The invention of the automobile is often credited with Henry Ford, but the automobile wouldn’t be where it is today without the efforts of Gottlieb Daimler. He and his lifelong business partner, named Wilhelm Maybach, had the goal to create high-speed engines in automobiles that were small enough that they could be used on any locomotion device. The son of a baker, he was initially an excellent gunsmith until he began to be fascinated with engineering. From there, he never looked back.
Here’s a look at his inventions:
The Modern Gasoline Engine
Daimler initially called the gasoline engine that he invented the “Grandfather Clock Engine” because it really did look like a pendulum clock. It was a small enough engine that it could be mounted to a two-wheeled vehicle and so he did so and the first motorcycle with an internal combustion engine was created. In the next year, Daimler tried attaching his engine to a stagecoach and a boat as well and in just 5 years he was able to found the Daimler Motors Corporation.
The Otto Cycle
During the development period of the gasoline engine, Daimler came up with the idea of replacing steam engines with an engine cycle that would be more effective. Although Karl Benz invented the two-cycle engine based on the exact same concepts that Daimler was working on, the Otto Cycle was a four-stroke engine that would become the foundation of his smaller, more modern engine. With intake, compression, power, and then exhaust, he wasn’t awarded a patent for this process [it went to Benz], but it is still an important invention of his.
The Phoenix Engine
As automobiles were going into production at Daimler’s business, he was having trouble with his heart and took some time off to holiday in Florence, Italy at his doctor’s request. He met someone, got married, and then began working on the Phoenix engine when he began feeling better once again. This new engine featured camshaft operated exhaust valves and a better belt drive system, which greatly increased the speed of the engine.
It was the purchasing rights of this Phoenix engine by a British industrialist that ultimately stabilized Daimler’s company, of which he wasn’t actually part of at the time this engine was invented, and it brought him back into the fold at the age of 60.
This was the first automobile that was not adapted to the current horse-drawn carriage at the time. It was the second motor car from Daimler and looked like two bicycles that were joined together. The engine was cooled by water and was one of the fastest methods of transportation during its time.
Even though Daimler died in 1900, he was able to see his inventions begin to shape the automotive world. Licenses were sold to begin manufacturing Daimler engines around the world and his name still lives on today in a corporation that merged with his competitor’s, Karl Benz, two decades after his death.
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