A View from Broadway

The Dark Side

By Ken Burdick

Yes Folks. It's true,

Speed is an event that if 11 people show up, the contest director has fits. Yes, it is a specialized event and there are some benefits to that. There are also some minuses. In an effort to increase popularity of control-line speed, I have invited the entire Kardashian family to attend next year's Regionals speed contest as guests of The Broadway Bod Busters!

Geezerly rant

In an age where it's easier to buy than make, in a time where we seem to be losing our hard earned ability to engineer and create things as simple as freezer jam, (all together now, geezers) ...

What's happened to craftsmanship?

It's an easy way out that most of us take, and use what the experts sell us. Long lost is the kid in the basement fiddling with a grinder, then finding something unique was just made. Or the nerd whose nose is in a book and then applies the information a bit at a time with imagination driving him or her forward. For most of us it's lost to the reality that it can be bought with instant gratification on the way. For some of us without skills or talent, that seems to be the best course. There are those however who do not subscribe to this defeatist attitude, and one such individual is Canadian and U.S. speed and scale champion, Barrie Hobkirk (right).

Barr has been making rumblings for several years about doing something in speed once again, but you really have to understand Barr to appreciate his level of commitment. What makes sense to Barrie might not occur to the rest of us,; being lazy just isn't even a consideration either.

So, without further preamble ...

Welcome to the Dark Side

Ah, the dark side, with its mystical trappings and funny sounding space ships, heavy breathing and bad breath. A place where one only has to imagine it to find out that whatever it is, just snuck up behind him. How on earth does this have anything to do with Geezer Speed (Northwest B Proto) which is roughly 600 miles an hour slower than the speed of sound? How slow is it?

  • It's so slow that by the time you hear the engine, you're tired of watching it.
  • It's so slow that the judges use a calendar to time it!
  • It's soooo slow that when boy-howdy set the record, he got a parking ticket!


Phew. Sorry, I do get carried away. Where were we? Yes, the Dark Side. Well, he's no Darth Vader, but he was that kid in the basement and still is. Barrie Hobkirk has come up with some major modifications to the once innocent LA .25. Barr has traveled the world to collect the parts for this one, (His wife works for a major airline.) so he has been able to collect special Japanese versions of the engine. I don't know what that means either; I just calls em as I sees 'em.

Tooling Around

Barrie Hobkirk's lathe.

The vice.

To Engineer the modifications that he wanted, Barr needed a lathe. He didn't have one so he made one. Yes -- he made one. For a mere $60.00, Barrie picked up a cross slide fixture-vise thing-a-majig at the Bellingham tools shop and smuggled it across some nearby border into an undisclosed country. (Hey, this is Dark Side business -- all very hush-hush.)

The tool combined with his drill press made a workable lathe for some parts of this project.

Not deterred by The Fast Hippy (Marty Higgs) and his ultra-clean third-port Frankenstein, Barr has devised a method of making his own ports and would not disclose just how many he put into the thing. He did say that it was very powerful when he test ran it.

The last time that I saw him do something like this was in the late 1960s when he made a full wave piped Tee-Dee .049 with three ports, out of a stock cylinder! Like I said -- it's the Dark Side.

The 1960s three-port Tee Dee proto speed plane.

So, here ya go lil Geezers. This is what happens when you try.

Notes from Darth-Barrie

Timing specs:

All based around top dead center. In degrees BEFORE or AFTER

Shaft opening at venturi:
Opens 140 BEFORE TDC.
Closes 53 AFTER TDC.
Total opening in degrees = 193

Exhaust opening:
Opens 90 AFTER TDC.
Closes 105 BEFORE TDC.
Total opening in degrees = 165

Bypass ports openings:
Opens125 AFTER TDC.
Closes 132 BEFORE TDC.
Total opening in degrees = 103

Boost ports opening:
Opens 132 AFTER TDC.
Closes 150 BEFORE TDC.
Total opening in degrees =

What have I started?

I got thinking about frontal area. Drag is the enemy.

With the liner already at 45 degrees, and their effort to turn that to the side, I just took that same effort and directed it to the rear.

So it actually took two cases to do this. One was an experimental case to see how far I could lathe the case down without hitting the bypass ports. Amazingly, there is vast amounts of material still there in way of the .25LA ports. It was essential to turn the case down enough to get it round in shape, and at the same time also have enough surface area sealable around the existing exhaust port.

Once I found that I could do that with the test case, I started in earnest with a good case, going much slower and more calculating.

Well I don't know about you, but this is definitely the dark side, what a cool engine. The only thing that might make the ensemble complete is a Pink Lady proto ship --- naaaawwww. He wouldn't do that.

Or would he?


See article 1 of the LA .25 rework series

See article 2 of the LA .25 rework series

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This page was upated Jan. 15, 2016