Bisected Engine Makes Cute Lamp – Still Cranks

As a beginner’s step towards the famous Top Gear V8 coffee table, [English Tea] converted a small single cylinder engine into a desk lamp that uses the mechanical actuation of the piston to turn on and off. No able-bodied engines were harmed in the making of this hack as this one was already a corpse — perfect for [Mr. Tea] to prop up and display in his home.

Regrettably lacking a lightsaber, he settled for 30 minutes on a hacksaw to split the cylinder followed by some sandblasting to clean all the rust, paint, and gunk off all the internals. Once it was clean he repainted it himself. Between paint and clearcoats, he figured he added 20 layers onto the metal.

Next he created some wood sections and wet-formed leather over them which he later dyed black. Caring less about a new Walmart lamp than the motor, he vivisected it for its electrical components and wired it up.

Without a crank on the shaft it looks a bit awkward to twist the lamp on or off, but, only enough pressure is needed to poke a latching momentary pushbutton and it seems to work just fine. For any readers looking to make their own, dead compressors and gas power tools are fairly common and nearly free at the junkyard. Engine-based projects can be intimidating to start if you need a working engine again at the end. Becoming familiar with them on a project like this where you are mostly only using the engine as a building material is an easy way to get your foot in the door.

See the video after the break of the piston bumping the light on and off.

Thanks [Helix] for the tip.

[Updated to fix typo]

22 thoughts on “Bisected Engine Makes Cute Lamp – Still Cranks

    1. I think he meant latching push button.

      Also “Top Gear V8 coffee table” is actually a V12.

      “Bisect” is to dissect into two equal parts. In this the head / cylinder / crank is dissected unequally so that the larger (retained) section prevents the piston from working its way out of the cylinder. The piston then prevents other parts from moving out as well. Other engine parts are still complete so “Bisected Engine” is technically incorrect.

      Great article, definitely a masculine item that would be great beside the computer in the study.

      My daughter and I made a feminine lamp which consists of a 60cm spiral sea shell mounted vertically to a base with a 12V halogen transformer in the base and 12V car bulbs in the shell. The bulbs can be switched between series and parallel for dimming. It was the first time I had tried to make something of feminine appearance and with her guidance it turned out great.

      1. “I think he meant latching push button.”

        Yep, you’re both right. My brain went “Not a momentary pushbutton, it latches, so it’s a latching momentary!!”. I read that phrase like, 5 times when I was writing and despite feeling fishy, my brain just kept turning the words I wrote into the words I thought. I do know the difference, honest.

        “V8” vs. “V12”. I was quoting the project author, who said “I have wanted to build a V8 engine coffee…”. Perhaps he meant a V8 version, perhaps Top Gear had multiple versions, or perhaps he was just mistaken. A V8 would be pretty narrow, more of a pillar.

        In math, “bisect” means to split in equal halves, the “bisector” referring to the dividing line. In layman’s English, it just means to take something that was whole and get two pieces out of it. From the Latin, “bi” means “two.” “Secare” is a verb meaning “to cut.” To cut in two. Not necessarily precisely in half. Though you’re right, the entire engine was not cut in half, only the block and some other bits.

        I don’t think anyone was confused of misled. It was a colorful and succinct way of saying he hacksawed the block in half so the internals were on display.

        1. Writing comes from the artistic, imaginative, creative side of the brain. Proof reading comes from the analytical, rationalizing, logic, math side of the brain. Give you brain some time to ‘change gear’ between authoring / proof reading.

          Normally proof reading is done by ‘someone else’ because your brain is more inclined to ignore the types of mistakes that you are most likely to make.

          I don’t actually practice this but then again, I am not a professional writer. I does however work for me when I have to write an important document.

          1. @Tony –

            I think the HAD team does exceptionally well. It can’t be easy finding staff with the technical knowledge and be greatly experienced at writing. You don’t get people like Bil Herd on board just for their writing ability.

            I am sure most people visiting here are more than willing to endure the odd grammatical or technical error as long as there is quality content.

            That however doesn’t stop the grammar police lol. As Brian Benchoff once said – “More negative feedback than the Hackaday comments section”.

