George Constantinesco
His Torque Converter and Other Inventions
Ian Constantinesco

George Constantinesco was born in Romania and arrived in London in November 1910. By 1913 he had already applied for eighteen British Patents related to improvements in internal combustion engines and their ancillaries such as carburettors, fuels and transmission elements as well as early patents on methods of transmitting power by pulsating waves of energy through liquids. He formulated the Theory of Sonics - the science dealing with the transmission of power by periodic forces and motions through liquids, solids and gases. He discovered that these phenomena had their analogies not only with the properties of sound waves and the laws of harmony, but also with AC electrical circuits.  Prototypes of rock drills working on the percussion system and polyphase rotary systems were already being demonstrated by 1913. The most important application of his theory of sonics was a "synchroniser gear" which allowed to fire a machine gun through the aircraft propeller. This gear was employed on all allied aircraft during WWI and on some aicraft during WWII. After WWI Constantinesco had an idea for a low cost "peoples' car'' which would travel 100 km miles on 2.5 litres of petrol at the most commonly used road speeds of 50 to 70 km per hour. He considered that this performance and low cost could be achieved by using a cheap 500 cc single cylinder two stroke air cooled engine together with his unique Torque Converter transmission which would eliminate the conventional gear box and clutch. Experience in this field could then be applied to the transmission of much higher powers in heavy vehicles such as railway locomotives. The car was displayed at London and Paris Motor shows in 1925 and attracted more than one hundred articles in world press. General Motors acquired a licence to build the car in 1926. Unfortunately development of the transmission stopped as there was no need for infinitely variable transmission while car engines were large (4-5 litres) and had plenty of torque. His torque converter was however used in self propelling railcars. Constantinesco died in 1965 at the age of 94, and only few years before his death he presented a paper on Power Transmission at the Institutiom of Mechanical Engineering. Constantinesco had 133 British patents to his credit in the fields of automobile engineering, fluid power, mechanical transmissions and others. The following pages describe his career and his various inventions.  We hope that you will enjoy reading this fascinating story.

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HTML version, prepared by Monika and Jacek Stecki, is based on monograph of Ian Constantinesco "George Constantinesco - His Torque Converter and other Inventions"

This document was tranlated from LATEX by HEVEA and HACHA.