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The engines



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 THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF BABACCI, AND OF ANTONELLI AND CECCHI

THE LARIANA NAVIGATION COMPANY AND THE CALEGARI ENGINE

THE ENGINE OF THE BENINI WORKSHOP

ANONYMOUS SOCIETY OF THE BARSANTI AND MATTEUCCI ENGINE

THE BAUER ENGINE

DOCUMENTS

 

 


THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF BABACCI, AND OF ANTONELLI AND CECCHI.

Since February 1857, a mechanic from Forli called Giovanni Battista Babacci started to collaborate with Barsanti and Matteucci (he will later join their society) together with Bastianelli; who nevertheless did not contribute to the development of the engine.

In order to contain the dynamic effects due to the strong impulse produced by the explosion of the gaseous mixture, Barsanti and Matteucci were convinced it was opportune to use bi-cylindric engines rather than mono cylindric ones. Babbacci was also convinced of this and had the idea to put the two chambers of the cylinders in communication and to let the spark necessary for the explosion occur in the canal which puts the two cylinders in communication. All this information is deduced from the Memoirs of F. Antonelli and Cecchi kept at the Ximenian Observatory. Father Antonelli and Father Cecchi suggested the use of a configuration with opposing pistons which moved in a singular cylinder.

Father Cecchi then thought it would be opportune to unite the spark chambers so they would be common to both pistons. Barsanti and Matteucci willingly accepted this proposal; however before proceeding calculations and tests were to be done on the forces at work in the cylinder.
Cecchi and Antonelli themselves, worked on the problem, and concluded their researches at the end of 1857, as it is written in a letter received by Matteucci from his wife, while he was in Turin with Barsanti fulfilling some bureaucratic operations for the Piedmont patent they had applied for. When they returned to Florence, Barsanti and Matteucci were able to complete the project of an engine with counter pistons.
The engine was supposed to be used to propel the boat "Il Veloce" for the Lariana Navigation Company of Como which attended to the transportation of passengers and good on the Lake of Como. The construction of the engine was entrusted to the Calegari Foundry, the best in the city of Livorno and relied on numerous and prestigious clients such as Francesco de Larderel. Simultaneously, Barsanti and Matteucci decided to contact other workshops, even outside Italy.

LARIANA NAVIGATION COMPANY AND THE CALEGARI ENGINE

Near the end of 1857, the news that in the railroad station Maria Antonia of Florence a new gas engine worked some machinery arrived at the Lariana Navigation Company of Como, thanks to marquis Manfredo Calcagnini who had communicated the news to Giuseppe Casella, a lawyer of Laglio. The Company quickly focalized the economic advantages that could derive form the use of such an engine in the place of the steam engine on their boats. Therefore, the general agent of the company, Enrico Pessina, wrote a letter to Casella, friend of the two scientists, demonstrating his economic interest for the engine.

 

 THE ENGINE OF THE BENINI WORKSHOP

As it has been said the engine built by the Calegari Foundry was not as satisfying because it did not explicate the requested horsepower, so Barsanti and Matteucci went to the Benini Foundry of Florence, which was relatively unknown beforehand. The engine, which is the same as the one built by Calegari but of minor horsepower - 8HP instead of 20 - was probably delivered at the end of 1858, as one can deduce from the invoice which is dated December 17, 1858. From an exam of the parts listed in the invoice, one can deduce that the engine had concurrent pistons, not in opposition but there were two cylinders.
In fact, four "crazy wheels" are spoken of (pinions with a pawls), four conic wheels ( with the gears at 45°) with steel keys, etc... The eight horsepower Benini engine seemed to have given acceptable results from the beginning of its first public experiences. To confirm this information, some years later, there was a long article published in the Florentine newspaper La Nazione, on Wednesday August 26, 1863.

From the article, some parts of the history of the counter piston engine are found but the information will be discussed later. As for the letters to the Lariana Society about the application of the Calegari engine to the boat "Il Veloce", they were interrupted in December 1858 after Pessina offered for the umpteenth time to come to Florence and attend the tests on the counter piston engine. The engine built by Calegari, after the modifications proposed by Barsanti and Matteucci and after ulterior revisions, did not give satisfactory results however and its eventual application to navigation ended definitely.
Even the Escher Wyss Company of Zurich, for the moment, didn't seem to have much faith in Barsanti and Matteucci's proposals for a high power engine. For the following two years, 1859 and 1860, there are no documents which could throw light on Barsanti and Matteucci's activities. What is known is that the problem of locomotion by land and sea became for the two inventors, maybe stimulated by father Antonelli, the principal subject of their researches.
It is also known that in that period Babacci continued to collaborate closely with them. Between '58 and '59, Barsanti and Matteucci continued to ask for many patents all over Europe. In the mean time, but at a slower pace, the information and comments of their engine started to expand and the two constructors thought that the moment had arrived to take another path and start new enterprises.

