Four-stroke engine with glass cylinder is a 2400 RPM piece of art

4-stroke-glass-cylinder-engine

We know a lot about toggling bits in a register, but only a bit about how engines work. This one inspires us to throw ourselves into the field with reckless abandon. [Huib Visser] built this glass cylinder four-stroke engine and he took great care to make it beautiful. We don’t need our projects to be polished and gleaming, but we have to admit that this the opposite of what we see when popping the hood on our 12-year-old rust bucket out front.

You can’t see it in this image, but just on the other side of the fly-wheel is a smaller wheel with a cord wrapped around it that acts as the pull start. This gets the toothed timing belt going along with the cylinder. As part of the demo video we get a good look at how the rotary intake and exhaust valves work. [Huib] also took the time to demonstrate how the rare earth magnets and hall effect sensor reed switch synchronize the ignition system.

You won’t want to miss the end of the video which show it in action as It burns Coleman fuel (white gas) and is lubricated with WD-40. This is jaw dropping and it works like a charm, but still not that far removed from the concepts seen in [Lou's] hardware store engine project.

UPDATE: Here’s write up this engine (translated) [Thanks ChalkBored]

[Thanks Patrick]

Comments

  1. Kyle Buck says:

    VERY cool!!

  2. John England says:

    That thing is gorgeous…

  3. Hephaix says:

    Note the graphite piston to protect the glass cylinder.

  4. kewee says:

    This definitly a lot more prettier than the Megatech MK III engine I played with in college.

    Transparent engine are great with the use of a synched stroboscope since you can see what happens when you play with the ignition timing and the fuel/air mixture.

  5. Asthsgrfr says:

    A gorgeous build, and some really elegant stuff – the “carb”, the timing adjustment, the rotary valves…bravo!

    It’d be awesome to see filmed with a high-speed camera.

    WD40? Noooooooooo…please, use proper oils! If only just to use straight mineral oil, which is mostly what WD-40 is…but some proper synthetic engine oil would work great here..

    • Pilotgeek says:

      That bugged me too. Such a wonderful piece of machinery to then go and lubricate with WD40.

      • CodeRed says:

        I’ll admit, I don’t get it, what’s the issue with WD40?

        • blablub says:

          WD-40 does not lubricate well. It is made to creep into rust and it displaces oil. So you get some lubrication at first because of the oil in WD-40 but shortly after it will not lubricate at all. It is just not made for lubrication but it seems like many ppl belive it is. Any regular mineral oil works better than WD40.

          • Andrew says:

            And if you look into the project you will find the owner understands this and uses WD40 for the purpose of keeping the rotary valve clean, not for lubrication.

  6. I could weep at the quality of the machining here! Absolutely stunning.

    It should be mentioned though that a reed switch is quite different from a Hall effect sensor. He used the former, which makes a lot more sense.

  7. t-bone says:

    That’s his latest. Here’s his gallery of the fifty other engines he’s made:

    http://home.hccnet.nl/hvisser.5/stirling%205.html

    I couldn’t feel more unaccomplished at the moment.

  8. SickSad says:

    That’s a stunning piece of engineering. Could someone explain the use of WD-40 as lubricant? Is it because the engine requires something with a particularly low viscosity? As i understand it WD-40 is frowned upon as a lubricant as it dries/evaporates quickly and often removes any other lubricants that were in place to begin with.

    • kajer says:

      +1 on this question. WD-40 is NOT really a lubricant. Yes, it has lubricating properties, but there are far better choices for low viscosity oils. Someone who made this amazing machine should have known this?

    • Trav says:

      agreed. I would also like some more info on the choice of fuels.

    • Pilotgeek says:

      I just asked on his youtube, and got an answer:
      “WD 40 as rustpreventer is only for maintenance to avoid rustforming on the valve and the valvehole. The material of the valve an the CYLINDER block is cast iron. Never lubricate the graphite piston with oil!”

  9. Doesn’t this fall under the handmade category?

  10. Tom the Brat says:

    Wow. Breathtaking.

  11. Hirudinea says:

    A piece of mechanical art. Just curious though would the glass expand enough from the heat of ignition, after running for a while, to allow for blowback past the piston and lower compression?

  12. lastchancename says:

    Absolutely gorgeous – transcending steampunk and uber-cool!
    Now for the V8/V12 versions…
    Great effort

  13. matt says:

    I’d love to see a really high speed video of the combustion chamber as this thing fires.

  14. Shouldn’t this be under the heading of handmade

  15. Andrew says:

    That’s pretty cool. I designed/built a few rotary valve steam engines and I always wondered how rotary valves would work on an IC engine. Watching that video makes me want to build something.

  16. cmholm says:

    This is much prettier than the the plastic cylinder, alcohol-burning demo engine from middle school science class, c. 1974.

  17. signal7 says:

    The youtube video is the only writeup? I’m really curious how the valving works, but that’s not really shown in the video. Same for the theory of how the carb works. My curiosity is peaked, but there’s nothing more to read/watch.

    Nice work though.

  18. Dave says:

    “rare earth magnets and hall effect sensor” . I’m not usually picky but it’s actually a reed switch, not a hall effect sensor. Pretty big difference there.

  19. Cal says:

    Stunning

  20. ethysp says:

    A spanish mechanic who made the smallest V12 motor engine in the world :P http://youtu.be/c1pJIVqCC1E

  21. K!P says:

    the ignition circuit is taken form a gas stove lighter bought at a dutch houseware chain. :)

  22. Snarky says:

    I’m pretty sure that the reason behind the use of WD-40 (mostly Heavy Naphtha/mineral spirits with a little bit of mineral oil) and Coleman fuel (Naphtha) is to keep the device as clean as possible. It would leave behind a clear residue when evaporated as opposed to gasoline and motoroil which have a generally yellow tint to them when dried. The additives in those products may also not be compatible with the graphite piston.

  23. Daniel says:

    Your use of Royal Plural makes the article incredibly hard to read.

  24. Thomas says:

    Taters is good.

  25. Rubyfocus says:

    You need to give credit to Jan Ridders, who designed the glass cylinder engine. Huib Visser is just another guy like you who made one.

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