Sometimes going one way with research or development ends up nowhere near the expected destination, and that can be a good thing. Not always, to be sure, but sometimes it can change the world. Years ago there were a couple of books that explored the phenonmenon: James Burke's Connections and Joel Barkers book on future (I forged the exact name). Also, there can be a time lag in the time it takes to get from the original thought to a useful application, not to mention an optimized solution of that application: to wit see link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lohner-Porsche . 1901 idea coming around again.
Personally, I think it's great. I'd bet some application will be found, though it may be at a less than 8 cylinder size, and maybe not used in a "vehicle" as we know it.
WHY is it any of your concern how this fellow spends his time & money? IF your neighbor enjoys fishing, and you see no real value in it, do you tell him he's ridiculous for pursuing his hobby/enjoyment?
I think your position regarding this engine development is at the least, ludicrous, and at the worst, arrogant to the nth degree!
IF nothing ever comes of the the knowledge gained by this exercise, so be it. But, those involved thought through a difficult problem to an acceptable solution. I say, BRAVO! to them. Hopefully, some young engineers reading this article will become fascinated to the point of nurturing a "seed" in their own minds!
The best place to see model engineering at its best is the annual North American Model Engineering expo held each year in the Michigan or Ohio area. They display everything from half scale farm tractors to working motors the size of a No. 2 pencil eraser. Some amazingly talented people (most seem to be retired tool and die men) create and display the most amazing working models purely for the fun and challenge.
Not to pick on the original "purpose" post [I most definitely am not]. I often think about those who are hypercritical of auto racing... "for what purpose?" they ask again and again... to get nowhere, round-n-round, in a big polluting hurry. Well I am one of a growing number of people that COMPLETELY understands why, what, and how this all has a purpose. I like the auto racing example because it exemplifies itself in some of our cars every day. When relatively strapped for cash I bought a 1996 Dodge Intrepid for my family hauler and grocery getter. It had 4-wheel independent suspension, loads of safety features, disc brakes on all four corners, a very low cg, Z-rated Low-Pro tires, cast aluminum wheels, short ratio steeting, the list goes on... NONE of those features came to the 4 door sedan without the tried and true venue of auto racing. Comparing that machine to the leaf spring carbeurated P.O.S. that was my dad's family hauler and grocery getter circa 1977.... YUP, there's a purpose. Oil chemistry and film retention technology are both HUGE factors in today's world as we up the power density on engines of any/all cylinder configs. While I agree that this project has limited applicaiton, the value of the lessons learned from it are yet to be calculated. Great posts, everyone!
Yes, I too am astonished that the cross-hatching cylinders here is so celebrated. This was discovered and implemented by engine makers decades ago. That is the reason engine reboring and honing has pretty much disappeared. Now when they fix a car, they leave the basic block alone.
As for oil not scaling...seems an invented problem to me. They make lots of oils for very fine machinery. The cross-hatching was not necessary simply becasue they couldn't find oil for it, that's just the proper way to make an engine cylinder and bore.
@akwaman: Cross-hatching is actually the typical surface texture for cylinder liners. The plateau-honing process described here is common. (Actually, it's more common to use a three-stage process rather than a two-stage process; the third stage cleans up the excess material left in the "valleys" after shaving off the "peaks"). You can find out way more than you ever wanted to know about cylinder liner surface texture here.
What's mainly interesting here is the small size of the engine. As a materials guy, I'd also be interested to know what the liner material is. I'm guessing it's probably gray iron, but not all iron is created equal. We've found that the cross-hatch pattern you achieve depends not only on the honing stone, but also on the microstructure of the iron.
As the document I have linked to shows, quantifying what a "good" hone pattern is is a very difficult task.
I totally agree, TJ, I was a little harsh in my first post, and I did admit subsequently that there is something interesting here, but I like to see new and exiting useful technological advances here. The problem they overcame with the cross-haching is, I suppose a Design News kind of item.
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Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.