The first-ever comprehensive history of the American marine engine industry has been published by Devereux Books. Engines Afloat, from Early Days to D-Day covers a time period of 1884 to 1944 and examines the development of four-cycle, two-cycle, and diesel engines in all areas of the country. The new book is the end result of four years of research and writing that involved individuals, libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies throughout the country. According to author Stan Grayson, the project was instigated to a large degree by those who had read his Old Marine Engines but 'who wanted to know more about everything from Atlas-Imperial and Union to Sintz and Van Blerck.'
'It turned into a vast project,' said Stan, 'because the sources are so widespread and, sometimes, difficult to uncover. But I had some great luck in finding old-timers and old photographs, and the people I met were just great.'
Among the author's biggest surprises, he says, were the many and fascinating early developments in California, to which one entire chapter is devoted. Another was the role played by Ohioans.
'It just didn't end,' said Stan. 'You had Clark Sintz doing really pioneering work beginning in Springfield, Ohio, both on his own and with Foos. Then there was E. W. Roberts in Sandusky and Winton in Cleveland, among others. And then there was GM's Charles Kettering! All from Ohio.' Kettering figures prominently in a chapter entitled 'General Motors,' which traces the development of what would become famous as the 6-71 used in Navy landing craft and bigger diesels used in World War II submarines and subchasers. That story and the history of the Packard V-12 used in PT boats will be of special interest to many.
The author's goals included exploration of the contact between the automobile and marine engine industries, and related fields. He found there was much cross-over. Gray, for example, one of the longest-lived and most important engine companies, was begun by a man who made his fortune doing advertising for Henry Ford and who had financial banking from the sons of the first president of Ford Motor Company. In California, Samson was eventually acquired by GM and, in addition to marine engines, built stationary models and tractors, one of which is pictured in the book.
'Perhaps the main thing that the book does,' said the author, 'is to combine the story of technical developments, from primitive flame and hot-tube ignition to overhead cam engines, with the stories of the men and companies who built them. In addition, it examines the impact of engines on fishermen, riverboat operators, and recreational boaters. And it weaves together the stories of the great pioneers, both the famous and the little-known, in a way that makes for a good story.'
Engines Afloat is published in two volumes: Volume 1, The Gasoline Era, and Volume 2, The Gasoline/Diesel Era. Each book is $35.95 (plus $4.25 shipping) soft cover, or $49.95 hardcover (plus $5 shipping). A 25% savings is offered for the set: $54.95 soft cover or $74.95 hardcover ($6.50 shipping for the boxed set) order from Devereux Books, P. O. Box 503, Marblehead, MA 01945. A free catalog is available.