Crosley Engine Family Tree

One byproduct of Crosley's war effort was the production of a lightweight four cylinder engine for auxiliary power for field equipment, aboard PT boats and B-17 bombers. The unique little mill was fabricated from sheet metal rather than cast iron. It had its beginning at Taylor Engines, Inc., Oakland, California. Taylor Engines was a 3 man company, consisting of a machinist named Jess, a draftsman named Joe Smith and Lloyd M. Taylor, the man with a dream. Taylor was a self-taught mechanical genius. Taylor knew the trouble with high compression engines had to do with thermal efficiency. At the high compression ratios needed to get lots of horse power out of a small displacement engine you could get violent denotation at unwanted times, sending shock waves through the block, canceling any gains in efficiency, and possibly destroying the engine. Taylor's obsession was to figure out why that happened, so he could make it stop. As he came to see it, the stumbling lay in the inherent properties of cast iron, the standard material for engine blocks. Technology of the time did not allow castings thinner than 1/4 inch, thicker in most places. Taylor calculated that temperatures could rise to over 600 degrees on one side of an engine block wall in spite of the coolant flowing past the other side. Hot spots around the combustion chamber acts as a spark plug, causing the pre-ignition. A thin, uniform wall thickness would dissipates heat rapidly, allowing higher compression.

Taylor X-24 Front

Fabricated block construction on a tubular one piece crankcase with 7 mains was proposed.

X-24 Defender

On May12th 1942 a report was submitted to Ray Olson Jr of the Navy Department proposing an all new 24 cylinder aircraft engine, designed by Taylor Engine of California.  This would be a fabricated block engine using ideas developed by Daimler and Mercedes-Benz in the early years of the automobile as well as the 27 liter Liberty V-12 aircraft engine during WW-1.

1702 cubic inch X-24 Defender
HP estimated from the 950-1050lb package:

    Un-Supercharged    1000 HP
    Supercharged 32 In.*     1,250 HP
    Supercharged 39 In.*     1,600 HP
    Supercharged 48 In.*     2,000 HP

*Manifold pressure in inches of mercury(hg).

The overall size with tapered nose for the prop and the rear accessory drive assembly was 76 inches and 45.5 inches in diameter.  It was interesting to look at the drawings and see if the front nose and rear assembly was removed, the engine was almost a perfect cube and would have fit in a 36 X 35 inch box.

Taylor X-24 Back

Four 6 cylinder banks 90 degrees apart.

Prop Cofiguration of X-24

Proposed for aircraft use but for any use where space and weight was a important.

The decision to build a 6 cylinder (one bank) test engine came after the design of the X-24.  An army engineer suggest building a one cylinder demonstration engine, after they submitted the plans for the Armies consideration, so performance test could be run.  Taylor did not feel a one cylinder version would adequately test for possible structural problems with this new design.  He was not concerned with the performance testing, he knew it would pass and decide to move on with a 6 cylinder version, to speed up the process, since all indications were that the USA would need high output engines very soon.  There is no indication that the X-24 or Flat-12 were ever built. Flat 12

A flat 12 cylinder version that would weigh 750 pounds, displace 851 ci was purposed for use in tanks.

Taylor 6 Cylinder

 IL-6 Testing at Tide Water's Automotive Laboratory in 1942
425 CI 6 cylinder with fabricated block was built hoping for a military contract. The IL-6 was delivered to Tide Water's Automotive Laboratory on May 30th 1942.  The primary tests to be perform was maximum HP at various RPM, fuel consumption at full & partial throttle and determine the octane requirements with the spark advance for maximum HP at RPMs from 1500 to 3600 with full throttle. The official test rated the engine at a max hp of 231 at 3600 rpm and 337.5 ft-lbs of torque.

When the 6 was not accepted, he built a 4 cylinder version, based on the same principals, that he submitted for testing by the Navy. The Navy liked the engine but Taylor was not in a position to build engines in quantity, Crosley Corporation came into the picture and that is where we begin this family tree.
It lives. After posting on the web that we wondered if the Taylor 6 still existed we got these photos. This is the current story of The Taylor Big 6 as told by Joe Gertle the current owner.

