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Daimler and Maybach

First V-engine with glow tube ignition . . .


When we talk about the history of ignition, we are practically accompanying the progress of the gasoline engine, also called the gasoline engine for good reason. No, we have to start even earlier, with the Frenchman Lenoir and his atmospheric gas engine. This was the first time that one could speak of a continuously running machine.

Typically for the Lenoir engine was the ignition at top dead center above the piston and at bottom dead center below the piston. For this the ends of two platinum wires ended into the combustion chamber, what you can easily imagine as the first spark plug in 1860. With this stationary engine, the power source did not have to be an accumulator or battery; the power could also be taken directly from a type of generator.

Inline engine with high voltage ignition . . .


The ignition coil also appears here for the first time, really with primary and secondary windings. The fundamental difference to today's systems is that sparks are constantly generated, up to 50 per second, and these are distributed to the correct spark plug using a high-voltage switch. Lenoir also invented a kind of distributor, except that it doesn't rotate, but moves back and forth between two contact options.

An atmospheric gas engine did not need an exact ignition point because there was no point at which the mixture was compressed to the maximum. It was an uncompressed air-fuel mixture that moved the piston after ignition. Not a particularly effective procedure. That's why the Lenoir engine was famous for its low power and relatively high engine weight. Because of the noise generated by the many ignitions, we refer to this as a 'buzzer ignition'.

Otto and Langen's atmospheric gas engine after 1864 was already superior to Lenoir's in terms of power-to-weight ratio. This was particularly true for the four-stroke engine from 1876. However, it initially had an ignition with an open gas flame that burned in a separate room near the cylinder head. Whenever ignition was necessary, this space opposite the cylinder head was opened. We will see later that this process, as simple as it looks, did have its drawbacks.

Daimler, who worked at Deutz, basically stuck with this ignition. But since it apparently no longer worked at speeds well above 200 rpm and perhaps even blew out the flame, he used a glow tube that was heated from one side and only transferred the heat to the combustion chamber. Of course, this was a continuous ignition that basically only worked under certain speed and load conditions and Daimler and Maybach made enough attempts until their engine actually ran at around 650 rpm.

It is said that Maybach obviously did not like this type of ignition at all and was particularly afraid of the fire risk associated with it. After all, there was a tray underneath the actual burner to warm up the burner before it was put into operation, leaving enough room for incorrect operation. Of course, this burner was powered by gasoline or, more precisely, ligroin. However, we were dealing with a vehicle engine that was exposed to wind and weather, not particularly favorable for reliable engine running.


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