Steam Engine Car

From Steam To Internal Combustion Engine

Your Car’s Engine Fundamentals

From Steam to Internal Combustion Engine. This article is to help better understand how we went from the Steam Engine to the Internal Combustion Engine. Prior to these engines, the horse drawn Wagon handled all the transportation needs including the Freight. That is how they came up with the term Engine HorsePower.

 freight wagon







Early Horsepower ( horse drawn freight wagon)

The earliest powered vehicles were run by steam engines. Steam engines are called external combustion engines because the combustion, or fire, takes place outside the engine itself, in a boiler. Some early engineers had the idea that a better engine could be made for highway vehicles if the combustion ( or explosion ) could be made to take place inside the engine. Here is a youtube link that shows how the internal combustion engine works.

Check out more of “How it works” at

Therefore, these early engineers started developing on a different type of engine. They recognized that if explosive charge could be concentrated in a cylinder and then ignited, the force of the resulting explosion could be carried through a connecting rod to turn a crankshaft.

Although some experimental work had been carried on for centuries, much more engine development was done in the last half of the nineteenth century. By then, people began to operate internal-combustion engines with reasonable success. The first of these engines was made in 1860 by the French inventory Jean Joseph E. Lenoir. Later, in 1976, the Deutz Factory started production of the four-stroke gas engine designed by the German inventory Nickolaus A. Otto.

Others also built engines and various types of self-propelled vehicles. Then, during 1885 and 1886, another German inventory, Karl Benz, built the first automobile, using an engine operating on the Otto cycle, (The four stroke). This vehicle became the starting point for the automobile industry, and the beginning of the specialized motor vehicle power plant-the automotive engine we know today.

Internal-combustion engines are of two types. The type used in almost all automobiles today is the piston engine, either spark ignition or diesel. In this engine, the pistons move up and down or reciprocate in the engine cylinders. The word reciprocate means to move back and forth or up and down in a line. Since its pistons move up and down, the piston engine is also called the reciprocating engine.

internal combustion engine

                                                                     Exploded view of the Internal Combustion engine and how it operates

The other type of engine is the rotary engine. The gas turbine and the Wankel are two kinds of rotary engines. The rotary engine uses no pistons. Instead, one or more rotors are spun by the burning of the fuel in the engine. In other words, the fuel enters the cylinder is ignited by a spark plug causing an explosion creating pressure to turn the rotors creating horsepower to the vehicle.







The internal view of a Rotary engine first used in Mazda RX7’s back in the day. They were not very popular and Mazda was the only producer of this style car engine. It first appeared in 1967.



photo credit: HuTDoG83 via photopin cc

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