| July/August 1990

The Day Model Engine

R.R.2,Box 697 St. Michaels, Mel. 21663.

Hiscock, Gardner D., GAS, GASOLINE AND OIL ENGINES, The Norman W. Henley Publishing Co., New York, 15th Edition, 1906.

One doesn't normally review books 83 years after they are published, but I feel that engine collectors should know about this one. In Hiscock's time, the technology of internal combustion engines was changing very fast, comparable to electronics today. He revised his book yearly in order to keep up with the 'state of the art.' I bought my copy in a used book shop, but most libraries can find you a copy to borrow through their inter-library loan system. The 1906 edition contains 26 chapters and 442 pages. I will report items of interest to people interested in old engines.

The first thing a modern reader notes is that Hiscock never used the term 'internal combustion engine,' instead using 'explosive motor.' The word explosive seemed to come from his desire for rapid combustion. Today, an explosion in the combustion chamber is detonation, to be avoided. Detonation is not mentioned, nor is any sort of octane rating of fuels. All that was in the future. Compression pressure was much used rather than compression ratio; however, one can see that compression ratios in the 3-4 range were normal in 1906.

The fuels in use in 1906 were gasoline, kerosene (in light, medium, and heavy), illuminating gas, and producer gas. Gasoline was a distilled fraction of crude oil. There was no cracking or reforming in 1906, of course. Hiscock stated that American trade gasoline had a boiling range of 125 to 200 degrees F and a specific gravity of 0.70 to 0.74. 0.70 was a light grade and 0.74 was called stove gasoline because of its general use for heating. Illuminating gas was exactly that - gas from city lighting mains. Producer gas was made by a gas producer which was installed to run a particular engine. A producer burned anthracite coal with a restricted amount of air plus steam supplied to the grates. Producer gas typically contained 41% carbon monoxide and 48% hydrogen. Heating value was 291 B.T.U. per cubic foot. This compares with 1,000 B.T.U. per cubic foot of modern natural gas. There actually were devices on the market to evaporate crude oil for an engine and collect the residue that did not evaporate.

Chapter IX is on carburetors, with 13 designs shown. Some of these are evaporative carburetors that would not function on modern gasoline with a large boiling point range. The terms carburetor and vaporizer were used interchangeably. Most of the designs showed lack of a real metering device such as a venturi. The only make familiar to me was Kingston.