1910 Russell-Knight (Daimler engine)

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pfindlay
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Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2018 2:09 pm
Location: Burnaby, BC, Canada

1910 Russell-Knight (Daimler engine)

Post by pfindlay » Sun Sep 16, 2018 2:24 pm

Hello, I have recently purchased a Canadian built Russell-Knight. It has a Daimler 22HP Knight engine, #7050. I'm looking for any information about these engines. It is currently in excellent condition, so I'd like to connect with anyone who has run one of these engines to determine things like oil selection, spark plugs, maintenance, etc.
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1910 Daimler Knight engine

Stan Thomas
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Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2016 2:14 pm
Location: Penkridge. Staffs.

Re: 1910 Russell-Knight (Daimler engine)

Post by Stan Thomas » Mon Sep 17, 2018 8:01 am

Good morning "Pfindlay",

The engine you have is not a "Daimler" engine as such, but an engine made under licence from Knight & Kilbourne of Chicago U.S.A.

The engine was the brain-child of Charles Yale Knight - and L.B. Kilbourne put up 150.000 dollars for its initial development. Having aspired to making the engine a viable proposition, the design was offered under licence to numerous manufacturers both in the States and Europe. A number of companies took up the offer as they saw the potential of such an engine for their luxury cars - The Daimler Company being the principal one in the U.K.

However, it remained an "American" engine, with the most number of companies in the States producing cars with sleeve valve engines - and non more so than the Willys Company - and as the licencing agreement for the engines required the "Knight" name to be incorporated into the identity of the car - they were called "Willys-Knight". That is why your car is called a Russell-Knight.

There is a very large contingent of sleeve valve affectionados in the States (with a world-wide following) called "The Willys Knight Register" - worth contacting them regarding your "find". There is also a wealth of info on the 'net regarding the history and development of the sleeve valve engine.

Regarding your technical query, The engine requires but a monograde SAE 30 oil, and a relatively soft spark plug (most likely 18 x 1.5mm thread) - if so use a Champion D21 or equivalent. Regarding maintinence - there isn't any!!

Not having any tappets or valve gear there is nothing to adjust - and the only real requirement is to decarbonise the ports as and when. Otherwise they are best left alone, for they are capable of phenominal mileages.

In passing, it has often been said - and remains so to this day - that taken in context, the invention of the sleeve valve engine was the biggest single leap forward in the development of the motorcar.

You can email me direct at: sleevevalve@mail.com

Regards,

Stan Thomas.

Christopher Storey
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Location: Cheshire

Re: 1910 Russell-Knight (Daimler engine)

Post by Christopher Storey » Mon Sep 17, 2018 3:33 pm

Stan, who is an expert on these engines will correct me if I am wrong , but the only thing I would add to Stan's advice is that the engines are susceptible to damage if they are used harshly when cold. IIRC the major problem can be partial seizure of the sleeves leading to the breaking off of the driving lugs on the sleeves. Therefore it is a wise precaution to warm the engine fairly thoroughly before subjecting it to high speed or load

pfindlay
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2018 2:09 pm
Location: Burnaby, BC, Canada

Re: 1910 Russell-Knight (Daimler engine)

Post by pfindlay » Mon Sep 17, 2018 5:11 pm

Thank you, both Stan and Christopher, for your comments. I have been in contact with a number of Willys-Knight people through the registry for their input. But I still wanted to find someone who knows these Daimler built Knight engines.

I'm curious about how the oiling works. The oil is pumped up through the sight gauge on the dash and then flows down to the timing case. This makes sense.

However, the line also appears to bypass the sight gauge and runs down to the same fitting on the timing case. However, this line first passes a connection that goes directly down to the filler neck, and then another that goes to the water pump. Then there is a petcock that would shut the line off, before it reaches the timing case. I don't understand what this line is supposed to do, as it appears that any oil there would just end up back in the crankcase. I'm mostly concerned about the line that goes off to the water pump - how does any oil get there?

I don't know if these oil lines are original, or whether they'd be Daimler or Russell added. Any thoughts?

Peter

Stan Thomas
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Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2016 2:14 pm
Location: Penkridge. Staffs.

Re: 1910 Russell-Knight (Daimler engine)

Post by Stan Thomas » Mon Sep 17, 2018 6:28 pm

Firstly Chris - I'm no expert, just a keen amateur like the rest of us!!

You are right that it is best to warm-through a sleeve valve before setting off, and this was cited in early Daimler literature.

I'm not sure though how it would actually damage the sleeves by not doing so - but that said, you have to consider that in the ealy days oils were strictly monograde, which meant their viscosity was far more proportional to ambient temperature than oils of today. Add to this that folks often used a heavy oil to (wrongfully) combat smoke emissiion from the exhaust, and it does make more sense, as the cold sleeves could be starved of adequate lubrication and to put the engine under load by driving off stone cold on a winters day might cause partial siezure of the sleeves, so I can't disagree there is something in what Chris is saying.

Regarding smoking exhausts - remember in those early heady days exhaust emissions meant for nothing (as any Scott motorcyle owner will testify!!) and some poppet valve engines were not much better anyway. As time progressed, such was the development of the sleeve valve engine that smoke emission was all but eliminated, cut down to a very faint haze.

Returning now to the Russell-Knight engine, the lubrication drippers probably fed "troughs" under each con-rod into which a quill dipped to force oil to the big end bearings, plus a certain amount of oil fling would also lubricate the sleeves. Each manufacturer had their own ideas about the lubrication system, so it is not possible to determine exactlty why the engine in question has the layout it does. (in later engines the troughs rose and fell with the movement of the accelerator linkage in an effort to establish a balance between adequate lubrication of the big ends whilst not swamping the sleeve and generating even more smoke)!

The feed to the water pump is self-explanatory - and probably intended for "occassinal" use. The feed directly back to the sump is a little puzzling - but maybe that as the oil was being pumped up to the sight glasses, the system had to be balanced by diverting any excess of oil back to the sump before it swamped the sight glasses, either upon starting when the oil was thick or running on the road - or perhaps to give easy initial passage to prime the sight glasses if the car had been standing for a long time - and thus also providing the occasional lube to the water pump.

Just my thoughts - but of course, you really had to know your stuff to drive a car in those days!!

Keep us posted.

Regards,

Stan.

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