Reflections

A BRIEF WORD


| March/April 1988



15 HP International gas engine

This photo of a 15 HP International gas engine was sent to us by Joseph George, RR 2, Fowler, Michigan 48835, who says to his knowledge there are only four of engines in the state of Michigan.

Joseph George

The Reflector was most fortunate in recently acquiring a little book on the building of induction coils. Although few of our collectors have actually made spark coils, it is nevertheless, an interesting project. Simple coils, as used on low tension igniters are relatively simple, since only a single winding is used. This is usually of about No. 16 AWG magnet wire, wound over an iron core until it will read about 3 amperes when connected to a 6 volt battery. Short, fat coils will provide a better spark with less battery drain than a long, skinny coil. Thomas Edison found this out a century ago.

Winding a high tension coil presents some very different problems from the simple coil. Two sets of windings are required-a few turns of No. 14 or No. 16 wire perhaps for the primary, and a great many turns of very fine wire, perhaps 36 gauge for the high voltage secondary. Truly high quality coils of olden times were wound with the high voltage side in several sections, each insulated from the primary, and from the adjacent sections with phenolic or some other insulator. The individual sections were then connected, and should one section fail, it was not necessary to discard the entire coil.

Knowing that at least a few of our readers are also interested in early electrical equipment, perhaps we might even have some who would be willing to share some ideas with us in regard to low tension and high tension coils as applied to engine ignition.

Ye olde Reflector stands corrected on a lifelong assumption-we always assumed that 6 volts was standard operating procedure for gas engine ignition coils. Our assumption was probably centered on the fact that early automotive electric systems were of 6 volt design. Quite often though, when looking through an old instruction manual or diagram, six dry cells are illustrated. At 11/2volts per cell, that gives a nine volt system, not the six volt system we had envisioned. Granted, some diagrams show four batteries, and this would yield six volts. Then again, how could we assume that industry standards came as part of the territory? Gas engine builders flourished everywhere in America during the early part of the century, and most of these people gave an entirely new dimension to 'individualist.' In this context then, looking for a semblance of uniform practice was to look for Utopia itself. Only after a developmental period did the gas engine manufacturing industry evolve with certain standards. Even in 1988, standard practice remains a silent partner of innovation and individuality, but we've sure come a long ways in 80 years!

23/3/1 Q. See the pictures (on the next page) of my 2 HP Fairbanks-Morse Type T engine. According to your book, American Gasoline Engines, the extra big 29 inch flywheels are for running an electrical generator. Is this a common engine? Is the color supposed to be green or red? Also see the photo of the oiler. Is this a usual option for these engines? The engine hits every time and runs very smoothly. It has an incredible amount of lugging power. John C. Addengast, Box 160, Ashton, IA 5 1232.

A. The extra large and heavy flywheels on the FBM Type T engines were intended to level out the speed variation common to a single cylinder engine design. Although these engines can be found occasionally, we certainly wouldn't class them as common, either in terms of remaining numbers, or in their original design. Most of the Type T engines we have seen are a very deep, blackish green, in PPG Ditzler, it would be comparable to 43846 green. Some of these could however, be painted red, but our assumption is that the concurrently built Jack-of-All-Trades engines were red. The lubricator mentioned in your letter is standard equipment for these engines.