Four-stroke Engine With Glass Cylinder Is A 2400 RPM Piece Of Art

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]

46 thoughts on “Four-stroke Engine With Glass Cylinder Is A 2400 RPM Piece Of Art

  1. 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.

  2. 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..

        1. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. +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?

      1. As I Understand It: the “WD” in WD-40 stands for Water Dispersant [Dispersing?]
        so if it is used as [Richard mathie] said, then it in this case it is not acting as a lubricant.

    2. 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!”

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

    1. Anyone else notice that the cylinder has markings on it? Looks almost as if it was made by cutting (and grinding) a graduated cylinder. I didn’t think this was possible because the pyrex (usually tempered) should shatter when the surface tension of the tempering process is released.

        1. You’ve got it mixed up: soda lime glass is household glass which can be tempered to make it e.g. microwave oven safe while lab glass is borosilicate glass which is always heat treated (Annealing)

          standardised glass tubes are the stock material for glass blowers and they easily cut them to required lenght

  6. 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.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.