From Days Gone By - Mechanical, Compressed Air and Acetylene Starting Systems
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    Default From Days Gone By - Mechanical, Compressed Air and Acetylene Starting Systems



    If you would like to learn more about the starting systems used by some of the early manufacturers and the aftermarket, here two photos contained in a comprehensive article covering the subject. The Volkmar unit seen above was available, as were the acetylene and air pressure systems. Covered in detail are several mechanical, compressed air and acetylene starting systems at The Old Motor.


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    The inspiration to Charles Kettering to invent the electric self starter can be mentioned at this point.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles...e_Self-Starter

    Belle Isle and the Self-Starter[edit]

    Early automobiles required a hand crank to create a sufficient charge to start ignition. Occasionally, when the spark lever was not properly set, the hand crank kicked back, causing serious injury: a broken wrist, arm, or shoulder. On a winter night in 1908 the result was much worse.

    Byron Carter, founder of Cartercar, came across a stalled motorist on Belle Isle in the middle of the Detroit River. He gallantly offered to crank the car for the stranded driver. When she forgot to retard the spark, the crank kicked and broke Carter's jaw. Complications developed and Carter later died of pneumonia. When Cadillac chief, Henry Leland, heard the news, he was distraught. Byron Carter was a friend; the car that kicked back was a Cadillac. "The Cadillac car will kill no more men if we can help it," he told his staff.[11]

    Leland's engineers were able to build an electric self-starter but not small enough to be practical.[12] He called Charles Kettering. The engineers at Delco worked around the clock to get the job done by the February 1911 deadline. Kettering later described their work thus: They didn't have a job so much as the job had them.[13]

    Kettering's key insight lay in devising an electrical system that performed the three purposes it continues to serve in modern cars: starter and, as generator, producer of spark for ignition and current for lighting.[14] Leland approved their product for his 1912 model and placed an order for 12,000 self-starters. Delco, the research and development outfit, had to quickly learn the business of production.

    Kettering's self-starter won a Dewar Trophy in 1913.[15]
    And also popularized travel by automobile and made it possible for women and the elderly to drive.

    Joe in NH

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    I am quite curious about the description, which appears to show a lack of understanding of the subject. (But, that is Wkipedia, par for the course).

    "Early automobiles required a hand crank to create a sufficient charge to start ignition".

    While true of an engine with a magneto, the biggest issue would be cranking the engine against compression. Many magnetos had a "snap" system to create the spark at low speeds, which in one form latched and released the rotor, propelled by a spring, through the critical area of rotation. That kept the generated voltage high despite slow cranking.

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    I have seen references to a starting system that used an expendable explosive cartridge------anyone know what, an how numerous the applications for this were

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    You mean something like this

    link
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqi2hTrDUAc

    Also called a Coffman starter for aero engine.

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    Are you thinking of the Coffman starter shown in the (original) movie Flight of the Phoenix?

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    Quote Originally Posted by magneticanomaly View Post
    I have seen references to a starting system that used an expendable explosive cartridge------anyone know what, an how numerous the applications for this were
    The Coffman starter system used an explosive cartridge similar to a shotgun blank in many aircraft during the 30's and 40's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JST View Post
    I am quite curious about the description, which appears to show a lack of understanding of the subject. (But, that is Wkipedia, par for the course).

    "Early automobiles required a hand crank to create a sufficient charge to start ignition".

    While true of an engine with a magneto, the biggest issue would be cranking the engine against compression. Many magnetos had a "snap" system to create the spark at low speeds, which in one form latched and released the rotor, propelled by a spring, through the critical area of rotation. That kept the generated voltage high despite slow cranking.
    The article also does not mention the key to making a practical starter. Until Kettering's design, engineers calculated a motor that would supply the required torque and RPM on a more or less continuous basis. Kettering realized that a very short duty cycle was all it needed but with heavy leads and enough heat storage to run at a high output for that short time.

