2-Stroke Engine Too Beautiful To Behold

The sheer beauty of this build is blinding. We enjoy keeping a minimalistic household — not quite on the level of [Joe MacMillan] but getting there — yet this would be the thing we choose as decoration. It’s a hand-built 2-stroke Engine designed specifically to make the combustion process visible rather than locking it away inside of a block of metal.

If you have a nagging feeling you’ve seen this before it’s because the amazing craftsmanship is unforgettable. A couple years back we looked at the 4-stroke engine also built by [Huib Visser]. This new offering does away with the belt, leaving a build that is almost entirely glass and metal polished to a high sheen. The glass cylinder contains the combustion, pushing the graphite piston to drive the fly-wheel. A passing magnet triggers the spark plug to ignite the white-gas fuel, all of which is well-illustrated in the video after the break.

This is not for sale, which doesn’t surprise us. How hard would it be to part with something of such beauty especially knowing you created that beauty? But don’t worry, you can definitely build your own. Just make sure to set the bar lower for your first half dozen tries. We’ve even seen engine builds using hardware store parts.

41 thoughts on “2-Stroke Engine Too Beautiful To Behold

    1. It’s a nice thing; it’s a demonstration of machining skill. Not everything has to change the world. I get what you’re saying; It’s not a sustainable technology, it’s outdated, it’s not the future. A steam engine’s a nice thing, too; It’s outdated, and it’s not going to drive the next industrial revolution, but it’s a nice thing. Valves, Impeccably neat point-to-point wiring, Hand carving, Old books, Reel-to-reel tape, recorders CRT oscillioscopes… None of these things are the future, but they’re nice things to behold. Enjoy them; If someone manages to make a beautiful home made solar panel or achives magnetically contained fusion in a canning jar, enjoy that, too. Enjoy things for what they are; Don’t ignore them for not being what they aren’t. Enjoy the past as well as the future; There’s things to learn from both.

      1. I recently bought an older home built in the fifties. When I went into the basement I was in awe of the wiring. Everything was extremely well done, all bends were perfect. I could easily tell the difference from the newer work that was thrown up without care.
        I think craftsmanship should be appreciated in all areas. Sometimes, like with this engine, craft and art are the same.

      1. The fuel is white gas / petroleum naptha. Which have very high vapor pressure and boiling point below body temp.
        The cylinder is made from a section of a 20 mL syringe (you can see makers marks in the video), a graphite piston , and a large metal end plate. I don’t know the expansion rate for graphite but it’s use in crucibles suggests that it’s very low. As is borosilicate glass (the tube). The large end caps probably serve as a decent radiator for the engine as does its squat nature.

        I suspect you could run the tank dry without running into overheating

  1. This guy needs to team up with the Slo-Mo Guys and get some high-speed combustion chamber footage. Or he just needs to sit back and enjoy the fact that he has built some of the finest looking model engines in the world.

    1. I’ve seen this kind of thing done with steam and Stirling engines. Never a two stroke. The slow mo guys might even be capturing something completely new if they can film it.

      1. I agree. I remember being given material about i.c. engines in physics class in school. A slow-motion film showing the combustion process as it happens would be a splendid educational aid. 1200 rpm means 20 cycles per second, so it shouldn’t require an outrageously fast camera to get a decent film of one combustion cycle.

  2. Considering the trouble I used to have getting the old Cox glowplug motors to run let alone something like this? Amazing.It wasn’t all that long ago that MIT? or similar had a project for just flame front propagation in combustion chambers.

        1. I thought the best feature was the spring starter that guaranteed at least 3 stitches somewhere on your hands every time you tried to use it.
          I still have a few of those 0.49s around, stuffed in a box somewhere waiting for me to throw them out someday. What horrible little motors.

          1. Wind up … release … 0 RPM … 0.5 RPM … 14,999 RPM … fingers … 15,000 RPM

            You needed three people. One to start it, one to fly it and one to take the first person to hospital for stitches.

          2. Cox later came up with a “ripcord” start that used a plastic strip with teeth down one side and a T handle on one end. I had a line control P-51D Mustang with the sprint wind motor. Damn thing would never run more than 5 seconds and the fuel washed all the silver paint off. Never did get to get dizzy slinging it around on the end of a string.

  3. What a wonderful chance for all the “let me tell you all I know” bunch of asses to spout-off. Their two lines told you all they know. That engine is a piece of art, misplaces on some of you.

    1. After following the link, I would have to agree, he does practice the dark arcane arts of a two-stroke engine design. That said, it took me a second to figure it out. When I did, I came out with a better appreciation of how they work in general. My question is, at 1500 rpm, can it run a small generator and if so, how much power can you possible get from it? I want say 500 w/h but that might be an overestimation due to not knowing the exact torque/horsepower it can generate.

      1. Two-strokes really are arcane. A four-stroke engine is a set of simple principles, one after the other. In a 2-stroke, each part seems to be doing 3 jobs at the same time, and balancing it so the pressure waves end up in this part or that part is necessary for it to even work. Really a black art.

        I do like the magneto. My friend used to do up old mopeds, fantastic way to get HV and timing at the same time, no transformers or contact points needed. Herr Zwei-Stroken (it must have been a German) must have had a multidimensional brain.

        Similarly on the clever / simple / balance principle is the pulse-jet, another German one.

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