Mr. George Luhrs of Shoreham, NY has been selected to receive the Martin Foundation craftsmanship award for 2001. The award will be presented April 29th, 2001 at the NAMES show in Wyandotte, Michigan.
The following biographical information was provided by George Luhrs and his wife, Barbara. In addition to winning last year's Sherline Machininst's Challenge contest and the Metalworking Craftsman of the year for 2001, George is not taking it easy on the competition. He is preparing a new entry for the 2001 contest in Wyandotte, Michigan. Anyone visiting the N.A.M.E.S. show should make it a point to stop by Sherline's booth to see what George has prepared for this year. We are sure you won't be disappointed.
Luhrs has been building engines of all
sizes for most of his life. As a kid, he
worked on all kinds of models, including
free flight and "U" control
airplanes, model boats and model cars.
He fixed and rebuilt small engines and,
as a teen, worked on cars. In order to
do these things, he learned how to use
many tools, including the machine shop
equipment needed to make and repair
worked his way through school in a
machine shop. His education consisted of
a degree in mechanical technology, which
prepared him to be a metallurgist, a
tool and die designer, draftsman,
machine tool operator and mechanical
engineer, all of which he has used both
in his business and with his hobbies.
after he graduated, George decided to
set up shop in his own basement. For
over 35 years until he retired 2 years
ago, he was self-employed in the machine
shop industry. At first he manufactured
parts for aerospace corporations, and
then did design and research and
development work for several private
firms. He has also designed and built
unique machinery for a few local
companies. He considers himself
fortunate to have been able to earn his
livelihood doing what he enjoys most.
the years, when his shop machines were
not tied up with customer work, George
would build models of engines and also
many pieces of miniature apparatus, such
as a drag saw, washing machine, cement
mixer, water pump, grinder and others,
to show how the engines were used. His
hobby equipment consists of the same
full-size industrial machinery that was
used for the machine shop business. He
designed and built all his own
specialized tooling used to make the
parts for his model engines. This
includes gear cutting, miniature bolt
making and special cutters.
has had several specific goals in mind
over the years. One is to build running
gas engines smaller and smaller. Both
their size and getting them to run
reliably is a challenge, and that
challenge is what keeps his interest.
Each time he has achieved a goal in one
size, he tries to make the next one even
smallest engine he has designed and
scratch built so far is a 1/8" bore,
stroke, single cylinder, four
cycle, overhead valve, sparkplug
ignition engine. It runs, but he is
still trying to get this one to run as
well as all the others. The four
cylinder, four cycle ignition engine
which won first place in the Sherline
Machinist’s Challenge at the N.A.M.E.S.
show in 2000 was designed and built from
scratch. It took over 600 hours to complete.
For the 2001 contest, George switched
to a radial design and created a
5-cylinder aircraft engine with
1/4" bore and stroke which took
first place for the second year in a
For the 2001 contest, George switched to a radial design and created a 5-cylinder aircraft engine with 1/4" bore and stroke which took first place for the second year in a row.
the 2000 contst, all the engines George had
designed and built were single cylinder,
four cycle engines. Last year’s
challenge was to build a small
multi-cylinder four-cycle engine and
have it run reliably. This year's
5-cylinder radial expanded his range
even further. All his engines
are overhead valve sparkplug ignition
engines. They all run using homemade
coils for make-and-break ignition and
miniature model airplane type coils to
fire the sparkplugs. These are mounted
in battery boxes or in the base of each
engine so as not to distract from the
engine itself. The sparkplugs he makes
for these engines range in size from ¼-32
thread for the large engines, 6-40
thread for the mid-size ones and 2-64 or
0-80 threads for the smallest engines.
George accepts his plaque and check from Sherline representative Craig Libuse for being selected as the Joe Martin Foundation Metalworking Craftsman of the year, 2001..
other goal is to show that there are
still people who make things from
scratch; that is, no kits and no
castings. Most importantly, he wishes to
promote model building as a hobby to the
younger generation by passing along as
much knowledge as he can to anyone who
is interested in learning. Toward this
last objective, he has done a fair
amount of work as a guest speaker to
encourage interest in the hobby at his
local grade school, the Boy Scouts,
model airplane clubs and many live steam
club meets. He also participates in
numerous antique car shows each year and
always displays his engines along with
either a 1930 Pontiac or a 1960 Maserati.
Many times the small engines generate
more interest than the antique cars.
has recently spent time tutoring a
talented newcomer to model engine
building named Jared Schoenly. When they
first met, Jared was just ten years old,
but he already had an incredible amount
of knowledge of small engines. Over the
past nine years he has spent time
visiting my George and his wife to learn
more about engines and get some hands-on
experience in George’s shop. He has
eagerly absorbed all George can teach
him, and now at age 19 he is an honors
mechanical engineering student at the
University of Pittsburgh. He will soon
be entering his own scratch-built
engines in shows and contests and
hopefully taking what George has been
able to teach him to a new level. His
parents also work to encourage the hobby
and have put on the Cabin Fever
Exposition in the Pennsylvania area for
the past six years. The show is rapidly
increasing in attendance, which is
helping meet George’s goal of seeing
new people enjoy the challenge of
of George's Work
(Above) Two views of the 4-cylinder engine that won the 2000 Machinist's Challenge.
(Below) The display base of the engine included a second engine completely disassembled to show all its pieces.
This Stover engine is another of George's many projects.
(Above four engine photos: Thomas Oversluizen)
For the 2001 Contest, George designed and built a display made up of three 5-cylinder radial aircraft engines. Two are assembled and one is shown with all its parts laid out in the background. It took first place again.
Craig Libuse Photo
© 2001 The Joe Martin Foundation