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Wrights produced approximately 200 gasoline-powered engines of three basic types for their
airplanes: the horizontal 4-cylinder from 1903-1905, the 4-cylinder vertical motors from
1906 to 1912, and the 6-cylinder vertical motors from 1911 to 1913. They also produced a
V-8 motor for the two 1910 Model R Roadsters, a variant of the vertical 4-cylinder.
Wrights designed all of their airplane motors, but machinist Charles Taylor built them,
beginning with the 1903, and supervised construction after the company started in 1909,
until he left in 1911 to assist Cal Rodgers as he flew a Wright Model EX, dubbed the Vin
Fiz, across America. Although the Wright motors had many novel features, they
regarded the motor as an accessory, and never applied for a patent on any motor or
improvement. Hobbs described this as "the essentially perfect engineering achievement
by the classic definition...And the overall record of their power plants shows them to have
been remarkably reliable in view of the state of internal combustion engine at that
- Hobbs, 1971, pp 61, 63, 68.
- McFarland, 1953, pp 1210-1217.
- Taylor, 1948, pp 27, 68, 70.
- Hobbs, Leonard S. The Wright Brothers' Engines and Their design. Washington, D.C.:
Smithsonian Institution Press, 1971, p 61, 63, 68.
- McFarland, Marvin W. (ed) The papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright. McGraw-Hill Book Co.,
New York, 1953, pp 1210-1217.
- Taylor, Charles E. "My Story of the Wright Brothers, as told to Robert S.
Ball." Collier's Weekly, Dec. 25, 1948, 27, 68, 70.
[Submitted by Joe W. McDaniel]
The 1903 horizontal 4-cylinder engine.
A Wright vertical 4-cylinder engine.
A Wright vertical 6-cylinder engine.
Wright 8-cylinder racing engine.