The Levavasseur Motor [1906]


A Sixteen-Cylinder Motor-Boat Engine of 190 Horse-Power

The new 8-cylinder gasoline motor, which has been brought out at Paris by M. Levavasseur, has a number of novel features. Our illustration shows two 90-horse-power motors as mounted in tandem on the launch Antoinette, one of the prize winners of the season. By the use of eight cylinders great steadiness of power is secured as an impulse is obtained every one quarter of a revolution, and hence the flywheel can be dispensed with. Another great advantage lies in the fact that the motor can be run in either direction by the placing of special cams upon the cam shaft. By putting a small handle located at the end of the cam shaft, the cams are shifted and the motor is reversed. The constructors claim that the new motor thus has the advantages of a steam engine.

The carburetion is produced by a small gasoline pump worked from the motor. It draws gasoline from the tank and sends it to eight small distributors placed at the top of each motor on the inlet. These regulate the supply of liquid, causing the spray action that is needed. The output of the pump is variable at will, but its automatic action is preserved, as it is run from the motor. Good carburetion is always secured in this way, and the method has an advantage in suppressing a large amount of piping.

The new Antoinette motor consists of eight cylinders mounted four on each side and at an angle of 45 degrees upon a crank case, as will be noticed. The eight cranks work on a single shaft. A cam shaft works the eight exhaust valves. What is to be remarked about the new motor is its great lightness in proportion to the power it will give. The 90 to 100-horse-power motor, having a 5.2-inch bore and stroke, weighs but 330 pounds, not including the reversing mechanism and ignition devices. With the latter, the weight is 370 pounds. It measures only 32 inches long and somewhat less in height. The great advantage to the motor when applied to a launch lies in the fact that it can be used to operate the propeller directly without needing a friction clutch or a reversing mechanism. It also starts up as soon as the ignition is set working, seeing that two of the cylinders are always in action. The new motor is claimed to be the lightest per horse-power that has yet been produced, this figure being 3.3 pounds per horse-power, and it is thus specially adapted for use upon airships. The smallest motor which has been constructed is a 40-horse-power size, while the largest gives 400 horse-power. With the two 90-100 horse-power motors the launch Antoinette III made a remarkable performance lately at the Monaco races, where it took one of the prizes.

(Transcribed from the Scientific American, March 3, 1906, p. 193.)


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Leslie Field, 1999