Jennifer Lake's Blog

November 6, 2012

MPG on The Road Not Taken

Filed under: Modern History — jenniferlake @ 4:24 pm
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When I see news about the price of gas or commercials for new cars and trucks touting twenty-or-thirty-something miles per gallon (or particularly during a shortage, outage, energy disaster or smog test!), it makes me think of Tom Ogle and his vapor-fuel system. I read about Tom a few years ago and his story becomes ever more poignant for its place in geopolitics and time.  

Ron Laytner wrote, “In 1978 I first interviewed Tom Ogle who created a device replacing the carburetor [that] allowed his 4,000 pound car to get 100 miles per gallon… Four years later Tom, at age 24, was in his grave and his invention, buried.” So Laytner is asking, “Did the world not go green because of a murder?…Tom said the 100mpg..was only the beginning of his newfound fuel efficiency.”

   “Tom felt confident that on the smaller, lighter cars..he could get nines times as much. That means..900 miles per gallon… ‘This is no hoax’, said Dr. Hawkins [Texas A&M engineer PhD, who approved and supported Tom’s system], ‘Ogle eliminated the carburetor and achieved what the gasoline internal combustion engine was supposed to do all along –to operate off fumes’… Seventy years ago Canadian Charles Nelson Pogue made headlines long before Tom Ogle when he drove a 1932 Ford 200 miles on a single gallon of gas…proved..in a test for The Ford Motor Company in Winnipeg…” http://www.editinternational.com/read.php?id=482881ba117d7 ; Pogue’s story: http://fuel-efficient-vehicles.org/energy-news/?page_id=986 

   If Henry Ford was impressed in 1932, it was a complement by design when he unveiled his “Soybean Car”, made with soy-based plastic panels, “on August 13, 1941 at Dearborn Days..community festival… The car weighed 2000 lbs [1,000 less than his other models]… The exact ingredients of the plastic..are unknown because no record of the formula exists today… [Ford] also claimed that the plastic panels made the car safer than traditional steel cars; and that the car could even roll over without being crushed.” http://www.thehenryford.org/research/soybeancar.aspx . Ford’s early cars were designed to run on alcohol.

   Then there’s Rudolf Diesel who invented his motor to run on peanut oil. Diesel disappeared from a train ride and was found dead 10 days later.

Laytner points out that that another young American inventor who designed a dune buggy to run on water died at the height of his expectant success: “Stanley Allen Meyer..had twenty patents on many water-fueled inventions.”

In the ’70s 

  “As the environmental movement began to take shape in the early 1970s, a nationwide panic ensued in 1973 when the Arab members of OPEC cut off exports to the United States and other nations supporting Israel… This was a bold attempt to coerce Israeli forces to leave occupied Arab lands. Much to the relief of those traumatized by rising gas prices and oil shortages..a clever [young] mechanic from El Paso, Texas named Thomas Ogle made headlines when he claimed his invention would allow any V-8 engine to get 160 miles to the gallon… [He] revealed the results of an independent exhaust emissions test, which showed that his system operates nearly pollution-free… Although Ogle was eventually granted his patent, Patent Office examiners..indicated that a patent may already have been issued..similar to Ogle’s… [to] General Motors… One of their patents included a vaporized system that eliminated the carburetor, obtained by GM in 1972.” http://www.deathofagasguzzler.com/profiles/blogs/tom-ogle-160-mpg-by-a-high

   “Scientists were convinced his invention, dubbed the ‘Oglemobile’, would soon reach world markets… corporate engineers and the US government..were astounded to discover the invention actually worked…  A few months after my first interview [Tom’s] backer C.F. Ramsay sold out to Advance Fuel Systems Inc, [of Seattle]… Advance Fuel’s own engineers would develop the ‘Oglemobile’..[and] Ogle was told he’d get no royalties because AFS was working on a device that got similar results but wasn’t his invention… [T]hirty years later I can still hear Tom’s voice from our recorded interviews promising the world a better future… He believed his system was the answer to the world’s pollution problems… Everyone predicted he would become a billionaire… and perhaps one of America’s greatest inventors.” [Ron Laytner, 2011]

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