REPRINT: How Your Hobby Started Part 1


| November/December 2000



Wayne Gas Engine

A Wayne Gas Engine ad from December 1901 Power magazine.

This month we begin reprinting a series that first appeared in GEM in the March-April 1969 issue. Over the coming months, we will retrace engine history as presented in a series of early GEMs.

Man's imagination led to the often quoted saying, 'Necessity is the Mother of Invention.' In early days when men watched the unexplained phenomena of nature that dealt with forces of power, their imagination undoubtedly led to experiments applying energy to useful purposes. Historical re-. cords of such events has given us the story of the lives of many great pioneer inventors.

It would be difficult for an engineer of today to solve problems if he had only the limited knowledge of the wheel, the lever, a vacuum, electricity and many other basic laws of physics and mechanics, as it was for the inventors of the fifteenth century to find solutions to visions they contemplated.

So it was in the time of the great artist, Leonardo da Vinci, using his talent and imagination to draw sketches of a cylinder and the possibility of power being produced by a piston driven by some sort of propellent. Leonardo lived from 1452-1519, and aside from his great masterpieces in painting and sculpting, he conceived ideas of many designs of machines using gears, link roller chains, ratchets and pulleys. His drawings satisfied his imagination and he did not put these practical designs into use.

During the next century there is little recorded of further achievements with engines, until 1629 when Giovanni Branca made a shovel wheel propelled by a blast of steam. Through a set of gears, he was able to run a stamp mill, a pump and a spit to turn meat.

Otto Von Guerricke 1602-1686, made experiments of a vacuum through which the idea of the piston and valves were conceived. Then, during this same period a Dutchman by the name of Christian Huygens propelled a piston using gun powder to actuate the driving force. The idea came from the principle of a cannon, however his endeavor to connect this force to a machine did not work.