The Air-Blast Engine Project Trilogy – Part 1: It’s Happening!

September 2021

The Air-Blast Injection building is now progressing extremely well.  It will house the 12 hp Augsburg air blast Diesel and its dynamo, the 12 hp Benz solid injection Diesel, and the 12 hp Graz air blast Diesel and its belted air compressor.  All of these engines will be displayed in a fantastic 30 by 40-foot brick structure reminiscent of a 1900s German powerhouse.  Guests will both see and hear the ambiance of the Old World.  There will be no other installation like it anywhere!  It will be a journey into the past.

Our general contractor endured a delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, trying to secure materials and available sub-contractors for the task.  They have now succeeded in getting our project surging ahead again. Good people have been recruited and a unified and cooperative goal is being achieved. Now it’s getting exciting!  Excavators and holes, huge concrete trucks, wooden forms, and busy men attending their tasks.  Very satisfying.  Yes, It IS happening.

Ryan Flick, the firm’s president, has Jake McNutt, one of his superintendents, on the site at all times, which makes smooth and unified progress.  The results are very rewarding.  Jake pitches in and works with all, frequently referring to his master drawings that Brad, the draftsman, spent many long hours to complete.  Gordon Jones and I made sketches then watched the magic unfold.  So amazing.  And now the virtual is becoming reality.

It all started again on August 12, when I marked the location of the above-ground cooling water tank in green and the sump take in blue.  The above-ground tank provides cooling water to the engines which returns to the sump tank to be recirculated again.

Not being disappointed, the crew was there Monday morning digging the base pad for the above ground tank.

YES! It is happening.

There is going to be a lot of digging and pipe placement for this to work.  The plans are on sheets and sheets of paper!  All will be carefully followed and completed in necessary order.

Next step, the excavator ramped itself into the structure and removed over a foot of topsoil, which was carefully saved for final grading.  The faint orange line is the site for the Graz, and it will be done next.

The pit for the Graz engine was excavated and the base pad was poured. A day later, the form for the concrete foundation was done.  No, it’s not just a square hunk.  It has the engine base surrounded by pipe trenches, a pit for the high-pressure air tanks, a base for the belt driven air compressor, and location for a final dynamo.  So many thanks to Dr. Friedrich Busch for providing his drawings, and to Matt Niemi for converting the metric measurements and for chatting with Friedrich about design changes for CPM’s installation.

Wow! Just like magic, the Graz foundation was completed.  Also note that the finish floor level of the building will be at the top of the concrete blocks.  A French drain has already been installed along the perimeter of the building.  Now the interior will receive a layer of gravel, then a vapor barrier, followed by insulation and the tubing for the floor heating system.  Finally, the concrete floor will be poured, keeping in mind the final layer of ceramic tile that will be installed after the engines are installed.  Sounds complicated, but it will happen soon.

This photo below is another view of the Graz foundation.

Perhaps this photo of Friedrich operating the Graz engine at his shop in Germany will better explain the complexity of the foundation.

Amidst the other work, Punxsutawney Burial Vault Service designed and installed a special 1,000 gallon sump tank that will receive the cooling water from the engines.  All piping will be through the green riser, ensuring an intact tank.

The above-ground steel tank will then be placed on these four concrete columns.  It will be able to receive water both from a well, yet to be drilled, and from the sump tank.  Yep, the system will be self-sufficient.

As August slowly slips into the past, the foundation has been cleaned and is awaiting the dawn of a new week and the beginning of the floor.  That story will be in the next issue.

But it’s not that simple to just sit back and take photos as it’s happening!  Time to finalize the details.  Wow, this is both fun and frustrating.  Picking the exact brick design from hundreds available, choosing just the absolutely correct floor tile design, finalizing the exact roof truss design so that it appears vintage, and it goes along and along for so many more items!  We want it to be correct and pleasing as well.  Yep, IT IS HAPPENING!

So, part two of the ABI Project Trilogy will be “Now the Details.” You will enjoy!  Keep reading.