By Staff
article image

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

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.

Chapter X has tables of cylinder sizes that were being used by
manufacturers for various HP ratings. There is another table of
recommended engine dimensions, including everything from cylinder
wall thickness to piston pin diameter.

Chapter XI covers valve gear and governors. There are some
clever devices to operate an exhaust valve of a 4-cycle engine by a
cam turning at crankshaft speed, eliminating the usual 2:1 gears.
The governor designs include inertia governors for hit-or-miss

Chapter XII discusses ignition. There are several hot tube
designs, including two that incorporate a valve to keep the mixture
out of the tube until ignition is wanted. Hiscock believed that hot
tube ignition had had its day by 1906. Edision cells were the
leading type for battery ignition. There are instructions as to
just how to wind jump-spark and make & break (M&B) coils,
including the capacitor for the jump spark coil. There is an M
& B design with a rotating shaft through the combustion chamber
wall and another that had a moving contact dipping into a pool of
mercury. An M & B coil I have seen on marine engines is
captioned an Edison coil. Spark plugs and timers are discussed. The
only high-tension magneto shown was a Bosch.

Chapter XVI is probably the most interesting chapter. There are
lots of cross-sections of engines. He correctly gives Joseph Day
credit for the invention of the two-cycle engine (an earlier
chapter credited Dugal Clerk).

Chapter XXI covers marine engines with descriptions of the
products of 12 manufacturers. Chapter XXIII discusses kerosene,
distillate, and crude oil engines. Some evaporated the fuel before
induction and some injected the fuel into a hot bulb. The first
diesel in America was being marketed by the Diesel Motor Company of
America, 11 Broadway, New York. One wonders whether they were only
importers for German engines.

There are 21 pages of U.S. engine patents, 1875 through
September 1, 1905. The inventor’s name and patent number are
listed by year, but not the item covered. These are followed by 13
pages of engine builders in the U.S. and Canada. There are no
descriptions of their products.

In summary, this is an interesting old book, to borrow and to
read, or to find for your collection. One final comment: there is
ho mention of hopper cooling.

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines