"On This Day" In Engineering History Blog

"On This Day" In Engineering History

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August 14, 1935 – The Last Rolls-Royce Phantom I

Posted August 14, 2008 4:55 PM by Steve Melito

On this day in engineering history, the last American-built Rolls-Royce Phantom I was delivered to the home of Mrs. M.S. Morrow of Whitestone, New York. Manufactured at the Rolls-Royce plant in Springfield, Massachusetts, the Phantom had replaced the Silver Ghost, a 6-cylinder vehicle whose popularity had prompted the British-based company to open a second American factory in Springfield in 1921. Ultimately, over 1500 "Springfield Ghosts" graced the roadways of the United States. Some Phantom I vehicles (as shown in the picture at left) are still in working condition today.

Pushrod Engine

Unlike its predecessor, the Rolls-Royce Phantom I featured a new pushrod, straight-6 (L6) engine that used aluminum instead of iron in its cylinder heads. Sometimes called an overhead valve (OHV) engine or I-head engine, a pushrod engine places the camshaft in the cylinder block. Rods or pushrods then actuate the rocker arms above the cylinder heads. In turn, this actuates the valves. The lifters or tappets, parts of the rocker arms that make contact with the valve-stems above the cylinder heads, transfer sideways force and impart linear motion. Tappets fail or break over time, however, and pushrods can flex or snap at high engine speeds.

Both Sides of the Pond

The 7668-cc engine in the Rolls-Royce Phantom I is also notable in that it produced relatively large amounts of power for its automotive era. Equipped with a 4.25-in. bore and 5.5-in. stroke for a total of 7.7 L of displacement, the pushrod engine was designed to move a heavy car along primitive roads. During the 1920s and 1930s, Rolls-Royce built a total of 1,241 Phantom I's at its factory in Springfield, Massachusetts. A larger number of vehicles (3.500+) were built at the Rolls-Royce factory in Derby, England.

Three-Speed and Four-Speed Transmissions

Unlike their American counterparts, the British-built vehicles featured a manual, four-speed transmission instead of a three-speed design. Both the British-built and American-made vehicles were considered to be luxury cars, however, as their elegant design still suggests.








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