Hooniverse Asks: What's the Coolest Cutaway Engine You've Ever Seen?

I once had this friend, Peter Lambert, who was one of the most eclectic and interesting individuals I ever had the pleasure of encountering. Well into his eighties Peter would help lift engines out of bays, climb Morro Rock to harvest endangered bird eggs for safe keeping, and put away a pint or five if offered.
Sadly, Peter has long since passed away, but one of the things that he did, and which made him so interesting, was his early career (one of many apparently) woking for Rolls Royce doing cutaways of the company’s aircraft engines. Not drawings mind you, but cutaways of the actual machines, in the metal.
Whether on paper or in three dimensions, I’ve always found cutaways fascinating, and I’ll bet that you do as well. What I’d like to know is, if that’s so, what is the coolest engine cutaway that you have ever seen?
Image: legendsintheirowntime


  1. This definitely isn’t pretty, being low-compression video, but a DOHC valvetrain at 14k RPM is pretty neat-o.
    Protip: turn on the sound. It’s worth it.

  2. I read a magazine article long ago about a Bonneville racer who competed in a V-twin class. Everyone else used motorcycle engines.
    He got the idea to use Top Fuel castoffs. Somebody blew up cylinder number 2 and somebody else had a #7 rod go through the side of the block. He took the front of the second block and welded it to the rear of the first, eliminating six cylinders in the process. Same with heads, crankshaft, etc., all sourced for free.

  3. The Miller collection at the Speedway Museum in Lincoln is spectacular.
    Full stop.
    I almost don’t make it past that little room into the rest of the enormous museum.

  4. Corvette Museum has a pretty decent cutaway of the LT5. Taken with my potato in 2014.

  5. I would be remiss if I did not mention the stunning work of Bruce Smith, who did hand-drawn, pen-and-ink cutaway and exploded view drawings that were a regular feature of Britain’s Motor Cycle News for many years.

      1. It’s probably the Moto Guzzi V8 Grand Prix engine. the middle 2 stroke is probably a Villiers and the engine at the bottom is BSA A50 or A65 unit twin,

  6. I had a YouTube video bookmarked of a Commer Knocker cutaway engine in operation, showing the whole works from supercharger to combustion chamber, but regrettably it has disappeared.

    1. I was over 40 years old before I ever understood how all the pistons in a radial engine connected to the crankshaft. A visit to the Hiller Aircraft museum solved that. (This is not their display.)

  7. The Chino Planes of Fame Museum has this cutaway of a GE J31 turbojet. For you students of jet engine history, this is the first working jet engine produced in the US. It’s basically a production version of Whittle’s W.1 turbojet.
    General Electric J-31 Turbojet

  8. I need to find a better picture of this. The Pratt & Whitney R-4360 that is at the Udvar Hazy Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Chantilly Virginia. Before I get into the facts about the engine (or motor) there is something I want to mention. I think this might be the same one that the Franklin Institute had in Philadelphia up until the late 80’s and early 90’s. I was an explainer there at the time and I can’t imagine that there are too many of them.
    So a 4360 cubic inch, thirty six cylinder, four row, air cooled radial. Yes those cylinders all the way at the back are air cooled. This made three thousand horsepower and who knows how much torque. It was pretty much the last of the mighty piston engines. This is the end of the line for the US and most of the world. I don’t think that even the USSR had one after this. Sure there were ones in development but no one produced one in the numbers like this.
    It powered aircraft like the Convair B-36 bomber as well as the last of the Constellations.
    What’s even cooler is that there was a variant of it that took the exhaust gases and had them spin up a turbine as a pseudo jet booster. That never went into production but they did make a few of them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here