DIY: Engines

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^  Literature and Manuals
^  Forum Posts
^  Tech Tips
^  Tech Notes
^  Related AEABoats Webpages
^  ^  See Engines for articles on Engine Manufacturers, History, Contact Information, Models,
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NOTES: Page under development. Rough Draft follows.

Fuels: Gasoline, Diesel, Bunker, Wood, Coal
External Combustion:
^  Steam Engines: Boilers, Multiple Expansion Reciprocating Piston Engines, Steam Turbines
There is such a thing as an external combustion engine. A steam engine in old-fashioned trains and steam boats is the best example of an external combustion engine. The fuel (coal, wood, oil, whatever) in a steam engine burns outside the engine to create steam, and the steam creates motion inside the engine. Internal combustion is a lot more efficient (takes less fuel per mile) than external combustion, plus an internal combustion engine is a lot smaller than an equivalent external combustion engine. This explains why we don’t see any cars from Ford and GM using steam engines.
More from
Thomas Newcomen, The Prehistory of the Steam Engine
Internal Combustion: Spark Ignited, Compresssion Ignited (Diesel), Hot Bulb (Semi-Diesel).
Animated Engines
Spark Ignited
Compression Ignited
More from Wikipedia
The hot bulb engine

A Petter (Yeovil made) hot bulb engine at Laigh Dalmore quarry in Stair, East Ayrshire, Scotland.

A Petter (Yeovil made) hot bulb engine at Laigh Dalmore quarry in Stair, East Ayrshire, Scotland.

British inventor Herbert Akroyd Stuart established the idea of the hot bulb engine in the late 1800s. The first prototypes were constructed in 1886. The idea was picked up by English engine makers Richard Hornsby & Sons. Production of the engines began in 1891 as the “Hornsby Akroyd Patent Oil Engine. The Hornsby Akroyd engine was a four-stoke model. In the United States two German immigrants, Meitz and Weiss, began production of a two-stroke hot bulb with Joseph Day.
By the turn of the 20th century the engines had reached their peak of popularity and were produced by hundreds of manufacturers. This was also the time when electricity generation was booming and the engines were used to power dynamos. Sweden was a heavy user of the engines (mainly for fishing boats), with more than 70 manufacturers, eventually taking about 80 percent of the market share by 1920.
The hot bulb engine was first conceived by Herbert Akroyd Stuart. The engine was later produced as the Hornsby Akroyd Patent Oil Engine. Hot bulb engines were legendary for running off anything that could “fit down the fuel pipe,” but they ran best with mostly unrefined fuels — like crude oil. The “hot bulb,” or “vaporizer”, being a part of the combustion process, needed to be close to the cylinder head. The hot bulb was used to atomize, or vaporize the fuel. The component inside the hot bulb engine that the fuel vaporizes against was called the Spoon. There are a few names for this, but the shallow bowl and elongated shape was most reminiscent of this morning-cereal-eating tool. Hot bulb engines use a blow torch to heat the bulb to combustion temperature. That means that they were already warmed when they started and were less affected by the cold temperatures.
A fuel nozzle, usually a small metered orifice valve, dripped fuel into the hot bulb. The fuel would hit the metal plate, vaporize, mix with air and ignite. A narrow passage connected the bulb and the cylinder. The expanding gases would shoot down the small passage and move the piston in the cylinder.
Gas engines use electricity to fire a spark plug and rotate the crankshaft to get the engine going. Hot bulb engines do not have this luxury. On a mild day — about 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 degrees Celsius) — the bulb must be heated for anywhere from two to five minutes, and up to half an hour on cold days or on larger engines. This initial heat, developed with a blow torch in the early days and later through coil and spark plugs, vaporizes the first charge of fuel.
An operator spun the engine’s flywheel, the biggest and heaviest part of the entire assembly, (often weighing hundreds of pounds on even the small engines), by hand until the combustion process was going and the engine was up and running.
Once the engine was up and running the heat of combustion would keep the bulb hot enough to keep vaporizing fuel, and the engine would be largely self-sustaining. However, if the load on the engine dropped, or it was used in a very cold environment, the bulb would need periodic or even constant heating. While seemingly simple and reliable, hot bulb engines could be temperamental and had their fair share of quirks and challenges.
Hot bulb engines can run as easily backward as forward, so they often had a gauge that indicated the direction the engine was running. Hot bulb engines, because of timing issues, were best run at one speed and under one load. They worked best at slower speeds — like 100 rpm versus a diesel engine that would spin at 2,000 rpm. Hot bulbs use the same basic layout as almost all other engines and can run in the same fashion. They can be built as either two-stroke or four-stroke engines. At 12 percent, hot bulb engines were roughly twice as thermally efficient as steam engines, which could only achieve about 6 percent. The engines were perfect for many applications, but especially low-speed marine travel. The United States had its own manufactured version of the European hot bulb engine: a two-stroke hot bulb engine developed in the United States by two German immigrants, Meitz and Weiss. Hot bulb engines survived long after many people thought they would and saw their way clear until just past the end of World War II. Since hot bulb engines can use any fuel, are simple to operate, inexpensive and relatively reliable, some regions are still considering their use with locally produced bio-fuels.
More from Wikipedia
More from
More from
Hot start engine
This type of engine also used a blow torch to heat the vaporizing tubes, but these were mounted directly above the cylinders in almost the exact spot where the spark plugs would be.
Nikolaus Otto
^  Reciprocating Piston Engine Configurations: 2 & 4 Stroke Cycle. In-line and V, + ?? Others

