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Antique Gas Engine Discussion

Brayton Cycle Engines

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Old 02-02-2013, 04:03:55 AM
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Default Brayton Cycle Engines

Brayton cycle engines predate the otto cycle and are really some of the first I/C engines used for propulsion. A Brayton cycle engine was installed in a boat before the Otto invention and one was used in the Selden auto of 1878.... a few years before the famos Benz motorwagen. There is record that Brayton engines were still being used as late 1900 to power boats and run machinery. The worlds fist powered submarine (1879) was powered by a Brayton engine. In fact it's possible that they might have seen more use in autos if not for Ford fighting the Selden patent. Selden claimed a patent on the internal combustion powered auto but Ford won because he pointed out Selden's auto used a Brayton cycle engine and not Otto cycle like the Ford. Here's a good link to the worlds first powered sub and a labeling of the engine and it's components.

Wane Grenning was kind enough to make a list of all the surviving Braytons (6 are known) but none are known to be running.

If someone knows of any Brayton cycle engines or would like to share some knowledge on the subject it would be nice to have a discussion it.

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here's a list compiled by Wane Grenning.

The Brayton cycle is very significant in the development of combustion engines. Of course its principle of " constant pressure" is used in gas turbine technology throught the power generation and the aviation industry with huge success. From the perspective of reciprocating engines, very few examples survive. Taken from my registry of historic engines around the world I am only showing 6 remaining examples. They are:

1) A small super nice original example located in storage in Bethlehem, Pa – Owned by the Smithsonian Institution. This was part of their Centennial Exposition exhibit
2) Very early ( may be the earliest) inverted walking beam at the Smithsonian in Washington. It was on display several years ago and may be in storage now.
3) Nice original American built example at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI
4) Also at the Henry Ford museum in storage is a 1877 Selden Car with a Brayton cycle engine. – This vehicle was way ahead of its time.
5) Great Falls Museum in Patterson, NJ has a Brayton powered submarine
6) Deutz Museum in Porz / Cologne Germany has an early original that Otto himself bought to study.
Others of interest:
7) Although not functioning, The Smithsonian Institution has the US Patent Model that Brayton built to demonstrate his principal.
8) A very small Vertical Brayton cycle engine of unknown maufacturer (possibly prototype or experimental engine) showed up at Coolspring a couple years back

doe's anyone know anything or have pics of the Coolsprings Brayton?
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Old 02-02-2013, 07:23:51 AM
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Default Re: Brayton cycle engines

The engine in the Holland sub looks very similar to the "Brayton Ready Motor" only it's a horizontal version.

---------- Post added at 04:56 AM ---------- Previous post was at 04:42 AM ----------

here are some other version of the Brayton cycle engine.

---------- Post added at 05:08 AM ---------- Previous post was at 04:56 AM ----------

here is a cut away view of the compressor / expander on an early version .

Also a diagram of the early version.

---------- Post added at 05:23 AM ---------- Previous post was at 05:08 AM ----------

Interesting that the engine in the Holland sub and the 1876 engine displayed at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876 and the horizontal engine shown in Scientific American have a double acting compressor and double acting expander . The other versions (early walking beam and inverted walking beam) seem to have a single acting piston / expander.

---------- Post added at 05:29 AM ---------- Previous post was at 05:23 AM ----------

here is the link to wikipedia... it seems to be accurate..

---------- Post added at 05:59 AM ---------- Previous post was at 05:29 AM ----------

I did make a running engine which is mostly like the brayton cycle... here's a link if someone is interested...

---------- Post added at 06:18 AM ---------- Previous post was at 05:59 AM ----------

Here is some more Brayton information...

This seems to be the compressor and expander of the inverted walking beam version.

The fuel pump and what looks to be the fuel injector.

The Selden auto shwoing the 3 cylinder Brayton engine.

A diagram of the Brayton / Selden engine

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---------- Post added at 06:23 AM ---------- Previous post was at 06:21 AM ----------

here is a drawing of the Brayton boat engine.
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:32:26 AM
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Default Re: Brayton cycle engines

Sorry Wayne I misspelled your name...
and there are 8 known Brayton cycle engines... not 6...
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:45:10 PM
Roy Pasini Roy Pasini is offline
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Default Re: Brayton cycle engines

I have one more survivor to name, the Connelly engine at Coolspring, in the Founders' Building. It is much modified, and is no longer Brayton cycle, but did start life as one, and has some remaining evidence of its' previous glory.
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Old 02-02-2013, 05:13:34 PM
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PaulGray PaulGray is offline
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Default Re: Brayton cycle engines

Roy- I thought the Connelly was a 2-cycle engine which is missing the scavenging cylinder. If you search patents 457459 and 457460 you can see the details and the ignitor which trips each revolution. In contrast, the Brayton oil engine uses a small constantly burning flame in an antechamber in the cylinder to light the pressurized mixture. The Connelly appears to be more of a Clerk cycle (Reid) . The Brayton also has a storage tank to keep pressurized air which is used for combustion.
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:36:25 PM
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Default Re: Brayton cycle engines

Hi Paul / Roy, I look at that drawing and I agree with Pauls assesment, even though thats a cool and interesting engine, I dont think it was ever a brayton cycle engine. Sorry above I wrote 8 engines... I got confused... Wayne stated he knew of 6 plus a patent model and the coolspring engine.. I wonder if this is what he is refering to as the coolsprings engine? Maybe Wane will join and give some clarification? Also there are 2 Selden autos so that adds 1 more example. Also thanks to Paul for his great pics and discription inside the sub! And I hope others join the discussion so we can uncover more information. Wouldn't it be great if someone made an authentic working example Since none of the original Braytons are running or are in circulation.

