A View from Broadway

Henry and Boris

... Or, how to start a D Speed engine

Ready for action in Portland. Ken Burdick photo.

By Ken Burdick

Yes folks, it’s true.

Having spent the winter months shoveling snow, building more Speed planes and stumbling onto major pieces of a Nelson .65, provided me with countless hours of discovery. I discovered I needed several unusual parts to complete the beast. Backplates, spacers, about .050" worth of head shims and a spinner assembly.

Some of it Henry Nelson had, some of it was fabricated by good buddy Dick Hart in Scotland, some of it was fabricated by yours truly.  This engine was unlike any other Nelson I have owned, mostly my experience has been with the .36 Combat and .40 Pylon engines. This engine is sort of a hybrid effort that Henry made parts for. The parts were all up to Henry’s usual pristine standards individually. Combine that with a used crankcase that he didn’t make and you have a donkey of variables not encountered when you buy “a Henry's.”

Me -- I didn’t know this and expected it to just sort of fall together and become a “Nelson.” Some of the tale is told in the first article, but that just got it assembled. There was a lot of finish work to be done and each time I tightened the bolts, I found more.

She bangs, she bangs!

Okay, maybe it’s not Ricky Martin, or the Korean kid from American Idol, but it makes a pretty catchy opener, no?

After what seems like a long, long time, I got everything where and how I wanted it.

Head was set at .010, backplate no longer contacting the conrod, front end smooth, but with an irritating little rough spot from the spinner assembly to the front bearing when the prop was tightened. I really needed to run this thing and see if it all would work together like you read about in Speed Times ... OK, so they haven’t published anything like this since Frank Garzon and Nick Shear. But I had to know how it would run and if the irritating rough spot would go away.

Snow was still on the ground here and you know how you can talk yourself into things? I was sure a short one-minute run in the back on a Sunday wouldn’t bother too many people here. “I’ll just run it on prime,” I told myself. So that night I bolted it down to the big aluminum test mount on my work-mate table, making sure it was as safe as can be, bolted on a Louie-Louie speed prop and waited for Sunday afternoon.

It was about noon when I slipped out the basement door with all the goods. I set up the stand, battery, prime bottle, thick padded glove and eeeelectric starter. This is a new Nelson AAC piston and liner -- it took one look at the starter and laughed it back into the basement. The only way to get it to fire off would be to back flip it and bounce it off compression, “sure -- just like Fast Combat,” I told myself.

I put a good healthy prime into it and hit the prop. It just growled at me. I tried it again and this time it got mad. There was no way to flip this monster through all the compression and it was like hitting a brick with my fingers every time I tried. After much trying, it let out a gigantic roar. I quickly primed it again and kept at it. After a few more snorts, I put a bag (bladder) fuel tank on Henry’s monster.

Primed and ready, I once again began slamming my gloved fingers against what felt like concrete.  This went on for a bit too long and my arm was now tired and I was thinking about taking a break when all hell broke loose, I let go of the fuel line and she just roared like some mythical monster. I ran away, hiding around the corner of the house where it was safe. WE ALL THOUGHT Boris was loud, but this made Boris seem like a choirboy.

Meanwhile, the neighbors were making a break for it certain we were being attacked by North Korea.
Henry ran out the meager 2 ounces of fuel and I took it all back inside before the police could get a location om me.

Since then I have run about 10 ounces through it near the airport, checked all parts for fit, and It’s now a perfect specimen of a D Speed engine. Both Henry and Boris will be attending the Jim Walker Memorial Spring-Tune-Up in Portland in April.



-- Kennyb

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This page was upated April 5, 2018