    A couple of years ago I needed to put new brushes in the starter on my Ford Taurus wagon. First I was amazed by how small it was by virtue of having planetary gears, allowing the motor to spin up to an RPM that it allowed it to generate more power with much less mass. The second surprise was how hard it was to get new brushes. Auto parts salesmen clearly thought I was demented. Reliance Ignition was the only one who found a set. I had never met the counter man before, but he was an old timer and treated me with great respect as one of the few left who actually fixed things.

    The magnetos with snap action are known as "impulse magnetos" in the flying world. Turned slowly, they lock the shaft and wind a spring, then release it at the proper point. When the engine starts spinning at a fair RPM, a centrifugal weight throws out and disconnects the impulse mechanism and the magneto operates normally. When hand propping them, you have to be careful not to do it too vigorously and activate the disconnect. Holding the mag and winding the spring also retards the spark, fairly well eliminating the kickback possibility so you can be almost casual about it (at least as casual as one should ever be near a whirling propeller) and just pull it through compression, being ready to get your hands out of the way when it fires.

    Bill

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    Quote Originally Posted by 9100 View Post
    The second surprise was how hard it was to get new brushes. Auto parts salesmen clearly thought I was demented. Reliance Ignition was the only one who found a set.
    Another place to look for brushes is at Sears Hardware. They have a nice selection of brushes in the small parts bins. Probably don't have one for an automotive application, but it is the only place I know where you can browse through drawers of brushes to see if you can find one that will work.

    Dennis

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    Speaking of aero starters, the one on the Mercedes and BMW engines for the Fokker DVII always amazed me. It was similar to the acetylene version shown above, but without acetylene. You pulled the prop through a couple of rounds to get some mixture in the cyls and then cranked the start magneto, which just fired all the plugs at once. Hiccup, burp, vroom. Revolutionary, now a single pilot could get his plane running without anybody to hand prop it.

    We also had a Wright J-6-9 radial similar to the one Lindbergh used, but ours was on a crop duster. That engine had a starting mag attached to the hand crank mechanism, which was on the side of the engine, behind the prop for safety. Instead of hand propping, you installed the crank and turned the crank to start the engine. The engine would not turn the magneto fast enough for a hand prop start, so this was a safety feature to prevent hand prop injuries or deaths.

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    The folks at the Rhinebeck aerodrome built a D7 from the plans, starting with an original engine. One afternoon
    while there I watched them attempting to start the motor with the booster mag (the one on the dash that fires
    all the plugs at once).

    It didn't work.

    Possibly you had to have the original secret teutonic setup to make it function, and they were missing
    some critical detail....

    =)

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    Mack trucks used pneumatic starter motors into the early 1980s. They worked great unless you had an air leak, which pretty much every truck did. I can't remember if there was a separate tank for the starter, there must have been.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JST View Post
    I am quite curious about the description, which appears to show a lack of understanding of the subject. (But, that is Wkipedia, par for the course).

    "Early automobiles required a hand crank to create a sufficient charge to start ignition".

    While true of an engine with a magneto, the biggest issue would be cranking the engine against compression. Many magnetos had a "snap" system to create the spark at low speeds, which in one form latched and released the rotor, propelled by a spring, through the critical area of rotation. That kept the generated voltage high despite slow cranking.
    The Fairbanks-Morse mag on my Wisconsin powered lawn mower does this, and indeed, it will start at any speed. Wind it up to compression, just before the snap, and if it's healthy, it ignites as soon as you pull it over center.

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    Simms type mechanical spring starters similar to the one described above are still available, though the manufacture seems to have moved from the UK to China.
    Kineteco International Ltd - Spring starters,Simms spring starters
    A friend of mine had an old, seldom used Massey Harris diesel tractor to which he had fitted a Simms starter to avoid the trouble of maintaining a complete electrical system. It was completely trouble free.

    Quote Originally Posted by magneticanomaly View Post
    I have seen references to a starting system that used an expendable explosive cartridge------anyone know what, an how numerous the applications for this were
    Cartridge starters were also available for Field Marshal and some other similar tractors with big single cylinder engines.

