Even though the summer fun is over, we know you are all having a wonderful year full of adventures and projects in school or your extracurricular activities. We would love to hear about them! If you have any big projects you’ve been working on, or your sports team is on its way to winning the gold, let us know! 

This week, we asked Collier Tonkin to tell us about a recent project he’s been working on in school. Collier has been working on a double-acting compression air engine and shared with us the process he and his team went through in order to get it working: 

College has been quite the time, and it’s always busy but in a good way. Recently I finished assembling a double-acting compression air engine, which displaced 50cc’s. It had to be able to run at over 1000 rpm. Luckily, my team and I were able to run our 5 lb air engine at about 1600 rpm at an air pressure of 100 psi. The planning and design process went well enough for class instruction, but the actual parts manufacturing process was definitely satisfying.

Funny story: One late night in the projects lab, the team wanted to finish the air engine and test to ensure it worked, but I needed to finish grooving the flywheel shafts on the lathe, so we could use retainer rings to ensure everything stayed in place when the engine was in motion. Unfortunately the technician in charge, Karl (still an awesome guy), turned off the machines and digital readouts around 9:30 p.m. and we were left without power. However, one of the student workers suggested that we “doggy paddle” the lathe, that is in other words to rotate it by hand. Now keep in mind that this shaft was made out of steel and while grooving required a low rpm, it would still put up quite the resistance against even a few thousandths of material. Fortunately, we only needed to do 4-5 more passes on the last shaft with about 80 thousandths of material being sheared off. So for the next hour and a half, we rotated the lathe by hand to create the grooves in our flywheel shaft.

Once we finished, the air engine assembly took another 30 minutes, but once it was finished we tested it and it ran fairly well. While other teams had five people, our little three-man team did a fantastic job! We all pulled together quite a few longs nights to finish the work, and I’m happy to report that we had the overall second best acting air engine in that class. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a planetary gear set to go work on at the moment.

– Collier Tonkin, 20, is a junior at Rowan University majoring in Mechanical Engineering

Do you have any fun projects going on in your life? Any cool activities you’re a part of? Share them with us! All you have to do is write up a summary of what you’ve been doing, what you loved about it, and what made the instance unique and we’ll post it on the blog! If you send some pictures as well, then that’s even better! Email your posts and photos to zoe@crystallakecamps.org for your chance to be featured on our blog! Happy Thursday!