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Patents #1 Daimler and Balls Out

February 14, 2010

Daimler and Balls Out

Gottlieb Daimler patented a V twin gasoline engine on Christmas Eve, 1889, shown in figure 1.  Studying the patent image will illustrate the basics of early and modern motor design for the reader.  The first item that may look familiar is the common crank pin, labeled “d”.  The term common refers to the fact that both pistons and their rods were connected to the crankshaft at one location on the flywheel.  With this layout, the pistons come to TDC one right after the other as the crank rolls around.  This feature was used almost without variation by motor manufacturers from Daimler’s time through the V twins built today.  Technically, it is possible to separate the connecting rods into two locations on the flywheel “C” (and it has been done occasionally).  This brings the pistons up at alternating times, to change the vibration characteristics, exhaust sounds and induction restrictions.  Manufacturing issues, motor width considerations and high component stresses have prevented the widespread adoption of the idea however.

Daimler V Twin

Figure 1. Daimler v twin

Not shown are the carburetion or ignition systems, which of course were significant requirements for the patented engine, and were undergoing very significant design developments during the Pioneer era.

Daimler’s V twin motor has a very narrow V angle between cylinders “A” and “B”, which was one feature that did change with time, as designers sought to reduce vibration, and more recently, to control the torque delivery from their motors.  Another item that can be clearly seen are the balls on the speed governor, item “O” shown on the end of the crankshaft.  These were a holdover from the steam motor era.  An interesting story is the origin of the term “BALLS OUT”, meaning to be going fast.  The governors spun with the motor, and as the speed increased, the balls were flung further away from their pivot axis due to centrifugal force.  Hence, High Speed = Balls Out.  You may have heard other origins of the phrase however…

These early motors used “atmospheric” or “automatic” inlet valves, item “e”.  The valves were opened through the suction force as the piston descended down the bore, as opposed to valve actuation through a cam pushing the valve open, as shown for the exhaust valve “h”.  It was a simple and cheap method; however it limited the amount of air/fuel mixture that could enter the motor.  The valve timing was somewhat erratic over the rpm range, and could not be varied or optimized, other than by using softer or firmer valve springs.   Another limitation to this construction was that the inlet valve could never be opened before TDC, a timing which helps motor breathing efficiency.   Within a few years, cams and followers were utilized on inlets, just as they had always been used on exhaust and motor speeds and powers went up appreciably…

Gottlieb Daimler


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