How Your Hobby Started

| March/April 2001

This month we continue reprinting a series that first appeared in GEM in the March-April 1969 issue. Over the coming months, we will retrace engine history as presented by Carleton M. Mull. This segment originally appeared in the September/October 1969 GEM.

The first issues of this history of the gas engine described the events and told of the men who built the first steam engines. The successful development of these machines assisted man in the performance of labor in the early manufacturing and mining era. From the designs of the steam engine, the gas engine inventors took the mechanical pattern to experiment with a different type of prime mover. They worked with different kinds of fuel to find other sources of energy. This era extended from about 1700 to the early part of 1800.

By 1875, the general trend in design of the two types of gas engines were patented. Many mechanical modifications of the basic principles of the engines were submitted to the patent office, both here and in Europe.

Examination of engine details covered by patents in the United States during the last quarter of the 19th century is an interesting study to those who would like to see designers' ideas in the progress of the development of the gasoline engine.

The main features of the stationary engines were pretty much alike; however, the accessories such as carburation, cooling arrangements, lubrication systems, ignition and various types of pulleys and drives were still in the experimental stages.

Mixing valves for fuel intake were used on the slow speed engines and are still common on this type of engine of the present manufacturers. Such trade names as Lunkenheimer, General Valve Co., Aldrich and the Hay Co., built these valves for mixing the gasoline and air in the proper proportions.