          2. @Tony –

            HAD is tending a community that has widely varying expectations. Obviously they can’t please all the people all the time.

            Your comments are legitimate and respected and I hope HAD can take them on board to see if they can cater to the expectations you have expressed while working within their business model.

            My perspective is however somewhat different and I hope you’re able to respect my difference of opinion.

            I find it hard to identify a single point of reference that I could call “professional journalism”. If I look at what we have today in mainstream media then I am loath to say that modern journalism could not hold a candle to what journalism once was. In main stream media I often see articles written by people that are obviously struggling to understand the most basic rules for sentence construction within the English language.

            I simply accept this as a consequence of the ever changing business models that media organizations are attempting to fit into. As most would know, traditional media is desperately challenged in their attempts to find working business models for online content. This is not limited to the content on this site or news sites. It’s the full range of content that can be digitally distributed, including music and video.

            In this broader context, I feel that it is unjustified to expect HAD to provide an ‘above standard’ quality of journalism whilst employing staff with a much wider and more professional level of technical education and or experience and also work within a very competitive business environment.

            HAD is my favorite site for the content here and I take my hat off the the team.

          3. “whilst employing staff with a much wider and more professional level of technical education and or experience and also work within a very competitive business environment.”

            Just for conversation since you’ve taken the time to think about this…

            Take the average salary of an EE or CS. (~$85,000)

            Now select from that group the typically-rarer skill of effectively communicating ideas. Geeks are not known for being social, their storytelling, or being good at documenting things. If they do document, it’s technical, not interesting. How many can do that? 1/10? 1/20? Now you’re in an even more elite group.

            Then compare what is affordable to pay the average blogger. (Hint: Usually zero. Every time we’re hiring, many people speak up that they’re surprised Hackaday contributors get paid anything at all).

            What are you left with?

            For better or worse, you’re hiring people who are genuinely passionate about the material and their audience, because they otherwise wouldn’t be doing it.

            If Hackaday could afford to snipe people out of their deskjobs for 6 figures, I’m sure they’d love to. They’re not.

            There have been times I spent 10 hours on an article with lots of source material… just because I wanted to say the most interesting things about the story. I’m getting paid less than a paperboy at that point. I might be earning less per hour than the homeless guy pushing a shopping cart of empties past my window while I’m doing it.

            Then a few bad apples in the community shit all over these people for tiny imperfections and get off on trying to make them feel worthless. (Not now, you guys have all been civil and pleasant while being critical).

            When Hackaday hired me I was pretty upfront that my grammar is bad because I write like I talk. I can sometimes spot something bad (sentence structure-wise), but I’m usually not sure how to fix it, so that I’d appreciate a copy editor. Which we have.

            Who are our editors? Part time geeks who are experts in Hackaday first, hacking second, and editing third. They’re squeezing all of these duties around all the rest of their lives.

            In a related story, I used to live in a city of about a million that regularly had typos on the front page of one of their daily newspapers. Sometimes in a headline. No joke.

          1. “Dissected” to me (and most?) implies a tear-down, where the goal was to strip it down to its basic parts to analyse them, like one would do to a body.

            If I said an engine was dissected a lot of geeks would think “Oh, I’m not much into engines, don’t really care about the particulars of that” and skipped it when they would have liked the article. Conversely, a lot of wrenchheads would think “Neat, this sounds exciting!” and then discover that basically all he did was chop the block in half and been disappointed.

            Bisected gets the point across to everyone, interestingly and accurately.

            I mean… really. There’s a reason has better headlines than Reddit, because headlines from Fark are picked from a huge pool of people trying their best to come up with the best. I’m sure if the Hackaday community gets nitpicky enough they’ll eventually find a better way to say what I wanted to say. But, somewhat shockingly… none of you who are being critical have even managed to do that yet, let alone it being an unreasonable expectation for my first line to trump all of yours.

    1. It’s called a deflector piston:

      The idea is that it encourages air flow to be constant from the inlet port (presumably at the back of this engine) to the exhaust, making sure the new mixture fully replaces the burnt stuff. As Wikipedia says it didn’t really work all that well so not used anymore, hence flat pistons these days.

      Really only a two-stroke thing; four-stokes have separate strokes (and valves) for intake & exhaust.

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