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A History of Aeronautics by Marsh and Vivian

When Manly designed his radial engine


Vee design has followed the British fairly cclosely; the Curtiss Company produced originally a 75 horse-power eight-cylinder Vee type running at 1,200 revolutions per minute, supplementing this with a 170 horse-power engine running at 1,600 revolutions per minute, and later with a twelve-cylinder model Vee type, developing 300 horse-power at 1,500 revolutions per minute, with cylinder bore of 5 inches and stroke of 7 inches. An exceptional type of American design was the Kemp Vee engine of 80 horse-power in which the cylinders were cooled by a current of air obtained from a fan at the forward end of the engine. With cylinders of 4.25 inches bore and 4.75 inches stroke, the rater power was developed at 1,150 revolutions per minute, and with the engine complete the weight was only 4.75 lbs. per horse-power.


The very first successful design of internal combustion aero engine made was that of Charles Manly, who built a five-cylinder radial engine in 1901 for use with Langley's 'aerodrome,' as the latter inventor decided to call what has since become known as the aeroplane. Manly made a number of experiments, and finally decided on radial design, in which the cylinders are so rayed round a central crank-pin that the pistons act successively upon it; by this arrangement a very short and compact engine is obtained, with a minimum of weight, and a regular crankshaft

rotation and perfect balance of inertia forces.

When Manly designed his radial engine, high speed internal combustion engines were in their infancy, and the difficulties in construction can be partly realised when the lack of manufacturing methods for this high-class engine work, and the lack of experimental data on the various materials, are taken into account. During its tests, Manly's engine developed 52.4 brake horsepower at a speed of 950 revolutions per minute, with the remarkably low weight of only 2.4 lbs. per horsepower; this latter was increased to 3.6 lbs. when the engine was completed by the addition of ignition system, radiator, petrol tank, and all accessories, together with the cooling water for the cylinders.

In Manly's engine, the cylinders were of steel, machined outside and inside to 1/16 of an inch thickness; on the side of cylinder, at the top end, the valve chamber was brazed, being machined from a solid forging, The casing which formed the water-jacket was of sheet steel, 1/50 of an inch in thickness, and this also was brazed on the cylinder and to the valve chamber. Automatic inlet valves were fitted, and the exhaust valves were operated by a cam which had two points, 180 degrees apart; the cam was rotated in the opposite direction to the engine at one-quarter engine speed. Ignition was obtained by using a one-spark coil and vibrator for all cylinders, with a distributor to select the right cylinder for each spark--this was before the days of the high-tension magneto and the almost perfect ignition systems that makers now employ. The scheme of ignition for this engine was originated by Manly himself, and he also designed the sparking plugs fitted in the tops of the cylinders. Through fear of trouble resulting if the steel pistons worked on the steel cylinders, cast iron liners were introduced in the latter, 1/16 of an inch thick.

The connecting rods of this engine were of virtually the same type as is employed on nearly all modern radial engines. The rod for one cylinder had a bearing along the whole of the crank pin, and its end enclosed the pin; the other four rods had bearings upon the end of the first rod, and did not touch the crank pin. The accompanying diagram shows this construction, together with the means employed for securing the ends of the four rods--the collars were placed in position after the rods had been put on. The bearings of these rods did not receive any of the rubbing effect due to the rotation of the crank pin, the rubbing on them being only that of the small angular displacement of the rods during each revolution; thus there was no difficulty experienced with the lubrication.

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