As the saying goes, Ship Happens. Sometimes, worse then others. In todays case, this is a piston and rod on display at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum from Erie Lackawanna 310, an Alco S1. The engine in case is an Alco/McIntosh & Seymour 539, a 4 stroke engine with a 12.5″ bore and a 13″ stroke. A valve dropped while the engine was running, and decided to do a little dance in the cylinder.
Last year, I picked up several rolls of Navy Microfilm full of engine goodies, two boxes of which were marked as “Alco 16-251A Experimental Submarine Engine”. I pulled them out when I got them, but did not go very far, as it is literally every blueprint sheet to build this engine. Thinking it was just another 251, I put them back in the box.
Last night I dove into them a bit deeper, and naturally the LAST frames on the reels (It looked like a roll of film exploded in the living room) had an elevation drawing. Cool! I devised a way to scan these, although frame by frame on my flatbed. It is a project, but it works. I need to draw up and 3D print some holders to do it more efficiently.
Click the following for larger versions.
After studying the drawing for a second, I noticed the exhaust was not connected to the intake side at all. Wait, 251’s are 4 stroke, and have a turbo…where is the turbo? There is none! That’s a roots blower on the front!
Front mounted on the engine is a blower. The discharge from the blower feeds into a raw water cooled aftercooler before going into the intake side of the engine block.
So, naturally, this raises plenty of questions. I can not find a lick of information about this engine in my usual places, so if anyone has anymore clues as to its history, shoot me a message. I don’t know if this was meant as an emergency generator engine, or propulsion. If anyone wants to build one… I have 600+ plans!
Dr. Alfred Büchi, a Swiss engineer, was the father of Turbocharging as we know it. Buchi went on to license his designs to numerous American (and Foreign) engine companies, many of which are listed in the 1951 advertisement above. A note – these were vastly all 4 stroke engine designs. It was not until the 1950s when Turbocharging on 2 strokes was perfected.
While everyone knows the familiar sound of turbo whistle – The Alco-Buchi Turbosupercharger produced an unmistakable sound.
Check out this fantastic video on YouTube by fmnut, of Ashtabula, Carson & Jefferson Alco S-2 #107, and the distinct sound of a Buchi design turbo.
Turbocharging is a topic I hope to greatly expand upon in time.