Sunday, January 30, 2011

Key engineering advance #3: Throttle control

Here’s a note from the Department of Scary Thoughts: many early motorcycle “carburetors” were actually pans of gasoline that were heated by an open flame. Vapors produced that way were then burned in the cylinders. Back then, “crash and burn” was not simply a figure of speech.

Spray carburetors were obviously much safer, but early carbs lacked throttles. Riders controlled speed by simply choking the air intake, or by changing their spark advance.

Oscar Hedstrom, the engineer behind Indian “motocycles” was one of the first people to devise a throttle-controlled carburetor. That was in 1901.

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