"We had bought the Taylor back around 1973 or so, having been told it was an experimental aero engine. LOTS of interesting design features. The main block and case were integral. (They did NOT come apart!) the intake manifolds were integral to the block. the crank went in the lower case by removing the back plate of the engine (which had all the accessory drives)and pushing it through. The rods and pistons were installed by inserting them in large round holes (with cover plates) on the bottom of the case, fishing them around the crank and then fastening the piston rods to the crank. Carbs are not original, but originals can be easily bolted back onto the original intake manifolds. The six stub exhaust on the left side of the block were all tapered in length from front to rear and were made of streamlined steel tubing with flanges, and mounted with large collar nuts that fit the threaded exhaust ports. As mentioned. most of the engine was fabricated from sheet and tubing! Very large and heavy duty DOUBLE overhead cam on top...-even though it LOOKS like a single cam, because the double camshaft was tightly fitted, side-by-side in the top."

Joe runs the web site for more info on his engine collection and his Dad's race cars.

Mystery 6 Cylinder

Another mystery engine has shown up, this one in Ohio.  It is a 6 cylinder fabricated block engine,  reported to be 90 CI and is visibly larger than what an extended standard CoBra would be. It was bought in piece as army surplus. This engine showed up again at Hershey in 2012 minus the race car. Could this be a smaller Taylor 6, supplied to the military for testing?  An early Crosley creation?  Any ideas? Were there more of these made?

It appears somewhat cruder than the Cobra especially the crankcase. The engine was mounted in a midget racer when first seen.

Not all parts were part of the surplus purchase the manifolds were with the engine but the carbs and water pump were added.

Seen at the Hershey in 2012

As far as we know it didn't sell at that time

Crankcase casting number

Fabricated Engine - 1942 to 1945

The CE2 (1942) Taylor engine above was part of a report to the Navy on August 8th 1942. The 35 hp 9:1 compression engine being proposed to the government resembles the later CoBRA but has some major differences, the biggest being a partial mirroring from the later Crosley engine.

A total of 28 engines from different companies were referenced in the report. Only the supercharged Rolls edged out the CE2 in horsepower per cubic inch.

The gauges are oil & water temperature, oil pressure and the two white face gauges go from 0-50 an 0-400, can't read what they are labeled, probably Amps and Volts.  This is a smaller generator than  we are use to seeing on  the Crosley engine.

Interesting hardware on this side. In a discussion with Barry Seel we speculate that the upper pulley drives a pump to an oil cooler (tall pipe) then back into the crankcase and a crankcase ventilation pump. The lower drive is a water pump for cooling the engine and the oil cooler. The housing between the engine and the generator is a blower to cool the generator.
While the government was not interested in the big fabricated engines they did see a need for a light weight engine for other uses.  Taylor supplied them an engine, and it met all their requirements, including running for 100 hours at full throttle without failure, but they would need them in large quantities and Taylor was not big enough to supply them.  The government connected Taylor up with Crosley for production in 1943.  In roughly 2 months  Taylor's total company of 3, including Taylor himself, brought Crosley up to speed in fabricating the 4 cylinder engine. Taylor and company spent 2 months transferring the technology to Crosley and they were delivering engines in 1944.

The connection with Crosley may have been a natural, it appears Crosley had already perfect a process to fuse steel together with copper in a hydrogen oven to make a substitute for aluminum and other castings in 1941.  More than a year before they connected up with Taylor they had 5 contracts with the Air Corp using the process. Anyone know what they were making for the Air Corp?

In later years Lloyd Taylor took every opportunity to bad mouth Crosley for cutting to many corners on his design to make a cheaper engine.

1944 CE4 Military Generator Engine

Displayed at 2010 Nationals

Thank You

The vintage photos and info on the Taylor engines was made possible by a generous donation to the club by Ray Olson III, of reports and photos saved by his father Ray Olson Jr.

Ray Olson Jr worked for the Navy Department early in WW II and was involved in the early development of the copper brazed engine for the Navy. He was also involved in the testing and manufacturing techniques required to produce the future CoBra motor. He often told his son about carrying the block from Washington DC to California.

Military Uses

The Armed Services used the tin block engine for air drop able self contained generators, generators for PT Boats, amphibians, B-17 bombers and many other places, that lightweight power plants were needed. Some evidence of use as pumping systems has all shown up, possibly to supply running water at remote camps.

More early Taylor/CoBra info was published in the club Quarterly in a four part article in 2008.

CoBra Years
Correction or additions are welcome.
Taylor Years CoBra Years
CIBA Years
Post Crosley Big Block Years

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