The Gnôme Monosoupape

© 2006 Carroll Gray

The 80 h.p. Gnôme Monosoupape Rotary Engine

Gnôme Rotary Engine Quicktime audio clip.

Audio clip courtesy of the owner, Sandy Rhodes, Tazbat Publishing, Ltd.

The 80 h.p. Gnôme Monosoupape ("single valve") rotary engine powered both the BEACHEY-EATON BIPLANE and the BEACHEY-EATON MONOPLANE. This engine was one of a series of rotary engines built in France by Société Des Moteurs Gnôme, owned by the Seguin brothers. Rotary engines utilized a stationary crankshaft, around which the rest of the engine rotated when running. The engines were air-cooled and lubricated with castor oil, which was injected under pressure into the hollow crankshaft, as was the fuel. The Monosoupape Gnômes used intake ports in the cylinder (in place of valves) and a single exhaust valve in the cylinder head. The result was a relatively lightweight, powerful, high-torque engine which produced a sticky and very messy exhaust.

The Gnôme 50 h.p. two-valve rotary and the 80 h.p. single-valve were copied and produced by Bayerischen Motoren Gesellschraft in Germany, by the Gnome Engine Company in Great Britain and by the General Vehicle Company in the U.S., in addition to being manufactured in Italy, Sweden and Russia. The seven-cylinder 80 h.p. Gnôme Monosoupape, the type used by Beachey, had a limited production run, but the nine-cylinder 100 h.p. Gnôme Monosoupape was produced in considerable numbers. Gnômes were very reliable and very expensive engines, requiring extensive machining to manufacture. In 1914 the Gnôme company acquired the Le Rhône rotary engine company, and thus became Gnôme et Rhône which produced thousands of rotary engines during the Great War.

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