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Happy 98th patent birthday to the electric starter
19 August 2013
On 17 August 1915, Charles Kettering, the co-founder of Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (DELCO) in Dayton, Ohio, was issued US Patent Nº 1,150,523 for an “engine-starting device”—the first electric starter for automobiles.
Kettering had filed his application more than four years prior on 15 June 1911, and the first application of his electric starter made its debut in the 1912 Cadillac Touring Edition.
Before the electric starter, starting required a hand crank, and was a leading injury risk; kickback on a crank handle could break an arm.
As cars grew larger and purposeful, so did the engines and effort required to start them. It was so difficult, in fact, that it gave rise to the term “cranky,” according to General Motors—an adjective often describing someone’s mood after struggling to start a car. The electric starter fundamentally changed the automobile market.
Cadillac founder Henry M. Leland had worked closely with Kettering to incorporate the device into his cars. The electric starter also was GM’s first electric motor.
The present invention is particularly applicable to automobiles, wherein an engine of the combustion or explosion type is employed, as a means of propulsion, and it is another of the primary objects of the present invention to combine the means for controlling the starting device, with the ordinary transmission clutch mechanism of the automobile, whereby the transmission clutch will be broken and the running gear positively disengaged from the engine, at such times as the starting device is operated to start, or “crank,” the engine so that the load of the engine will be materially reduced during the starting operation.
This also results in the provision of a safety device, which prevents the inadvertent or accidental starting of the car or automobile, simultaneously with the starting of the engine, inasmuch as the driving connection between the engine and the running gear of the vehicle is disconnected by the disengagement of the transmission clutch. It is this foot pedal which control the transmission clutch, that is spoken of just above as being adapted to couple the starting device to the engine.
In the form which I have adopted for the present instance, as one of the preferred embodiments for illustrating my present inventions, I make use of a motor-generator, in combination with an accumulator having a plurality of sets of electrical connections therebetween. The accumulator comprises a plurality of units, each unit consisting of an equal number of cells. The several units are provided with two sets of electrical connections, running to the mechanically operated controller switch, which in turn has two distinct operations.
When the controller switch is thrown into its first position, the cells of the accumulator, that is, these units will be connected up in series with the motor-generator. When the controller is thrown into its second, or charging position, the connections are broken, and the several units of the accumulator are connected in series multiple, with the motor-generator.—US Patent Nº 1,150,523
|Top view of chassis of an automobile, with the starter applied. Click to enlarge.|
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