My version of LPE3i based on scotch yoke system (original ideas from LPEpower) but with new switches ! It works smoothly at 200RPM with 4 hand-pumps and without friction (thanks to the scotch yoke).
The major problem when designing a Lego Pneumatic Engine (LPE) is the dead points of the switches. In deed, the switches are the most important parts with the cylinders, they enable the engine to distribute correctly the energy (air-pressurized) in the cylinders. The problem is when a switch is on its dead point, no energy enter or no get away from. The result is consequently a blocking during the rotation of the engine.
There are different ways to reduce the dead point (evaluate at 30° of a complete revolution of the crankshaft). The first method is to use a inertia wheel also called flywheel in order to give enough inertia to the engine to break the dead point(s). The problem will be then the vibration at high speed (amplify by the mass and inertia). The second method is to modify the mechanics : for instance with the scotch yoke instead of the classic connecting rod which reduces the dead points.
The third factor to consider is the number of cylinder. For instance, a 1-cylinder engine can’t start itself without flywheel. Two or more cylinders is necessary to have a automatic start but you must set up the crankshaft at 90°. If you set up the crankshaft at 180° (in classic real explosion engines), the engine will not start by itself, again because the Lego parts have not enough inertia. If you want more than 2 cylinders, be aware that a lot of cylinders will generates lot of friction. That is why, a configuration angled at 60° with 3 cylinders is a good compromise to start with.
I have created the building instructions. You can watch them by browsing my webiste or
Designed in 2009