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The Strato Bug -Identifying originality

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The Strato Bug -Identifying originality Empty The Strato Bug -Identifying originality

Post  ian1954 on Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:30 pm

This has been discussed in several recent topics but the "i"s haven't been dotted and the "t"s crossed.

The Strato Bug is a firm collectors favourite but is is now approaching 60 years old and, only having been produced for a short time, 1954 (a glorious year for being born, only for the best of the best!) til 1956.

This period could lead to several anomolies in identification that could or could not be original or subsequent changes due to the maintenance of a short lived production to keep one running.

I am trying to avoid the word "fake" although I realise there have been reproduction tanks made but, again, identificaion of an original tank has not be clearly defined.

It is obvious that the definitive Strato bug only parts are the tank and the back plate. The reproduction tanks that I have seen have one notable failing - here is a picture of a genuine one:-

The Strato Bug -Identifying originality Strato10

It is not clear from the photograph (it was copied from another topic) but the intake is different to the tanks produced for the Bug Jrs. A closer inspection shows why the mating hole in the backplate is larger. The intake is fluted and has a groove for an "o" ring part way down to form the seal within the hole in the backplate. Not by pressure at the point where the tank intake widens as on the Bees and the Bug Jrs.

The period of production would indicate that the cylinder would have been Thin Walled and have used the smaller threaded head. However, 1956 was a change year when the larger threaded head started to be used. The two versions of head and cylinder when screwed together are difficult to spot in any photograph.

Similarly, Tim and Dans handbook indicates the use of twin bypass cylinders. Again, who would be to know what was actually assembled on an original?

Certainly, with the demise of the small threaded head - owners may have ben tempted to replace the head and cylinder with available parts. Would this be or not be a Strato Bug?

The strangest question I would have is concerning the crankcase. In the above mentioned book the picture on the rear cover shows the crankcase with the lip (while still in the packet). The one inside the book - pg 35 - appears not to have a lip! (Both red backplates)

The picture here of one in a packet (different source) has no lip.

The Strato Bug -Identifying originality Strato11

While this yellow one has a lip.

The Strato Bug -Identifying originality Cox_st10

Therefore, leaving the tank and backplate to one side:-

1. Is the cylinder definitely twin bypassed?

2. Were all Strato Bugs equipped with the smaller threaded heads?

3. Were the crankcases "lippy" or not?
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Post  ian1954 on Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:05 am

Mark kindly pointed me to his web site and from that I gleaned the following:-

Strato Bug

It used the same core engine as the Space Bug, so it was dual ported. The engine was available in red, yellow, and blue. The glowhead was modified from the smaller diameter “302” head to the larger diameter "302-A1,” in Feb 1955. (Later known as the “302-A, and “302-1”) Cox's practice was to deplete the stock of older parts, either by installing the part on the products, or packaging them as replacement items.

So I would conclude that all cylinders were twin ported but could be assembled using both sizes of head.

I have also filched the following pictures :-

A yellow one with a lipped crankase

The Strato Bug -Identifying originality Cox_st11
The Strato Bug -Identifying originality Mbstra10

and a red one without a lip

The Strato Bug -Identifying originality Mbstra11
The Strato Bug -Identifying originality Mbstra12

Thank you Mark

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Post  ZACATTACK on Fri Feb 15, 2013 9:09 am

Dont know if this helps or already has been mentioned but the Space Bug Jr, which was made with the same crankcase as the Strato Bug, shares the same difference in the crankcase as noted above.. the Space Bug Jr. has a liped and un-liped crankcases aswell. I think as you mentioned... Cox was using these crankcases until one style ran out?...Kind ofmakes sense, from a production stand point, to use up excessive inventory..Question now is: What was the first production run of the Strato Bug, a liped crankcase or un-liped crankcase??....Or!! Were these two different style crankcases being assembled on the Strato Bug and Space Bug Jr. all mixed together throughout the entire production run of these engines? confused Here is a Red Strato with a lipped crankcase.


The Strato Bug -Identifying originality Strato32
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Post  pkrankow on Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:06 am

The lip is at the fuel tank on the case? It isn't very obvious.

Phil
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Post  Mark Boesen on Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:09 am

see post on space bug, theres a photo of two cases
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Post  pkrankow on Fri Feb 15, 2013 12:09 pm

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Post  ZACATTACK on Fri Feb 15, 2013 12:22 pm

pkrankow wrote:The lip is at the fuel tank on the case? It isn't very obvious.

Phil

Obvious or not, it's there, and it's weird!! Two engines ( Strato and Space Bug Jr.)made with two different looking crankcases. All I know is Cox was a one strange kind of engine producing company with lots of hidden agenda throughout decades of production. It's subject for another thread, but certain procedures Cox executed in operating and the manufacturing of engines makes absolutely no sense to me at all.
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Post  ian1954 on Fri Feb 15, 2013 1:16 pm

It is not as strange as it appears.

First of all, it is not two engines but four. The Space Bug, Space Bug Jr, Strato Bug and the Thermal Hopper. All utilise the same crankcases.

We are talking about a mass production line and the manufacture of thousands of engines at (what was at the time) probably a quarter of the cost of a competitor engine by the time it reached the shops.

Cox would not stop a line for the lack of specific components and neither would they scrap components to make a once and for all change in production.

Similarly, if at some later date, they came across a consignment of parts that hadn't been used - I have no doubt that they would have been reintroduced to the production line if they were suitable.

This can be seen throughout the Cox development history.

Some of these engines retailed at $3.95. If for example, the retail mark up was 100% then Cox would have received $2.00 (give or take). This would have included packaging, promotion, advertising and shipping. At these rates, cents would make a difference!

Cox was geared up as a volume producer.
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Post  ian1954 on Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:58 pm

Here is a better picture of the Strato tanks. The one on the right needs a clean and shows the "O" ring pressed down the intake. The middle shows the "O" ring in the groove I mentioned earlier and the left hand picture just shows the groove.

The Strato Bug -Identifying originality Strato12

This next picture shows the crankcases and, I hope, a clearer picture of the lipped version on the right.

The Strato Bug -Identifying originality Strato13

When I dismantled these I realised that the engines with the unlipped crankcase had the older cylinders with the smaller heads. The lipped crankcase had the larger head.

The Strato Bug -Identifying originality Strato14

The Strato Bug -Identifying originality Strato15

Ready for assembly

The Strato Bug -Identifying originality Strato16

Assembled

The Strato Bug -Identifying originality Strato17
The Strato Bug -Identifying originality Strato18

It has also occurred to me that if anyone wanted a full and definite collection of Strato Bugs then with the 3 colours, 2 cylinders and two crankcases - TWELVE would be required to have all permutations!

Thanks to the dog for letting me use her bed (with new faux fir cover!) for the photos.

The Strato Bug -Identifying originality Poppy_10



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Post  ZACATTACK on Sat Feb 16, 2013 1:47 pm

Can you tell me how you cleaned up those Engines Ian? There are nice!! A Blue Strato Bug!! You lucky Dog!! Another Question...Where do you find those "O" Rings if they get lost Ian?? Seen alot pictures of Strato Bug Tanks without these O rings! Thanx!! Love the Blue!! As to your statement of collecting 12 Strato Bugs for a complete meticulous collection?? You would have a better chance of winning the lottery..Finding one Strato Bug is hard enough... Finding 12 Strato Bugs in my life span...I think not! It is nice to dream though! Very Happy
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