Has anyone paid close attention when watching early 1900's-1920's film clips of cars and notice how many cars smoke? Some appear just a few years old.
I realize that conditions weren't always the best for the internal combustion engine back then, especially the lack of air filters, oil filters and mechanical deficiencies (Oiling for one) and so on.
Was the gasoline not processed to the extent that it was later on? I suspect that early oil was different also. Any thoughts?
Charles, a lot of the very early cars used an "all loss" oil system. My 1908 Reliable Dayton for example has a 4 position drip oiler. It is ran from the cam shaft by a pulley and belt. It has a reservoir for the oil, four separate drip oilers, one for each cylinder (piston) and one for the front main bearing and one for the rear main bearing. They are connected with external copper lines to the engine. You were to adjust the "drips" to the amount of oil needed. The idea was to have just enough oil for the engine parts, then collect in the small oil pan for the rods to splash around in to lubricate everything else. There is a small hole in the side of the block that lets excess oil drain out on the ground. The problem is with too little oil you burn out the bearings. Too much oil and it bypasses the rings and causes a "smoker" Most people would "err" on the side of too much oil and not chance burning out the bearings, or scoring the pistons. I also think the movie makers liked to see the smoking cars as it makes them look "silly" in the old comedies from back in the day. So they probably had the drip oilers running "wide open" while filming. So it would be possible to have a brand new car just" smoking up a storm" as it was being driven back in the day ....
you got it write with you own question, oily gasoline + a lot of engines had no oil ring as we know it today, on the pistons.
Thanks Donnie and Frank...good points! The thought of no oil rings as well as oilers never crossed my mind.
Even in movies that show every day life there are quite a few cars spewing a puff of smoke here or there.
Right up to the 1950's it was expected that a car engine would 'use' some oil. This lost oil was mostly burned, although in most cars, of that time, the amount burned did not produce visible smoke. It was quite normal to check the oil level when filling with fuel, in fact some service stations made a point of so doing.
From the earliest days, oil burning was quite normal, but the advent of oil scraper rings, better fuel and other innovations gradually lessened the quantity of oil so 'used'.
A rich fuel mixture will produce black smoke. Oil burning will cause blue smoke which is most noticeable after deceleration one gives it the gas. This happens when you go down a hill on compression and then accelerate up the next hill, or after slowing to a stop you start out. Rich fuel will smoke all the time except when decelerating. On tours you will still see some cars smoke!
How many of you can remember the oil streak that used to be in the middle of the road? A dark line about a foot wide? Disappeared after the PVC valve came into use. Plenty of cars smoked & dripped way back.
Inefficient engines, poor grades of gas, poor grades of oil, piston ring design still in its infancy, sometimes inefficient or poorly adjusted carburetors, no thermostats and yes, I'm sure cars smoked like crazy back then.
Early racers were the worst smokers - loose tolerances, no oil rings and lots of castor oil made plenty of smoke ;)
Here's a compilation of early crashes etc. Lots of smoke too, during the first three minutes. By the thirties smoke seems to have been reduced to a minimum - at least among the professionals. Local races for amateurs may have smoked it up until WW2?
Roger, that is great footage.
In addition to the smoke the early tracks were dirt. Besides the wheels kicking dirt up the exhaust sometimes pointed at the ground blew dust. I'm sure the dirt, dust and smoke only added to the enjoyment of the spectacle.
Wow, No so much as a roll bar in any of those race cars. It's a wonder anybody survived a crash. The car flips over and the driver is turned in ground meat, head first. It must had made for some gruesome racing. Not so sure I would want to watch it from the grandstands. Would definitely not take the kids to it.
Actually, a bit of oil consumption was considered normal for many US cars well into the 60's - Some even into the 70's. I was working in a garage at a time when one of our customers bought a new '75 Chrysler Cordoba. It was using a little less then a quart in 1,000 miles. The customer objected to this and wanted Chrysler to put a new set of rings in it. Chrysler insisted that level of oil consumption was normal. The battle went on for about a year before Chrysler finally did put a set of rings in it just to make him go away. My '62 Chrysler would be down about a half-quart at 1,000 miles and it didn't leak a drop. It never bothered me.
my dad worked at a ford dealer before he started his own shop in 1937 one of the things he did a lot of was ring jobs.he told me most cars needed rings in 10 to 15 thousand miles.until he died he thought a quart every 300 miles was good
A large number of the films with old cars are relatively modern. The cars are often nice looking cars that are not usually driven too much and quite honestly the motors are often well worn. Certainly when you watch the PBS series of the WW1 and WW2 era look pretty but knowing several of the cars, I know I am correct. JMHO
I worked at a Chevy dealer in the early eighties. We had a customer that had a car using a quart of oil in less than a 1000 miles. Chevy considered it normal. They even mentioned that at 700 miles per quart they would make a note of it, but would not repair it unless it dropped below 400 miles per quart. I thought it was ridiculous.
Early race cars carried a mechanic and one of his responsibilities was to keep the engine smoking! He usually sat twisted in the seat facing the driver and could see the exhaust. If the smoke thinned out he would stroke the oil transfer hand pump to take oil from the storage tank ( usually on back deck beside the gas tank) and put it in the crankcase. Too high a crankcase level made too much smoke with the risk of fouling spark plugs. They often carried 7 gallons of oil and 40 gallons of gas. They would not have had so large an oil tank if they didn't need it! Roger is on the mark, and castor oil smelled great too!
Early cars did not have oil rings did they? The bottom ring was solid like the upper ones. My dad once told me about an elderly gentleman who lived close that used to cut that solid lower ring into an oil ring.
Our K touring car had holes drilled in the bottom ring channel, and oil rings with a spacer had been added to the original cast iron Pistons.
This photo and excerpt are from a 1907 24 hour race. The race is just beginning, so the cars should have fresh engines, and there is no dust. As the article mentions, it was a wet race, so again, that's not dust we see at the start of the race: