Ford engine gets more mileage

Penn State Beaver is getting plenty of mileage out its replica of Henry Ford's first combustion engine.

On April 5 students from the campus demonstrated the engine and presented their continuing research into it at a meeting of the Western Pennsylvania ANSYS Users Group in Southpointe, Pa.

The engine was built in 2012 by sophomore engineering students as a class project for Engineering Mechanics: Dynamics taught by Jim Hendrickson, instructor in engineering.

Penn State Beaver students this spring have expanded the research of their predecessors by performing finite element analysis on the engine to estimate the forces and stresses developed in some of the principle components of the engine, Henrickson said.

That research, as well as a demonstration of the working engine, was one of four presentations by campus students to the ANSYS group, which is composed of users of the industry-leading software. ANSYS performs finite element analysis to help predict how products will operate in the real world.

The ANSYS group typically invites senior engineering students to present their projects at its spring meeting. This year marked the second in a row that sophomores from Penn State Beaver have been asked to participate. Beaver’s four teams gave nearly half of the presentations of the day.

The engine, which was awarded three blue ribbons when it was displayed at 2012 Maker Faire Detroit at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., is a working replica of Ford’s Kitchen Sink Engine. That engine was never installed in a vehicle. Instead, it served as a proof of concept for his 1896 Quadricycle.

“The story goes that on Christmas Eve 1893 Henry Ford had his wife put down the turkey and come to the kitchen sink to help him start this thing,” Hendrickson said.

The engine was plugged into a light socket, and Ford and his wife regulated the fuel intake by hand. They got it started, and Ford went on to automotive history. 

Media Contacts: 

James Hendrickson

Work Phone: 

Instructor in Engineering at Penn State Beaver

Last Updated April 08, 2013