I'm busy at work, so naturally I was thinking of stuff I could make out of meat. Then the obvious hit me: Meat engine.
Maybe it's residual gearhead talk from the BABE Rally that slowly marinaded my brain with the mechanical ballet of the moving parts in an internal-combustion engine, but whatever the source of this river of inspiration is, the outlet is somewhere near pure genius (in Virginia, I think).
I'm thinking that you start with a large chunk of meat as the engine block. At first I thought you'd want some sort of large, dense roast, but then it occurred to me that an upside-down ribcage would be perfect because the crankshaft (made out of curved rib-bones, maybe) would align nicely parallel to the spine and you would have plenty of ready-made clearance around the shaft to reduce friction.
For the cylinders, you could hollow out some ham, which is nice and dense as well as fairly lean. This would hold up well to the harsh conditions of internal combustion. So you take, let's say, four hams for a four-cylinder engine, and hollow out the centers to allow you to install some ham-hock pistons. For these you would want to leave as much of the leg-bone sticking out of the hock as possible to attach to the crankshaft.
So we take the inverted rib-cage engine block and attach the four ham cylinders in line along the sternum. Then we can slap a side of ribs over the tops of the cylinders and strap it to the block with some bacon. I guess you'd also want to made a bacon head-gasket to form a tight seal between the cylinders and the cylinder head.
Instead of having valves inside the cylinders with a stem sticking through the head controlled by a camshaft (lots of little parts), I figure you could cut some intake ports along one side of the ham cylinder bank, and exhaust ports along the other side. To control the fuel and exhaust, you would have two long sausages (as long as the four ham cylinders) placed tight over the intake and exhaust ports with strategic notches cut in them that would open the ports as the sausages were rotated. This rotation would be generated by the crankshaft using gears made out of ham slices (instead of a belt, which could be made out of bacon but would not be very durable). Since I am describing a four-stroke meat engine, these ham gears would be at a 2:1 ratio.
Instead of having a carburetor, you could generate the fuel vapor by using some sort of combustible aerosol product, like maybe olive oil spray. A nice even spraying of olive oil over the top of the engine would not only provide the fuel for combustion, it would also lubricate the spinning valve sausages. To generate the spark, I guess you could wedge some of those long barbecue lighters through the ribs of the cylinder head and somehow rig up the triggers to one of the valve sausages (ensuring perfect ignition timing).
Since the fuel vapor is being applied evenly, you wouldn't need an intake manifold, and since meat engine exhaust is probably really delicious, you don't need an exhaust manifold either. You just let that sweet smell waft wherever it will.
I guess you'd want to keep the crankshaft lubricated in the ribcage engine block, so I was thinking that maple syrup might be the way to go. You see, this would generate a fair amount of friction when the syrup was cold and sticky, but less friction as it heated up and thinned out. This would help the meat engine heat up quickly, thereby spending as little time as possible in the danger zone. (This is practical advice known by all who have ever had to get a food-handler's permit).
Speaking of temperature, you don't want your meat engine to burn, so it might be prudent to install a radiator with gravy or BBQ sauce coolant to keep the operating temperature at a delicate slow-roasting 170° or so. If it was thin enough, I guess you could let the coolant sit on top of the crankcase syrup (enabling you to use a combined gravy-coolant/syrup-lubricant pump attached to the crankshaft), but it seems like you wouldn't want any syrup contamination in your coolant because it might plug up the radiator as it thickens. So maybe you could just bore some channels through the ham cylinders and connect them all together with bacon hoses. As far as the radiator goes, you could either carve a long series of channels through a ham, or make a coil of bacon hose.
In case I'm not doing a very good job of explaining this, here are a couple of detailed cutaways (click to enlarge):Some of the parts are slightly simplified for clarity, and I couldn't find a bacon-marbling fill pattern for CAD, so these blueprints are a little rough at the moment.
Advanced meat engine enthusiasts may prefer some sort of automatic-start, but for my patent application I am just going to go with a crank-start method. To fire up the engine, you get the crankshaft spinning with a hand-crank and start spraying the olive-oil fuel over the top of the intake valve sausage to start ignition.
Let's be honest here; at least at first the meat engine isn't going to pack a lot of horsepower, even if we tighten things up with bacon piston-rings and a better fuel injection method. So I think the ideal vehicle to propel with our machine is something like this:
Pulling something like this:
So you could carry spare parts and condiments.
I think the first day trip I take with the meatmobile will be to somewhere like Ocean Shores or Westport. If I leave in the late morning at a nice leisurely pace, I would probably roll onto the beach around 6 or 7. This would allow the meat engine to be running at a nice, even 170° or so for most of the day. De-lic-ious.
If you are a machine shop or butcher and are interesting in discussing mass-production of the meat engine, please leave your contact info in the comments. There are still a few loose ends so it might take a couple of hours to get the meat engine running perfectly, FYI.