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Downsizing the Little Engine That Could

Editor of Model Engine Builder Magazine uses Alibre Design in every issue.

In America today, the term downsizing strikes fear and uncertainty in all, unless you happen to build scale engine models. Last April at the North American Model Engineering Society Trade Expo in Toledo, Ohio, attendees were treated to a seminar on 3D CAD for model engineers by Mike Rehmus, Editor of Model Engine Builder. For the past three years Mike has attended the show and been a featured presenter at their seminars. His tool of choice is Alibre Design, which he hands out on disks to the audience members so they can take a copy home and see the benefits of using professional, affordable 3D CAD.

When asked why he got into teaching Alibre Design, he simply said, "I only want Alibre Design files for our magazine." Mike uses Alibre Design exclusively and has become an advocate for the product to user groups around the world. The principle lesson he teaches is that Alibre is a design tool that happens to give you drawings. In a typical lesson he will build an engine block and crank shaft and intentionally make them not fit together. Then in front of a live audience he parametrically changes the parts to fit perfectly. "When you show them that, you really start to see their eyes gleam." Mike has been teaching Alibre Design for 3 years at shows around the country. He holds tutorials in his booth and gives the Alibre Design Professional free trial to attendees. "People really like to get the software at the Model Engineer Show."

In addition to teaching Alibre Design to new users around the country, Mike also uses the program to help him publish 3D models and 2D drawings of scale model engines and machines for Model Engine Builder Magazine. Mike's path to become an editor of Model Engine Builder wasn't a straight line. Passion for engineering and years of experience took his career in many directions before he and his wife, Toni, began publishing the periodical in 2005.

Upon leaving high school, Mike joined the navy which landed him on a nuclear submarine called the Swordfish. This is where he began cutting his engineering teeth. Learning how to fix electronics and operating a mobile nuclear power plant under water was only the beginning. From there he attended UC Berkley for undergraduate engineering and worked full time building vision labs. With a growing family to provide for, Mike switched into business at some the world's best technology firms, such as Techtronix and Xerox. Working with companies that interfaced with desktop publishing via digital cameras and scanners, Mike was introduced to AutoCAD during its first release. Having learned design and drafting from his early days, he took great interest in this new technology that could help you draft on your PC. It was at this time that a neighbor got him into model engine building. He began to attend shows nationwide and produced videos of the creations people built. The opportunity to publish Model Engine Builder came when the former editor retired. Mike and his wife started working on issue #1 and soon he realized he would need a tool to help get drawings into the hands of his readers. He purchased his own copy of AutoCAD and headed to school to learn how to use it.

During the 1st Issue, Mike worked with Robert Sigler to publish plans for the Morton M5 engine that won the 2006 Alibre Design Contest. To make the model look just right for the issue, Mike asked Robert for changes to the drawings which Robert completed and sent back in about an hour. Knowing the laborious task of editing models in AutoCAD, Mike asked "Robert, how are you making these drawing changes so fast?" The answer was Alibre Design!

Mike bought Alibre Design during publication of the 2nd issue in 2005 and began using it right away. By the 3rd issue, all models and drawings were completed in Alibre Design. Mike said, "I did the tutorials and it worked, which is amazing. Nothing works that well, but with Alibre Design the concept is natural." Seeing the benefit of parametric history based 3D design, Mike dropped AutoCAD in favor of Alibre Design.

"I quickly became Alibre Design's biggest fan and critic," said Mike. "Getting cross hatch line weights down was critical and fractional dimensions didn't cut it." These issues led him directly to Alibre Technical Support, where he found service and support he needed. "Alibre is interested in fixing problems and the support group is superb on almost every level and they are the best in the industry". Mike also added, "I've sold hardware and software. Having a good support group is key. They are helpful and they escalate important customer issues to development."

In each issue of Model Engine Builder the centerfold holds a series of scale drawings. In the main body he redraws everything for publication. "Having the ability to change the model on the fly is the best part of Alibre Design, " Mike added, "Guys who draw in AutoCAD have no idea if the parts fit. When things don't fit I hear of them from my contributors and readers. I use the interference tools to analyze the parts and the assembly to see how the parts fit together."

Model Engine Builder is filled with designs and drawings from engineers around the world. Each issue is driven by his readers' requests, and has expanded its scope. MEB includes articles on internal combustion engines, steam and 'Stirling' engines; everything from a V-8's to model hot rods, tractors to motorcycles all find their way into scaled down production and onto the pages of this hobbyist's dream magazine. Mike & Toni also seek knowledge and additional information from 'Contributing Editors' people who are willing to write regular articles on subjects like 'Beginner's Corner' or product reviews, or even tips and tricks.

In the next issue due out this June, MEB will cover a new build of an old classic, the 1940's Opposed Piston Diesel Engine. This model is a two cylinder, 4 piston, 4-cycle version of this unique concept, created by Doug Kelley. *right click the model to enable 3D Mode.

About Model Engine Builder
Elmwood Publishing, IncTM publishes Model Engine Builder 5 times per year. Editor: Mike Rehmus. Publisher: Toni Rehmus. 737 Elmwood Ave, Vallejo, CA 94591-6641, USA. Phone: 866-996-8999. Email:

About Alibre, Inc.
Alibre is the leading global provider of cost effective professional grade mechanical CAD, CAM, and PDM solutions. Founded in 1997 and based in Richardson, Texas, Alibre develops Alibre Design™ and Alibre CAM™, the fastest growing parametric CAD/CAM solution on the market. One fifth the cost of comparable software, Alibre Design offers the same core features of SolidWorks, Pro/E, Inventor, and other mid-range solid modeling packages at a cost that is affordable to any business or individual. Alibre CAM extends Alibre Design to provide integrated 2 ½ to 5 axis CNC machining. Used by an immensely diverse user base, Alibre Design and Alibre CAM provide design and manufacturing solutions to Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, consulting firms, machine shops, start-ups, hobbyists, inventors, teachers and students. Alibre products are distributed in 50 countries and in 15 languages.