Lodge Igniter Demonstration Model
The invention of the 'humble' sparking plug was critical to the development of the internal combustion engine. first in automobiles then for marine engines and then aviation. Without it these industies simply wouldn't have existed in any mass form to shape the twentieth century.
The vital contribution of British Lodge sparking plugs in WWII was acknowledged by no lesser person than President Roosevelt in an address to Congress at the end of 1944. He said:
"Reference is made to the British aircraft supplies to the Americans. More important than these aircraft, in many ways, however, has been the assistance given to our air forces by the British under reverse Lend-Lease on several vitally important special productions projects. Before and during the Battle of Britain, when the R.A.F. had to work its out-numbered planes around the clock and the Spitfire and Hurricane engines got punishing treatment, the British developed a new type airplane spark plug. It has a life from four to five times longer than the standard aeroplane engine spark plug. Although the plug was hand-tailored, the British worked out production techniques for increasing their limited output during the next two years. After the United States Eighth Air Force began operations from Britain in the summer of 1942 the British undertook to double their production so they could provide all our Eighth Air Force Fortresses with these plugs. Since early in 1943 virtually every United States Flying Fortress has taken off from British bases with these plugs in each of its four engines. It would be impossible to estimate how many thousand United States bomber crews may since then have owed their lives to these spark plugs, but the performance record of the plugs speaks for itself,"
President Roosevelt was speaking specifically about Lodge sparking plugs. This states more than I can write why I thought this particular "World First" was worth purchasing to sell on my web site.
In the course of his experiments into electrostatics Sir Oliver Lodge found out how to make sparks in adverse conditions (wet and oily, poor insulation etc.) by a fundamental understanding of difference between sparking under what he characterised as "steady strain", the 'normal' situation where 'plus' and 'minus' charges build up on opposing conductors until the insulation between them (e.g. air) breaks down and a spark passes between them in "a prepared path" and the alternative "impulsive rush". In the former situation everything has to be dry and well insulated but for "impulsive rush" the conditions are different and produce sudden rushes along uninsulated conductors.
In his own words "These sudden rushes along uninsulated conductors had been specially emphasised in my experiments with the Leyden jars. There is nothing absolutely new in these experiments. Everyone knew, if they thought, that a circuit had to be completed whenever the knobs of two Leyden jars sparked into one another, or, in other words, that an insulated Leyden jar could neither be charged or discharged. When a charge leaves the inner coating, an equal and opposite charge must leave the outer coating. But the consequences of this knowledge had not been emphatically called attention to. The peculiarity of the discharge from the outer coating is that, before it occurs, the coating is at zero potential, and consequently no prearranged path for the discharge can be prepared: it has, so to speak, to take any path that is open to it, in a hurry..............One might have two plates fairly uninsulated and each connected to the outer coat of one of a pair of Leyden jars standing on a table, or otherwise roughly earthed,. The two knobs being now charged by a Voss machine, oppositely, whenever they spark into one another the opposite charge leaves the outer coatings of the jars, and give an unprepared flash whenever they can. If they are prevented from doing this, neither can the knobs be discharged, except in a partial, hesitating and leaking manner."
The spark from the previously nil potential outer non insulated coatings was the basis for the invention of the Lodge igniter which lead directly to the sparking plug which totally revolutionised the development of the internal combustion engine at the beginning of the twentieth century and was applied for this purpose by Lodge's sons, Brodie 23 and Alec 22 who set up the company Lodge Bros & Co in 1903 (with minimal capital) to market the invention.
Their first product in 1903 was the Lodge Model B igniter and a handful of 'demonstration models' for exhibition purposes of which the one on offer here is an example.
It is contained in a glased mahogany case with a metal plate "Made Under Sole Licence from Sir Oliver Lodge" with hinged sloping top and side doors 11,5" (29 cm) x 6" (15 cm) x maximim height 9" (23 cm)
This is a critically important "World First".
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