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41. Imagination

08/12/2012

We had planned another week’s work at the beginning of December, during which we hoped to finish off the work on the wings and make a start on assembling the fuselage.

Assuming we started at the front, it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to double check the fit of the engine – it’s going to be a long time before we get an engine, and any errors at this stage would be very hard to fix later on!

So I rang Jean Munn at the Shuttleworth Collection to see if I could have a look at their le Rhone engines, and in particular the installation in the Sopwith Pup which is very similar. Jean, as always, was very accomodating, and we arranged that I would fly across on the Thursday.

The view throught the inspection hatch to the Sopwith Pup's engine fittings. This is from the starboard side, with the engine crankshaft running horizontally and the magneto in front.

The view through the inspection hatch to the Sopwith Pup’s engine fittings. This is from the starboard side, with the engine crankshaft running horizontally and the magneto in front.

When I got there, Jean let me have a squint in through the inspection hatches on the Sopwith Pup, but access is limited and it’s not easy to see exactly how everything fits. But it did enable me to get to know all the bits hanging off the back of the engine – the oil pump, the magneto, the Tampier (that’s the carburettor), and so on. I was particularly interested in how the engine fits on to the mounts, but all the other bits rather got in the way.

Under the instrument panel you can see the nearest a rotary engine comes to a carburettor - called a Tampier after the company that made them.

Under the instrument panel you can see the nearest a rotary engine comes to a carburettor – called a Tampier after the company that made them.

Le Rhone 80hp Crankshaft2

But it wasn’t a problem – Jean introduced me to his rotary engine expert Phil, who had a spare le Rhone engine in bits, and that got me to the information I was looking for. You can see in the picture that the crankshaft is a long tube, 60mm diameter, with a big flange that fits over it and is bolted to the front engine mount. It has mounting holes for the oil pump and magneto, which are driven off the engine.

Le Rhone 80hp crankshaft3

At the back is another, smaller, flange that fits over the crankshaft and attaches to the rear engine mount. I was worried that neither engine mount has bolt holes in it, and that the one might need to be carefully aligned with the other, but that’s not the case. It will be easy to fit the front flange to the front mount and drill through, and the rear one didn’t come with the engine and was made to fit the aircraft, so there’s no problem with that either. I checked the distance between the two flanges to check against the drawings later.

Bristol Scout Instruments

Bristol Scout Instruments

Sopwith Pup Instruments

Sopwith Pup Instruments

I was also interested to see what instruments were fitted on their aircraft, as we had no details on any of our information. Jean said they were pretty much standard, so I went round with the camera, photographing all the cockpits that were accessible for future reference. Indeed, with the exception of the compass, it did look as if they were pretty standard, which means that all we have to do is find some. Jean said they come up on eBay from time to time…

All the aircraft I saw had a panel-mounted compass, generally a Type 5/17, whereas the Scout should have a floor-mounted one, so I’m not sure where we go for that. We do have a WWII P-type compass which is floor-mounted, and might be made to do, but it clearly would be better if we could establish what the original was. All suggestions gratefully received.

The compass shown in the parts list is mounted just forward of the stick betwee nthe pilot's legs. There's a fitting on top which might be a lens / prism to allow it to be seen from a distance.

The compass shown in the parts list is mounted just forward of the stick betwee nthe pilot’s legs. There’s a fitting on top which might be a lens / prism to allow it to be seen from a distance.

Before leaving, I had a sudden thought. Grandad said he’d been barely able to fit into the Bristol Scout, and he was the same height as me, so there’s been this niggle in the back of my mind that I wouldn’t be able to fly it once it was completed. There’s a non-flying Scout replica currently at Shuttleworth, and I took my courage in both hands and asked Jean if I could possibly try it on for size. ‘No problem’ he said, and accompanied by Shuttleworth engineer Rory I went and had a go.

In the end, it was an order of magnitude easier than I thought – indeed, easier than many American sport aircraft I’ve flown in – and  provided I take the cushion out like Grandad, there’s no problem at all.  In fact, Jean had generously said I could try out their original Sopwith Pup too, and that was a real privilege – and another place where I felt immediately at home.

Imagination taking flight...

Imagination taking flight…

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From → Research

3 Comments
  1. Troy permalink

    Hi,

    I would go with a Type 259 panel mount compass, which I’ve seen mounted in war time Scouts. It’s the same compass that goes in the early Sopwith Pups and early Camels, and was fairly standard before the arrival of the Type 5/17.

    Regards,

    Troy

    • Thanks for this. I’ve not seen any detailed photos of Bristol Scout panels, but I’ll certainly look into it. There isn’t a lot of space on the panel.

      • Troy permalink

        You’re most welcome. Sadly there are not many good cockpit pictures to work with for the Scout, but I do have one that shows the type 259 compass mounted on the panel, which I can email you.

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