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Engines Afloat: From Early Days to D-Day (Vol. 2) The Gasoline/Diesel Era

Engines Afloat: From Early Days to D-Day (Vol. 2) The Gasoline/Diesel Era by Stan Grayson

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by Stan Grayson

  • Paperback
  • Published June 1999

Special Price for Volume I & II Set: $44.95 Add to cart

Both books measure 8½" x 11" trim size! Volume I contains 224 pages and 101 illustrations. Volume II contains 192 pages and 89 illustrations.

From the first motor launches, Gold Cup racers, and fishing boats to World War II landing Craft — here is the true story of internal combustion on the water! This fascinating two-volume book presents the only comprehensive history of the U.S. marine engine industry. Engines Afloat offers a unique blend of biography, history, and technical explanations with the kind of storytelling for which its author is so well-known. The time frame is 1884-1944.


"This book concerns itself as much with the men behind the engines as with the engines themselves, which adds greatly to the fascination of the narrative...these two volumes make the definitive introduction to American marine engines, related in a way that never leaves the interest flagging. American marine engine history starts here." — Stationary Engine Magazine

"...a hard look at the impact of internal combustion." — Workboat Magazine


  1. Fishing: Fishermen were early adopters of the gasoline engine. They recognized it as salvation from backbreaking work, a major advance in safety, and the key to better catches and higher prices. The chapter examines the engine's impact on the Great Lakes. There Kahlenberg of Two Rivers, Wisconsin, made an early and immediate impact. On the West Coast, Hicks played a similar role while, in New England, it was Palmer. Even the power skiffs used by fresh-water clammers on the Mississippi are included, as is the story of the coming of power to the Gulf Coast.

  2. Diesels: Here is the story of the trend from gasoline to diesel. Included is the decline of the big West Coast gasoline engine and its replacement by the diesel developed by Atlas-Imperial.On the East Coast, Nelseco was also working to develop a diesel for both commercial use and in submarines. Its story, together with those of Seattle's Washington-Estep and the Sumner-Willamette of Portland, Oregon are included.

  3. Rivers: Here is the most detailed story yet of the "gasoline steamboat" and the rise of the diesel towboat. This is a little-known but important chapter in the history of internal combustion engine, for the engines made it possible for many more people to engage in commercial business on the country's inland rivers. From the Little Kanawha to the Mississippi and beyond, the story of these engines and the boats they powered is told. Engine companies featured include Fairbanks-Morse of Wisconsin and Cooper-Bessemer of Mount Vernon Ohio and Oil City, Pennsylvania.

  4. General Motors: Take a trip inside the GM research labs headed by Charles Kettering as GM engineers struggle to develop the high-speed diesel for World War II submarines, subchasers, and D-Day landing craft. This is the fascinating story of a great American visionary, for it was Kettering whose ideas and leadership paced the way through years of trials to ultimate success. Also told is the story of the self-made, Scottish-born millionaire Alexander Winton whose company GM eventually purchased.

  5. Navy: At about the midpoint of research for this book, the author began to wonder about what was going on within the Navy while so much activity was occurring in virtually every phase of marine engine development and application. The result is a very rare glimpse into the Navy's adoption of internal combustion engines for small boats and submarines. The Packard PT boat V-12 is covered. So is GM's "pancake diesel" used in subchasers.

There's More!

Both volumes of Engines Afloat include an appendix and a useful Index. In Volume I, the Appendix includes a most unusual glossary of terms so that readers will be able to identify how the first generation of engine designers defined the machines they were building. Volume II includes fascinating operating instructions relating to Kahlenberg and Hicks engines.


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