Sunday, September 11, 2011

Auto History - Engine

At a time when vehicles had not yet agreed on a common form, the Apperson six-passenger touring car showed incredible vision. Built by the Apperson Brothers Automobile Company, its four-cylinder inline engine produced an astounding 40 hp. It used an advanced jump-spark ignition synchronized by a commutator supplying four coils. Its combination water tank and radiator was a forerunner of today's design, with an upper and lower tank, connected by finned copper tubes. A belt-driven fan pulled air across the fins, and a gear driven water pump circulated coolant. The car also had a friction clutch and sliding-gear transmission that provided four forward speeds plus reverse. It used two independent braking systems, one acting on the gear case, and the other on brakes of a rear drum design. Perhaps the car's most memorable feature was its rear-passenger parlor seating with walk-in rear entry door.

The answer to solid rubber tires and cart springs? Perhaps. A manufacturing nightmare? Probably. As you can see, each spring attached to its own upper perch, which joins at a hinge to the previous unit. Also note the work that went into the lower spring perch.

Almost as soon as the automobile appeared, military minds began to explore the possibilities it offered for the battlefield. The Fighting Motor Car appeared in our pages in 1896. Very modern in appearance, it featured armor plating and two machine guns, one facing front, the other facing rear, for a full 360° field of fire. The Simms Motor Scout was built by the British War Office in 1899. It was a quadricycle with a Maxim gun and light steel shield mounted over the front tires. A small motor powered the vehicle...but just in case, it also came with pedals.

Henry Ford launched the Ford Motor Company in 1903 with this Model A, but received only a passing mention in The Horseless Age. Not because his product was bad, rather because 88 other new car companies launched that same year! Still, the simplicity of Ford's car would eventually bring it to the forefront of vehicles of that era. At 1000 lb., the vehicle was light, allowing its eight horsepower engine to push it to speeds of 30 mph. To aid serviceability, the body could be completely removed from the angle iron frame with six bolts. With a retail price of just under $800, Ford sold 1708 units that model year.

Though variable valves didn't become popular until late in the 20th Century, the De Dion-Bouton Motorette Company had variable exhaust valves on its cars in 1901. The company's New York model had a variable lift exhaust valve that could be regulated to give quieter running. A lever shortened the lift, preventing all of the exhaust from leaving the combustion chamber. This also lessened the amount of fresh charge admitted into the cylinder. We felt the device was an advantage in "traffic driving, and when stopping for, or passing, restive horses." The device could be activated at will from a lever on the steering column. Renault introduced its own variable lift technology in 1904 (shown). The device had two arms connected to a circular pivot plate, which could rock around its axis by means of a lever near the vehicle operator. A roller on the lower arm rode on the cam, and moved the upper rocker arm.

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