2001 N.A.M.E.S. Show and the

George Luhrs' incredible 5-cylinder radial engine(s) top the voting.

George follows last year's win with an even more incredible engine and a beautiful display.

Commentary and photos by Craig Libuse


George Luhrs is shown in his booth at the 2001 N.A.M.E.S. show surrounded by some of his projects and his award plaques for winning both the contest and the Joe Martin Foundation Metalworking Craftsman of the Year award. The winning radial engine display is in the foreground.

Dateline: Wyandotte, Michigan, April 28-29, 2001

Last year George Luhrs broke into the winning ranks with is 4-cylinder in-line aircraft engine. This year he added a cylinder and created a radial design that again topped the voting. George designs and builds his engines from scratch in sizes so small they leave most spectators just shaking their heads in wonder. His display includes not only the finished engine but a second (or in this case a THIRD) engine displayed as a layout of all the individual parts. This particular 5-cylinder engine has a .25" bore and .25" stroke for a total displacement of only .31 cubic inches. The sparkplug fired four cycle engine has overhead valves with external pushrods. Detailed photos are available below.

George may have won the top prize, but the biggest money winner was Robert Merva who finished both second and third with his two entries. Showing a variety of talents and interests, his second place engine was a beautiful red Clinton engine with a 1" bore and 1" stroke, while his third place entry was a polished brass 8-day Fusee, 7-jewel movement clock with 2.5 module wheels and pinions. The pendulum kept the clock running flawlessly throughout the entire competition.

The top finishing Novice Division entry was 12 year old Scott Schwab of Fraser, Michigan. Scott and his grandfather, Karl Schwab both entered projects, and to Scott's obvious delight (and Karl's too), Scott topped his grandfather in the voting to finish a very respectable 7th overall. With double prize money for winning the Novice Division, he actually took home the fourth largest check. We were all very happy to see such a young entry and hope others will take this to heart and get their own kids and grandkids involved in building things for themselves, and not just watching.

The farthest-traveling entry was submitted by Iqbal Ahmed of India. His tiny steam engine included a boiler and was fully functional. He offered to let me fire it up and run it for the spectators. Although I am sure this would have greatly increased the number of votes he received, safety concerns at the show kept us from being able to do it. We offer special thanks to Mr. Ahmed for trusting his fine engine to the shipping companies to send it this far for the show so we could all enjoy his work.

The voting in this contest is done by the spectators at the North American Model Engineering Society's exposition in Wyandotte, Michigan. Each spectator who wishes to participate is given five tokens and asked to place them in cups next to his or her five favorite projects. They are asked to spread their votes over their top five choices. With a varied range on interests among the spectators, all projects won votes. Sherline puts up $100 in prize money for each entrant up to 25, so with 13 entries, there was $1300 in prize money available. We would like to encourage more entries next year so that the maximum $2500 could be available to the contestants.

2001 Entries

(Click on any photo to see a larger version. A quarter is often displayed in the photos to provide a size reference.)

