Day Engine

'Day' Engine from the book.

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Joseph Day and the Development of the Two-Stroke Internal Combustion Engine, by Hugh Torrens.

The book is 8' x 8' soft covers, 24 pages, 7 illustrations. Published 1991 by Bath Industrial Heritage Trust, Ltd., Julian Road, Bath, BA1 2RH England. Price in England 3.95. This is $6.09 (US) or $7.72 (Canadian) at the present rate of exchange. Obtainable air mail with a Visa account number from Cam-den Miniature Steam Service, 13 High Street, Rode, Somerset, BA3 6NZ England.

A few years ago, I visited the Science Museum in London where Joseph Day was said to be the inventor of the two-port, two-cycle engine. Many thousands of two-port, two-cycle engines were built as marine engines in the U.S.A. and Canada, so I wondered how that had been done without infringing on Day's patent. Day had obtained a British patent in 1891. It was also said that William Cock was the inventor of the three-port, two-cycle engine.

I later wrote to the Museum with some questions. Peter D. Stephens, Curator, sent copies of the Day and Cock patents and told me of Professor Hugh Torrens who was then writing a book about Joseph Day.

I found that Day had obtained U. S. patent 543,614 (July 30, 1895) on the two-port design and Cock had U. S. patent 544,210 (Aug. 6, 1895) on the three-port. Cock's patent was assigned to Joseph Day. Since then, I have corresponded intermittently with Prof. Torrens as I had long desired to learn just who actually invented the two-cycle crankcase-scavenged engine. Meanwhile, Lyle Cummins pointed out to me U. S. patent 386,211 on the two-port engine by Lewis H. Nash of Brooklyn, New York, was granted in 1888, thus predating Day.

Hugh Torrens' booklet is interesting reading. Day certainly was a versatile engineer and entrepreneur. He was the fourth son of a famous London judge, Sir John C. F. Day. One of the first students to enter the School of Practical Engineering at the Crystal Palace in London, 1873-1874, Day served an apprenticeship at Stothern & Pitt, an engineering firm in Bath. That company built a great variety of cranes. The booklet tells how Day started his own engineering firm in 1878 and designed a new waterworks for the city of Bath.;

Day wanted to develop a gas engine, while avoiding the four-cycle principle, as there had been constant litigation in England because of the Otto patent. The two-cycle engine with crankcase scavenging was the result, and he obtained a British patent in 1891.

There is some doubt as to whether Day was the first to build a two-port, two-cycle engine, but there is no doubt that Day did important development work on two-cycle engines and was an early manufacturer of them.

William Cock was employed by Day and Cock's patent was assigned to Day. The booklet tells how, in 1906, Day licensed at least twelve U. S. manufacturers to build three-port engines.

Hugh Torrens is a professor of geology at the University of Keele in Staffordshire. His research on Joseph Day is under the auspices of the Centre for the History of Science and Technology at the University. He recognizes that Day cannot be given total credit for the invention of the two-cycle engine. Recently he gave a talk in Vienna entitled The Simultaneous Invention of the Two-Stroke Engine. The four simultaneous inventors were Day in England, Sohnlein in Germany, and the aforementioned Nash as well as Sintz in the U.S.A.

Lyle Cummins, author of the excellent book, Internal Fire, wrote the fore-ward for the booklet.