Wright Flyer Engine

Wright Flyer Engine

The detail re-creation of the Wright Flyer will be completed with aid of working drawings supplied by the Smithsonian Museum.    There will be a number of links that will be relevant to the area I am working on.  I will start with the engine and work my way through, giving viewers all the details of the design and materials.

Wright Flyer Engine

The four cylinder engine used on the Wright Flyer was designed build by the Wright brothers and their team because none of the existing automobile engines had a satisfactory power to weight ratio.  The brothers needed 8 horse power from a 200lb unit.  Their design yielded 12hp at a weight of 160lb.  Initially the engine produced 16hp which dropped to 12hp once up to running temperature.  The weight limits were met by using an aluminium alloy, something that was not easy to come by at the beginning of the 21st Century. 

The crankcase is mounted onto a small section of the lower wing to ensure that all mating holes and surfaces match up.  As components are complete, I will add them to the engine until the final part is completed. Visitors will be able to follow the growth of the engine.


The magneto was manufactured by the Dayton Electric Co. based in Dayton Ohio.

Valve Housing Assembly

The valves and ignition system are held in a separate compartment which is fixed to the crankcase.  The main body is cast iron.


The crankcase was an extremely difficult casting and very impressive for its time.  Bosses and bearing positions were built into the casting to keep weight down.  Machining of surfaces was conducted using hand tools and files.  This link is to a video of a replica engine being manufactured by Hay Mfg. in Wisconsin in 2002.  The video shows the difficulties the brothers experienced and their equipment was not as good as that used by Hay Mfg.

The crankcase is mounted onto a small section of the lower wing to ensure that everything matches.


The crankshaft was cut from steel plate prior to the machining process.  The machining of the one piece unit was certainly an engineering feat for the team considering their limited equipment.  Threads were also cut into both ends of the shaft.

Cylinder Liners

The four cylinders were cast which then had mating surfaces and threads machined.


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