Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Charles F. Kettering

Canadian National Railways 9096A, Prince Rupert BC, October 1958. It is pouring rain and windy outside. Really windy and wet. Typical for an area that receives up to 200 inches of wet stuff per year.

CNR 9096A and her sister 9042A sit quietly chanting to each other, in a voice invented in part by a fellow by the name of Charles Franklin Kettering. In a few hours, the doors will open and the duo will pull the time freight out of Prince Rupert’s stormy night into the vast wilderness of the Skeena River Country with a full five-man crew.

When you read the list of accomplishments attributed to Mr. Kettering in his lifetime, rather makes you wonder what you have been doing with your time!

The inscription on the plaque reads as follows:

Charles F. "Boss" Kettering was a prolific inventor. While at National Cash Register, he invented the first electric cash register. Kettering founded the Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (Delco) in 1909 and developed the electric self-starter for automobiles, first used in 1912 Cadillac’s. He also developed no-knock Ethyl gasoline, lacquer car finishes, four-wheel brakes, safety glass, and high-compression engines; made significant improvements to diesel engines that led to their use in locomotives, trucks, and buses; and collaborated with Thomas Midgley, Jr. in the development of the refrigerant Freon. Kettering served as President of the Society of Automotive Engineers in 1918, co-founded the Engineers' Club of Dayton (1914), and was director of research at General Motors Corporation from 1920 to 1947. His interest in medical and scientific research led to the founding of the Kettering Foundation and the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research.

The diesel engine was 40 years old by the time Charles Kettering became interested in it. In fact, he was working at Delco, and was looking for a diesel motor for his yacht when he encountered Winton!

The first 567 series engine was produced in 1938. Built on the V-block paradigm, with a bore and stroke of 8½” x 10”, in an arrangement of six, eight, twelve and sixteen cylinders, providing 600 to 1350 horsepower to the generator.

By standardizing the power module made up of a piston, connecting rod head and liner, spare parts could be kept to a minimum, with maximum interchangeability. Over the years, the improvement made to the 567 series was a triumph of diesel engineering, which contributed greatly to the displacement of steam.

In addition to complete parts interchangeability, the 567 series set a high standard of performance and a long trouble-free service life:

  • Two cycle Principle. Every stroke a power stroke. No wasted motion for high efficiency.
  • Unitized Fuel Injection System combining a high pressure fuel pump, metering device and nozzle in a single unit, for quick replacement when necessary.
  • Uniflow Scavenging with a Roots type positive displacement blower for clean combustion and maximum air movement through the combustion cycle.
  • Oil-cooled floating pistons, free to rotate in the cylinder for uniform ware and longevity.
Building a motor around compact unitized components, one man for the most part could handle engine room inspection and maintenance. Indeed, two men, without the aid of an overhead crane, could remove and replace a cylinder head, piston and liner power package in about three and a half hours!

The role Charles Kettering played in the development of the 567 engine resulted in a highly reliable and robust locomotive engine that set performance standards for the rest of the industry, making General Motors the undisputed leader in rail transportation for many years.

So, what went wrong?

Railroad Stuff: Canadian National 9096A, built by Electro Motive Division in London Ontario, as an F7, 1,500 horsepower road class V-1-A-d in October 1952. Reclassed as GFA-15d in September 1954. Rebuilt from wreck as 9151 in June 1972, retired in December 1989 and ultimately scrapped in 1994.

2 Comments - Click here:

Anonymous said...

question: where is the plaque at in Ohio?

Robert in Port Townsend said...

The plaque is in Dayton Ohio. Cut and paste this link. When you open the map, click on the red hyperlink.

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