An early knowledge of how engines work
Iqbal Ahmed was born in Nagpur, India to a well-to-do family. His grandfather was in the insurance business, and when automobile insurance became mandatory for all drivers, his business expanded in the region. After claims were paid on cars, his grandfather would purchase the less damaged of the wrecks and renovate them for sale. He would hire mechanics to do the repairs, and young Iqbal was able to observe the repairs being made and to ride around in many different types of cars; all of which fueled his interest in engines and how things worked.
After Iqbal’s father took over the business the economic climate worsened, and in order to make ends meet he purchased a lathe and set up a workshop to do repairs. Since he had no experience running a lathe he hired a “turner machinist” to make parts. Iqbal was able to observe how this machinist made parts like bushings, screws and also repaired worn parts. When the machinist left the business due to even tougher economic times, Iqbal had no option but to leave his schooling and return to join his father’s business. With what he had learned from the hired machinist he was able to run the lathe and, after several years, also mastered other forms of machining using a “universal” machine. This machine allowed him to do milling, drilling, shaping, gear hobbing, indexing and other jobs using makeshift attachments. As his skill in precision machining increased, he expanded his capabilities from auto work into making parts for photo copiers and other delicate machines where repair parts could not be obtained anywhere in the country.
From machining for a living to model engineering for fun
Although he had never heard of “model engineering,” a friend of his knew of his machining talents and brought him some books on model making from England. His interest in model engines was inspired by these publications, and he scaled down some of the available plans to make smaller versions of engines he saw there. A number of these models are shown in the photos that follow.
The 4-cycle, 4-cylinder, water cooled, overhead cam, internal combustion engine he is now building was inspired by the repair jobs he used to see done on automobile engines in his childhood and by the engine reconditioning he later did himself. While he learned to recondition existing parts, to make an engine from scratch required a new set of skills and offered new challenges. Driven by curiosity and willing to experiment and learn, Iqbal has taken the project to an advanced stage of completion. The finished engine will require the making of over 250 individual parts that must all work together for the engine to run.
Working and learning with little outside feedback
Not having the nearby support of fellow model engineers, clubs or even the ready availability of many publications to help him, Iqbal has developed his skills all on his own. You will see from the variety of his work that he is willing to take on any challenge from extremely tiny steam engines to very complicated IC engines, and the test of his work is that these engines all run. You will also see from the photos of his shop that the tools he has to work with are not the most modern. This is an excellent example of the fact that craftsmanship comes from the craftsman, not from the tools.