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Stickney’s Governing Body

By GEM Staff


April 2006

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Stickney gas engines first hit the market about 1899. Early engines were vertical singles (although a few larger, multi-cylinder engines are said to have been manufactured), but in 1903 the company introduced the horizontal design with which most collectors are familiar.

Stickney's new engines were eventually protected under patent no. 844,759, which was granted Feb. 19, 1907. By this time Stickney had further improved the basic engine's design. What didn't change, however, was Stickney's ingenious governing system, the primary subject of the 1907 patent.

While other manufacturers concentrated on integrated governors unique to specific engine models, Charles A. Stickney pursued a design that could be incorporated into any 4-cycle engine. At least that's what his patent claimed.

A read of the patent suggests he was looking beyond simply designing a governor for his own engines, but rather he was looking toward a design he could manufacture and sell to other engine companies.

That latter desire never bore fruit, but Stickney's unique valve/igniter/governor system became a hallmark of all his engines.

Briefly, Stickney's design incorporated a spur gear on the camshaft driving a vertical governor. The governor in turn actuated a lockout to hold the exhaust valve open on the over-run. Integral to the governor was a lockout for the igniter, which was actuated simultaneously to hold the igniter open, thus saving precious battery power.

Actuation for valve and igniter lockout was accomplished by a pair of rocker arms on a common shaft, with, it should be noted, a roller rocker on the exhaust cam. The igniter rocker arm was actuated by a separate cam positioned to the left of the exhaust cam.

Stickney was fully aware of the need to retard ignition timing for starting, and his design cleverly attacked that issue, as well. As noted, the valve and igniter rocker arms were on a common shaft. The portion of the shaft passing through the igniter rocker arm was machined such that the timing of the contact between the igniter cam and the rocker arm could be altered. In the back position the igniter cam's relative contact with the rocker arm came early to allow ignition before top dead center. Moving the lever straight up exposed a low spot on the shaft, which in turn altered the relative distance between the igniter cam and the linkage operating the rocker arm, thus retarding ignition timing to aid starting.

Know of an interesting patent? Contact Gas Engine Magazine at:?1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265; rbackus@ogdenpubs.com