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Author Topic: Opinions Needed: Artifact 1-21-P-1  (Read 1612 times)

Ric Gillespie

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Opinions Needed: Artifact 1-21-P-1
« on: December 14, 2021, 10:02:36 AM »

We're trying to identify an artifact we found in the Gull Pond in 1992 (pictured below).  We know the following:
• The artifact is a badly oxidized fragment of an object that appears to originally have been cylindrical in shape.
• The edges and ends of the fragment suggest violent separation, apparently due to the explosion of the cylindrical object.
• The artifact was found with a metal detector in about a foot of water, buried in a few inches of mud/silt (an anaerobic environment) and quickly began to deteriorate after recovery.
• The artifact had obviously been in situ for a very long time, but exactly how long is impossible to know.
• The fragment is irregular in shape and measures 7.87 inches long; 3.93 inches wide; and 2.95 inches high.
• The metal is LA C steel.  "Low-carbon quenched and tempered steels combine high yield strength (from 350 to 1035 MPa) and high tensile strength with good notch toughness, ductility, corrosion resistance, or weldability."
• The exterior surface has remnants of gray/blue paint.
• When first recovered, the interior surface had a film of what appeared to be oil.

The artifact appears to be debris from an engine that blew up. Specifically, it seems to be from a cylindrical component of the engine that was painted on the outside and had oil on the inside.  Are there other explanations for what this thing might be?

« Last Edit: December 14, 2021, 10:05:11 AM by Ric Gillespie »
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: Opinions Needed: Artifact 1-21-P-1
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2021, 10:28:21 AM »

How were oil filters of the 1920's constructed?

amck
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Bill Mangus

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Re: Opinions Needed: Artifact 1-21-P-1
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2021, 11:29:25 AM »

Are there any detailed pictures of a like engine?  I remember reading a museum in France has an engine on display.  Perhaps someone could take close-up pictures and email them to you.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Opinions Needed: Artifact 1-21-P-1
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2021, 12:41:53 PM »

How were oil filters of the 1920's constructed?

Good question. I can research that.  We just got our hands on a complete 1925 Lorraine Dietrich W12 manual (in French of course), the same version of the engine that was in the White Bird.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Opinions Needed: Artifact 1-21-P-1
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2021, 12:46:09 PM »

Are there any detailed pictures of a like engine?  I remember reading a museum in France has an engine on display. 

We have photos of that engine, but manual is more helpful.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Opinions Needed: Artifact 1-21-P-1
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2021, 02:23:02 PM »

How were oil filters of the 1920's constructed?

Believe it or not, the engine does not seem to have had an oil filter.
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Friend Weller

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Re: Opinions Needed: Artifact 1-21-P-1
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2021, 06:13:55 PM »

Believe it or not, the engine does not seem to have had an oil filter.

Many engines of that era were considered "total-loss" engines when it came to the lubrication system so who needs a filter?  Oil was either lost through combustion, line losses, design tolerances (gasket oozing), or through external "destinations" (think motorcycle chain oilers).  Cooling systems were much the same way, non-pressurized and always needing to be topped up from routine engine operation.  Do we know how "tight" was the Lorraine Dietrich W12 was in the cooling and lubrication department?
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Opinions Needed: Artifact 1-21-P-1
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2021, 07:55:49 AM »

Do we know how "tight" was the Lorraine Dietrich W12 was in the cooling and lubrication department?

Not very. The engine manual specifies the oil and water levels must be checked and replenished after every flight.
According to the manual, the W12 could be expected to use 6 liters (1.6 gallons) of oil per flight hour.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Opinions Needed: Artifact 1-21-P-1
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2021, 08:06:30 AM »

Quote from: Ric Gillespie link=topic=2199.msg44464#msg44464 d
The artifact appears to be debris from an engine that blew up.
[/quote

What parts of an engine can "blow up," i.e. fail catastrophically from internal pressure?
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Don White

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Re: Opinions Needed: Artifact 1-21-P-1
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2021, 08:49:43 AM »

Most engines did not have oil filters (or air filters either) in the 1920s. These were available as accessories but did not become standard until the mid-1930s. My Model A Fords required oil changes every 500 miles due to the lack of an oil filter.

Total loss oil systems were found on much earlier cars (1910s) but were still used on motorcycle engines into the early 1930s -- my 1927 Morgan's J.A.P. v-twin had a total loss system -- with an external oil tank that had to be replenished, and a hand-operated dashboard oil pump. The pump needed a press every so often and had a spring to push the handle back out and a drip feed and sight glass to monitor oil flow. Aircraft may have used similar systems.

Something "blowing up" sounds like an engine cylinder but that fragment doesn't look like a part of one, and it doesn't seem likely an engine would just blow up. Seems more likely it was detached by impact. The paint suggests a part visible on the exterior. I'd say landing gear olio strut but this bird didn't have any. Part of an oil pump?

LTM (who always changes oil on time)
Don

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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Opinions Needed: Artifact 1-21-P-1
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2021, 09:03:43 AM »

Something "blowing up" sounds like an engine cylinder but that fragment doesn't look like a part of one, and it doesn't seem likely an engine would just blow up. Seems more likely it was detached by impact. The paint suggests a part visible on the exterior. I'd say landing gear olio strut but this bird didn't have any. Part of an oil pump?

Nope.
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: Opinions Needed: Artifact 1-21-P-1
« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2021, 09:06:21 AM »

What was the bottom of the engine like?  Was there an oil pan like we think of today?

AMCK
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Don White

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Re: Opinions Needed: Artifact 1-21-P-1
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2021, 09:46:21 AM »

I was thinking of an external pump that brought oil to the engine from a supply tank. That oil pump clearly bolts into the bottom of the engine at the flange, with the perforated bit inside, and an oil line outside, so it circulates the oil in the engine and brings in more to replenish it. The perforated bit is not a filter as we know it but intended to keep metal chunks, debris, small birds, etc. out of the bearings. I'm not entirely kidding about the birds. A friend of mine found dead mice in the sump of his 1926 Nash. They had gone in through the oil filler tube and drowned.

Presumably the documentation shows the bottom of the engine and more about the oil system. It might or might not have a sump as we know it.

What is the thickness of the metal on the fragment? It looks substantial. Do you have a picture of what was the inner side, that had be4en coated with oil?

LTM (who checks for mice at every oil change)
Don
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Opinions Needed: Artifact 1-21-P-1
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2021, 09:53:41 AM »

What was the bottom of the engine like?  Was there an oil pan like we think of today?

Not that I can see.

This is a diagram of the lubrication system. I'm looking at the tube "C" labeled "reheating compartment". If I'm interpreting it correctly, it's a tube that runs through the oil tank that "reheats" the oil before sending it back to the engine.

The manual says,
"The oil pump sucks the oil through the tube in compartment C of the tank and sends it to the line G.
The volume of C is small (5 to 6 liters) compared to the reservoir and is in communication with it, only, by 4 or 5 holes of 12 (d) at the bottom for the oil and 2 or 3 holes of 6 (b ) up for air."

If the tube is cylindrical and has a volume of 5 to 6 liters it could be a candidate for the source of our artifact - but why would it explode?

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Don Yee

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Re: Opinions Needed: Artifact 1-21-P-1
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2021, 08:06:14 PM »

Knowing next to nothing about vintage aircraft engines...what about something to do with hydraulics? That may explain the oil? Landing gear or flight controls?
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