thoughts?March 31, 2003
Oil industry suppressed plans for 200-mpg car
By Simon de Bruxelles
THE original blueprints for a device that could have revolutionised the motor car have been discovered in the secret compartment of a tool box.
A carburettor that would allow a car to travel 200 miles on a gallon of fuel caused oil stocks to crash when it was announced by its Canadian inventor Charles Nelson Pogue in the 1930s.
But the carburettor was never produced and, mysteriously, Pogue went overnight from impoverished inventor to the manager of a successful factory making oil filters for the motor industry. Ever since, suspicion has lingered that oil companies and car manufacturers colluded to bury Pogue’s invention.
Now a retired Cornish mechanic has enlisted the help of the University of Plymouth to rebuild Pogue’s revolutionary carburettor, known as the Winnipeg, from blueprints he found hidden beneath a sheet of plywood in the box.
The controversial plans once caused panic among oil companies and rocked the Toronto Stock Exchange when tests carried out on the carburettor in the 1930s proved that it worked.
Patrick Davies, 72, from St Austell, had owned the tool box for 40 years but only recently decided to clean it out. As well as drawings of the carburettor, the envelope contained two pages of plans, three test reports and six pages of notes written by Pogue.
They included a report of a test that Pogue had done on his lawnmower, which showed that he had managed to make the engine run for seven days on a quart (just under a litre) of petrol.
The documents also described how the machine worked by turning petrol into a vapour before it entered the cylinder chamber, reducing the amount of fuel needed for combustion.
Mr Davies has had the patent number on the plans authenticated, proving that they are genuine documents.
He said: “I couldn’t believe what I saw. I used to be a motor mechanic and I knew this was something else altogether. I was given the tool box by a friend after I helped to paint her house in 1964. Her husband had spent a lot of time in Canada.”
The announcement of Pogue’s invention caused enormous excitement in the American motor industry in 1933, when he drove 200 miles on one gallon of fuel in a Ford V8. However, the Winnipeg was never manufactured commercially and after 1936 it disappeared altogether amid allegations of a political cover-up.
Dr Murray Bell, of the University of Plymouth’s department of mechanical and marine engineering, said he would consider trying to build a model of the Pogue carburettor.
Engineers who have tried in the past to build a carburettor using Pogue’s theories have found the results less than satisfactory. Charles Friend, of Canada’s National Research Council, told Marketplace, a consumer affairs programme: “You can get fantastic mileage if you’re prepared to de-rate the vehicle to a point where, for example, it might take you ten minutes to accelerate from 0 to 30 miles an hour.”