Charles Bethards
and
His "Wooden" Hot Air Engines

One day Charlie Bethards walked up to my hot air engine display and introduced himself. He said that he had built some, too, but he used wood in their construction.

Well, I've seen "wooden" hot air engines, before, and they were crude contrivances assembled out of tin cans, coat hanger wire and scraps of pine. I hope Charlie can forgive me for what I pictured in my mind's eye.

During our visit Charlie said he was planning on attending the 2003 Hot Air Engine Rally at Lake Itasca. So was I. That gave me something extra to look forward to. I was in for a big surprise!

The big day arrived and it didn't take long to find Charlie's display. Wow! As you look at these pictures I think you'll agree that his engines are incredibly beautiful, ingeniously designed, and built with meticulous craftsmanship.

Charles took his inspiration from Bruce Walworth who displayed his original designs at Cottonwood, Arizona, in 2001. In turn, Charles' designs will undoubtedly inspire one more generation of creatively designed and beautiful hot air engines.

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Charles checks to make sure his engines are running all right. He really didn't need to do this. They ran flawlessly throughout the entire show.

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Check out this gorgeous flywheel!

When I asked Charles where he got the idea for the beam, he replied, "Well, when you're raised in the oilfields of Oklahoma..."

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Here is a closer look.

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The beam. Note the two sets of cables, set in tension to one another. This permits push-pull operation. Force can be transmitted in both directions.

You'll see clearer examples of the push-pull cabling if you go on to look at Charlie's other engines.

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Click here to see another of Charlie's masterpieces

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