Lot 201: Le Rhone Le Rhone 9-cylinder 80 hp engine
The Le Rhône 9J is a nine-cylinder rotary aircraft engine manufactured in France by Gnome et Rhône. Le Rhône 9J engines were produced under license in Great Britain by W.H. Allen Son & Company of Bedford, in Germany by Motorenfabrik, Oberursel and in the United States by Union Switch & Signal of Pennsylvania. In common with other Le Rhône series engines, the 9J featured highly visible copper induction pipes and used a single push-pull rod to operate its two overhead valves. Examples of Le Rhône 9J engines are on public display in aviation museums with several remaining airworthy, powering both restored vintage aircraft and authentic reproductions of such aircraft. Le Rhóne engines were one of the finest available and were used to power the Sopwith Camel, Sopwith Pup, Fokker and Thomas-Morse in addition to a number of other aircraft of the day. Oberursel manufactured the 110 hp version, allegedly without authorization in Germany. The Oberursel Ur.II was a straight copy of the Le Rhône, but the Le Rhône was preferred over the Oberursel due to the superior materials used in the French version. However, by July 1918 there was a shortage in Germany of castor oil, a plant-derived lubricant that the rotaries required and because it possessed lubrication qualities superior to mineral oils of the day. A new Voltol-based lubricant, derived from mineral oil, was substituted and was blamed for engine failures on rotary-engined German fighters such as the Fokker E.V which used the Oberursel Ur.II. It has been suggested that without proper lubricants, the Le Rhône rotary would have been equally failure-prone. This 80 hp Le Rhóne engine has the date stamp of 29th November 1918 as being the date it was accepted by the U.S. army. Factory Number 0 1456 and S.C. number 66357 are clearly visible on the identification plate. The vendor purchased the engine a number of years ago and has not used her in anyway; it does appear to be in good order with all the cooling fins in unmarked condition. Whether to be used for the purpose of which it was designed, or as a decorative piece, this Le Rhóne engine is delightful in every aspect and will surely create interest among automobile and aero enthusiasts alike.
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Historics at Brooklands, Weybridge
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