TAVAS Collection

Rotary Engines

CAMS 100 hp Gnome Replica

It’s easy to forget that early aviation was – and is – more than a visual experience. The sounds, smells and even pace of operating these aircraft are also unique sensations. 

To help keep this unique atmosphere alive and maintain the authenticity of our displays, TAVAS had a 100hp Gnome Rotary engine built to power to our Fokker E.III Eindecker. 

The work was done by Tony Wytenburg of Classic Aero Machining Service (CAMS), in Blenheim NZ.

Tony stripped an original Gnome and generated CAD drawings from that. From those he is now able to manufacture new-built engines as close as possible to the originals – no small feat! There were some significant engineering challenges to overcome, which Tony has had to identify and resolve with modern day fixes to a century-old design.

Known issues include some of the original ball bearing sizes no longer being available. So standard off-the-shelf bearings had to be used, and modifications made to suit them.  Other changes were the use of aluminium pistons and modern ring combinations instead of the cast iron used in the originals.

Tony has a proven track record with the re-manufacture of the first RAF 1a engine, which was in turn, the first WW-I aero engine to be built new to operational condition anywhere in the world since the Great War period.

So the end result is a brand new, almost 100 year old rotary aero engine, embodying the looks, sound, smell and the torque of the original.

160 hp Gnome

To keep our Fokker D.VIII ‘Flying Razor’ authentic, we have fitted it with an original 160 hp Gnome rotary engine.

We believe our engine was originally used in a French aircraft at the end of the war and purchased as surplus, post war, by a guy who fitted it to an airboat. Apparently it was only run a few times and was found in his barn still attached to a wooden boat hull when the new owner purchased it.

It was crated and shipped to us with most of the ancillaries (apart from a tampier which Tony Wytenburg had to reproduce), and tools needed for us to work on the engine and get it running. 

On arrival in at the TAVAS Museum it was stripped down and inspected by TAVAS engineers Dave Walsh and David Claes, who found it had been very well looked after and was in great condition. 

The engine is now fitted to the aircraft and can be seen, heard and smelt in the air during flying displays. 

160 hp Gnome - Display Engine

We have an original 1917 Gnome 160 HP rotary engine on display in the TAVAS museum, with the front plate removed so visitors can see its inner movement.

Rotary engines powered many of the most notable pioneer and Great War aircraft and their unique operation – where the entire cylinder bank rotates around a fixed crankshaft – has to be seen to be believed! 

More details about our rare rotary engines can be found in issue 9 of 'Contact', the TAVAS newsletter.

CAMS Gnome Monosoupape B2
General Characteristics

Type: 9-cylinder, single-row, rotary engine 

Bore: 110 mm (4.3 in) 

Stroke: 150 mm (5.9 in) 

Displacement: 12.8 L (781.63 cu in) 

Length: 107.4 cm (42.3 in) Diameter: 95 cm (37.4 in) 

Dry Weight: 128 kg (282 lb) including starter

DataSource: www.cams.net.nz


Valvetrain: Single overhead valve 

Fuel: 45 l/hr 100 Octane Avgas 

Oil System: Total loss, castor oil 

Cooling System: Air-cooled 

Reduction gear: Direct drive, right-hand tractor, left-hand pusher


Power Output: 115 hp at 1150 rpm 

Maximum Continuous Power: 1250RPM 

Compression Ratio: 4.85:1

© Copyright The Australian Vintage Aviation Society

Caboolture Warplanes Museum, Caboolture Aviation Museum, Caboolture Museum