A Visit to Ford's First ("1893 Kitchen Sink Engine")

Discussion in 'The Break Room' started by kquiggle, May 30, 2019.

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  1. May 30, 2019 #1

    kquiggle

    kquiggle

    kquiggle

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    I'm planning to visit the Ford Museum next week and I plan to take a look at the exhibit of Ford's "Kitchen Sink Engine:"

    https://www.thehenryford.org/collections-and-research/digital-collections/artifact/361250

    Many members of this website are probably aware that a number of people have built reproductions of the engine; others (like me) may be thinking about doing the same. I've looked at one reproduction at NAMES, and seen others online (as well as looking at the above link).

    Prior to my visit, I'm wondering if anyone would like to offer advice as to what to look for to make the visit more productive in terms of learning details about the engine. If you were going to take a close look at this engine, what details would you look for?
     
  2. May 31, 2019 #2

    ShopShoe

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    I would say that for any engine, not just that one, look at the small details and try to figure out how they might have been made with the tools Henry had. If photos are allowed, great; but you might want to write down some impressions. I generally find that there are lots of whole-engine views available, but the details will be hangups if you try to build something.

    Second thing is to try to figure out the materials used: I saw the engine when I was a kid and I seem to remember that there was a sign that referred to a "lathe wheel" used as flywheel. The ignition spark came from an attachment to a hanging light fixture, which leads me to speculate that the kitchen light was probably DC and I wonder what voltage was actually available.

    I have seen some of the builds you have mentioned on this forum (unfortunately, not in person) and I remembeer that some of the plumbing parts used were made differently back then and the ones you can buy now are different, so that is definitely worth noticing.

    I guess it depends how accurate you want to be in modeling it: Do you want it to look just like the original or do you want a representation of it, perhaps in a smaller size.

    FWIW,

    --ShopShoe
     
  3. May 31, 2019 #3

    Gordon

    Gordon

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    I would say to look at the carburetor. I have looked at this design and have thought about building it and even have most of the parts but I have not gotten around to it. The carburetor looks pretty marginal with a drip oiler to dispense fuel. As much problem as we have now with better tools and more knowledge I find it amazing that he could get it to run at all.
     
  4. May 31, 2019 #4

    kquiggle

    kquiggle

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    ShopShoe - thanks for the comments. I definitely plan to look for tool marks, manufacturer names on castings, etc. My goal is to make something as close to the original as possible, so I'll also be looking to see what the various parts are made from (brass, cast iron, etc.).

    The pictures I have seen show the ignition spark connected to a hanging light fixture, which would have been 100V DC at the time. There is also some suggestion that a spark coil was also used, but I have not found what I would call a definitive reference on this. Present day reproductions use spark plugs, but the original engine did not - it used a more basic spark igniter (referred to in the drawing as an "ignition plug"; this was a flat spring which made contact with a contacter on the piston. The make/break contact as the piston moved created an ignition spark. I think this may have been possible with just 100V DC, but a spark coil would have helped.

    Present day reproductions have used plumbing parts. I have a theory that Ford used steam fittings, and that the engine body was made from a high pressure steam valve. This is pure speculation on my part, but the engine body does look very similar to steam valves I have found in old catalogs. Also, Ford was a "steam engineer" at the time, so he would have had ready access to steam fittings (or know were to get them).

    Another theory I have is that Ford used steam piston packing for the cylinder instead of piston rings. There are features on the "original" drawing that suggest this, but the drawing is not all that clear. In addition, the drawing was made many years after the engine was built and is not the drawing Ford used to make the engine (I doubt he ever made such a a drawing before he built the engine).

    Anyway, I have had a lot of fun researching the engine and the state of the art in combustion engines at the time. It's very interesting to follow the history of the development of such things as spark plugs, carburetors, etc.
     
  5. Jun 7, 2019 #5

    wespete66

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    I agree with the above comments. Also I've read that the engine that is on display is actually a replica, and as such its accuracy is in question. I asked the museum once about the possibility of seeing the actual engine (in the archive rooms) and was told something to the effect that I wouldn't want to see it as it was quite crude in comparison.. I have found one photo supposedly of the actual engine.
    I would love to see any photos you might get of it!

