Thursday, April 12, 2012

Build Your Own Combustion Engine - Guest Post Review. Or, The Man of the House Steps In.

I'm not sure if you could tell from my post yesterday or not, but I've spent the last few days heavily drugged up on cold medicine. The Man of the House took pity on me today, and agreed to write a guest post reviewing the Haynes Combustion Engine Model Kit from Trends UK, he put together with our fourteen year old, recently.

Homeschooling in our house is pretty typical, in that most of the teaching duties fall to Mom. I'm always happy to find a subject, project, or product to invite the interest of Dad, especially if it happens to be an area of study where my knowledge runs thin - such as auto mechanics. I was able to find a Magic School Bus episode for the younger children (click here for that), and a very nice library book, for the older children, to start us out...

...but for actual knowledge of how cars work, it was nice to have the Man of the House, and resident self-proclaimed motor head, step in.  With that said, I'll turn the rest of this post over to him.

Being a huge fan of the automobile both old and new I enjoy watching auto related shows on TV, one show I have been enjoying through Netflix recently, is Top Gear UK. In one episode I watched, the host was showing off several gift ideas for the car enthusiast, one of which was a model of a four cylinder internal combustion engine. I have been looking for a project that my oldest son T and I could work on together, that would be both educational and enjoyable for the both of us, and this was it!

The kit is offered by a company called Haynes from the United Kingdom and is called " Build Your Own Internal Combustion Engine ". I have to say it's a good kit. All the parts are made well, and assemble without issue. The assembly manual is easy to read and follow, with great diagrams, and pictures to make sure you are assembling the components correctly.

On the outside of the box there are pictures of the model as well as some parts and tools. The kit shows having a full size screw driver, this was not so. The screwdriver you get with the kit is about 2 inches long, but has a magnetic tip, which you will find comes in handy. I suggest using the small screwdriver to set the screws in place, and a larger one out of your own tool kit to drive them home. This is what we did, a small fine tipped Phillips did the trick.

No glue is needed. Most of the parts snap into place, and are fastened down with the small screws, and like I said earlier, all went together quite nicely.

Keep in mind this doesn't have all the components needed for a typical four cylinder engine, but enough of the basic components are there to give you a realistic idea. Some parts did take some time to get lined up for assembly, one of which was the timing belt.  It does want to come off the gears when installing.  You will need a third hand to hold it in place, when installing the timing cover.  This will hold it in place, and once fastened on, the belt will stay put.

Also, on step 41 when installing the distributor, the diagram shows the wiring harness exiting the distributor at a 6-o'clock position.  This is the correct position. The written instructions will tell you to have it at the top, 12-o'clock, that is incorrect. I suggest mounting the distributor as we did, keeping the mounting screws loose as you will need to get the timing corrected, according to the specs in the manual.  Our final adjustments had the distributor wires at the 7-o'clock position for the final firing order to be correct.

All this sounds a bit complicated, but makes sense when you are in the middle of it, and is very cool when all is finished, and you push the red button to start her up.

Each cylinder has a spark plug, that lights up as each one fires in its proper time, pistons go up and down, both exhaust, and intake valves open and close, all in perfect order.  And, being a transparent model, you get to see it all happen, which to a motor head like me is incredibly exciting!

I took the model to work to show my employees, and customers, and all were amazed at the show it put on. We even found ourselves making engine sounds to compliment the model's movement. I suggest that any of you parents out there looking for a fun, out of the norm activity to do with your children, this kit represents $30.00 well spent, and as a father of six with shoes and milk to buy, I don't say that lightly.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Man of the House is a great guest writer. I was so tempted to give this as a gift to my husband :)

SYoung said...

I rarely comment, but I must say this looks like an excellent project that all of the "boys" of the house would enjoy! Thanks for the idea!

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

OootSnoot - Glad to hear from you :) and you're welcome.

Ticia said...

That does look incredibly cool. I'm thinking that'll take a few years before my kids are ready for it......

Annette Whipple said...

Great post by the husband!! This looks really great!! Hope you are feeling better by now.

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