Charles Yale Knight 1868 - 1940
Charles Knight first began experimenting with a sleeve valve engine
in August 1903. He obtained financial backing for his engine from
L.B. Kilbourne and formed "Knight and Kilbourne" as a company around 1905,
operating from 19 Huron St, Chicago.
The sleeve valve engine was revolutionary in the following ways;
It was not until 1913 that Charles Knight met with J.N. Willys during a trip to England. J.N. Willys must have taken notice because when he arrived in England he hired a Daimler Knight, complete with chauffeur and covered 4,500 miles during his 15 day vacation. On his return to America, he bought the Edwards Motor Co of New York, which in turn gave him the licence to build his own Knight engined cars.
It was the Willys Knight cars that made the Knight engine famous because J.N. Willys put so much effort into reducing the manufacturing costs. Willys Overland was the most successful sleeve valve manufacturer, producing almost half a million between 1914 and 1933, from a humble farm single cylinder 3 HP lighting plant to a 65 bhp V-8.
This wasn't to be the largest, nor the most complex of the Knight Sleeve Valve engines as the French manufacturer Avions Voisin also built many large Knight Sleeve valve engined vehicles including V-12 and straight 12 cylinder configurations and an 8 litre special that achieved the worlds 24 hour record in 1927 with an average speed of 113.4 mph.
1906 Silent Knight owned by Charles Knight
Interested readers should also refer to W.O.K.R.
particularly numbers 144, Jul - Sep, 1998 and 145, Oct - Dec, 1998.