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Patent Page: Gearless Weber Inverted Vertical

George Webber patented the inverted vertical engine design in 1891 but abandoned this vertical engine a few years later, instead opting for his more well-known horizontal design.

| June/July 2020

Although best known for its line of high-quality horizontal singles, Weber Gas Engine Co., Kansas City, Missouri, got its start with a unique and somewhat complex inverted vertical engine. Designed by company founder George Weber, the engine, which apparently went into production about 1890, was awarded patent no. 444,031 in 1891.

George Weber’s 1891 patent encompassed a number of novel ideas, including a screw drive to affect valve actuation. The screw drive (9) is visible on the left end of the crankshaft in Fig. II. It moved the rocker arm (10) back and forth to alternately open the spring-loaded intake and exhaust valves via pawls on the end of the rocker arm.

Perhaps hoping to skirt any infringement of Otto’s patents, which included half-time cam gear valve actuation, Weber concocted a novel valve actuation system that used a double screw on the crankshaft to toggle a rocker arm to affect valve opening and closing.

Visible in Fig. II of the patent drawings, the double screw featured two grooves that converged to a single point, from which they then diverged halfway around the screw, then back again. As the crankshaft spun, the rocker arm, which was keyed to the screw drive, would move back and forth. As it did so, pawls on the end of the arm would alternately act upon the requisite linkage to actuate the intake and exhaust valves.

The mechanically actuated valves were quite interesting. The exhaust was the familiar poppet valve, but the intake was a wedge-shaped slide valve that opened or closed transfer ports in a fuel/air chamber, blocking or allowing the charge to pass to the cylinder. In its closed position, the slide valve’s flat face covered the transfer ports, its ramped backside wedged against a similarly shaped fixed lug, causing it to be pushed against the transfer ports for a secure seal.

A separate valve controlled the admission of fuel to a burner-fired hot tube. As the intake slide valve shut off the fuel/air charge fed into the cylinder, linkage controlled by the aforementioned rocker arm actuated a separate, horizontally positioned rotary valve intersecting a secondary fuel/air chamber leading to the cylinder. As the spring-loaded valve turned, it uncovered a port in the side of the chamber leading to the hot tube. Compressed gas in the cylinder was thereby allowed to shoot through a matching opening in the valve face into the hot tube where it was ignited, thus igniting the main charge in the cylinder. The spent charge was then expelled through the exhaust poppet valve. Intriguingly, the actuating rod for the exhaust valve was cushioned upon closing under spring pressure by a dashpot.


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