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In the preparation of this work the author has endeavored to produce a book which will serve as a practical guide and handbook to all those who at any time have occasion to use or operate gasolene engines. It is particularly intended for those with little or no knowledge of mechanics or engineering, and with this purpose in view technical terms and names have been practically eliminated from the text and descriptions, and explanations have been made as clear and plain as possible and as concise as a full explanation will admit. As technicalities cannot be entirely avoided in any work dealing with machinery, a full glossary of such terms, as applied to gasolene motors, has been added to the work, and the reader who is without any knowledge whatever of machinists' and engineers' terms will find in this feature a ready reference and explanation.
Appreciating the value of illustrations as an aid to text description, the author has endeavored to figure each and every part and feature treated in the work; and in order to make the illustrations more plain and understandable every part or portion not directly related to the point under discussion has been eliminated in the figures.
The illustrations are in no sense working drawings, but are mainly diagrammatic, and no attempt has been made to draw them to accurate scale, while in order
to bring out certain features of construction or operation such features have been purposely exaggerated. This is the case with the tapered shafts on page '96, as well as with the pitch of various screw threads and gear teeth. This may be wrong theoretically, but in serving its purpose it is good practically, which is exactly the reverse of many theories in mechanics and engineering
While volumes might be devoted to enumerating and describing all the troubles which might occur in gasoleneengine operation, yet the number that are likely to be met are comparatively few and are fully covered in the alphabetically arranged table of troubles in the work.
The plain and simple tables of screw threads, pipe sizes, etc., will, it is hoped, prove of value, especially to those having occasion to replace or order fittings or screws.
The chapter on useful hints and makeshift repairs has been compiled from actual experience and each has been tried and tested many times in real practice.
The author sincerely hopes that the work will prove as useful and valuable to all his readers as a similar work would have been to him in the early years of his gasolene-motor experiences.
The discovery of the Gas Engine marked a new era in mechanical progress and its perfection has led to some of the most marvellous and important of modern inventions and achievements.
Through its use aëroplanes and submarines have become possible, and motor vehicles of all kinds depend largely upon the gasolene engine for power; while motor boats, launches, and power cruisers have placed yachting within reach of the man of moderate means, whereas a few years ago the use of steam confined this pleasure to the wealthy few.
Useful and important as the gas motor has proved for vehicle and marine use, even more valuable are its services in stationary form. In factory, home, and farm the stationary gasolene engine is in daily use, performing steadily and easily the work of many hands at a fraction of the cost of the old steam engine. On the farm especially has the explosive motor proven its worth, and this light, simple, portable power-plant has revolutionized farm work in many sections. Labor that was formerly slow and irksome is now performed easily, quickly, and pleasurably and the ingenious farmer finds a thousand and one uses for his motor. It will separate his cream, turn his grindstone, do the wife's washing, and light the home with electricity; and if mounted on a “tractor"
it will plough and harrow the fields, plant and cultivate the crops, and will mow, thresh, and grind the grain.
When we consider the manifold uses of the gas engine and the number in daily use it seems surprising that so few owners, operators, or users thoroughly understand their engines or their construction, operation, or care. Many a man who would feel incompetent to operate a steam engine will undertake to handle a large or complicated gas engine; and yet, as a matter of fact, the latter is by far the more delicate piece of mechanism. It certainly speaks well for the modern gas motor that, under the ordinary conditions and in the hands of so many people absolutely ignorant of the first principles of engineering or mechanics, there is so little trouble. It is no uncommon thing to hear the owner of a gasolene engine boast that his motor has run so many miles or so many hours without missing an explosion. Did you ever hear a steam-engineer boast that his engine had run a few hours or a few days without blowing up the boiler or bursting a cylinder?—and yet there is as much reason for one as for the other. If a gas motor is properly adjusted and runs smoothly for an hour there is no earthly reason why it should not continue to run for days, months, or years, as long as it is fed fuel, lubricating oil, and electric current, and ordinary wear and tear are attended to, as in any other piece of machinery.
The idea that a gas engine must give trouble, that it is an obstinate and balky thing, and that it will fail at the most critical time without cause is pure nonsense. If a gas engine fails to operate there is some good and sufficient reason; for the modern gas engine is no longer
an experiment, made by guess and by hand, but is a thoroughly well made, carefully designed, and well tested mechanical device; but like any other machine, to operate successfully, it must be given certain conditions. Nine times out of ten the “balkiness and obstinacy” are in the operator and not in the motor, and a little common sense and judgment will do far more than a lot of swearing, cranking, and hit-or-miss adjusting.
One often sees a man operating a motor, which is running smoothly and well, continually loosening a nut or screw here and tightening there, or fooling with some part or another of his engine. This practice is sure to cause trouble and sooner or later the motor skips and stops. Being perfectly ignorant of the cause, or of the former adjustment of the parts, the operator tries one thing after another and eventually either gives up in despair or by pure luck gets the motor running. In the former case a repairman's bill results in blaming the motor and gas engines in general, while in the latter case our friend flatters himself that he knows all about gas engines and thereafter poses as an expert with a fund of ready advice to every other user of a motor; and yet, should the same trouble arise again, he would be as much at a loss as before. This sort of trouble is far commoner with marine motors than with those in motor vehicles, for in a boat the engine is exposed and within easy reach, whereas in the vehicle it cannot be touched or meddled with while operating. It is mainly for this reason that vehicle motors appear to run more regularly and reliably than marine motors. Of course one now and