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K & B Torpedo .29

Old 12-04-2015, 10:24 AM
  #1  
DaveyMo
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Default K & B Torpedo .29

C/L Folks:

As you can see, I've posted a couple of shots of the .29 below. Would like to entertain some discussion from anyone here in the know.

All I know is that it's the 1950 version and that it has not been run at all (it came from a collector). It seems like a most sturdy and well-made engine. The configuration showing the reversed (by today's standards) exhaust and needle valve placement is interesting, but would probably make operation a tad more difficult?

Is this a museum piece (to the extent that there even is a museum for model engines)? My brother lent me this mill with the suggestion that I build a wing for it (yeah, as if I have the ability to fly one of those at my age!). He has another 29 Torpedo just like it that broke the C/L speed record in 1951 or therabouts. Will post a shot of that one later if there is interest.

Here they be:



DaveyMo
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Dan Vincent (09-27-2020)
Old 12-14-2015, 08:39 AM
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gcb
 
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I THINK what you have is the version before they started painting the head green. K&B was one of the first engines to use a tapered piston to reduce heat and shorten break-in. I think they (along with VECO) advertised it as TCC (Temperature Controlled Clearance) at that time.
I believe they also tried tapered cylinders.
Not sure of dates anymore so you may have the earlier version without taper. In any case, if you run it you should give it a proper iron/steel break-in to maximize its life.
I do not know if it is a museum piece but I would be careful with it, you may not be able to find replacement parts.

George
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Old 12-15-2015, 03:59 PM
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Dzlstunter
 
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When I was just starting out, I had a Fox 29 and a Buddy had a green head K&B Torpedo. I am sure that he reversed the needle valve to put the fuel line on the inside of the circle and the needle away from the exhaust. Maybe this one was set up for counter-clockwise flying? There were many guys flying that way because it was the "natural way" to use the torque instead of a ton of tip weight. He loved the engine, btw. Dzl
Old 01-19-2016, 12:11 PM
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I flew a K&B Greenhead .29 for many years and it never let me down.

Your engine is the earlier version, before they painted the heads green. K&B also made a ,32 so you could swap engines with the .29, allowing a model to compete in both AMA class B & C.

I asked John Brodbeck Sr. why he waited so long to update the .29 case from a three-screw backplate to a four-screw backplate like all of the other Greenhead series engines.

John said it went back to the days of the previous Torpedo .29 that was equipped with an aluminum tank that mounted with one screw. Evidently users were tightening the screw with so much force that they pulled the center screw post out of the backplate.

John had hundreds of new three screw backplates cast and had so many on hand that he made a decision to hold up converting the .29 to a four-screw and dropping the .32 in favor of the .35 which had become the standard of class C.

Eventually K&B produced the .29s and .35 versions with four-screw backplates. Excellent engines.

Last edited by Dan Vincent; 01-19-2016 at 12:25 PM.
Old 01-20-2016, 09:47 AM
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DaveyMo
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Dan and DZ:

Good observations here - much appreciated! I'm trying to get my mind around the idea of flying C/L in a clockwise direction; I'll probably not try it. Ha! If we decide to run this Torpedo, I think I'll leave the configuration as is and mount it vertically. Nice story about the three-screw backplate.

George: Good advice on the break-in. If we run it, I'm guessing that a low-nitro fuel with 25% castor would feed it well enough.

By the way and at my age, I've probably got ten more years of C/L flying left in me. Thus thoughts sometimes drift to a legacy every now and then. Accordingly, I'm trying to groom a young man into developing an interest in these beautiful little engines. He's got a family and thus very limited spare time, but so far, so good. He's not completely lost to video gaming, social media, etc.

DaveyMo
Old 01-20-2016, 12:42 PM
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Dan Vincent
 
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The needle valve is usually placed on the opposite side from the exhaust port. A Fox .35 exhaust was to the right while a K&B .29 pointed left. I could swap engines on my profile models with little concern for flight direction.

