Lake Itasca 2000

new 9/7/2000 added detail 9/21/00

WOW! We are back from the Second International Hot Air Meet at Lake Itasca, Minnesota where there were more hot air engines assembled than ever before! there were full sized engines, model engines, new engines, old engines, serious engines, toy engines. In the words of an old song "We have large ones, small ones, some the size of your 'ead", just a fantastic assembly of hot air engines. And this is just a part of the Lake Itasca Region Pioneer Farmers show that is held annually at their grounds just outside Lake Itasca State Park, the headwaters of the Mississippi! 

Hot Air Group Photo

Here's the Hot Air Group!

This year we will concentrate on the hot air show, but if you are unfamiliar with the LIRPF get together, check our write-up on last year's festivities (here). So, without further ado, here are the photos: (as usual, just click on the photo for a larger view)

west side of Hot Air engine Shed

The west side of the Hot Air Engine Shed was lined with sturdy benches made by Ole and his elves :-) from lumber sawn and planed in the LIRPF sawmill here on the grounds. A view of the sawmill is in last year's report.
Likewise, the center of the shed contained benches for the exhibitors. The interior of the shed held models, while the open North end was the home of Olaf's full sized engines. (see last year's report for photos of those engines)

interior view of Hot Air Engine Shed

antique hot air engines

While many of the exhibitors brought models of their own making, some specialized in antique engines such as seen here.
Here we see more fans, including a new commercially made fan. We failed to get the details, but believe the fan is of Pakistani origin.

models and commercially made Stirling fan

another view of the hot air engine shed

Stirling engines and more Stirling engines! three days were too short to get the full picture.
Here is Don Isaac with his Philips portable engine, and his TSE engine arranged as a refrigerator! Check out his Tamin Enterprizes site for more detail on his engines. In the foreground are two of Alphonse Vassallo's engines. More about them in Alphonse's section of "Others Engines".

Don Isaac with his Philips engine

Ken McCabe

Ken McCabe of Hastings, Michigan brought engines of his own making, Like the Robinson clone just in front of him, as well as full sized ones. That's his Bremen in the foreground. All in perfect working order!
Here is Ken's big Robinson, up close. It is a somewhat different configuration from the original (of which we have a photo just below) but the linkage is the same, and it is a smooth worker. 

Ken McCabe's Robinson

Stirling from Chrysler A/C compressor

In addition, Ken had made this V-type Stirling from an old Chrysler freon pump. Unfortunately strong backlighting washed out the detail in the photo :-( but Photoshop LE recovered a bit of the detail. A bonus of taking photos with color negative film - more detail in the shadow areas, and a boon to the careless photographer such as RR

Here is the original Robinson, made in Maidstone, England. This baby ran all day long every day! Smooth as silk, quiet as a mouse walking across an elephants butt with tennis shoes on (as my daddy used to say ;-) ) The tractor in the foreground is Jim Tangeman's. In addition to this one, Jim brought one he could ride on! More on Jim a bit later.

antique Robinson engine and model tractor

vacuum engine

Another full sized engine (although not large, just about 42 inches tall overall) was this vacuum engine. Unfortunately we failed to get the owner - and probably restorer's - name.
Mauri Talonen of Bovey, Minnesota was set up outside the Hot Air shed under his own tent. As you can see, he is a skilled craftsman - The Ryder-Ericsson is particularly fine. In addition, Mauri has taken an idea from Ole Berge, and modified it into an unusual engine.

Mauri Talonen

Mauri's two cylinder engine And here it is! Ole had found a plan for an unusual engine with a ported power cylinder, and had constructed one per that plan and later had amplified it to a full sized engine (shown in last year's writeup - the vertical engine with the large perforated flywheels) Mauri took that same idea, and made a two cylinder engine. The brass valves in the center just above the flywheel are similar to tire valves and operate twice per power stroke. We will try to have further details on this engine if we can get in touch with Mauri.
Here Mauri shows one of the the burner assemblies for the engine. The rectangular body of the engine is a water jacket, using a thermo-siphon to keep things cool. Mauri's double with burner displayed

Donald Rousse's concentric engine

Sharing the tent with Mauri was Donald Rousse of Cohasset, Minnesota. He claims to be a beginning modeler, but he sure has started big. That's his hand on the flywheel of his concentric engine. Unfortunately, he had an inefficient burner, so the engine was not getting enough heat to run well, even with the additional shielding (the aluminum foil). Alphonse Vassallo gave him some pointers, so there should be some hot times in Cohasset before long!
Steve Hellwig of Litchfield, Minnesota brought along the fairgrounds! The Ferris Wheel is on your right. And a proper fair it is, all powered with Stirling engines.

Steve has constructed quite a complex Stirling layout here! The fan is cooling a thermo siphon water tank. a unique feature of the water tank, not immediately obvious to casual inspection is that what appears to be turned fins is actually a square thread! Steve said that he started to make conventional fins, but thought that a continuous cut would be much easier than the continual resetting of the tool. Here's to ingenuity!
Now, let's begin Jim Tangeman's saga...

Jim is from the eastern reaches of California, in the Sierra Nevada. His engines show considerable originality, as you can see from his 3 cylinder fan on his left. You can see the Moriya heritage in the square cold cylinders, but otherwise the engine is quite unique.

jim Tangeman

3 cylinder Stirling fan

Here's a closer view of the fan.
This is Jim's wood burner. It really looks like an old engine, which is what Jim intended!

wood burning Stirling

Above you saw Jim and his model tractor. It is a neat model, but Jim had bigger ideas! He decided that it was such fun to build the little job, that it would be even more fun to construct the full sized item! So in the following frames, you can see his results...

stirling tractor

stirling tractor

In the larger view you can see the unique speed control and reversing unit in the lower part of the photo just below and to your right from the stack. Moving a control lever varies the throw of the displacer pistons.

tractor adjustments

Making some last minute adjustments!

Jim riding the tractor

And now for a ride!

This year's get together was truly an international affair. Visitors from Australia, Britain, Canada and Mexico were present. here we see (left to right) Bob and Lisl Sier from the UK, Robert and  Beverley Isdale, Brisbane, Australia, Sr. Josť de la Herran of our southern neighbor, Mexico, and in front of Sr. de la Herran, our hosts Ole and Wally Berge. Our Canadian guest, Daniel Weise was missing at the time of the photos.


international visitors

period costume and international visitors

Here, in period costume are Rachel and Ruth Napp, their mom, Joyce and our British and Australian guests.

And finally, a story to be continued.

Robert Isdale finds and restores full sized Stirling engines down under. In his researches, he found that a major manufacturer there in Australia had at one time patented a Stirling engine, although it was uncertain whether or not one had ever been built. In the course of his inquiries, Robert was put in touch with a representative of the company, and subsequently was called by a member of the family. they asked Robert to examine the patent drawings (!! what luck!!) and tell them if he thought that the engine was a practical matter, no record of one having been manufactured existing. Robert in turn sent copies of the drawings to Ole, asking his opinion. Ole replied that he thought that with some modification the engine would operate successfully, and that was where it was left, pending Robert's visit to lake Itasca.



Ole and Robert isdale

When Robert arrived in lake Itasca, he found the above - Ole had made the engine! Robert promises details of the story when he returns to Australia.

Rob's text will be found here. (24 October, 2000)