• Join us and fill out the registration form with your INTERESTS, your CITY, STATE, COUNTRY, NO ZIP CODES! Your account is then manually checked and approved. Please follow these instructions by using City, State, Country in your location! Incomplete applications will be REJECTED. If you like what you see here, PLEASE SUBSCRIBE and support our web site! -- Harry

1883 Daimler Experimental Engine Project

Wayne Grenning

Last Subscription Date
I have the rare opportunity this winter to work on a historically significant engine and thought it may be of interest to some to post the work that will be done in our shop. It is a reproduction of the very first prototype Daimler engine built in 1883. The reproduction was built many years ago by the Daimler Corporation and is owned by Tom Stockton of Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was a reasonably close representation of the original engine however it had a few shortcoming and did not operate very well. The carburetion and hot tube torch arrangement need the most work to fix the operational issues. The purpose of this exercise is to finish with a completely functioning engine that will represent the original as close as possible with information available to us. At the conclusion of this project it will be displayed in running condition at the Coolspring Power Museum. Key players in this will be Woody Sins of New Hartford, NY ( research and design work of functioning historically correct flash carburetor ), Myself and Tom Stockton Jr (for guidance and direction ).

This research project is a work in progress and have learned that specific information on the original prototype is exceedingly difficult to come by. I encourage anyone with specific details to chime in and share what they have.

The original prototype engine was in the possession of Daimler until 1903 when it was destroyed in a fire. There are currently three reproductions that I am aware of. One at the Mercedes Benz Museum, one at Daimler's workshop and the one we are preparing for the Coolspring Museum.

Here is the only photo of the original I have been able to locate.

The great significance of this engine was it ability to operate at " high speed" ( not limited to the 250 RPM cap of a flame ignition slide valve engine), the first successful engine with a hot tube and it's extremely light weight design. Daimler understood the benefits of higher speed operation and proved it with this design. He has been credited as the inventor of the modern 4 cycle high speed engine.

The next photos are of the Daimler built reproduction in our shop



Last edited:
Hi Wayne,
Thank you for sharing this information and the opportunity to follow another one of the very special projects that you preform in your shop.
You are a huge asset to this hobby and to the preservation of historically significant engines from around the world.
Thanks again,
Work on this engine will be casual with developments posted as they occurs.

As previously mentioned one of the areas of interest will be carburetion. Daimler (intentionally ?) did not make the flash carburetor on their reproduction functional. Close examination of its internal components and passageways confirm that key design criterias were omitted. The reasoning for this can only be assumed, maybe they did not want the liability of a functioning flash carburetor in the hands of a novice or possibly details of the internal arrangement were not understood.

Daimler has in their archives videos that show brief clips of this reproduction engine in operation. It is unclear if it is actually operating as a fueled running engine or being spun by an external means. It almost appears that the engine was set up as a movie prop and never really functioned as it was designed. These are live on Youtube and I can post if any would like to see

Attached are a couple photos of the reproduction flash carburetor and its internals.

The right component is the top section with a mock-up fuel tank for the hot tube burner ( note: all three reproduction engines were built with self contained reproduction torches) The top hut tube burner fuel tank was not needed and non functional. The smaller diameter section of the top section is the flame arrestor. This section should contain a tight wire mesh ( which is missing) to prevent flash backs from entering the carburetor. Also this section should have the air inlet to the carburetor - it is missing.

The Middle section in the photo is the fuel "tank" .

The left component is a floating atomizer. It floats on the fuel and intake air is bubbled through a series of holes drilled in an area just below the fuel level.



Here is a Daimler Patent that typifies the carburation design used in their early engines

Last edited:
Another area that needs to be researched and investigated is the hot tube burner assembly. Daimler decided to use a vintage self contained European "Max Sievert" on their reproduction. Although an original was obviously not available, Daimler went through the huge exercise of making one from scratch. Examination of historical documentation and photos bring us to the conclusion that the original 1883 engine was never outfitted with a stand along hot tube burner. More of this to follow.

Of interest I found an original vintage "Max Sievert" spherical torch on Ebay. I have never seen one in my life but took advantage of this rare opportunity and bought it, just in case it might be correct.

Here are two photos here of the Daimler reproduced hot tube burner arrangement on the reproduction engine.

A note to collectors: I have located some incredibly rare engine components this year using the Internet and have learned to take full advantage of these new resources. Good, very hard to locate parts are still out there. Be patient and be vigilant, they will show up!


Here you can see the hot tube under the heat shield and the repro torch assembly


Here are two photos of an original torch assembly I was lucky enough to get on Ebay recently. Although I do not believe it to be correct we now have an original to use should it be determined to be original equipment.


Last edited:
Hi Wayne, Just a couple days ago I ran across a good picture of Daimlers shop, supposedly from 1885, but so far can't find what I saved it under. It probably came from Google books but I’m not sure. Here's a bad resolution pic of it, but it shows that little engine on the workbench. I’ll forward it if I find it again. Neat project, good luck.