Hemi – From HowStuffWorks
^  Rotory Engines
Wankel (Not a true Rotory engine as it does not rotate around a fixed axis, but utilizes a crankshaft)
Quasiturbine engine
^  Gas Turbine Engines, Jet Engines, Rocket Engines
^  Electric (with Batteries)

Literature and Manuals


Forum Posts


Tech Tips

Dr. Diesel’s Tech Tips from

As engine professionals, we feel an obligation to share our knowledge with our customers and other engine pros. To do so we publish an ongoing series of “Tech Tips” designed to help you keep your Perkins, Deutz, Deere, or Continental engine up and running, your Hurth marine transmission last longer, your Rockford and Twin Disc® PTO to function better, or your exhaust scrubber and purifier to clean more air.
We share in writing these Tech Tips and try to do one or two a month. These Tech Tips have evolved over the years but they stay constant in their goal of communicating our knowledge to our customers and our fellow engine pros.
Dr Diesel welcomes your comments and suggestions.
Manufacturers names, symbols and numbers are for reference purposes only and do not imply manufacturing origin.
Tech Tip ## from


Tech Notes


Related AEABoats Webpages

Selecting the Right Diesel Engine for a Boat
^  Engine Oil Fundamentals
^  ^  Engine Oil Analysis
^  ^  ^  Taking a proper engine oil sample for analysis

Related Articles

A Pair of Very Interesting Articles on Oil Analysis from SAMS® Spring 2001 Newsletter

Aluminum Care By Don Casey from BoatUS
Battery Care By Don Casey from BoatUS
Carbon Monoxide = Silent Killer By Don Casey from BoatUS
Changing Engine Oil By Don Casey from BoatUS
Deep-Cycle Batteries By Don Casey from BoatUS
Engine-compartment Fan By Don Casey from BoatUS
Exercise Your Seacocks By Don Casey from BoatUS
Fall Lay-up By Don Casey from BoatUS
Flushing Your Outboard By Don Casey from BoatUS
Fuel System Maintenance By Don Casey from BoatUS
Heat Exchangers By Don Casey from BoatUS
How Important Is Changing Engine Oil? By Don Casey from BoatUS
Installing a Seacock By Don Casey from BoatUS
Raw-Water Strainers By Don Casey from BoatUS
Repainting Your Outdrive By Don Casey from BoatUS
Replacing a Cooling Pump Impeller By Don Casey from BoatUS
Reserve Minutes by Don Casey from BoatUS
Sacrificial Anodes By Don Casey from BoatUS
Servicing Your Stuffing Box by Don Casey from BoatUS
Sealant Shorthand By Don Casey from BoatUS
Ventilation By Don Casey from BoatUS
Waterproofing Canvas By Don Casey from BoatUS
What Sealant Do You Need? By Don Casey from BoatUS
Winterizing Your Engine By Don Casey from BoatUS
Zincs By Don Casey from  BoatUS

See Engines for articles on Engine Manufacturers, History, Contact Information, Models, Specifications, Literature, Manuals, etc.


Related Books

100 Fast & Easy Boat Improvements by Don Casey
Don Casey’s Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual by Don Casey
Inspecting the Aging Sailboat by Don Casey
Sailboat Electrics Simplified by Don Casey
This Old Boat by Don Casey

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