Triplane Builder

Poems by Triplane Builder - William (Bill) Woodall

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The Rotary

I have heard it was asserted--(by some sage of yesteryear),
That aviation would have died-(still-born without tear);
Had not that special engine, come to chance upon the scene;
Breathed life into the science-evolved the embryo machine.

And the engine that he spoke of, (when he coined that sobriquet),
Was what they then called 'rotary'-(it is scarcely known today).
Its very thin walled cylinders---(radiating from its core),
Gave better power/ weight ratios, than what had gone before.

With its crank-throw in the upright, it was bolted to the frame,
And the crankcase spun around it, as its valving spat out flame.
Its pistons and its conrods circled 'round in an ellipse--
Inertial flywheel physics damped the pulses of these trips.

The vapor from the "petrol"--sucked from aft and far away,
Traveled to the crankcase-maybe mixed, but did not stay.
Through valves that were specific-(each design was 'pedigreed'),
Either "out and over", or "through" the pistons special reed.

These were four stroke engines, and they got the needed spark,
From one or more magnetos that were timed to hit their mark.
The gear that spun magnetos had another job to do,
It also spun the oil pump-(castor oil was in the "brew").

With the mixture somewhat "chancey", idling down could be a chore,
Most sticks housed a "blip" switch-- (ground the points and stop the "roar').
A large slow turning prop (being bolted to the case),
Pulled the airplane (and rotary) at a most surprising pace.

With the cooling done by spinning, (though it might not "even" be);
With castor oil flung outward-white scarves-(in need to see).
With a mass this large set spinning along the axis-nose to tail,
Gyro forces thus encountered, left a long enduring trail.

that's why airport traffic patterns turn mostly left today,
That's why islands built on carriers, are on the right to stay;
That's why pilots in command sit-- in the seat they do--
Aviations tradition--- a most enduring glue!

When someone mentions "rotary", (most likely in some car);
Think back to that different kind-that's propelled us all so far!
Gnome, LeRhone and Clerget, or Bentley (names a few),
Oberursel, Thulin, Goebel,--- und Siemens und Halske, too--

Bill Woodall

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