Some Engines Thoughts and Questions

Heinricci Hot-Air Engine

Courtesy of George S. Clark, 254 Pond Point Avenue, Mil ford, Connecticut 06460.

George S. Clark

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603 Fremont Street, Middleville, Michigan 49333

Nearly 50 years ago I was employed by a road contractor to operate an Allis-Chalmers 10-18 (see page 11, May-June GEM and 12, Tractor Operating and Directory). Was rather surprised to note there were any of these still around. This was a so-called all fuel tractor, and had a double bowl carburetor, so one could switch from one fuel to another instantly. It had a Wilcox-Bennett centrifugal type of air cleaner. The motor was of the 2 cylinder opposed type. The manifold hot spots were adjacent to where the fuel entered the cylinders. Carburetor was right next to the rear cylinder, leaving a rather long un-heated portion to carry the fuel mixture to the front cylinder. That part always ran cool, and fuel condensed in it, so we always had trouble keeping the front cylinder firing and working properly. We mixed gasoline and kerosene, half and half for fuel.

Here is a type of engine that apparently did not work out very well, in recent years I have never heard more of it. It was used to propel an automobile shortly after the turn of the century.

The compound, built by the Eisenhut Horseless Vehicle Company, of Middletown, Ohio, had an internal combustion engine with two high pressure and two low pressure cylinders. Exhaust from the high pressure cylinders, passed to the low pressure cylinders, where the gas did more work by further expansion, before passing into the atmosphere. Since the exhaust was at low pressure, it caused less noise than the ordinary engine. This company was in business only from 1903 through 1907 before going bankrupt. Apparently, the compound principle did not work as expected in the case of an internal combustion engine, does anyone know of any modern manufacturer who uses anything of this sort?

There are some things about the 'Wankel' engine that I can't help wondering about. The seals or blades in the rotors are single and amount to about the same as one ring on each piston. The angle of contact with the chamber varies widely. It would seem possible that there might be some chattering at some angles. Operating at a very high speed the centrifugal force on them would be considerable, speeding up wear. Also due to the method of lubrication (mixing oil and gas) would not the exhaust be likely to contain more hydrocarbons than that of an ordinary 4-cycle motor? Yes, I know it acts as a 4-cycle motor, but the lubrication of these rotors and seals must be accomplished by adding oil to the gas. In the past I've read in the mechanical magazines of many 'Revolutionary' engines and none of them have ever appeared on the market. The Wankel however does seem to have found some application in some foreign cars, as well as snow-mobiles, out-board motors, etc. I understand it's efficiency isn't quite as high as a good regular motor and with all the accessories to combat smog will be still lower. I for one really doubt if it will ever completely replace the piston engine, particularly the Diesel which I believe more car manufacturers should be looking into. The Diesel operates at maximum compression and efficiency regardless of load, while the ordinary automobile engine does not reach full, or anywhere near, the rated compression except at wide open throttle under heavy load.

The Stirling type of engine, as I understand it is a type of external combustion engine which preceded the modern internal combustion engine by a number of years, originally developed in the British Isles I believe. For operation, it is dependent on the expansion and contraction of entrapped air which is alternately exposed to heat and cold. I understand the original ones had trouble from the heated end of the chamber burning out prematurely. This however may have been overcome in more recent years. Though as pictured it would be double acting, with alternate vacuum and pressure on the power piston, would the power impulses on the power piston be equal? The maximum amount of suction attainable would be 14.7 lbs per square inch, while that might be exceeded greatly on expansion.

Just what method of throttling or speed control is proposed for it? Varying the amount of heat applied to the hot end of the expansion and contraction cylinder would certainly not give the immediate acceleration-de-celeration that is possible with a regular internal combustion type of engine. It would seem that there are a lot of problems yet to be worked out yet. One advantage would be that most anything that would produce heat could be used as fuel.

I recall reading some time ago of a proposed substitute for the modern internal combustion engine in a car consisting of a flywheel which spun at high speed (or we might say 'charged') and the resulting momentum used to drive an automobile. As stated, it could be spun for instance for half an hour, storing up more energy as time went on. That certainly would be a fallacy, as once it had reached top speed, no continued spinning would add anything to the amount of stored energy. Just how large a flywheel could be built into a modern automobile? Certainly not over 3 feet. What would be the maximum weight permissible? I would say not over 1500 lbs. at the most. What would be the maximum safe 'Charging speed'? With such a weight and diameter, I'd say something less than 3,000 RPM. Ask any owner of one of the larger Oil Pulls how far he thinks a car might be driven with such a flywheel. Just what sort of a transmission would be necessary to take care of it's diminishing speed as it ran down to keep the car up to speed.

What effect due to the Gyroscopic effect would it have on the handling of an automobile? There have been a lot of schemes proposed for substitutions for the piston internal combustion engine, but so far none have turned out to be ractical and usable. Am not sure this 'Wankel' will be as successful as is claimed.

I read recently of a man who claimed he could make gasoline by mixing his 'Perfected Powder' with water in measured amounts and a motor would operate perfectly on it. If that is any good it would be a great thing with the impending petroleum shortage. He said if you added more water to the mixture the water would float on top and refuse to mix with it. Now if that were really gasoline the reverse would be true, as gasoline is lighter than water (about 70%). Gasoline is a Hydro-Carbon and may have a formula anywhere from C9H20 to C12H26 determining the weight per gallon and still be much lighter than water. No I just don't believe that can be done; hope I'm wrong however. Alchemists in ages gone by have attempted similar trans-mutations such as the making of gold from some of the baser metals and never succeeded. However with all this atomic chemistry, who knows, someone may succeed yet. They have been able to convert matter into energy to some extent, which was thought to be impossible when I went to school.

Pictured is a Heinricci hot-air engine, made in England. I think it is interesting and possibly a scarce brand. Mr. Robert L. Johnson, the gentleman that operates 'Whistles in the Woods' Museum in Rossville, Georgia has identified it. I would appreciate hearing from any of our GEM readers that know anything about such an engine.