    Edit: kquiggle, I just noticed your signature line. Your website is one I have browsed a number of times, especially as I was trying to learn about this Ford engine. (I have not built one, but am gathering parts) Thank you for your efforts, past & present!
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  6. Jun 7, 2019 #6

    kquiggle

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    I'll reveal a little secret here, now that I have completed my visit: I went to see the engine on a "special access" basis, meaning that I paid a fee to be allowed to closely inspect the engine (under supervision). I was able to get nearly hands-on access to the engine and inspect almost every detail very closely (could not see inside the cylinder, of course). I'm currently preparing a detailed write-up of my findings, which I will make available online as soon as it is ready.

    I understand why there is some confusion as to whether the engine on display is original or a replica. The answer is both, and neither. The confusion arises because the museum has both a replica and the original. The original is in the museum section; the replica (which was donated to the museum) is kept in the "village" part of the museum and is housed in a replica Ford workshop (unfortunately closed for renovation when I visited). Apparently they actually fire up the replica engine for demonstrations. I also say "neither" because I have reason to believe that some parts (or maybe only one part) of the original are not actually original, although I believe most of it is. I'll get into more detail on this in my write-up.

    The engine has approximately 27 major parts and I inspected all of them in detail, so the write-up is going to take a week or two to complete. Stay tuned.
     
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  7. Jun 8, 2019 #7

    ShopShoe

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    One question I have had is whether the engine was displayed in the Ford Rotunda and was it damaged when the Rotunda burned. When I saw the engine during a family vacation as a child, I seem to remember that it might have been in the Rotunda. According to the following article, The Ford Archives were there, but were saved.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Rotunda

    --ShopShoe
     
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  8. Jun 8, 2019 #8

    Andy Munns

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    Around this time ignition could be flame or make+break. System in the plans looks like precursor to make+break but without the iron core induction coil that "makes the electricity behave like treacle". Likely there was enough inductance upstream of the supply to cause the spark to follow the moving contact after the circuit is made, and then broken. Later M+B systems with in-line coil did this with only 4 phone batteries. Spark timing would have been just after TDC, however it is normal to retard he spark on M+B systems to TDC for start and also to retard the spark to idle the engine. These are early days before discovery of protons, neutrons or electrons - engineers did not really know what electricity actually was. Also interesting to see an earth return system, which predates 2 wire systems. Suspect the cam was a wipe switch that only allowed current to flow when spark was needed - The moving contact in the combustion space looks to have done the timing.
     
  9. Jun 8, 2019 #9

    a41capt

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    From all the “original” drawings I’ve seen of Henry's first engine, it appears to have utilized a make and break ignition system. Has any one of you attempted to build one with this type of igniter rather than a spark plug, which Henry probably didn’t have access to in 1893?

    Now THAT would be a challenge!

    John W
     
  10. Jun 8, 2019 #10

    a41capt

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    Additionally, from the painting done taken from Henry's recollection of the event, there appears to be a wire leading from an over the sink hanging light fixture, and another leading to the faucet for ground.

    Can this igniter type circuit be run from an AC source without some type of exciter coil? Seems like a mighty wimpy spark, unless Henry's gasoline had an extraordinarily high vapor pressure and low ignition temperature.

    I sure would like to see the ACTUAL first engine's “innards”.

    John W
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
  11. Jun 9, 2019 #11

    kquiggle

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    Shopshoe - here is the very little I know about the history of the engine:
    • 1893 – engine completed by Henry Ford
    • 1930s – engine donated to Henry Ford Museum
    • 1930s and later – engine loaned out to various World’s Fairs and expositions
    • 2019 – engine on display at Henry Ford Museum
    In inspecting the engine, I did not see any evidence that it had ever been in a fire, although it appears to have been treated roughly at various times in its life.

