603 Fremont Street, Middleville, Michigan 49333
Nearly 50 years ago I was employed by a road contractor to
operate an Allis-Chalmers 10-18 (see page 11, May-June GEM and 12,
Tractor Operating and Directory). Was rather surprised to note
there were any of these still around. This was a so-called all fuel
tractor, and had a double bowl carburetor, so one could switch from
one fuel to another instantly. It had a Wilcox-Bennett centrifugal
type of air cleaner. The motor was of the 2 cylinder opposed type.
The manifold hot spots were adjacent to where the fuel entered the
cylinders. Carburetor was right next to the rear cylinder, leaving
a rather long un-heated portion to carry the fuel mixture to the
front cylinder. That part always ran cool, and fuel condensed in
it, so we always had trouble keeping the front cylinder firing and
working properly. We mixed gasoline and kerosene, half and half for
Here is a type of engine that apparently did not work out very
well, in recent years I have never heard more of it. It was used to
propel an automobile shortly after the turn of the century.
The compound, built by the Eisenhut Horseless Vehicle Company,
of Middletown, Ohio, had an internal combustion engine with two
high pressure and two low pressure cylinders. Exhaust from the high
pressure cylinders, passed to the low pressure cylinders, where the
gas did more work by further expansion, before passing into the
atmosphere. Since the exhaust was at low pressure, it caused less
noise than the ordinary engine. This company was in business only
from 1903 through 1907 before going bankrupt. Apparently, the
compound principle did not work as expected in the case of an
internal combustion engine, does anyone know of any modern
manufacturer who uses anything of this sort?
There are some things about the ‘Wankel’ engine that I
can’t help wondering about. The seals or blades in the rotors
are single and amount to about the same as one ring on each piston.
The angle of contact with the chamber varies widely. It would seem
possible that there might be some chattering at some angles.
Operating at a very high speed the centrifugal force on them would
be considerable, speeding up wear. Also due to the method of
lubrication (mixing oil and gas) would not the exhaust be likely to
contain more hydrocarbons than that of an ordinary 4-cycle motor?
Yes, I know it acts as a 4-cycle motor, but the lubrication of
these rotors and seals must be accomplished by adding oil to the
gas. In the past I’ve read in the mechanical magazines of many
‘Revolutionary’ engines and none of them have ever appeared
on the market. The Wankel however does seem to have found some
application in some foreign cars, as well as snow-mobiles,
out-board motors, etc. I understand it’s efficiency isn’t
quite as high as a good regular motor and with all the accessories
to combat smog will be still lower. I for one really doubt if it
will ever completely replace the piston engine, particularly the
Diesel which I believe more car manufacturers should be looking
into. The Diesel operates at maximum compression and efficiency
regardless of load, while the ordinary automobile engine does not
reach full, or anywhere near, the rated compression except at wide
open throttle under heavy load.
The Stirling type of engine, as I understand it is a type of
external combustion engine which preceded the modern internal
combustion engine by a number of years, originally developed in the
British Isles I believe. For operation, it is dependent on the
expansion and contraction of entrapped air which is alternately
exposed to heat and cold. I understand the original ones had
trouble from the heated end of the chamber burning out prematurely.
This however may have been overcome in more recent years. Though as
pictured it would be double acting, with alternate vacuum and
pressure on the power piston, would the power impulses on the power
piston be equal? The maximum amount of suction attainable would be
14.7 lbs per square inch, while that might be exceeded greatly on
Just what method of throttling or speed control is proposed for
it? Varying the amount of heat applied to the hot end of the
expansion and contraction cylinder would certainly not give the
immediate acceleration-de-celeration that is possible with a
regular internal combustion type of engine. It would seem that
there are a lot of problems yet to be worked out yet. One advantage
would be that most anything that would produce heat could be used
I recall reading some time ago of a proposed substitute for the
modern internal combustion engine in a car consisting of a flywheel
which spun at high speed (or we might say ‘charged’) and
the resulting momentum used to drive an automobile. As stated, it
could be spun for instance for half an hour, storing up more energy
as time went on. That certainly would be a fallacy, as once it had
reached top speed, no continued spinning would add anything to the
amount of stored energy. Just how large a flywheel could be built
into a modern automobile? Certainly not over 3 feet. What would be
the maximum weight permissible? I would say not over 1500 lbs. at
the most. What would be the maximum safe ‘Charging speed’?
With such a weight and diameter, I’d say something less than
3,000 RPM. Ask any owner of one of the larger Oil Pulls how far he
thinks a car might be driven with such a flywheel. Just what sort
of a transmission would be necessary to take care of it’s
diminishing speed as it ran down to keep the car up to speed.
What effect due to the Gyroscopic effect would it have on the
handling of an automobile? There have been a lot of schemes
proposed for substitutions for the piston internal combustion
engine, but so far none have turned out to be ractical and usable.
Am not sure this ‘Wankel’ will be as successful as is
I read recently of a man who claimed he could make gasoline by
mixing his ‘Perfected Powder’ with water in measured
amounts and a motor would operate perfectly on it. If that is any
good it would be a great thing with the impending petroleum
shortage. He said if you added more water to the mixture the water
would float on top and refuse to mix with it. Now if that were
really gasoline the reverse would be true, as gasoline is lighter
than water (about 70%). Gasoline is a Hydro-Carbon and may have a
formula anywhere from C9H20 to
C12H26 determining the weight per gallon and
still be much lighter than water. No I just don’t believe that
can be done; hope I’m wrong however. Alchemists in ages gone by
have attempted similar trans-mutations such as the making of gold
from some of the baser metals and never succeeded. However with all
this atomic chemistry, who knows, someone may succeed yet. They
have been able to convert matter into energy to some extent, which
was thought to be impossible when I went to school.
Pictured is a Heinricci hot-air engine, made in England. I think
it is interesting and possibly a scarce brand. Mr. Robert L.
Johnson, the gentleman that operates ‘Whistles in the
Woods’ Museum in Rossville, Georgia has identified it. I would
appreciate hearing from any of our GEM readers that know anything
about such an engine.