 

ANONYMOUS SOCIETY OF THE BARSANTI AND MATTEUCCI ENGINE

After the success of the presentation of the counter piston engine built by the Benini Foundry, in order to legally utilize their projects, Barsanti and Matteucci thought that it was opportune to transform their Association into a Society that would have looked after the production and sales of the engine.

So on October 14, 1859 the Anonymous Society of the Barsanti and Matteucci Engine was officially founded. The statute of the Society was approved on October 19, 1860 by his Royal Highness, the prince of Carignano and deputy of King Vittorio Emanuele II in the Tuscan Provinces.

As one can read in the transcriptions of the letters kept at the Ximenian Observatory of Florence, the Society was based in Florence in Via Agostini 3 and the laboratory and workshop were in Canto de' Nelli, next to the church of St. Lorenzo.
In the laboratory, which was run by technicians, the engines were assembled and tested.

 

THE BAUER ENGINE

THE DIRECT ACTION ENGINE

It was a four HP engine with a single cylinder and a counter piston, which is put into action through and the driving shaft two cranks.

As it was said before, this piston's function is to aspirate the gas for combustion and to expel the exhaust gas. The engine, therefore, was three stroke and was mixed because the principal piston acted "later" than the secondary piston that acted directly.
At the end of 1859, the French mechanic Lenoir had experimented a direct internal combustion engine, but it was without compression and simply worked with two phases: during the first fase aspiration, detonation and expansion happened while only exhaust happened in the second. The engine was presented officially in 1860 and immediately caused a sensation among the Parisian scientists.
Really, the idea of a direct action engine had been expressed in 1853 by Barsanti and Matteucci: in the memoir left at the Gerogofili Accademy they had hinted at the possibility to directly use the force produced by the explosion of the gas.

In the "Ximenian Manuscript", kept at the Ximenian Observatory, the hypothesis of the use of a direct engine instead of an indirect engine was discarded because it was economically inconvenient compared to the steam engine and had a poor performance, due to its discontinuous functionality caused by the violent mechanical shock the engine underwent during the explosion of the gas. Another document that gives the priority of the invention of this type of engine to our scientists is a letter which Haehner sent Matteucci on June 26 1854, (mentioned earlier ) that states "....I am glad to hear that you were able to use a direct force".
Some years later, as it has been said, even if Barsanti and Matteucci were stimulate by the news of Lenoir's engine, they decided not to let Escher Wyss and Co. build a direct action engine because the tests done had not given good results.
Even in two letters, it appears evident that our two scientists were the inventors of the direct action engine. In the first letter of December 1863, sent to the Cockerill Society of Seraing, Belgium, by the Anonimous Society of the Barsanti and Matteucci New Engine in order to build a new engine.

For each engine, there are many documents describing the particular construction and commercial enterprising. The documents that are considered particularly important and significative are as follow.

 

DOCUMENTS

Correspondence between Piero Benini and Felice Matteucci during the construction of the first mono piston engine. Invoice sent to Felice Matteucci by Pietro Benini for the construction of the first mono-piston engine. The invoice is dated June 9 1853. (photostatic copy)

Invoice sent to Felice Matteucci by Pietro Benini for the construction of the first mono piston engine and repairs of some parts. The invoice is dated November 2 1853. The illustration shows the first page of the invoice (photostatic copy) Pamphlet of Barsanti and Matteucci’s Association for the construction of the new engine. (Ximenian Observatory of Florence). The Association was founded on October 21, 1854.

Payment register of two shares of the association, signed by Barsanti, who was also the cashier of the association. (Ximenian Observatory) Copy of the photo of the engine built by the Pietro Benini workshop and used at Maria Antonia station of Florence (photostatic copy) Color illustration of the engine at Maria Antonia station of Florence, probabily done by Barsanti and Matteucci (Ximenian Observatory of Florence).

Model of the three-stroke single piston engine (aspiration, detonation, exhaust) reproduced for the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the invention of the internal combustion engine based on the designs in the British patent of 1857. Wooden model of the counter piston engine done by the Leonardo da Vinci Techincal - Industrial Institute of Florence for the 100th anniversary of the invention of the internal combustion engine (Ximenian Observatory of Florence) Memoirs of Father Antonelli and Cecchi, that is a their long letter dated February 27 1858 to Eugenio Barsanti and Felice Matteucci, in which the former proposed to enter the Society of the two scientists and offered improvements and inventions of Father Cecchi (photocopy kept at the Ximenian Observatory) At the beginning of this request there are the improvements proposed by Father Cecchi for Barsanti, Matteucci and Babacci's project since February 1857. Babacci had suggested a more opportune method for the bi-cylindric engine instead of a mono cylindric engine.