I remember seeing that engine at Tom’s as a kid, how long ago was it made?



  • 1885 dia shop.jpg
    1885 dia shop.jpg
    38.1 KB · Views: 394
Here is the link to the book on Google Books that Nick mentions, I just started reading it, pretty interesting so far, The picture Nick posted is on page 21

http://books.google.com/books?id=cQ...=PA21#v=onepage&q=1883 Daimler Engine&f=false

Looking forward to following along on your project, I wish you the best of luck on it as well!

This book might also be of interest, page 36 Fig 1 is a Daimler engine but of a different style (Vertical)

http://books.google.com/books?id=_E...=PA36#v=onepage&q=1883 Daimler Engine&f=false

This book also has some history in it and mentions 3 different engine styles he made bottom of page 359 starts it:
http://books.google.com/books?id=8X...PA359#v=onepage&q=1883 Daimler Engine&f=false
Tom, You are welcome. I look at these projects as great personal learning experiences and a rare chance to get into the minds of the early internal combustion engine development pioneers.
Chris and Nick. Thanks for posting the photos and links

---------- Post added at 06:35 AM ---------- Previous post was at 06:03 AM ----------

I will post a few more related photos.

The next is a little better photo of Daimlers original workshop. Date is unknown


Here is a photo of Daimlers Factory in Cannstatt, Germany that was destroyed by fire in 1903. His highspeed prototype and other early priceless historical museum pieces were all lost.

Here are two Daimler Co. photos of the "restored" greenhouse workshop that Daimler used to develop his prototype.

The engine shown in this photo is another one of the three reproductions that were built by Daimler many years ago.


I received a couple emails asking for this. Here you can see ( for a brief time) the twin engine to the one in our shop "running". The video is short but has some interesting images and details of the early Daimler corporation.

I personally do not believe the engine is actually running. There is no way in my mind the little flame is keeping the hot tube at the proper temperature.

Last edited:
Hi Wayne,

I was fortunate enough to visit the Damiler Museum in Stuttgart a few years ago. I took photos of one of the reproduction engines. Those lamps which you mention occasionally come up for sale in the stalls at the Nuenen Rally, they are always pricey.




  • damiler1a.jpg
    52.7 KB · Views: 286
  • damiler2a.jpg
    47.6 KB · Views: 257
  • damiler3a.jpg
    49.8 KB · Views: 298
Last evening Woody Sins and myself were able to do a series of operational tests on the engine. We figured this step would be needed to develop a better understanding of the engine and it operation.

As mentioned in a previous entry the fuel system has some issues Mainly in the flash carburetor. When Daimler built this particular reproduction they chose to leave out features which made the air flow through the carb virtually useless. One of the steps in our "re-presentation" of this engine is to build a new flash carburetor from scratch using original drawings and museum pieces as a guide. Since the as built fuel system for this engine is not functional we went to the parts bin and put together a simple apparatus that allows us to at least run it for a brief period of time.

The very first thing we did was to see if the reproduction hot tube burner torch functioned. It is made differently than other I am familiar with, This unit pressurizes itself by boiling the gasoline in the sphere by absorbed heat from the burner. The whole thing kind seemed kind of scary to both of us.

Here you can see the burner in operation with a large bright yellow flame, We were unable to get a consistent blue flame from it but thought it may be hot enough to try it on the engine,

1st step was a success. Next was to do a few test runs on the engine. The first test we used a bunsen burner on the hot tube and connected a Lunkenheimer 3/4" updraft carb to the intake of the engine. After several minutes of finagling and adjustments, we were able to get it to run for a couple seconds at a time. 1st test was sort of a success.

Our 2nd test used the same fuel source and incorporated the "cherry bomb" gasoline blow torch. After applying some of the learning's from the 1st test run we were able to get it to start and stay running for a couple minutes. Of course we had video running the whole time to capture the moment. Here you can see us bringing it to life for the second time. It took a few minutes of flipping it through and making some fuel adjustments. In the beginning of the video gasoline is poured into a pre-heating tray attached to the front of the torch's fuel tank. It is then lit and after a minute or two heat is transferred into the fuel where vaporization ( boiling ) starts to occur. Once that happens the vapor leaving the outlet nozzle ignites. The whole process leaves me a bit unnerved.

Our third test we piped propane into the Carb and continued using the blow torch. Here you can see the result. It took a little bit to get the fuel mixture correct - as our fuel delivery system was a bit "Rube Goldburg" You can even see the gasoline in the clear fuel tubing from the previous test run.

It was an interesting evening of experimenting and playing in the shop.

The engine never had a cooling system, as it was strictly designed as a test mule. The test runs we did only lasted a few minutes each with a 1/2 hour cool down time in between.