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Paul, I noticed you talked about making a copy.. Did you start that project? I had thought about using a steam engine and making the single acting version that uses the back side of the piston as a compressor.. But when I made my little engine I discovered that the engine works best when the compressor volume is less than the expander... My engine worked best when the compressor was about 1/3 less volume. I also noticed that most Brayton engines have a slightly smaller expander / compressor relationship. It seems that the horizontal / american scientific engine and the inverted walking beam engine have a much smaller volume compressor when compared the the expander. From the pictures maybe 50 percent less than the expander?
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:41:25 PM
Wayne Timms Wayne Timms is offline
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Default Re: Brayton cycle engines


I have an interest in the Brayton gas engine, especially the model shown in a book of I have from the 'Vienna International Exhibition of 1873'. It is a single acting engine with a rocking beam on top. After years of searching, I have been unable to find any other information about this engine. I would really like to know where the valve operation is driven from.

I think on these early engines Brayton was relying on atmospheric pressure to do some of the work, as the valves were closed long before the stroke was completed. Is this correct?

I have included an old photo, which has some information on the back.

Selden is an interesting story, I understand that automobiles built before the Ford case was won would have had the brass plate below attached, as they were paying licensing fees on the Selden patent. Does anyone know if this was indeed the case?

I haven't had time yet to follow all the links but thankyou for posting them.

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Old 02-03-2013, 12:13:47 AM
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Default Re: Brayton cycle engines

Wayne , I've studied that picture a lot.. I believe this is a cut away picture of the cylinder on the engine you are talking about.

the compressor inlet valve works on atmospheric pressure and the outlet valve works on cylinder pressure... basically a simple air compressor..

The compressor is on the top the expander is on the bottom and it has some linkage on the flywheel side that is not shown. possible cams on ether the crankshaft or some sort of side shaft driven off the crank.

Brayton engine surely used cams or 2 eccentrics since the inlet to the expander used an early cut off.. about 1/3 stroke. The exhaust was open the full stroke.

I think that was an early engine. Later engines seem to use a smaller volume compressor.

---------- Post added at 11:01 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:58 PM ----------

sorry the link didnt work...

---------- Post added at 11:05 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:01 PM ----------

I'm trying to learn how to post photos...

BTW I think the column on the walking beam engines was used as the air tank...

I call the example you are referring to the early single acting walking beam version.

---------- Post added at 11:08 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:05 PM ----------

until I can figure out how to post a photo from photobucket... here's the link..

---------- Post added at 11:13 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:08 PM ----------

Acording to Wiki there is a Simon version... has anyone found any information on that?

wiki: "Brayton's engine was displayed at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, and the Simon variant was displayed at the 1878 Paris Exhibition, and for a few years was well regarded, but within a short time the Otto engine became more popular. However, it was considered the first safe and practical oil engine and also served as inspiration to George B. Selden. As a production engine the design evolved over time, and according to Henry de Graffigny in Gas and Petroleum Engines,[6] it was available in both vertical and horizontal forms." Simon version?
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:26:53 AM
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Default Re: Brayton cycle engines

Some 2 stroke engines use a piston to charge the cylinder during compression with an air or air/fuel mixture like the Reid and the Connelly engine... Like Paul said Clerk cycle... these are piston charged 2 strokes and not Brayton cycle but there is a family of engines that's a close cousin to the Brayton and that's the split cycle engine.... Ricardo made one in the early 1900's called the Dolphin and used it in cars and boats. then there is a valveless version used by some motorcycle manufactures in the 50's and 60's some people call them twingles... In these engines all the compressing is done in one cylinder then transferred to another cylinder where the combustion and expansion is done. Another more recent version is from a company called Scuderi.

---------- Post added at 05:43 AM ---------- Previous post was at 05:13 AM ----------

some pics of split cycle engines...

---------- Post added at 06:26 AM ---------- Previous post was at 05:43 AM ----------

Btw Mr. Timms.. I visited your page... what a cool collection!
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:28:34 AM
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Wayne Grenning Wayne Grenning is offline
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Default Re: Brayton cycle engines


Here are two engravings: The first one showing the Brayton as exhibited in Philadelphia in 1876 and the second and the offering by Simon.


I Found another slightly different Simon configuration.

Last edited by Wayne Grenning; 02-03-2013 at 07:41:54 AM.
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