1st Place--The overall photo of George Luhr's winning 5-cylinder radial aircraft engines shows the two engines each mounted on their own contoured, laminiated stand. Each engine has a 3-bladed prop hand made from laminate alternating color woods. Behind the engines is a framed display of a third engine laid out with all its 242 component parts displayed under glass.
This detail of one of the engines shows the level of detail and the perfection of the fit and finish of each part. A little smaller and these two engines would make a beautiful pair of earrings!
Robert J. Merva of Latrobe, PA displays the two award plaques he won for finishing both 2nd and 3rd place. His two varied entries are shown below. 
2nd Place--This Clinton engine has a 1" bore and 1" stroke. It is beautifully finished in glossy red paint with highly polished accessories like the pulley and exhaust pipe. He has a miniature "Clinton" decal ready to put on but didn't quite have it ready for the show.
3rd Place--Displaying a wide variety of talents, Robert Merva also entered this 8-day Fusee clock with 7-jewel movement, 2.5 module wheels and pinions. The highly polished brass components are a bit hard to photograph, but it ran flawlessly throughout the show.
4th Place--Bert de Kat of Troy, Ontario, Canada built this very smooth-running Delta-T Stirling cycle engine. It ran throughout the contest sitting on a single chemical hand warmer packet.
5th Place--Last year's Novice Class winner, Graham Hollis of Yorba Linda, CA entered only the second engine he has ever built, a Robin single-cylinder aircraft engine. As last year's Novice winner, he wasn't eligible for "Novice" status, although he still does fit within the less-than-two-years of experience category. Like his first entry, the finishes on all the parts indicate an level of expertise that is amazing in someone with so little experience. Graham finished the engine just in time for the contest but did have time to run it briefly before flying back to Michigan. He says it ran "a little rough", but he will now have the time to fine tune it.
6th Place--Forrest Atkinson of DeForest, WI entered a solenoid engine. This interesting entry combines modern technology with an old-fashioned engine design. It is a side shaft hit-and-miss engine with a working fly-ball governor controlling the solenoid.
7th Place, 1st Place Novice Division--Twelve-year old Scott Schwab built this single-cylinder, double acting steam engine. It can run in both forward or reverse. It is made from brass and steel and comes in a beautiful cherry wood box. Though his grandfather provided the tools and guidance, Scott did the work himself.


Novice Division winner Scott Schwab (center) is shown with Sherline representative Craig Libuse (left) and his grandfather, Karl Schwab (right). They are holding their entries. At just age 12, he's got a good start at becoming an expert machinist. Due to the prize money in the Novice Division being doubled, Scott actually had the 4th biggest payday of all the competitors, or third highest if you consider two of the top three checks both went to Robert Merva.

The second photo was taken by grandfather Karl Schwab just as the announcement was made that his grandson Scott had won the Novice Division and placed ahead of him. The look on Scott's face made the whole weekend worthwhile for me. Also looking on with big grins are 6th place finisher Forrest Atkinson (far left) and Jerry Kieffer (far right).

The following entries are shown in alphabetical order
Iqbal Ahmed of Nagpur, India built this very small running steam engine. Included with the engine is its own alcohol-fired boiler. The rules at the show prohibit the running of live steam engines for safety reasons, but this engine and boiler combination need nothing more to run.
Jesse Brumberger of Macedon, NY built this finely detailed Chinese abacus. Also included in the pyramid-like clear display case is a device to move the glass counters and a wooden box to carry the ancient computer system.
Matthew Russel of Mendon, NY pleased the crowd with this set of eliptical gears. The interrelationship of the gears makes for an interesting movement when moved. Although Mr. Russel claims the gears have no known application, Jarred Schoenly saw them and said he knew an old Amish gentleman who remembered a hay bailer from many years ago that used eliptical gears to generate the proper throw for that particular operation. In any case, it's an intersting project and Mr. Russel has plans available for how to make them for just $5.00 if you write him at 33 Woodridge Drive, Mendon, NY 14506. He has plans for other projects as well.
Dick Saunders of Manchester, IO will never have trouble telling what time it is across the country with this brass clock. On each of the four sides is a clock set to a different time zone: Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific. The names of the zones are engraved into the base below each face. On top is a thermometer. An item like this would make a very nice executive gift or desk conversation piece.
Karl Schwab of Warren, MI not only helped his grandson, Scott enter this year's contest, he built an entry of his own. This low temperature differential Stirling engine ran sitting atop a glass of ice water (until the ice melted, anyway). It includes a handsome cherry wood base and cover for transportation and display.
Frank Warrick is a toolmaker from Muskegon Heights, MI. He built this small replica of a very sturdy looking die filer. When the flywheel turns, the small file in the center of the table goes up and down. It's a handy shop tool that takes a lot of the labor out of filing projects, and this nice looking steel replica is very nicely finished.