He also had the idea to put the two chambers of the cylinders in communication and to let the spark necessary for the explosion occur in the canal which puts the two cylinders in communication. Father Antonelli and Father Cecchi suggested the use of a configuration with opposing pistons which moved in a singular cylinder, in order to contain the dynamic effects due to the strong impulse produced by the explosion of the gaseous mixture.
Father Cecchi then thought it would be opportune to unite the spark chambers so they would be commune to both pistons. Barsanti and Matteucci willingly accepted this proposal; however before proceeding calculations and tests were to be done on the forces at work in the cylinder. Cecchi and Antonelli themselves, worked on the problem, and concluded their researches at the end of 1857, as it is written in a letter received by Matteucci from his wife, while he was in Turin with Barsanti fulfilling some beurocratic operations for the Piedmont patent they had applied for.

It is not known whether Antonelli and Cecchi's request to Barsanti and Matteucci went on. It is only known that Barsanti, Matteucci and Babacci worked on the project of the counter piston engine and that two of these engines were built by Calegari and Benini in 1858, to the Piedmont patent of Barsanti, Matteucci and Babacci in October 1861, to the construction of the Escher Wysse engine and the English patent of Barsanti and Matteucci in December 1861.

1858 Correspondence between Calegari Company of London and Felice Matteucci during the construction of the 20 HP counter piston engine. (photostatic copy) Invoice sent in 1858 to Eugenio Barsanti and Felice Matteucci by Pietro Benini for the construction of the 8 HP bi-cylindric counter piston engine. The invoice is dated December 17 1858. (photostatic copy) Due to the fact that the engine built by the Calegari Foundry did not give satisfactory results Barsanti and Matteucci went to the Benini Foundry of Florence for the construction of the same type of motor but of minor HP: 8. The engine was delivered at the end of 1858, as one can see by the date on the invoice.

 From an exam of the parts listed in the invoice, one can deduce that the engine had concurrent pistons, but there were two cylinders. In fact, four "crazy wheels" are spoken of (pinions with a pawl), four conic wheels ( with the gears at 45°) with steel wedges, etc... The eight horsepower Benini engine seemed to have given acceptable results from the beginning of its first public experiences. To confirm this information, some years later, there was a long article published in the Florentine newspaper La Nazione, on Wednesday August 26, 1863.
Statute of the Anonymous Society of the New Barsanti and Matteucci Engine. The statute of the Society was approved on October 19, 1860 by his Royal Highness, the prince of Carignano and deputy of King Vittorio Emanuele II in the Tuscan Provinces. Pamphlet of the Anonymous Society of the New Barsanti and Matteucci Engine. (Ximenian Observatory of Florence). Four shares of the Anonymous Society of the New Barsanti and Matteucci Engine. (Ximenian Observatory of Florence). Headed notepaper of the Anonymous Society of the New Barsanti and Matteucci Engine. (Ximenian Observatory of Florence).
Invoice of the Escher Wyss company for the construction of a 12 HP engine with counter pistons. (photostatic copy) In August 1861, while Barsanti and Matteucci were in Turin getting the patent with Babacci; from here they left the same month for the Escher & Wyss Co. in Zurich in order to reach an agreement with the technicians before initiating the construction of the new engine. In fact, after contacting the scientists around 1858, the company once again contacted them. The company's engineer, Jackson, head of the workshop where the Escher Wyss steam engine was made, studied the counter piston engine built by the Benini Foundry and probably also the engine used at Maria Antonia station at Florence on March 26 1861. The project was judged positively because Escher Wyss was later dedicated to the construction of a model of the 12 HP engine invented by Barsanti, Matteucci and Babacci.
Babacci went to Zurich to oversee the construction of the new engine in the Escher workshop. The engine was completed in less than two months and then sent to Italy, directly to Livorno, where it arrived on November 2 1861, disassembled and packed in fourteen boxes. On the boxes was the specific destination: 1st Italian Expo. Transcription of the invoice presented by the company Escher Wyss for the construction of the engine and integrally reproduced in the Memoirs of Eng. A. Levi-Cases, entitled The Barsanti and Matteucci counter piston engine of 1861 and work of the Florentine School of the Engine, published in Politecnico, Num. 2-4-9, 1930, F. Vallardi Ed. Milan. Photo of the engine constructed in 1863 by the Bauer Company of Milan based on a project of Father Eugenio Barsanti. (photostatic copy) Original copy kept at the Ximenian Observatory of the article "Outline of Nature, use and importance of the New Barsanti and Matteucci Engine".
The favorable judgement expressed by the Commission of the Royal Lombard Institute of Science, Literature and Art on the engine constructed by Bauer of Milan induced Barsanti to write the aforesaid article, as declared by Matteucci in a letter to a friend, for the magazine Il Politecnico. It is an advertisement, directly polemic with the Lenoir engine that seemed to have been pubblished repeatedly in the same magazine ( and maybe in others also). Prècis sur la nature, l'utilitè, et l'importance du nouveau moteur Barsanti et Matteucci (photostatic copy) It is the aforedsaid article pubblished in French. The pubblication year (1864) and the printing house (Rebagli, Florence) are known.

 

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