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Continental, Early Series (1909 - 1914) engine pictures and information needed


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I am looking at a car that may have a Continental Engine in place. Would someone happen to have pictures and information? The engine is a four cylinder, cast in parts, side valve design. I am guessing that the HP is probably 25 to 30. I would sure like to know more about this engine before determining to purchase the car.

Al

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I suspect the design of the 6 cylinder fixed head 9N Continental engine that was used in Roamer as the normal option into the 1920s was designed in that earlier era. There is one feature that was apparently common. In 1984 I visited USA to go to Auburn, and when in San Francisco I visited John and Nelson Thorpe in Hayward, because of some similar interests. Now Nelson was racing a car which had an original Duesenberg racing 4 cylinder block on a Rochester Duesenberg crankcase, (though very few people would know the difference). When an older scrounger/collector, Herman Z. in Nebrasca or similar, advertised a Duesenberg or Rochester Duesenberg engine, They asked questions and received the right answers. Those early Duesenberg engines are very distinctive, with horizontal overhead valves, actuated by vertical rockers about 14 inches long. What they received was a big lump of a 4 cylinder L head side valve of unknown origin. Herman had his money for his prize, and refused to reverse the fraudulent deal, so it became nasty in the courts, which was still not resolved. Nelson asked me if I could identify Herman's treasure. I looked at it, and it had the same characteristic post for mounting the fan (on an arm with a clamp bolt) as my Roamer 9N Continental. I said it had that style feature which indicated it was made by Continental, and that it probably belonged to a fairly large truck. He seemed astonished, because Harrah's research people took a month to give the same answer. Of course , for a legal opinion, they had to be right. I do not know where the matter ended. As Jonathan Swift wrote through Captain Gulliver, "If a man shall steal my cow and he has a better lawyer than I, then he shall keep my cow".

King Charles II was eventually able to eliminate "Ignoramus juries", but if you do not decision by jury but by a single person, there is one chance in two that a decision will be wrong. You have to be so careful about buying something unseen.

I don't know how much help this is to you Al. But all the big Continentals seem to have been well dimensioned, and sound and reliable performers when reasonably driven . I do not admire the piston-type oil pump in the 9N, and splash fed big end bearings are not my ideal, but when you consider the faith & hope lubrication of T Fords and early Dodge Fours, and the capillary oil feed to the main bearings of early Chev Fours by plaited felt wicks, there were millions of such cars that gave billions of miles of service.

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Hello Ivan,

Thanks for your taking time to reply regarding my learning process question on Continental engines. Do you happen to have any literature that would show each side of a 1909-1914 Continental engine? I would like to know of any other specific design identifiers to confirm what the engine is. I find as a hobbiest, I know a little about a lot and a lot about little. It is always best to study and learn about a potential purchase before one spends money to bring home another project. You may have another idea based on your experience. When did the auto Manufacturers step away from using "Progressive" transmissions and went to "Selective"? It almost appears like the project I am looking at is Progressive. I had the idea that by about 1907, Progressives were really our of vogue and not used so much.

Al

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Continental built a number of different different engines in the 1909- 1914 era. The one I have encountered in a few different makes is usually called the 30 h.p . it is a cast In pairs, L head engine with a removeable water outlet plate at the top of each cyl. casting. The crankcase is alu. alloy with a pair of mounting arms extended from each side as part of the casting. Mag ignition driven off the back of the water pump on the lh. side of the engine. The flywheel is totally exposed as this engine is usually used with a separate gear box. The Staver Chicago 30 H.P. car for one uses it . I have the bore and stoke somewhere but not at my fingertips. Other engines were also made but this one seems to be the most common from the early teens era. I will see if I can find a photo.

Greg in Canada

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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Why don't you take a few pictures, write down the serial number, and give us the model, make, and year of the car? This might be easier than asking everyone in the world to tell you everything they know about every engine ever made. Easier for us I mean, not you.

