Reflections

Readers' Engine Questions


| February/March 2002



Single-cylinder with two spark plugs

37/2/11B

A Brief Word

For those interested in our Germany 2002 tour, we're pleased to tell you we finally have all the arrangements completed.

We've added Holland to the itinerary so we can visit the fantastic one-man collection of Wimvan Schayik at Langenboom. We've been good friends with Wim for a number of years, and believe us when we tell you that this is quite possibly the greatest one-man collection of engines and tractors in the world.

We'll also spend a day at the HMT Rally, the biggest engine and tractor show in Europe. Engines and tractors are mixed throughout the many rows, so you almost have to walk one row at a time. The 'flea market' has almost everything imaginable, and there are always working demonstrations of some sort. In order to catch the HMT we changed the tour dates to July 14th to July 29th.

Here in the Midwest we still marvel at the delightful weather we are having in early December. We've barely had a killing frost here in Iowa, and in fact a few farmers are still doing a bit of field work. By the time you have this copy, though, we'd suppose that payback time will have arrived. Iowa is right in the middle of the great barren waste of snow, ice and northwesterly winds during the winter! However, we have the snow blower all ready to go, just in case, and there is an ample supply of dry wood for the heating stove out in the shop, again, just in case we are forced to stay home from work with nothing else to do but be forced to work on a greasy old engine that needs a bunch of new parts.

We're beginning work on our magneto and carburetor book as we revive our Power in the Past Series we began several years ago. However, we have yet to find any service information on the Sumter Oscillating magnetos that were used on numerous engines. We all know there is a fair amount of info available for the Webster, but there seems to be virtually nothing out there about application data and other information on the Sumter Oscillators. If anyone knows of something, let us know right here at the column.

Speaking of carburetors, kerosene was a very popular tractor and engine fuel in the early days. It was incredibly cheap, even compared to gasoline prices of those days. Carburetors of literally hundreds of different makes appeared in an attempt to prepare this clear liquid for burning inside the cylinders. There were all kinds of pre-heaters and other devices to enhance the process, and the injection of water into the mix was essential to retard pre-ignition. So far as the carburetor part was concerned, much of the problem was (and is) related to physics, chemistry and other high sciences. The bottom line is that gasoline can be vaporized to create the fuel-air mixture while kerosene can only be atomized. No wonder that by the 1940s, gasoline came into general use, except for the momentary dash for distillate fuels, especially during World War II.