    John W - The Ford Museum has a diagram which purports to show how the ignition worked:


    One rendering of the engine appears to show a spark coil. I haven't found a definitive reference one way or the other (unless you count the above link). The electric light voltage at the time would have been 110 V DC; I think this would have been sufficient to create the necessary spark. Also, I have not seen any information as to what Ford used for "gasoline" but from my research it was likely much more volatile than modern gas and would have been much easier to ignite.

    Leon Ridenour (who sells plans for a spark plug version of the engine) has told me that he built a contact igniter version (using a coil, I think) but that it was very difficult to get and keep running, which is why he switched to a spark plug.

    As for the innards of the engine, I would dearly love to see them. In fact, I would like to see the entire engine dismantled, measured, photographed, and given a museum quality restoration.
     
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  12. Jun 9, 2019 #12

    Andy Munns

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    Assuming 110 volt AC? Could supply be Edison 110 volt DC system? Could supply also be 32 volt DC farm set supply? Also vintage knife switches for DC need 'flickers', which are spring operated rapid opening switch extensions designed to reduce harm of a 'sticky' spark following and burning the switch blades. Old AC knife switches do not have 'flickers' and the difference between AC and DC knife switches is easily seen. Engineers of the day would have known of the problem with DC contacts experiencing a spark following the moving contact. Modern engineers might not know this plus the Kettering system used a condenser (capacitor) to absorb this 'sticky' spark.
     
  13. Jun 9, 2019 #13

    Andy Munns

    Andy Munns

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    See https://www.old-engine.com/magign.htm plus follow links. My old Union Gas Engine in a boat dated from 1897 and had one of these coils (Cotton covered Copper around iron wire bundle in varnished wooden box filled with wax). These are only a series coil and ran on 4 x 1.5 volt phone batteries (each about size of a Coke can). Spark was only 6 volt / low tension. We once left the coil out to see what happened and engine ran but with weak spark. You could take out an inspection plug to observe the spark - Much fatter than what you see with a modern spark plug. Make and Break system only good for low revs - Union did 440 rpm flat out. Frisco engines similar. Plenty of running examples on YouTube. These M+B igniters were made mainly with steel working parts and had Mica insulation. You knew when to replace the Mica when there was glitter in the sunlight around a working igniter.
     
  14. Jun 9, 2019 #14

    a41capt

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    I had seen that drawing before, and it almost created more questions than answers! I think principle among them is what materials, how was it timed, and as stated, AC or DC?

    I think I’ll have to be satisfied with the idea of a potential build with the spark plug system and a buzz coil, or reasonable facsimile thereof!

    I’m with you though. Tear it down, measure and photograph it, then an interior restoration and run it! That’s what Henry built it for!!!:)
     
  15. Jun 9, 2019 #15

    kquiggle

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    At the time the engine was built, Henry Ford was the chief engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. At that time, they supplied 110 V direct current (DC from steam driven dynamos) for electric lighting. The electric lighting was primarily street lighting initially; very few homes had electric lighting. However, displays and paintings of the engine show it directly connected (no coil) to a light bulb outlet over the kitchen sink, presumably because Ford did not have electric lighting in his workshop (that would probably have been an un-affordable extravagance!). There was of course no such thing as a plug in type outlet at the time.

    As a side note, there was a big technical battle going on at the time over the whether AC or DC was a better choice (war of the currents). Edison was fanatically in favor of DC (probably because his patents were based on it).

    P.S. to Andy - thanks for that link on igniters; very interesting.
     
  16. Jun 15, 2019 at 8:55 PM #16

    kquiggle

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    I have made some progress in writing up my visit to see Ford's First Engine; here is a link to a work in progress:

    https://sites.google.com/site/lagad...lathes-mills-etc/review---ford-s-first-engine

    I invite questions, suggestions, theories, and wild speculation as I go along. I will post updates here as I make additions to the above web page. I also apologize for not having completed this web page yet, but unfortunately we have finally gotten some good weather here in Michigan and I have been diverted by long postponed outdoor projects.

    As of this posting, I have so far addressed 4 of the 27 components. Also included are the spreadsheet schedule I prepared prior to inspection, my checklist of items I took to the inspection, and my inspection notes.
     
  17. Jun 17, 2019 at 9:48 PM #17

    kquiggle

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