The Flite Streak was a great design and I flew a Jr. Flite Streak for a couple of years on 60' lines with K&B, Fox and McCoy .19 engines.
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Old 01-20-2016, 04:29 PM
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Lou Crane
 
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Thoughts/memories for what they are worth...

The Torps were K&Bs. There were other engines of very similar design: VECO .29 and .35. Licensed by Gil Henry, possibly manufactured by K&B, probably from a previous model. NOT extremely powerful. They drew fuel extremely well. My first AA, Sr. used a VECO .35. Delightful, if not super-powerful. Great starting, Great in-flight manners, on 'tame' (Superfuel-like) fuel.

The VECO 4-bolt backplate engines were advertised as having TCC (temperature controlled clearances ). These were heavier, much stronger, and not as polite as the Henry-VECO earlier versions for sport and competition stunt. As mentioned, excellent engines, but needed care to get them to pull stunt models.

TCC:- Metals and cold clearances were more closely matched to operating conditions. Sort of like what we have today with other metals:- expansions to operating conditions designed for best high temperature running, using brass, nickel/or chrome and (modern) low-expansion aluminum alloy pistons. Ahead of their times, but not to the ultimate level we enjoy today.
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Old 02-22-2016, 02:28 PM
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DaveyMo
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Hello All:

Well, my brother and I have made the decision to go ahead and run and fly this K&B, and not make too many demands on it. Would be looking for wingovers and loops at most. I'm open to comments on what we have in mind for it here:

Fuel: I'm guessing 25% castor and very little nitro. Any other suggestions?

Prop: Zinger 9x4 wooden

Aircraft: SIG Twister w/ 49" wingspan

Lines: 52 feet of .012 steel braided

George (or anyone else): Would you be able to provide me with the iron/steel break-in routine?

Thanks for all the good heads at work here!

Davey Mo...
Old 02-23-2016, 10:12 PM
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gcb
 
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I recommend break-in on a bench so you have full control at all times. Do a series of short runs of about two minutes which you end by pinching or disconnecting the fuel line and let the engine cool down naturally. Each run of heating up and cooling down is called a heat cycle. The series of heat cycles provides a smooth fit between the piston and cylinder without excessive heat.

First run, run it slobbering rich for a minute to flush out any junk that may be in the engine, then run it up to rich side of peak for one minute. If it starts to slow down at any time (sag), pinch the fuel tubing (or pull it off) to shut it down. Richen the needle a couple of clicks and try again.

After it cools down, start it and run for two minutes. After half a dozen heat cycles, try to run it at peak. If it slows down, stop it and do a few more heat cycles. If it runs a full tank at peak it is broken-in and ready to fly. The number of heat cycles needed for break-in depends on the fits of the individual engine.

There is seldom only one way to do things and break-in is no exception. Some run it in a little, then finish break-in in the air. Some do not break-in an engine.

I believe my way lets the engine be all it can be.

George
Old 02-24-2016, 08:58 AM
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DaveyMo
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George:

Will do. Such clear instructions are much appreciated! Many thanks.

Davey Mo...
Old 03-09-2016, 07:17 PM
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robert waldo
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Because of the prop rotation control line was originally flown clockwise to keep the lines tight. That would place the Torp exhaust down. Everyone fly's counter clockwise which has a tendency to turn the airplane left. That would place the exhaust up on this Torp. I have many hundreds of flights with that same Torp and could never wear it out. I would occasionally blow head gaskets but I would just cut them out of playing cards. After a 40 year lapse I have come full circle and am building U-control again. I'm starting to look at how to install bellcranks in my RC airplanes.
Old 03-11-2016, 12:09 PM
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DaveyMo
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Robert:

Very good! Nice to hear that it's a reliable engine. We'll just have to get used to the reversed needle and exhaust locations. Good luck in your conversions; I recall there is some discussion in these boards somewhere about how to go about doing it.

