The Day Model Engine

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R.R.2,Box 697 St. Michaels, Mel. 21663.

Hiscock, Gardner D., GAS, GASOLINE AND OIL ENGINES, The Norman W. Henley Publishing Co., New York, 15th Edition, 1906.

One doesn't normally review books 83 years after they are published, but I feel that engine collectors should know about this one. In Hiscock's time, the technology of internal combustion engines was changing very fast, comparable to electronics today. He revised his book yearly in order to keep up with the 'state of the art.' I bought my copy in a used book shop, but most libraries can find you a copy to borrow through their inter-library loan system. The 1906 edition contains 26 chapters and 442 pages. I will report items of interest to people interested in old engines.

The first thing a modern reader notes is that Hiscock never used the term 'internal combustion engine,' instead using 'explosive motor.' The word explosive seemed to come from his desire for rapid combustion. Today, an explosion in the combustion chamber is detonation, to be avoided. Detonation is not mentioned, nor is any sort of octane rating of fuels. All that was in the future. Compression pressure was much used rather than compression ratio; however, one can see that compression ratios in the 3-4 range were normal in 1906.

The fuels in use in 1906 were gasoline, kerosene (in light, medium, and heavy), illuminating gas, and producer gas. Gasoline was a distilled fraction of crude oil. There was no cracking or reforming in 1906, of course. Hiscock stated that American trade gasoline had a boiling range of 125 to 200 degrees F and a specific gravity of 0.70 to 0.74. 0.70 was a light grade and 0.74 was called stove gasoline because of its general use for heating. Illuminating gas was exactly that - gas from city lighting mains. Producer gas was made by a gas producer which was installed to run a particular engine. A producer burned anthracite coal with a restricted amount of air plus steam supplied to the grates. Producer gas typically contained 41% carbon monoxide and 48% hydrogen. Heating value was 291 B.T.U. per cubic foot. This compares with 1,000 B.T.U. per cubic foot of modern natural gas. There actually were devices on the market to evaporate crude oil for an engine and collect the residue that did not evaporate.

Chapter IX is on carburetors, with 13 designs shown. Some of these are evaporative carburetors that would not function on modern gasoline with a large boiling point range. The terms carburetor and vaporizer were used interchangeably. Most of the designs showed lack of a real metering device such as a venturi. The only make familiar to me was Kingston.

Chapter X has tables of cylinder sizes that were being used by manufacturers for various HP ratings. There is another table of recommended engine dimensions, including everything from cylinder wall thickness to piston pin diameter.

Chapter XI covers valve gear and governors. There are some clever devices to operate an exhaust valve of a 4-cycle engine by a cam turning at crankshaft speed, eliminating the usual 2:1 gears. The governor designs include inertia governors for hit-or-miss engines.

Chapter XII discusses ignition. There are several hot tube designs, including two that incorporate a valve to keep the mixture out of the tube until ignition is wanted. Hiscock believed that hot tube ignition had had its day by 1906. Edision cells were the leading type for battery ignition. There are instructions as to just how to wind jump-spark and make & break (M&B) coils, including the capacitor for the jump spark coil. There is an M & B design with a rotating shaft through the combustion chamber wall and another that had a moving contact dipping into a pool of mercury. An M & B coil I have seen on marine engines is captioned an Edison coil. Spark plugs and timers are discussed. The only high-tension magneto shown was a Bosch.

Chapter XVI is probably the most interesting chapter. There are lots of cross-sections of engines. He correctly gives Joseph Day credit for the invention of the two-cycle engine (an earlier chapter credited Dugal Clerk).

Chapter XXI covers marine engines with descriptions of the products of 12 manufacturers. Chapter XXIII discusses kerosene, distillate, and crude oil engines. Some evaporated the fuel before induction and some injected the fuel into a hot bulb. The first diesel in America was being marketed by the Diesel Motor Company of America, 11 Broadway, New York. One wonders whether they were only importers for German engines.

There are 21 pages of U.S. engine patents, 1875 through September 1, 1905. The inventor's name and patent number are listed by year, but not the item covered. These are followed by 13 pages of engine builders in the U.S. and Canada. There are no descriptions of their products.

In summary, this is an interesting old book, to borrow and to read, or to find for your collection. One final comment: there is ho mention of hopper cooling.