(Note: This article was originally published in May 2006)
In the 1991 I heard about an international association of pop-pop boat enthusiasts based in France. I wrote a letter expressing interest and described my efforts to create an engine design that was easy to make. A few weeks later I received 3 journals entirely devoted to pop pop boats and a note of encouragement from Professor Jean Le Bot.
Even though I don't read or speak French, the journals were amazing. I treasure them to this day and it provided a lot of inspiration to me.
More than a decade had passed when I finally had a good design to share. Alas, Professor Le Bot was elderly by then and the association had become inactive. However, I am fortunate to know another French man who is carrying the torch. He is Jean-Yves, an early-retired marine engineer who is still very active experimenting with pop pops. He is developing apparatus that measures the thrust of various pop pop engine designs, and with that he can calculate total engine efficiency. His English is excellent. Here is a wonderful write-up with pictures of a visit Jean-Yves had with Professor Le Bot. Here is an interesting article he wrote about making a pop pop engine. And here is a really well done article about pop pop engine efficiency.
Jean-Yevs' Links and more
Although it is written in French, I encourage you to check out the this extraordinary web site eclecticspace.net. (Note: Now the site has an English language option)If you type "eclecticspace.net" into Google, it will offer to translate the page, and it will continue to translate the linked pages. There is a section about pop pop boats, and within that, a section by Jean-Yves. It is my understanding that there is a plan to reprint updated parts of the classic journals mentioned above in the eclecticspace pages--something you might encourage him to do.
Here is a link to a clever PowerPoint holiday card which notes a French saying about not making a ship from an iron...then he precedes to do just that.
Here is a link to a Word document with more activities and pictures.
My family had a wonderful visit from Jean-Yves and his wife in the summer of 2006. It was fun to meet after years of e-mailing! He is at times active on a pop pop boat engineering forum. (Note: This group is no longer active, but you can read old conversations.)