    The folks at the Rhinebeck aerodrome built a D7 from the plans, starting with an original engine. One afternoon
    while there I watched them attempting to start the motor with the booster mag (the one on the dash that fires
    all the plugs at once).

    It didn't work.

    Possibly you had to have the original secret teutonic setup to make it function, and they were missing
    some critical detail....
    Jim,
    Qantas had starter magnetos on the Siddely Puma engines in their DH50 airliners in the 1920s. One of the pilots commented that they could be very difficult to start, particularly in cold weather. He said they were very sensitive to the correct starting mixture, and often if everything was not set exactly right the engine would just give a feeble kick and refuse to start. One of the tricks the pilots sometimes had to resort to was pulling the spark plugs, dowsing them with fuel and lighting it to warm them. Wonder what the waiting passengers thought?

    franco

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    A friend has a big stationary gas engine.... maybe a Superior... it has something like a shotgun shell primer that ignites the mixture in the cylinder of the engine to get it to kick over....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike C. View Post
    Speaking of aero starters, the one on the Mercedes and BMW engines for the Fokker DVII always amazed me. It was similar to the acetylene version shown above, but without acetylene. You pulled the prop through a couple of rounds to get some mixture in the cyls and then cranked the start magneto, which just fired all the plugs at once. Hiccup, burp, vroom. Revolutionary, now a single pilot could get his plane running without anybody to hand prop it.

    We also had a Wright J-6-9 radial similar to the one Lindbergh used, but ours was on a crop duster. That engine had a starting mag attached to the hand crank mechanism, which was on the side of the engine, behind the prop for safety. Instead of hand propping, you installed the crank and turned the crank to start the engine. The engine would not turn the magneto fast enough for a hand prop start, so this was a safety feature to prevent hand prop injuries or deaths.
    I believe the starter your speaking of was an " inertia starter". You turned a hand crank that wound up a fly wheel connected to a planetary that was then clutched to the crankshaft of the engine.

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    Nope, was NOT an inertia starter. You did not wind up the flywheel and engage the clutch, it was directly driven from the crank. It was a geared drive crank starter, maybe 3:1 or so on the ratio.

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    Coffman starters, hehe. Back in the cold war days many interceptors and even bombers were equipped with a type of fast burning black powder starter to spin up turbines fast. Quite a sight. Water injection on a max gross B52s on a bad day was quite a smokey sight as well.

    I miss the cold war.

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    Re mag starters, the 300 hp Jacobs R755 radial on Cessna 195s runs at 31 degrees BTDC in normal operation. The one magneto is set there, but you can't use it with the starter because the engine will kick back and strip an expensive set of planetary gears. The second set of spark plugs has what looks like a normal distributer except that it is set up to advance 30 degrees all at once at about 600 RPM. You start with the distributor only, which is at 1 degree when cranking and only switch to both after the engine is running. An interesting unintended result is that if with the engine stopped, you switch through the ignition switch positions off-distributor-mag-both when the points are closed, you will turn the battery ignition on and off again and despite the absence of a condenser in the circuit get enough spark to fire a plug.

    Those of you who are into antique airplanes may remember Bud Dakes, who had a gorgeous clip wing Monocoupe, which in the end killed him. Bud liked to prop airplanes just for fun and 300 hp was about right for him. One day he asked to prop a friend's 195 and after the usual priming routine the pilot switched to "both". Milliseconds later, the engine was idling nicely without Bud having touched the prop. Apparently the priming had stopped the engine just after TDC on a primed cylinder.

    Bill

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    Here's a video of a restored FM-2 Wildcat being started with a Breeze cartridge starter. Nice views of original WWll cartridges and starter breech assembly. Note exhausting of spent cartridge beneath engine.

    Wildcat First Shotgun Start - YouTube

    Also see magazine ad for the Breeze cartridge starting system below. As noted in the ad, Breeze manufactured the cartridge starter system under the Coffman patent.

    ~TW~
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails breeze-cartridge-starter-1.jpg  


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