Vern Pepperell (1900-1966)
Vern Pepperell was a foundation member of the Gore Model Aero
club when it was formed in 1938. The club affiliated with the
NZMAA in 1939. He built a number of power models, and was a
regular flyer at the Club's field at Knapdale. It was while at
Gore that Vern designed and built his first model aircraft engine.
In 1940 Vern moved his family moved to Auckland, where Vern was
manpowered to Ceramco, working as a tool-maker under Vern Gray.
Vern joined the Auckland Model Aero Club in 1944, and held the
position of vice president from 1947 to 1951.
Vern worked for Fred Macdonald at Modelair, and while there,
machined a number of Modelair Nimrod spark-ignition engines. He
later designed and built his Godwit series of spark-ignition
engines. About 1945, inspired by an Italian diesel engine brought
back to New Zealand by NZ serviceman Bob McQuillan, Vern designed
his own version. This ran well, and was the fore-runner of the
very successful range of Pepperell diesels. It is often not
realised that the revolutionary Pepperell 7/16' diesel with radial
porting was contemporary with the 1946 Mills 1.3 and ED
Competition Special, both loop scavenged designs.
five or six post-war years, when overseas engines were virtually
unobtainable in New Zealand, the Pepperells produced over forty
engine designs, many of them one-off experimental engines. Their
range included spark ignition, glow ignition and diesels. Perhaps
the best example of their engineering genius was the Team Race
diesel, which beat the Eta 29 racers in the class B event at the
1953 Waikato Championships.
When the demand for engines
fell off around 1951, Vern and Ira ceased making engines, and
designed their propeller making machine, which produced literally
thousands of their Whirlwind propellers. A significant number of
Whirlwinds were exported. Propeller production ceased around 1952.