Celebrating the Pioneers: March Babies Daimler and Royce

1st April 2017 BY
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Daimler: The automotive pioneer behind the Mercedes marque

gottleib diamler photo founder of daimler benz

From gunsmith to automaker

Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler

Born: 17 March 1834

Died: 6 March 1900

Question: What does a Mercedes car have in common with a grandfather clock, a double-barreled pistol and a locomotive? Answer: Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler.

Considered a pioneer of the internal combustion engine and automobile development, Daimler invented the high-speed liquid petroleum fueled engine that led to the manufacture of the first Mercedes car in partnership with Wilhelm Maybach.

Daimler and Maybach in 1883 designed a horizontal cylinder layout compressed-charge liquid petroleum engine that fulfilled Daimler’s desire for a high speed engine that could be throttled, making it useful in transportation applications. This engine was called Daimler’s Dream.

In 1885, they designed a vertical cylinder version of this engine which they subsequently fitted to a two-wheeler, the first internal combustion motorcycle named the Petroleum Reitwagen (Riding Car) and, in the next year, to a coach, and a boat. Daimler called this engine the grandfather clock engine (Standuhr) because of its resemblance to a large pendulum clock.

daimler reitwagen photo

Reitwagen. Sweet hogg, bro, does that thing have 1BHP?!

In 1890, they converted their partnership into a company, Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft and sold their first automobile in 1892.

Daimler was the son of a baker named Johannes Däumler and his wife Frederika, from the town of Schorndorf near Stuttgart. By the age of 13, he had completed six years of primary studies in Lateinschule and became interested in engineering.

After completing secondary school, Daimler trained as a gunsmith. He graduated in 1852, passing the craft test with a pair of engraved double-barreled pistols. In 1853, Daimler got work at Rollé und Schwilque (R&S) and when the workshop began making railway locomotives in 1856, Daimler, then 22, was named foreman.

Daimler engine history of mercedes rental car

The Standuhr. Also makes a great coffee

Instead of staying, Daimler took two years at Stuttgart’s Polytechnic Institute to hone his skills, gaining in-depth grasp of steam locomotives. Convinced that steam was destined to be superseded, he conceived small, cheap, simple engines for light industrial use, possibly inspired by the newly developed gas engines of that era.

In late 1883, Daimler and Maybach patented the first of their engines fueled by petroleum naphtha. It achieved Daimler’s goal of being small and running fast enough to be useful at 750 rpm. Improved designs in the next four years brought that up to 900 rpm.

In 1885, they created a carburetor which mixed gasoline with air. allowing its use as fuel. The duo assembled a larger version of their engine, still relatively compact, but now with a vertical cylinder of 100 cc displacement and an output of 1 hp at 600 rpm. It was baptized the Standuhr.

In November 1885, Daimler installed a smaller version of this engine in a wooden two wheeler frame with two outrigger wheels, creating the first internal combustion motorcycle, the Reitwagen.

In 1889, Daimler and Maybach built the Stahlradwagen, their first automobile that did not involve adapting a horse-drawn carriage, with their engine.

The Rolls-Royce founder who invented the adjustable shock-absorber a day before he died

frederick royce image

Automaking Santa > Regular Santa

Sir Frederick Henry Royce

Born: 27 March 1863

Died: 22 April 1933

The English engineer and car designer who, with Charles Rolls and Claude Johnson, founded the Rolls-Royce company, started life selling newspapers and delivering telegrams, having had only one year of formal schooling.

After an apprenticeship with the Great Northern Railway Company and a job with the Electric Light and Power Company, the young Royce started his own firm in partnership with friend Ernest Claremont, making domestic electric fittings. In 1894, they started making dynamos and electric cranes and F.H. Royce & Company was registered as a limited liability company. It was re-registered in 1899 as Royce Ltd. with a public share flotation.

Royce became increasingly absorbed with the era’s latest invention, the motor car, and decided to manufacture one of his own. Two ‘Royce 10’ cars were produced with two-cylinder engines. Charles Rolls, who had a car showroom in London, was impressed with the two-cylinder Royce 10 and agreed to take all the cars Royce could make. These would be of two, three, four, and six cylinders and would be badged as Rolls-Royce.

Royce 10

The Royce 10. Not as popular among Hip Hop artists of the time as the current Phantom

The first Rolls-Royce car, the Rolls-Royce 10 hp, was unveiled at the Paris Salon in December 1904. In 1906 Rolls and Royce formalized their partnership by creating Rolls-Royce Ltd., with Royce appointed chief engineer and works director. Royce thus provided the technical expertise to complement Rolls’ financial backing and the business acumen. By 1907 the company was winning awards for the engineering reliability of its cars.

The workaholic Royce began designing the ‘R’ engine for aircraft in October 1928. Less than a year later, with development financed by the UK government, the ‘R’ engine set a new world air speed record of 357.7 mph. In 1931, an aircraft with an improved engine flew at 407.5 mph to break its own record.

The improved PV12 engine, later renamed the Rolls-Royce Merlin, was adopted by the Royal Air Force. The engine completed its first test in 1934, the year after Royce died. The man who had once humbly signed the visitors’ book at the RAF Calshot seaplane base as “F.H. Royce – Mechanic” would never know how his engines would go on to change the course of the Second World War.

The Rolls Royce Merlin: the little engine that could (beat the Blitz)

The Rolls Royce Merlin: the little engine that could (beat the Blitz)

In 1931, Rolls-Royce Ltd. bought out the famous firm of W.O. Bentley. A ‘20/25’ engine was put into a chassis and a Bentley radiator fitted. An open four-seater body completed the picture. The engine was souped up enough that Royce realized that such a fast car should have a means of varying the stiffness of the springing. The night before he died, he sat up in a bed and drew a sketch on the back of an envelope which he gave to his nurse and the housekeeper, telling her to see that the “boys” in the factory got it safely. He died before it reached the Derby factory. This was the adjustable shock-absorber.

Further Reading

Sir Fredrick Henry Royce – biography

Gottlieb Daimler – biography

Daimler remembered on 100th birthday in 2014

BMW Celebration – 150 years in 2013

Rolls Royce Celebrates Founder Birthday


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