Henry Ford's Kitchen Sink Engine (my version)

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Apr 22, 2020
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Weirsdale, Florida
I became interested in the Ford engine years back but never really got the bug to make one until after building the Benz engine. The Benz engine has a sliding plate for the intake valve which is rather odd since he used a regular valve for the exhaust. The Ford engine uses plumbing parts that were available at the time for the intake and exhaust valves. A brass check valve for the intake valve and a shut off valve for the exhaust.
I got these at the local hardware store to get started.

As far as I can find out the original engine had a compression ratio of 2.2 to 1 which is quite low with a 5" stroke. The original piston was 1 1/2" or 1 1/4" in diameter I am not sure which and around 3 feet in overall length. I would like to stay within a 9" x 15" overall footprint or less than 1/2 size of the original.

I will also be trying for a compression ratio of 4.5 to 1 but there are several problems with that. I will be using a 3" stroke with a 0.875 diameter piston so I need to make the combustion chamber (the 3/4" tee) and the connecting plumbing much smaller in order to raise the compression ratio.

This shows the piston and the seamless cylinder I turned on the lathe. Note the threads are made extra long so the cylinder threads well into the tee and uses up some of the extra room.

The piston travel will be flush with the cylinder end and can just be seen inside the tee.

The stand was sealed with an aluminum slug that extends up into the tee to use up some more space.

The rear plug also has an aluminum plug that extends into the combustion chamber to use up even more room.

I don't know just how much these changes will make but the combustion chamber is definitely smaller now.

Thanks for looking
The next thing I need to do is see if I have any interference problems with a 3" stroke and still stay in my desired footprint of 9" X 15". I assembled the stand and cylinder parts and mounted on a scrap piece of wood.

I made up a piston and connecting rod.

I really like to use ball bearings so here they are for the crankshaft mounted in 0.400 thick aluminum stand.

I just couldn't leave the stand as it was it looked so ugly so I rounded over some corners and polished it up a bit.

Next will be a crank arm for the crankshaft then I will be able to tell if I have a problem.

Thanks for looking
This is a nice looking project as a scaled down version. I built a full sized Ford first engine complete with cast iron rings and piston, and it was tough getting it to run with the oiler drip carburetor, but I did make it run well with much tweaking of the drip rate and timing.

Please excuse the clutter of my garage in the background of the video, my son had recently moved home and filled it up!

John W
Very nice engine John thanks for posting.

The drip gas system and the low compression ratio made these engines very hard to get running. I believe there are many shelf queens around that never did run but not because of the builders lack of ability but just to the design.

I find it amazing the Henry Ford got the engine running at all. He certainly had far less experience with internal combustion engines than many of the folks here who cannot get the engine running. Folks here are familiar with the problems of compression, timing carburation etc. He got it running with a poor design and very little experience to fall back on.
I felt a lot like Henry while trying to get mine running. This was my first IC engine, only having built a couple LTD Stirling engines before this and I can only imagine the frustrations he went through, having only basic thoughts passed along from fellow engineers along the way.

Just goes to show that only through persistence are all things made possible! I look forward to hearing the first “pop” on this project.

John W
I find it amazing the Henry Ford got the engine running at all.
You are so right Gordon he had a mountain to climb.

I felt a lot like Henry while trying to get mine running.
I am sure you did and I think most everyone else who has built this engine felt that way too.

The crank arm as promised.



The two previous pictures tell the whole story even with a 1/2" deep relief slot there is no way a 3" stroke into a 0.875 hole is going to work. There just isn't enough room if I want to stay within my overall length of 15".
I could shorten the stroke but that means the compression ratio will go way down and I don't want that. I think what I will do is make the cylinder larger up to a 1" piston if I can make room in the 3/4" tee. This won't guarantee that there won't be any interference problems but they will be much less.

Thanks for looking
On the lathe I removed the threads from one end of the 3/4" tee and as much added material that I dared.

I turned a new cylinder with a 1" inside diameter and reduced the outside of the cylinder so it would press into the tee.

Made a new piston there is a sizeable difference from 0.875 to 1".

I still had to cut a 1/2" deep relief slot for the connecting rod but now my interference problems should be over.

Next I will work on the final board sized to my desired footprint and mount the components where they are going to go for a final check.
Thanks for looking
I found a nice piece of poplar and cut it 9" X 15" the maximum size I wanted. I brushed on a dark stain and added four rubber feet.
The crankshaft mount was narrowed up by 1" and squared to the board and securely bolted in place.

A closeup of the crankshaft mount.

This shows about where the cylinder will be mounted.
I can't do that until I have the crank arm installed with the piston and everything aligned properly.

I pressed the crank throw onto a steel bushing and then pressed the bushing onto the shaft.
I even gave it a nice coat of paint.

Thanks for looking
Coming along nicely Ray! Will you be using some form of breaker ignition with spark plug, or are you going to attempt an igniter?

John W
I made a tapered bushing for the flywheel. This flywheel was the one I was going to use on the Benz engine but it was too small there. It should work fine for this engine.
I mounted the cylinder and aligned it with the crank throw.
I am pleased to announce there are no interference problems and the compression is better than I expected but it will only decline from here. There is still a lot of empty space to be filled in in the intake and exhaust valves and their connecting piping.

The exhaust valve is next on my list.
Thanks for looking
A pretty looking flywheel. I like the double curved spokes. Was it cast as such? - Or as a hand-wheel and has had the rim reduced to a rectangular section AKA a flywheel? I bought a "cheap" flywheel, only to find it was a cast iron idle pulley for a flat belt. With a damaged rim, so can be machined into a flywheel, except the rim will not be a very large cross section. Flywheels have a heavier rim - as that is where you want the mass for rotational inertia. Idle pulleys have the minimum rim as it is for strength against pulley belt loading, not high mass. So when I decide to use my "pulley", it may become a pulley-flywheel or have a thicker rim added.
The advantage of re-cycling old hand-wheels, pulleys, etc. is that you get some pretty curved spokes. - As yours!
Keep up the good work.
Flywheels only need to store and release enough energy to get the engine over end-of- stroke, or from end of power stroke to start of next power stroke on ICE engines. Depends on speed/time, so a faster idle is used with lighter flywheels.
K2 it may not be large enough but I can still modify it or make a larger/heavier one if need be. Thanks for the comment.

Working on the exhaust valve.
I turned a new steel valve with a 45degree angle and was thinking about re-cutting the valve seat to 45 degrees too but decided against it for now. The seat has a raised narrow rim where the rubber washer would have sealed against. I left it as it was and lapped in the valve and it sealed up nicely.

Still trying to use up any empty space to keep the compression ratio up I pressed an aluminum slug into two close nipples and then drilled them out to 5/16" final size. These nipples will be modified so they will screw further into the valve and into the main tee to take up even more space.

Thanks for looking.
I like the way you’re eating up all that extra dead space in the combustion chamber. Sure will make for an easier runner!

Looking forward to seeing your adaptation on the intake valve. I screwed around with building a weak spring to keep the
‘Clapper” closed, but could’ve done better!

John W

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