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SUPERCHARGER HISTORY

The Wine!

today we’ll be giving the historical treatment to the king of whine – the Supercharger! The beginnings of the supercharger date all the way back to 1860, when brothers Philander and Francis Marion Roots patented the “rotary air blower”. In 1878, just two years after the world saw the first functional four stroke engine, Scottish engineer Dugald Clerk unveiled the very first working two stroke engine, and it had a “supercharger”. Some credit Gottlieb Daimler as being the first to install a and experiment with a roots type air blower on a four stroke engine in 1900. But Gottlieb’s eldest son, Paul Daimler was instrumental in creating the first series production supercharged cars. They were unveiled at the 1921 Berlin Automobile Exhibition as the Mercedes 6/20 hp and the Mercedes 10/35 hp. At this time all other supercharged cars were racing cars: Fiat 805-405, Miller 122, Alfa Romeo P2, Sunbeam, Delage 2LCV, and the 1926 Bugatti Type 35C. The idea for a screw type compressor or “supercharger” comes from one Heinrich Krigar. He realized that new blast furnace designs needed more air so he improved the original roots design. 50 years later, a Swedish steam turbine manufacturer called Ljungstroms Angturbin AB appointed a new Chief Engineer, Alf Lysholm. Lysholm developed the profile of the screw compressor and tested various configurations and rotor lobe combinations. He also patented the method for machining the rotors in 1935. Credit for the centrifugal supercharger goes to Louis Renault. As in 1902 he applied for a patent which consisted of a centrifugal fan placed in front of the intake manifold of the engine with the goal of increasing the induction pressure of the gas charge. A few years later, Lee Chadwick in America put this idea into practice and further refined the centrifugal supercharger design by creating a three stage centrifugal supercharger. The supercharger was installed on racing cars manufactured by his company Chadwick Engineering Works. Chadwick cars were the first supercharged racing cars in America and some of the first cars in the world to go over 100 mph. In 1908 a supercharged Chadwick, the “Great Chadwick 6-cylinder” won the Great Despair Hillclimb, and in the same year Chadwicks competed in the Vanderbilt Cup and the American Great Prize. By the mid 30s the benefits of superchargers were more than obvious and everyone wanted the extra power provided by them. A man by the name Robert Paxton McCulloch decided to capitalize on this and so he started McCulloch Engineering Company and began manufacturing superchargers as the first large American commercial supercharger manufacturer. Then came World War II in 1939 and superchargers made a name for themselves. Perhaps the most iconic airplane from this time is the Iconic Spitfire with it’s equally iconic supercharged Rolls Royce Merlin engine. It was to ww2 aircraft what the blower Bentley was to cars. After the war, supercharged cars dominated the newly established Formula 1. Perhaps the most memorable and most successful car from the early days of Formula 1 was the Alfa Romeo 158/159. It featured a 1.5 liter straight 8 supercharged engine. In the field of mass produced cars the addition of a supercharger spawned some truly breath taking machines. From the small and nimble to the large and luxurious. The supercharger has been a staple of top tier beasts in the American market for as long as anyone can remember and it’s the magical ingredient in the hellish formula the Dodge Demon. A quarter mile destroyer, equipped with a 2.7 liter supercharger which makes the demon the hardest launching production car and the only production car ever capable of performing a wheelie. Although in terms of sheer quantity supercharger are, due their lower efficiency, loosing the battle to turbos. But superchargers definitely still have their place and enjoy the favor of companies like Jaguar, Volvo or Range rover which add them to their engines to spice up their flagship models What about the future? Well in 2017 Audi gave us a bit of a preview when they strappad the world’s first production electric supercharger to their V8 turbo diesel engine in their SQ7 TDI.

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