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Reminiscences of a Pioneer Motor Manufacturer  -  by C. N. Cady

There are a very few of us, still in the game, who can look back to the beginning of the marine gasoline engine and trace the wonderful progress up to the present time. This has been my pleasure and honor, if you please, and it might be a source of amusement to our younger generation for me to relate some of the reminiscences of the pioneer days of the industry.

This story would not be complete, however, without considering my old friend “Dan” Tuttle, of Tuttle motor fame. Dan and I started making a gasoline engine in 1896. The first one built developed  3 hp. and weighed 700 lbs. Our present 3 hp. weighs 90 lbs. In spite of this, the “old­timers” ridiculed such a “small” engine and won­dered how large a boat such a toy would drive. If some of these skeptics could re­turn to us now and see our present types of marine motors developing 25 hp. they would never recover from the shock.

This first engine was equipped with a so-called make-and-break ignition system. We built and sold five of these engines the first year. With the same number of men we can now build five engines each day. The next year we built a 2 hp. engine similar to the illustration accompanying this article.

In those days carburetors and spark plugs or even vapor­izers were not thought of. The method used was to draw the vapor from the top of the gasoline tank. This was very dangerous on account of back firing, and I came near being blown up by an explosion of one of these tanks during one of my experiments. Next came the vaporizers. We made these ourselves, as there were no concerns manufacturing them at that time; in fact, we had to make every part of our engine, including our first spark plugs.


It  ight be interesti         It might be interesting to pause here for a moment and describe our first spark plugs. We used two instead of one; that is, we used two to obtain the same results as given by a single plug nowadays. Two holes were drilled in the cylinder walls over the top of the piston, opposite each other. Wires were wound with in­sulating materials and in­serted in these holes so that the ends of the wires almost met in the center of the com­bustion chamber. Later, we improved on this idea by using a porcelain jacket with a wire in the center.

Prior to this time all en­gines were made with a re­movable head and prevent­ing them from leaking com­pression was an exhaustive problem. Copper-asbestos gaskets had not been thought of. To eliminate this trouble

I made a very “radical” change in design of my engine by making the cylinder and head integral. I say "radical" be­cause that is how the “old-timers” termed it. They thought I had lost my reason, but I see now that most of the small engine manufacturers are using the solid head, as are also a lot of the others as well.

From this time on, the development of the marine engine was very rapid. To me, it seems that the whole thing had happened over night instead of consuming twenty-eight years, so vivid are those pioneer days when the industry was in its infancy. .

Note: The date and location that this article was published is unknown but is probably the 1920's or early 1930's.  C.N. Cady died in 1937.

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