Dave Mo...
Old 03-19-2016, 08:38 PM
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gcb
 
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Originally Posted by robert waldo View Post
...I'm starting to look at how to install bellcranks in my RC airplanes.
In the early days of CL, a FF converted to CL use was referred to as a "Goat". Wonder what you would call an RC plane converted to CL? :-)

George
Old 03-24-2016, 08:00 AM
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DaveyMo
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Hello to All:

Fuel for this .29: Back in 1950, can I assume that there was no nitro in the mix? If so,would it have been a straight 75-25 methanol to castor ratio? I can't seem to get it started on the 15% nitro blend I have on hand. Lots of odd popping sounds, and in one case, the prop nut blew off in an apparently backwards firing.

Any suggestions from the good and kind minds here?

DaveyMo...
Old 03-24-2016, 10:11 AM
  #15  
Dan Vincent
 
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Most American engines in the fifties ran on Nitro fuels. Europe didn't have nitro.

I see above you are running a 9-4, that is more of a prop for a .19 than a .29.

I ran 10-6 props on .35 engines and a 9-6 on my .29 engines. A wide blade Top-Flite for stunt or a Power-Prop for faster models like profile combat.

Too light of a prop will kick a lot.

Last edited by Dan Vincent; 03-24-2016 at 12:29 PM.
Old 03-24-2016, 10:46 AM
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Davey, I replied on the email notice of your post, Might spur others' memories to put the gist here, too.

The fuels available in the 1950s DID have nitro.

Fox Superfuel, of course, had 5%. Missile Mist may have been available back then. Fox Blast was extremely high nitro %.

K&B fuels came in several "strengths" -
K&B 100 was the tamest, (There may have be a K&B 200, a bit more nitro -not sure) K&B 500 had ample nitro. Eventually there was a K&B 1000 w/mucho nitro

Testor's 39 was available, but not liked by my buddies. It did have some nitro, but % unknown.

Francisco fuels were available, even on the East Coast. Great reputation, great aroma - possibly from nitrobenzene, later banned as a carcinogen. (Sweet shoe polish smell. Bees loved it, making drawing fuel out of a can worth a careful look first.)

Cox fuels came in Blue Can (mild) and Red Can (high performance) for Cox 1/2A engines.

Again, every commercial glow fuel I knew of then DID have nitro and a generous castor oil content to work with the iron piston in iron or steel sleeve technology.

Starting procedure usually was a pretty wet stack prime. (hard to do today with muffler mounted) On a profile, the 'wrong-side" K&B exhaust may have made flooding more likely. Stack down cleared floods better. Hard kick and shedding the prop sounds like it was flooded. On a test stand. mounted upright, that shouldn't cause problems.

Flipping the needle valve to the side away from the exhaust doesn't change anything as far as the engine is concerned, and it is much less comfortable to put fingers into the exhaust stream heat. On a profile model without landing gear (e.g., combat) a needle valve below the fuselage is more likely to be damaged...
Old 03-24-2016, 07:31 PM
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DaveyMo
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Dan and Lou:

Quite a history of the fifties fuels, here. Interesting problem concerning bees and the carcinogen!

You've both offered some good words of advice, so here's the report: I replaced the prop with a 10x6 (the only larger one I had on hand). Then mounted the engine upright. With a rather wet stack prime, I got slightly better results while still wearing out my arm. But then noticed that compression really was dropping off. Taking the head off, I found a head gasket in very poor condition (as if someone had swiped the good one and left this lousy specimen in its place. Understandable perhaps as this mill was destined for display only).

So..., I'll have to see if I can scrounge up gasket material in .5 mm. I've got .8 mm on hand, and might just give it a try. Also heard that soda-pop can aluminum might work.

Thanks for the help, gents.

Dave...
Old 03-25-2016, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveyMo View Post
Hello to All: I made my own fuel. 70% alcohol, 25% castor oil, 5% nitro methane with a 9/8 wood prop.I know that prop will raise some eye brows but that's what I always use on the Torp29. I have owned Torps for over 47 years. Don't lean them on the ground. And always use castor oil.