2001 entrants and their projects

1. George Luhrs, Shoreham, NY--5-cylinder, 4-cycle miniature gas aero engine (running, 1/4" bore, 1/4" stroke)

2. Robert J. Merva, Latrobe, PA--Clinton Engine, 1" bore x 1" stoke engine (running)

3. Robert J. Merva, Latrobe, PA--8-day Fusee clock with 7-jewel movement, 2.5 module wheels and pinions

4. Bert De Kat, Troy, Ontario, Canada--Delta-T Stirling engine (running on a chemical pocket hand warmer)

5. Graham Hollis, Yorba Linda, CA--4-cycle, 1-cylinder Robin aircraft engine (from a design by Eric Whittle, plans in Strictly I.C. magazine)

6. Forrest B. Atkinson, Madison, WI--Side shaft hit-n-miss solenoid motor with working fly ball governor

7. Scott Schwab (age 12), Fraser, MI--Double-acting, 1-cylinder steam engine (1st Place, NOVICE division)

Other entries in alphabetical order..

Iqbal Ahmed, Nagpur, India--Miniature vertical steam engine and alcohol-fired boiler

Jesse Brumberger, Macedon, NY--Miniature classic 13-column Chinese abacus with case

Matthew Russel, Mendon, NY--Eliptical gear demonstration

Dick Saunders, Manchester, IO--Ball Clock tower with 4 time zones and thermometer

Karl Schwab, Warren, MI--LTD (low temperature differential) Stirling cycle engine (running on a glass of ice water)

Frank Warrick, Muskegon Hts., MI, --Die filer

Sherline wishes to thank all the entrants for their fine work. We hope it will inspire others to take their modeling to smaller and more intricate levels. We hope you will be back next year with another entry. Try to encourage your friends and club members to join the fun too.

Enter the Machinist's Challenge yourself in 2002...

There is no entry fee. Sherline makes available $100 in prize money for each entrant up to the first 25, so a maximum of $2500 in prize money can be available. We hope next year to see at least 25 entries so that the full total of $2500 will be up for grabs. Start making plans to get a project together for next year's show. Call 1-800-541-0735 for details or watch this site. There are a few minor changes to time available for voting in next year's contest, but the project rules will remain unchanged. Our goal is simply to show the interesting and fun things that can be built with a few cents worth of material, good miniature machine tools and a bit of skill and imagination. Novice entrants (less than two years experience building metal projects using machine tools) have a chance to score double prize money as Bruce Roland did in 1998, Graham Hollis did it in 2000 and 12-year old Scott Schwab did it in 2001, so don't let the quality of some of the entries intimidate you. If you are just starting out, you can still build a good project. For '02, think big and build small!

Results of past contests











More on the show...

When viewing Jerry Kieffer's work, it helps to have plenty of light, a magnifying glass and good eyesight. At the show, he demonstrated the abilities of the Sherline lathe by drilling .006" holes in the end of a .010" shaft. Jerry also put on a two hour seminar on "Learning to use a small lathe" that was very well attended. (Above photo from 2000 show)

(Click on above photo for larger version.) Jim Clark and Jerry Kieffer talk to spectators at the 2001 show.

More Awards

George Luhrs accepts a plaque and a check for $1000.00 from Craig Libuse of the Joe Martin Foundation for being selected as the 2001 winner of the foundation's "Metalworking Craftsman of the Year."

Retired machinist and builder of the world's smallest running 4-cycle engines George Luhrs won the 5th annual Joe Martin Foundation's Metalworking Craftsman of the Year award. Visit the page for more details on Mr. Luhrs and all the previous winners.

Return to Sherline's Home Page

Copyright 2001, Sherline Products Inc. All rights reserved.
No part of this web site, including the text, photos or illustrations, may be reproduced or transmitted in any other form or by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording or otherwise) for commercial use without the prior written permission of Sherline Products Inc.