Category Archives: Out Of The Box

Plans for the Packard Plant Move Forward

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  • Image from drone camera coverage courtesy of Detroit Drone.

According to a report from the Detroit Free Press yesterday, Fernando Palazuelo the new owner of the Packard Plant complex is moving ahead with his plans to clean up the industrial remains. He is starting within the next few weeks to clear up debris and broken concrete around the old Packard administrative office building and the red brick bridge that crosses East Grand Boulevard.

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  • Photo of the Packard Plant and bridge in the 1950s

After the initial clean up, his plans call for restoring the original four-story Packard Office Buildings and the brick bridge that crosses East Grand Boulevard. He has retained Albert Kahn Associates, the company that designed the original buildings to handle all of the architectural details.

Palazuelo plans on restoring some of the original structures and redeveloping the area for both commercial and cultural uses. He is hopeful that tax credits will be obtainable for preserving the historic site and brownfield clean-up assistance will also help with some of the funding. Plans for the rest of the site are unclear, but the developer has mentioned that a second phase will come later.

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  • Packard Plant Number Ten under construction circa 1910.

We have not found any mention yet as to what will be the fate the remaining buildings on the complex that are crumbling and mostly well beyond any repair. We are hopeful his efforts are successful and a least a portion of the once famous facility can be saved. See our earlier coverage from last year where you can see an amazing video taken by a drone cam here. You can also learn more at the Detroit Free Press. The photos from the Rod Blood Collection are courtesy of The Larz Anderson Museum.

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Finley Robinson Porter’s Horizontally Opposed Dual Four Cylinder Engines

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  •          Plan-view of the horizontally opposed dual four-cylinder engines.

Horizontally-opposed dual four-cylinder engines with common rotary valves, certainly is a mouthful. But that is exactly what Finley Robinson Porter had finished designing only a little over a year after he left Mercer, as the Chief Engineer where he designed the legendary T-head Raceabout. This pair of engines was intended for aircraft use, and each was to be equipped with a propellor. At this point, it is unknown if this project ever went past the drawing stage, but it certainly is interesting to study his work.

We were fortunate to be able to talk with Porter’s Great Granddaughter recently and learned of this concept and its drawings. After studying them we are amazed by the vision that this man had and his ability to be able to see this concept through to its final design and drawings. It came right on the heels of the exceptional F.R.P. car he designed and built with a s.o.h.c. 454-c.i.d. four-cylinder engine that was right on the cutting edge at the time.

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  • Sectional views of the end and center of the engines.

Just above at the top is a cross-sectioned end view of a pair of cylinders, and it shows one of the rotary valves located top and bottom on ball bearings. The intake charge enters the valve at (2) on the middle bottom and exhausts out of the top of it. The valve supply chamber (4) communicates with the feed (1) from the intake manifold and has opposed cylinder supply ports (6 and 7 –  see photo at the top of the post) opening through the face of the valve.

The exhaust chamber (5) communicates with the upwardly extended tubular portion (2) that also has opposed exhaust ports (8 and 9 – see photo at the top of the post) opening through the face of the valve. The rotary valve is tapered and is smaller at the bottom than at the top. The fuel supply for the cylinders is drawn in through the bottom of the valve, and the exhaust gases are discharged through the top of the valve.

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  • Detail views of the gear drives, a valve and the combustion chamber.

The two detail photos above show more of the construction. The left-hand drawing shows the intermediate gear (48) that is driven by a gear on the two joined-driveshafts (38). It in turn drives shaft (46) that operates the four rotary valves and gear and shaft (55) that drives the magneto on the left (52) and the water pump on the right (53). The right-hand drawing shows the details of the gears (49 and 50) that turn the rotary valve and also shows the combustion chamber. The updraft intake manifold (70) can be seen in the bottom center photo.

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The Carter Two-Engine Car – The Fail Safe Automobile

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  • 1907 Carter Two-Engine Car used by the Washington D.C. Fire Chief.

It has been reported that Howard Carter came up with the idea for the two engine automobile after an incident where he was not able to start his car; later he reasoned that if one engine let you down, you would have the other to fall back on to continue on your journey. Carter then proceeded design, patent and build a car that had two compete, but separate engines, each with its own set of ignition, induction, exhaust, and cooling systems. They could also be operated singly or together.

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  • Engine and drivetrain photos, “The Motor”, January 1908.

The two 35-40-h.p. engines each drove a shaft (I in the patent drawing below) that was supported by a bearing on the front of the center crossmember (L). Towards the rear end of each shaft can be seen a sprocket (S) that drives a roller-chain to sprockets (Q and R) on the center shaft (M). This center shaft then drives a conventional transmission (O) and in turn the rear differential (P) through drive shaft (N). You can view the entire patent and another drawing for the Carter Two-Engine Car here.

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  • Patent drawing for the unique two-engine car.

Each engine could be started separately by its hand crank after its clutch was disengaged. The second engine could then be started by engaging its clutch and using the running engine to turn it. In actual use, one engine was adequate for driving in normal conditions; if more power was needed the second engine could be started and it would thereby double the power output by producing some 70-80-h.p.

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  • Advertisement from “The Motor” October, 1907.

Howard first considered manufacturing his automobile in Detroit, but ultimately decided on Hyattsville, Maryland. A new plant was built and just about completed in 1907 when he discovered that the public was quite happy with only one engine and his new car would not sell. The factory was then was used to manufacture the Washington automobile which was of conventional construction. More information can be found on the Carter in an article in the January 1908, The Motor.

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  • Advertisement for “The Motor”, December 1907.
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