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Sixteen-Valve Duesenberg Walking Beam Engine

This 1915 Duesenberg, sixteen-valve four cylinder walking-beam racing engine which we made a new cylinder block for is shown getting its valve clearances adjusted above.

We worked with a pattern maker and made patterns for the block and had a new one cast and then machined it here in the shop for Joe Freeman’s racing car. It has horizontal valves facing each other in a vertical combustion chamber above the piston. The bottom of the rocker arms (walking-beams) ride directly on the camshafts. The bottom photos shows four intake valve and seat assemblies and two seat and guide castings where you can see the vanes that it breathes thru. When we can find the time this project will be covered in the future. The Old Motor photos.

5 responses to “Sixteen-Valve Duesenberg Walking Beam Engine

  1. Great engine. Nice of you to shoot those pics!

    Were valves mounted in the head on all walking-beam engines, or were there some where they were mounted in the cylinders?

      • Any idea as to why? With walking beams, it seems to me, flathead engines could be realized that would have all the advantages of OHVs and of flatheads with only very little complexity added in comparison to the latter.
        Where am I mistaken?

        • Dmitry,

          The Duesenbergs cited the improvements of their valve system for use in internal combustion engines over the inefficiencies of then-current valve systems in use. They claimed that standard valve systems seated poorly, were prone to sticking open due to heat and lack of lubrication, and resulted in poor combustion.

          The rocker arms on their “walking beam” engine were mounted on a common shaft that ran the length of the cylinder block. Each rocker arm was offset on this shaft, creating a short side of the rocker arm and a long side. The short side of the rocker arm was actuated by the camshaft, and the long side of the arm actuated the valve. Camshaft movement on the short side was effectively multiplied on the long side. This enabled the valves to be opened and closed instantly. Due to the length of the rocker arm, the push on the valve was basically a straight line with little side thrust. The entire valve gear could be enclosed; this not only aided in proper lubrication but also protected the valve gear and made it quieter.

          The Duesenbergs asserted that their valve gear was more reliable, durable, and efficient than the other systems in use at the time. The valves seated better and allowed more efficient combustion. The entire valve gear received good lubrication that reduced wear and heat, subsequently increasing the life of the parts. At a time when exposed
          valves lubricated by grease cups were the norm, it is easy to see how the Duesenberg valve gear was a definite step forward.

          By the early 1920s, Fred and August Duesenberg had moved on to a more conventional overhead camshaft valve gear. They sold the walking beam engine production rights to the Rochester Motors Corporation of Rochester, New York.

          Here is a list of manufacturers known to have used the Rochester-Duesenberg engine:

          Ambassador by John D. Hertz (Chicago, Illinois); 1921-1925. No connection to American Motors.

          Argonne Motor Car Company (Jersey City, New Jersey); 1919-1920.

          Biddle Motor Car Company (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania); 1915-1922.

          Colonial by the Walden W. Shaw Livery Corporation (Chicago, Illinois); 1921.

          Kenworthy Motors Corporation (Mishawaka, Indiana); 1920-1921.

          Mercury Motor Car Company (Cleveland, Ohio); 1920. No connection to the former Ford Division.

          Meteor Motors, Inc. (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania); 1919–1922.

          ReVere Motor Car Corporation (Logansport, Indiana); 1918-1926.

          Richelieu Motor Car Company (Asbury Park, New Jersey); 1921-1922.

          Roamer by the Barley Motor Car Company (Kalamazoo, Michigan; Streator, Illinois, and Toronto, Canada); 1916-1929.

          Shaw by the Walden W. Shaw Livery Corporation (Chicago, Illinois); 1920-1921.

          Wolverine Motor Car Company (Kalamazoo, Michigan); only one prototype was built.

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