Fuel for this .29: Back in 1950, can I assume that there was no nitro in the mix? If so,would it have been a straight 75-25 methanol to castor ratio? I can't seem to get it started on the 15% nitro blend I have on hand. Lots of odd popping sounds, and in one case, the prop nut blew off in an apparently backwards firing.

Any suggestions from the good and kind minds here?

DaveyMo...
I always made my own fuel. 70% alcohol, 25%castor oil, 5% nitro methane swinging a 9/8 wood prop. I have run Torps for over 47 years. The prop and % of castor oil won't make sense to anybody under the age of 60 or so.
Old 03-26-2016, 07:54 AM
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DaveyMo
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Robert

Your fuel & prop combination sounds like a real winner (can't beat 47 years of experience!). I can understand your devotion to these mills, given what I've seen in this engine's design and workmanship. Much obliged.

Dave....
Old 05-23-2016, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Lou Crane View Post
>>On a profile, the 'wrong-side" K&B exhaust may have made flooding more likely. Stack down cleared floods better. Hard kick and shedding the prop sounds like it was flooded. On a test stand. mounted upright, that shouldn't cause problems.

A couple months old but saw this and thought I'd offer my two cents....

What Lou described is exactly what we experienced on my dad's Torpedo .29 that he's got on a Ringmaster. The tip weight causes the plane to lean just slightly toward the outboard wing while sitting on the ground. Any fuel in the crankcase will dribble up the port into the combustion chamber and cause a lot of kickback when starting. I just hold it with the outboard wing higher, and prime by holding the finger over the venture and turning the engine over until it's got a good & wet prime, then get it started (all while holding it with the right wing higher). It usually takes several more flips to get it to start compared with priming straight into the exhaust port, but it seems to work consistently and avoids flooding.
Old 05-28-2016, 11:00 AM
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Ah, sounds like good advice well-seasoned by experience! Will give it a try. Thanks!

Davey Mo...
Old 09-16-2020, 06:06 AM
  #22  
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Default torp 32

I flew a torp 32 ona ringmaster when in high school in the 50s. much smoother and more reliable than the foxes.
I just rescued a 29 from ebay it runs as well as I remember the 32 of 1955. other favorite engine was an os twin stack 29.
flew it in a Berkley p40 a great engine
Tom
Old 09-27-2020, 12:31 PM
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Hi Davey This will be my first post on this site. I would like to add my two cents on the K&B Torpedo engine. I have flown control line since 1958 and belong to the South West Michigan Smoke Rings today. In 1968 I purchased a K&B Torpedo Green Head .35, from Americas Hobbie Center, in New York I believe. I Still fly that Torpedo .35 today, and it is mounted on a Sig Banshee that I fly regularly with a 10 X 4 prop to get 5.1 second lap times. Today I fly either 5 or 10% nitro and always 28% Castor and Klotz mix at 50-50. All these years that I have flown the K&B I have never abused it in all out flying. I did fly some combat with the Torpedo back in the 1970's with a wing called The Guillotine, along with a 9 X 8 prop and much nitro. I liked that Torpedo so much that I bought a second one in the early 70's, before they went out of production. I think the K&B series 75 took the Torpedoes place, which was a completely new engine then. The only draw back on the Torpedo is the exhaust is up and loud, the Torpedoes don't do well with a muffler and I never use one on it. These were powerful engines in the day and today this Green Head .35 still pulls my Banshee with ease and will do the 4 to 2 and back just like the Fox Stunt if I want it to. Fly your Torpedo 29 and enjoy it for what it is, that they are a great engine. Eddie H
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Old 10-02-2020, 10:32 AM
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My green head Torp. is one of the best engines I own, I got it in the 1950's I used a 10/6 prop and a castor oil based fuel, it still starts on the first flip today, do not run it too lean and it will last forever.
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