Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 136,062 pages of information and 218,544 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Knight Engine

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The Knight Engine (USA) was an internal combustion engine, designed by Charles Yale Knight (1868-1940), that used sleeve valves instead of the more common poppet valve construction.

Developed in 1903, Knight Engines provided greater power through the elimination of poppet valves - this also made the Knight engine more quiet than standard engines. The engines also allowed for Hemi-spherical chambers. Knight received backing from L. B. Kilbourne with whom he established Knight and Kilbourne in Chicago which licensed the engine to various companies and receive a royalty payment on each vehicle produced using the engine.

The engine was used by several United States automakers, many of which included "Knight" in their brand names to denote the relationship to the engine. However the expense of manufacturing the engine limited its application to high end model cars. In addition owners reported that the engines lacked power and were slow to accelerate.

From 1905 to 1907, Knight manufactured the Silent-Knight automobile both as showcase for the technology and as an attempt to enter the U.S. automobile market (who wouldn't bear the high premium at first.)

John North Willys of Willys-Overland was a strong promoter of the Knight Engine as was Frank Ballou Stearns of the F. B. Stearns Co. Willys produced the greatest number of Knight powered vehicles and in 1925 purchased Stearn’s company which brought Stearns-Knight under Willys-Overland control.

Moline-Knight (and its successor R & V Knight ) were the only licensee's that cast its cylinders in block.

In the UK, Daimler acquired the option for an exclusive right to manufacture the engine. In Belgium the licence was taken by Minerva.

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