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While EBay probably has a batch of old Cont'l engine ads with illus, and Googling for them will turn up ads in period auto etc magazine, a 1917 ring catalog lists some 40 or so Cont'l engines, some undoubtedly variations of a particular model, and the question would be how accurate and/or representative ad illus's or photos of particular engines would be for all in the line...

RO's point is very well taken, unless you're just collecting pix/illus of old engines...

Monte's in Chicago is generally considered the place to start for parts/info/sympathy, as the case may be, for obsolete Cont'ls...while their information on older (teens/20s) models is incomplete, it's probably the best easily available...for a prospective purchase, you'll want to know if your engine was a more "popular" model, maybe used in several makes, or a low-production specialty model...

Send pix (if possible) and all stamped/cast/embossed numbers, plus make, model, year of car to Garrad (Jerry/Gerry) Moon at garradmoon@montes@flash.net, or montesequipment.com.

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Basically the question goes, "I am thinking of buying an old car that might have a Continental engine. Tell me everything there is to know about engines"

The obvious answer is, read every post ever posted to this board, all 1,000,000 of them. The answer to your question is in there someplace.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was able to get permission from the owner of this project car that will allow me to post a couple of pictures of the engine to help identify. I think the engine is a Continental and probably about 35 hp. The car is a 1912 Gabriel and is a typical assembled automobile. Please take a look and help me determine which engine, HP and also bore and stroke. I desire to learn about the car before I consider a purchase.

post-38570-143142601465_thumb.jpg

Alan

post-38570-143142601461_thumb.jpg

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That is quite an automobile. I see it has dual ignition, a feature found on top luxury makes like Pierce Arrow and Rolls Royce. You could kid the rubes that it was a straight eight ha ha . Use coil ignition for starting, magneto for running.

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That definitely looks like the unit I had in mind. I would say it's a good bet that it was built by Continental. There is sometimes a brass I.D. plate on the crankcase, but I suspect some of the car makers wanted to make it appear that it was their own engine rather than a bought in unit and may have specified no plate be attached {or possibly removed it at their assembly plant}. Looks like a decent car, please give us more photo's if you buy it.

Greg in Canada

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Well, fools rush in, they say...

Cursory Googling the Gabriel failed to bring up prices (or much else), except for an odd note on the forgottenbooks site (a page of auto related snippets): "...1650 to 4000 "Gabriel" Gabriel Auto Co, Cleveland 3 models chassis only..."

If those were, in fact, chassis only prices, I'd be surprised if that was a Cont'l...while I'm not pretending to be well versed in Cont'ls, my impression is that they didn't penetrate the upscale auto market with their 4s...

LIBs post is also intriguing...while Cont'l did build a period "R" 4cyl, I don't have an "RB" on my Cont'l list (which, admittedly, is far from complete and undoubtedly omits many engines, particularly low prod specialty engines) and "RB 610" doesn't sound like the Cont'l serial #s I've read...

For some far out mental connections, "LI Bentley" popped up "Long Island Bentley", which brought up the American & British Engine Co, which I've always meant to research...

In research for another mystery I was stunned by the number of 4cyl inlines available in these earlier years, having been, in my younger years, interested in more modern (30s/40s etc) periods, and thinking of the OOs/early teens as wholly comprised of 1 and 2 cyl engines......

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The engine looks just like the 1910 Continental I have and has all the features of early Continental 4 cylinder engines. It is a Continental ! Continental engines were used in upper mid priced cars, $2700.00 range too.

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LIB: I stand corrected; so much for mental free-wheeling.

The "R" shown in a 1917 ring catalog lists it as 41/4 bore with a 4 ring piston, but nothing else. Do you know if your RB has the same bore?? If so, it could be a variant. Unfortunately I have nothing showing the "R"s stroke, and only that one listing for the "R"...

