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 136,261 pages of information and 218,941 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Knight and Kilbourne Patents Co

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1903 Charles Knight developed a sleeve valve engine. Knight engines provided greater power through the elimination of poppet valves - this also made the Knight engine quieter than standard engines of the time. 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.

1905 Parent described an engine with a single moving sleeve valve

1908 Knight patent described engines with two moving sleeves.

1911 When the Argyll car was launched in 1911, the Knight and Kilbourne Co immediately brought a case against Argyll for infringement of their original 1905 patent. As part of the litigation an engine was built according to the 1905 specification and developed no more than a fraction of the rated RAC horsepower. This fact coupled with other legal and technical arguments led the judge to rule, at the end of July 1912, that the holders of the original Knight patent could not be supported in their claim that it gave them master rights encompassing the Argyll design. It is reported that litigation by the owners of the Knight patents cost Argyll ₤50,000, perhaps one of the reasons for the temporary shutdown of their plant.


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