This week in “that’s not a four-stroke:” a V-4 solenoid motor

The art of machining custom bits and pieces for projects requires a lot of practice. Rather than just whittling away at metal for the sake of machining, one could use the practice time to build some neat little projects. The Practical Engineer did just that and made a video of using some heavy machinery to build a novelty V-4 solenoid engine. We love it.

There is a lot of science going on in this nifty little project. The solenoids are merely copper wire wrapped around what appears to be Delrin spools cut from round stock on a lathe. Using a round steel slug as a “piston,” current is applied to the copper coil, producing a magnetic field that acts on the steel slug inside it. Time the current properly and it looks a lot like the movement of a two- or four-stroke piston engine.

That’s oversimplifying the build pretty significantly. One cylinder would be neat, and the man behind the channel, Emiel Noorlander, built that version back in September. To up the ante a bit, he multiplied the parts by four and created the V-4.

This meant creating a crankshaft from scratch with appropriate throws and spacing. For this, Noorlander starts with round brass stock trimmed to width and fitted with crank pins separated by 180 degrees—making this a flat-plane crankshaft. The timing is handled by a simple pointer contact on a primitive camshaft on the rear of the motor.

It’s not combustion, but it’s mighty darn cool. It even has a bit of a knock to it like a diesel engine. 

Little projects can be big fun. Have you been working on something like this in your spare time? Tell us about it in the Hagerty Forums below.

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