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Hello Bud and LI Bentley,

I will see if I can get information about the front casting number and determine the model. Does the book define HP? If this engine is a 4-1/4 bore it would probably be a 25 HP. That rating could be affected by a very long stroke, but the engine does not look to be tall enough to facilitate a long throw. Just curious, I see some real similarities between this engine, shown in pictures, and the engine shown elsewhere on this forum represented as a 1914 Kissel. I assume Kissel used a Continental engine also? LI Bentley, I will try to send you a PM regarding your engine.

Al

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Al: Unfortunately, lots of things about the orphans remain murky, at least without research, and sometimes---too often---even then...

Std Cat says a few early cars used Beaver engines (1906/7) "... but soon Kissels would be virtually all Kissel made..."

Coachbuilt's nice thumbnail on Kissel isn't any more help. but the club (kisselkar.net) should be able to tell you exactly.

My old catalogs are spotty on Kissel (low prod, own engines, not much incentive to carry special parts??):

1917 Rings---Kissel trucks only, no direct engine ID

1924/25 Piston---cars only, all "own"

1925 Tings---3 models (car? truck?) all "own"

1924 Wrist pin---no mention (3 pgs cars, 41/2 pgs trucks, fine print listings)

30 Wrist Pins---teens cars, earliest 1914 into 1918, all "own" , but 1919 100 Point 6 shows a Cont'l 7W., but that's long past your period...(later models went to some Lyc's etc).

Trucks are no better: Mroz says by 1910 using Wauks and Wiscs, but one catalog shows several with "own"...

Another problem is that, at a glance, a lot of engines look alike, especially when you're just browsing and not trying to notice specific differences...With sympathy, Bud

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Al: Just remembered didn't answer your question re' HP---no, don't think any of my catalogs ID or rate engines by HP, probably because it's so variable...

There was an original system which tried to rate HP by CID, and I believe the Auto M'f'r's

Assn used a formula to try to tame the wilder claims...

Presently, with BHP/Dyno HP, it varies with how tight you want to wind it up, and all too often, for those who want the highest reading, with the engine on a stand, bare of any power-robbing accessories...

While some engine makers advertised a specific HP---Model 4s unit power plant 22HP w/3 speed trans, and 30, 35. 40 HP w/4spd trans---many stated a range: Beaver 6cyl 33/4x5 40-45HP (Auto Buyers Ref 1912/13 courtesy Googlebooks).

Like a lot of other pursuits, with old cars you find the more you know the more you realise how much you don't know...

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Hello Bud, Bentley and Others, My search continues for information regarding the engine in a potential project car (pictures of engine above). The owner was able to inspect the front of the engine and has found the following motor/model number: RB 600. Can anyone add information about a Continental RB 600 engine? Bore, stroke, HP, vintage?

Alan

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Alan: Sorry, can't be of any further help other than to suggest another old Cont'l possible contact: P A Ross Machinery in Dallas has been mentioned as helpful with old Cont'ls--parossmachinery.com...forgot to mention them originally...

Have reviewed my period catalogs: same answer--just that one listing of an "R" giving piston and ring info (and no way of telling if the "RB" was a variant or a completely different engine)--nothing on any RB, but absence of proof does not prove proof of absence, or however it goes...

There is a much later R800, but it's an 8cyl, another completely different engine.

There's also an almost moden set of 6cyl R truck engines...R6513, R6602 etc..the "6" the number of cyl's, the 513/602 the CID. If any were sold as non-automotive (Ag, Ind'l, Const eqpmt etc) and Cont'l followed their 40s/50s60s?? terminology, they'd be R513/R602 etc, and any free-standing power units would probably be P some letter hyphen 513/602 etc...

The above is not because I think you'd confuse 6s and 8s, but in case someone answering your inquiries gets confused in the numbers...With sympathy, Bud

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(Sigh) another senior moment--forgot to mention that if it's any consolation, eyeballed my (incomplete) engine lists for the major independent engine m'f'r's for any "RB", and didn't find anything likely...

