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Boss Kettering’s Big Achivement

Charles Franklin Kettering was a brilliant inventor and visionary who invented and introduced many of the things that we take for granted today. One of his achievements in 1909 was to form Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (Delco) with a friend from National Cash Register. Within three years they developed all-electric starting, ignition and lighting systems of automobiles.

Shown above is a press photo with a Cadillac engine on a test stand, demonstrating what is recognized as the first commercially successful American electric starting system, which was introduced on the 1912 Cadillac. It was an unusual system that used four six volt batteries combined together (24 volts) to power the starter. It also had a rotary switch, which after starting allowed the generator to recharge each battery at six volts. The Old Motor photo.

One response to “Boss Kettering’s Big Achivement

  1. The “rotary switch” is actually an 8-pole, double-throw switch which is operated via the clutch pedal when a solenoid is energized. This switch, called the Controller in DELCO literature, connects the four 6 volt batteries in parallel normally and in series for starting. The starting current is only 20 Amperes at 24 Volts and the starter only turns the engine at 30 RPM (1 revolution every 2 seconds). This system was used by Cole, Hudson, Oakland and Oldsmobile in 1913 and then was obsolete.

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