'Internal Fire,' by Lyle Cummins, is a comprehensive study of the history of the internal-combustion engine. The chronicle takes us from efforts in the 1600's to use gun powder as a fuel to the development of the Diesel engine at the end of the 19th century.
The book is well-researched and certainly technical enough to please engineers and engine experts. It contains 126 text drawings and 98 plate photographs.
The author sets engine and fuel research on a large historical stage. He tells how the times and specific events affected the thoughts and lives of inventors and builders and how they, in turn influenced their own times and changed the course of events.
The phrase 'Internal Fire' is used to symbolize not only the release of a fuel's energy in an internal combustion engine but also the energy in the creative minds of men who conceived and built these engines.
Cummins stresses the truth that 'an engine and the fuel it consumes are inseparable partners.' He points out that just as inventors of the past adapted new fuels to engine use, so must we of today accept the fact that a shortage of liquid fuel is imminent, and act accordingly. The power plants we design today should take into account the energy sources of tomorrow.
'Internal Fire' tells of inventions, business successes and failures, patent fights, personal triumphs and failures. It tells of the interrelation ship of men and events. It shows the effect of the creative mind and the creative use of money in molding events and shaping the lives of millions.
Although many men have been involved in the development of the internal-combustion engine, several are outstanding. These include:
Nicholas Leonard Sadi Carnot (1796-1832) who gave 'form and substance' to a new science in one short treatise; John Joseph Etienne Lenoir (1822-1900), designer of the first internal-combustion engine; Nicholas Otto (1832-1891), who developed a practical internal-combustion engine which combined mixture compression and combustion expansion in the same cylinder, and George Bailey Brayton (1839-1892), who designed America's first commercial gas engine and the first practical oil burning engine.
The Rev. Robert Stirling in 1816 patented a heat regenerator and air engine which, the author claims, is one of the most amazing inventions in heat-power history and which may yet offer us a reliable alternative in the energy-environment dilemma.
Lyle Cummins has written a very complete history of the internal-combustion engine. Those interested in the development of the engine are given detailed, technical accounts. For the general reader, Cummins offers a lot to think about. Politics, industry, transportation, modes of life are all bound together for good or ill. Environment helps kindle the 'Internal Fire' in the minds of creative persons whose creations, in turn, shape the future.
Cummins is optimistic about that future if we learn from the lessons of the past.
The author has lived with engines all his life. His father, the late Clessie L. Cummins, to whose memory the book is dedicated, founded the diesel engine company bearing his name.
Lyle Cummins is a graduate mechanical engineer residing in a suburb of Portland, Oregon, with five patents to his credit. He has broad experience, giving him unusual perspective on engine history. He is active in programs relating to the improvement of engineering education.
'Internal Fire' can be obtained from Steam gas Publishing Company, Box 328, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17604. Cost is $18.95 plus 50 ? for postage and handling.