I may be overdoing them. They seem to work here, however.