Per reports received from Melvin Vaux who knew and worked with Russell, the Bourke 400 was
actually designed and built under contract with American Motors Corporation by Russell Bourke and
Melvin Vaux. Melvin was Russell's protégé during that time.
The 400 was a heavy duty engine designed to be a standard replacement engine built for trucks and
tug boats of that era. Per Melvin Vaux, after it had been test run for about 15 minutes or so as per contract,
AMC took it away from Russell and never put it to use as they just couldn't get their heads wrapped around
it's operation and tried to make it run like a rich 15:1 a/f stoichiometric engine when it was designed and
ran fine with ultra lean air fuel ratio's. Per the Documentary the 400 cu. in. engine produced around 200
plus horse power at only 2000 RPM!
Since Russell Bourke and Mr. Vaux claimed they were the only ones who really knew how to make it
run in super lean mode, AMC's engineers were lost and they gave up on it all together.
It has been rumored by Melvin Vaux that the 400 4 cylinder was born out of the 200 cubic inch 2 cylinder
Bourke cycle engine that Melvin sized up from the original Bourke 30 before Russell took him on as his
understudy. Evidently when Russell saw Melvin's calling card, a light went on and the 400 was born! Melvin
incorporated a half shaft crankshaft using a square cupped yoke instead of the 4 piece scotch yoke connecting
rod setup as in an original Bourke 30 engine. Not so much an original idea as it was novel on Melvin's part.
Melvin's design did accomplish one thing and that was a true 1 piece connecting rod/scotch yoke assembly.
Trouble was that in order to keep Melvin's design from bending and breaking at the cup, he had to
incorporate a slider plate as a means to keep the setup from breaking. In my opinion this arrangement
offers no fundamental improvement over Russell's original design. Same movement, same stroke, same
dwell time at TDC and BDC and actually there's no where to mount timing equipment or pumps etc. because
there's only one half of a crankshaft sticking out the PTO end. Was Melvin's engine design any better. Evidence
of his workmanship and the results thereof say absolutely NOT based on my own personal observations of
Melvin's workmanship which is shoddy at best compared to Russell and his obvious jealousy of Russell
based on his history working with Russell.
Even Melvin's latest creation, the DeVaux 4 cylinder boxer is no more efficient than the original Bourke
design. In fact it's less efficient, less powerful and more complex than the original Bourke 30 ever was!
The 400 4 cylinder engine was only static estimated @ 200 HP and 500 Ft. Lb. torque at 2000 RPM! It
never ran a real test and no one knows the actual power it made based on interviews with Melvin Vaux in 2001.
But Melvin Vaux had been running his 2 cylinder 200 cubic inch Bourke twin on natural gas as an irrigation
pump for a long time and up until recently in the last 10 years before he retired and turned all his engines over
to another company with the hopes that they would finally get something useful done with his version of the
original Bourke engines which are in fact a far cry from the original Bourke engine design.
Per Melvin Vaux, the Bourke 400 was made due to Russell's abandonment of the 30, the radial 4 cylinder
engines and the H 4 cylinder, in an attempt to make enough money to support his wife Lois after he was gone.
Russell was very ill and knew he was dying. A sad and pre-mature ending for an incredibly ingenious man
who cared deeply about his fellow man and the environmental damage he knew was going to result from
the improper design and use of conventional engines and carbon based fuels well ahead of time. Now we
see exactly what Russell was talking about all around us! Don't we. At least those who can see that is. Russell
lived a very full life as you will find in the Bourke Engine Documentary. Lois was a genuine angel and backed
Russell up 100%, up to and after Russell's passing.
Russell Bourke was indeed a visionary man. There have been and are still many who carry on his dream
and his work. We are part of that group. We are proud of it!
The key thing is that the Bourke engine will still run as clean and green as Russell said
they will! They do run unusually lean air fuel and high compression ratio's. It's all in the dwell time and the
simplicity of the Scotch Yoke mechanism that accomplishes a shorter moment arm and longer
torque period with less bore and stroke and moving parts than any conventional
engine including Wankles. of equal power that are keys to improved efficiency in any internal combustion