Woody and I both wondered when the last time an early Daimler engine ran. The spiral groove cam is quite a thing to see in operation.
Last edited:
Wayne, great progress. I must say that when I have that much flame around around a fuel source I'm dialing at least 91 awhile. Thanks for update and your determination on this project. Dennis:wave:
Wayne T, Thanks for posting the pictures of the Repro at Stuttgart. That engine is probably built the best of the three that exist. There are subtle but significant differences between them all - Mostly in the fuel delivery and vaporizing system. Also of note if you look closely at the original photo in my first post you will see an inner track in the spiral cam groove that is completely circular. When the engine is spun backwards, the tooth that follows the track kicks out and stays in the center track. The only repro that has this feature is the Stuttgart example. I do not have any explanation why this feature was left out of the other two.

Nick, You asked earlier about the age of the reproductions. The one at Cannstatt Germany and the other in the Daimler museum were both made a long time ago however I can not give you a specific date. The Engine I am working on for the Coolspring exhibit was made in the 1980's for Tom Stockton Sr.. I believe the people at Daimler who made this particular one did not understand its operation correctly and missed a few details. I have been in communication with several people at Daimler who have access to the historical archives. It is disappointing they have not been able to come up with any significant information as of yet.
Last edited:
Great engine, Wayne! Just remember two things when you mount it in the Susong Building, next to the hydrogen supply. 1. Willy Maybach made the engines for the Hindenburg. 2. I'm just on the other side of that wall....
Fantastic project, and quite a significant piece!
Hi Wayne,

A couple of questions:

1. How long does it take for the cylinder and combustion chamber to overheat?

2. Does it have an iron or steel liner?

3. Where does the cylinder end and the combustion chamber begin, does the cylinder run past the flange?

On the extra groove ........ could Daimler have been concerned about the engine completing a cycle on a backfire and having the exhaust valve open on the downward stroke, possibly breaking the inlet valve open?


Wayne - Good questions.

The engine heats up really fast. In the video it ran for about 2 - 3 minutes. I would not run it any longer as the cylinder temperature is already above 200deg f at that point. Between the hot tube torch and combustion a lot of BTU's accumulate in the cylinder casting.

The cylinder is a 1 piece red bronze casting with a bronze domed "L head" bolted to it. It does not have a liner of any type - just as machined bronze bore. And the piston is aluminum. We have not had the piston out of the cylinder so I can not tell what type of rings it has or the size of the combustion chamber. Judging from the stroke of the engine I would surmise that the piston does not travel into the "head".

Your theory on the extra cam groove may very well be plausible. As I am sure you know its so difficult to tell what is what on early development engines. After studying Otto's 4 cycle 1876 experimental engine it becomes obvious from all of the abandoned holes and bosses that it was tested in multiple configurations. Many of these can be associated with Otto's early patent claims! Unfortunately we are only familiar with the engine as it remains in its last setup and even more unfortunate a number smaller bolted on parts were lost after it was buried in the ground to avoid the Allied bombing raids of WW II.. In the 1960's it was outfitted with a chain drive sprocket so visitors in the Deutz museum could see it's mechanism in action as it rotated. To accommodate the chain drive system even more original parts were removed.

I am sure I will have the head off of the Daimler at some point. When I do I will post the photographs here
Last edited:

Good point and I agree completely !!

The torch is not an original. it is a something Daimler improperly made from scratch in the 1980's to look like an 1880's vintage "Max Sievert" torch . An original one I bought on Ebay has a series of copper rods and other components inside to transfer the heat from the burner area into the liquid to help vaporize it. Also has an appropriately sized the orfice The repro has none of these features - I am surprised it works at all. The other difference in these early Max sievert design ( from the more modern style you posted the video of ) is the lack of a pressure pump. It needs to generate its own pressure, which means it needs to run at a much higher ( scary ) temperature
The other difference in these early Max sievert design ( from the more modern style you posted the video of ) is the lack of a pressure pump. It needs to generate its own pressure, which means it needs to run at a much higher ( scary ) temperature

OK, so that explains the pre-heat fuel being put into a depression in the top of the tank.:eek: Make the fuel in the tank hot and it expands creating its own pressure. Interesting theory...! White gas or naptha only, or was it for kerosene?
I assume it was fueled by something similar to Naptha or another low vapor pressure fuel. Original literature for the early Max Sievert Torches calls for "Benzoline" but I am really not sure what exactly that is. Maybe the European equivalent of Naptha??
This might be relevant

In the United Kingdom, the word benzole means a coal-tar product, consisting mainly of benzene and toluene. It was formerly mixed with petrol and sold as a motor fuel under trade names including "National Benzole Mixture" and "Regent Benzole Mixture".

Confusingly, in certain countries like Germany, Ukraine, and Russia, the word "benzol" (or benzole) is also used as a synonym for benzene, and benzene in turn is sometimes used for petroleum / gasoline — in the German language, "benzin" means gasoline.