Beaver had an RB, but it was 53/4 and/or 6x7 (a number of older engines were issued in two bores, sometimes one for gas and one for kero), a bit large for yours...

Buda had a period R, 31/2 bore, but no RB, and I don't think Buda penetrated the luxury car market to any extent...

Lycoming had an R, either 3x or 31/4x (catalogs don't always agree) but a gasket catalog says it's en bloc...

Wauk had an R but no RB, and very little auto penetration...

Wisconsin had an RB/RBU, but probably later and, again, a 5' bore, a bit large...

Not that there weren't innumerable (well, at least a dozen or two) other engine builders going at the time, some of which may never've gotten into production, but it's unlikely Gabriel would've chosen an untried builder...

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Hello Bud, Thanks for your comments. For the rest, who may read this thread, I would sure be interested in a source for any early Continental automotive engine literature. Has anyone else looked into Continental Engine at any of the Libraries and had good luck?

Alan

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I just remembered I was told about (or saw mentioned somewhere) a book about Continental---as best I recall it was titled "Continental And Its Engines".

Several efforts over the years to locate a copy (inquires to EBay, Alibris, Abebooks, Amazon and Autolit, probably; if any other auto lit sites can't recall) never ran a copy down, so I may have the title wrong.

Pub lib here no help; didn't run nationwide search, and have no idea if, if it exists, it might be helpful.

I may've decided that if autolit didn't have a copy it might not exist...they have a tremendous inventory, and they think very highly of every piece...

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My Continental engine is 4 1/4 by 5 making it a 35 hp size. The data plate indicates it is a 1910 Model R, so the cast RB610 may be a part no. for the crank case and the RB 600 is a different variation of the same Model R.

Can you show us a photo of your engine?

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COMMODORE: many thxx for correction and heads-up. Do you have a copy, and if so, does it have anything like an engine list?? I have a lot of gaps in b/s on the earlier engines...the history of the company itself is not really of interest...

LIB: many thxx for clarification; at least Alan knows what's in the car.

A 1930 gasket catalog shows Cont'l used a combination of numbers for OE gasket part numbers: the engine model and another letter-number (V4E-200/201 etc for the V4 engine) AND X-3 digit numbers, so the RB numbers could well be Cont'ls OE casting/parts numbers, as you speculated.

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I do not have a copy of the book. A compete engine list may not exist. According to this article, the early records of the Continental Motor Company were destroyed.

http://www.hemmings.com/hcc/stories/2008/12/01/hmn_feature13.html

A follow on article with a list of car companies that used Continental engines.

http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2008/12/10/companies-that-used-continental-engines-the-complete-list/

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COMMODORE: Thxx again for the reply and links.

The history link I hadn't seen, but if you had scrolled down to the Trucks That Used Cont'ls section on the other you would've found my contributions...

Also thanks for the reminder it was there; I'd forgotten about it, and going thru the later comments saw several I might've been helpful on. Will try to follow it now.

You're probably right about no complete list existing; my list (limited to Automotive, Ind'l and Power Units, and made up primarily from my old parts catalogs engines lists) is lying fallow as I got bogged down in trying to equate the power units with the engines they used (some P- were direct number designations but many apparently had their own P- numbers not related to the Automotive/Ind'l numbers).

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  • 6 years later...
On 7/19/2014 at 6:55 PM, Commodore said:

I do not have a copy of the book. A compete engine list may not exist. According to this article, the early records of the Continental Motor Company were destroyed.

http://www.hemmings.com/hcc/stories/2008/12/01/hmn_feature13.html

A follow on article with a list of car companies that used Continental engines.

http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2008/12/10/companies-that-used-continental-engines-the-complete-list/

 

On 7/19/2014 at 6:55 PM, Commodore said:

Commodore, I'm late reading your post.  The blog: http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2008/12/10/companies-that-used-continental-engines-the-complete-list/,  does not open.  Is there any way I could get a copy of the companies that used continental engines?  Thank you!

 

 

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