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Category Archives: Technical Features

Early Automotive and Aircraft Engine Dynamometer Testing


Part of automotive and aircraft engine manufacturing has always involved scientific testing to find power output. Once a baseline power output figure has been found, further tuning and changes can be tested and compared to it. Above can be seen a circa 1920 H6 Hispano-Suiza chassis on test, with each rear hub connected to a dynamometer. By adding the power figures together from each side, engineers were able to find out exactly how much engine power was lost by passing through the drivetrain. Photo courtesy of Isabelle Bracquemond.

Dyno2      Dyno3      Dyno4

The three photos above show the testing of Liberty aircraft engines. Part of accurate aircraft engine testing is to determine the amount of power lost at higher altitudes due to lower atmospheric pressure. The left and center photos above show a Packard Truck outfitted with a Liberty aircraft engine dynamometer.

By mounting the rig on the back of the truck and driving it to the top of Pikes Peak, accurate testing of power loss due to the height could be calculated. The center photo shows a turbocharger fitted for testing, with Dr. Sanford Moss an early expert on turbo and supercharging on the far right. The right photo photos shows an X-24 Liberty being tested. Follow the links to enginehistory.org for more information.

Posted in Technical Features, Trucks, Buses and Equipment | Tagged , , , , , , , |

Replicating The North London Garage 1909 J. A. P. Engined Record Holder – Part IX


Things are starting to shape up since our last post on Pavel Malanik’s very ambitious project to recreate the 1909 North London Garage record holder. After finishing up the frame, he next moved on to building the front fork. It was assembled from machined pieces of alloy steel and hand made fork tubes, which were formed over a tapered spike he machined. The seams on the tubes were welded and they were then bent to shape.

P2      P3      P4

Just above can be seen the fork during the process of building, assembling, brazing and welding its joints together. As with the frame, a considerable amount of time was spent sanding and hand-finishing the assembly after brazing. A close-up photo showing it installed on to the frame can be seen below left. Having finished the engine, frame and front fork, the next logical step was to move onto to the wheels and axles.

P11      P6      P7

The hubs for the wheels were machined from alloy steel stock. Just above can be seen a hub close to taking its final shape in the center after being machined on a lathe. Next they are then mounted into a chuck mounted atop an indexing head in the milling machine for precisely locating and drilling the holes that will locate the spokes.

P5      P8      P9

Pavel wisely choose to make up two sets of wheels with both clincher and straight-side rims. He has built a set for original style clincher tires for display and a pair that will take straight-side tires. The later are much safer, and a tire is less likely to come off of the rim if there is an issue with one when he runs it on the track. Two pairs of hubs and complete wheels can be seen on the left and right above. The axles, spacers, bearing retainers and other hardware he machined can be seen in the middle photo.

P12      P13      P18

With the huge 165.62 CI (2714 c.c.) V-twin engine mocked-up in the frame, the intake manifold was next fabricated. This project required cutting slices out of the tubing and bending it to fit a scale pattern with the desired curves. After welding and finishing the tubes and fabricating a flange for the carburetor, it began to take shape. Two couplings and a pair of packing nuts for the heads were then machined. The finished assembly after a good detailing can be seen mounted on the right above.

P14      P15      P16

Since the original machine was only used for short record runs, it originally had a very small gasoline tank that might have held about a gallon of gas. It was fabricated from a piece of steel tubing and machined ends. On the left above, the cone-shaped front can be seen being machined in the lathe. The center photo shows the mostly completed tank. The photo on the right shows a fabricated tube with beaded ends and all the fittings necessary to contain a pair of modern coils. It mounts just behind the gas tank and looks exactly like the original.

Below you can see just how far he has come with the construction. Most of the fabrication of the bike is done but there are still many smaller items including the handlebars, controls and hundred other little details to attend to. We look forward to covering the rest of the project and seeing the finished motorcycle. You can view the entire series here on three pages, which show the amazing project from the beginning.


Posted in Motorcycle photos, Technical Features | Tagged , , , , , , , |

The Motor-Sleigh – Early Patents for Winter Travel


A snow storm is moving in on us here at The Old Motor, and that makes for an excellent time to share with you a number of interesting “Motor-Sleigh” patent drawings. Our favorite concept is the roadster just above, which Frank J. Mathews used as a basis for the drawings that he filed with his application. He received his patent on Sept. 21, 1915, for his attachments shown below that mounted to the axles of a car.

  •                    auto2                      auto3

His device consisted of four runners that were installed at each corner and attached to the axles. For driving the vehicle he designed two hubs that replaced the standard rear wheels, each carried eight tubular spokes. Inside of every spoke was a spring-loaded and bell-shaped plunger that the inventor intended to use for driving the car. You can learn more about his patent here and see and read the complete application.

The following patent drawings were selected from a long list of many in the category, as they are interesting and some, in fact, are quite unique. The holder of the patent is listed under each drawing (which enlarges), and by clicking on the inventors name you can view the complete patent and in many cases more drawings that were filed with it.

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Posted in Auto photos 1885 - 1920, Auto photos 1921 - 1942, Technical Features | Tagged , , |