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The Operation, Care and Repair of Automobiles (Classic Reprint)

The Operation, Care and Repair of Automobiles (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from The Operation, Care and Repair of Automobiles

It is a matter of common experience that a large proportion of the attention required in the care and maintenance of automobiles is demanded by their ignition apparatus. In order to be able successfully to cope with the difficulties arising from failures of ignition it is desirable not only to understand the general construction and mode of action of the various pieces of ignition apparatus, but to possess a working knowledge of the cardinal principles of electricity and magnetism. The following elementary considerations are therefore presented.

General Electrical Principles.

Electricity is a form of energy that makes itself manifest to the senses by its mechanical, thermal and chemical effects. For most practical purposes it may be regarded as a fluid that flows through bodies of certain materials called conductors as water flows through pipes. Just the same as water in flowing through pipes encounters a frictional resistance, so an electric current in flowing through a conductor encounters a resistance. The frictional resistance of a certain pipe to the flow of water through it depends upon the length and diameter of the pipe and upon the relative smoothness of its bore. Similarly, the resistance of a conductor to the flow of electricity through it depends upon the length and cross sectional area of the conductor and upon the material from which the conductor is made. The best conducting material is the precious metal, silver. Copper, however, in its pure state is nearly equally conductive, and is the best conductor from a commercial standpoint. Iron offers about eight times the resistance of copper, and is used to some extent in practice where the greater bulk of the conductor is of no consequence and the greater tensile strength of iron is an advantage, as in telephone and telegraph lines. The conductivity of a material is the inverse of its resistivity; that is, if a material has a high conductivity, it has a low resistivity, and vice versa.

All materials conduct electricity to some extent, and all are, therefore, conductors in one sense. However, some are such poor conductors that their conducting power is entirely negligible for all practical purposes. These very poor conductors, which are of as great importance in the industrial application of electricity as the very good conductors, are called insulators. Among the best insulating materials are glass, porcelain, hard rubber, ebonite, mica and silk.

In the present articles electrical phenomena will be explained by hydraulic phenomena - that is, phenomena of flowing water - which are familiar to everyone. Almost every electrical phenomenon can be thus explained in simple language easily comprehended by the lay mind.

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