In the summer of 1997 an engineer and amateur pilot named Robert Sanderson was sitting at his kitchen table in Denton, Texas when an idea came to him for a unique alteration of the wobble-plate engine design.

Robert figured that if he attached a wobble-plate type piston assembly to a fixed universal joint, he would have something new and very special. The idea was so simple and clear to him that he immediately began looking around the house and garage for things that he could use to build a primitive compressed air version.

Robert used PVC pipe for the cylinders and film cartridge covers for the cylinder heads. Plastic tubing, pine wood, stove bolts and sheet metal were all shaped and formed to come up with the first working model as shown in the video. This first cobbling together of miscellaneous and readily available parts was a success! This putt-putt air-driven model engine with a propeller attached (of course it had to have a propeller because Bob was a pilot)simply amazed everyone who saw it. Friends and neighbors were invited over to “Come and see!” The visual of this little toy with its spinning propeller generated much excitement and this was captured on a VHS camera by one of Bob’s friends in his garage.

Soon Bob and his wife Nancy were traveling to New England for their annual Sanderson family Kite Fly Reunion on a sandy beach in Massachusetts. Bob brought his VHS video of the little air-powered model and played it for the whole family at his brother Albert’s house in Carlisle. The family wondered about the significance of this cute little idea that had just fallen into their lap. Could this be something important? An industry break-through? A new development for the internal combustion engine?

Nobody knew for sure, but Bob’s brother Albert, a design engineer with a Ph.D from Harvard and the same inventor blood and instincts, recognized immediately that this idea needed to be developed. Albert wrote the first check to his brother and started the ball rolling toward the commercialization of what would later become known as the Sanderson Rocker Arm Mechanism, the S-RAM.

Albert urged Bob to go home and start building a serious prototype, something that would demonstrate that this fixed U-Joint concept could work. Albert helped out with the design while Bob began working with a machinist friend from his church, Joe Goetz. Together this team built their first prototype and to everyone’s delight, it worked!

As they continued researching the idea for subsequent work and future patent protection it became clear that there was a new niche here. Bob’s idea for the fixed U-Joint with a Rocker Arm Mechanism was unique and had great transformational potential.

The Sandersons continued to build and test prototypes with much success. In 2010, Albert passed away and the company went through a tough transition. In 2011, the Sandersons sold their intellectual property to S-RAM Dynamics. With the help of the original inventor, Bob Sanderson, S-RAM Dynamics is moving aggressively to commercialize the S-RAM and achieve Bob and Al’s dream.

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