The man credited with inventing the science of automobile handling helped, in a way, to make cars more efficient, safer and, most importantly — from his perspective — a lot more fun to drive.
William F. Milliken automotive inventions have earned, over the years, awards and accolades from both the auto industry and the engineering profession. His books on the subject are required reading for automotive engineeers as well as students.
But Milliken's work has not been limited to automobiles. After working at MIT, Milliken helped perfect some of World War II's most memorable combat aircraft during a stint at Cornell Aeronautical Laboratories. His contributions fundamentally changed how aircraft are designed.
A must-read book.
Book Excerpt: Equations of Motion: An Engineering Autobiography William F. Milliken
FIRST INSTALLATION OF TORQUE CONVERTER IN A RACE CAR
When the Big Bug arrived in Buffalo on June 22 we began a complete teardown of the chassis and engine, and tried to locate an appropriate gearbox. We assumed the Bugatti's power plant developed an honest 300 brake horsepower and a max torque of approximately 400 lb. ft.
With little experience in overstressing standard transmissions of Ford, Mercury, Cadillac, etc., we dismissed them as possibilities. Instead, our thoughts turned to foreign boxes such as Wilson, Cotal, Alvis and even an ex-Maserati.
Later we searched for something of appropriate size from suppliers to the American truck market like Spicer, Warner, Allison and Twin Coach. The Doc had already assured us there was no hope of acquiring a replacement from the Bugatti factory. Thus we lived, without progress, in a world of synchromesh, critical shaft sizes, epicyclics and overdrives.
One noon on his way to lunch, our administrative assistant Dave Loughborough stopped by the office and suggested I try out his new Buick Century with Dynaflow, the hydraulic torque converter transmission introduced in 1948 by Buick.
Initially I didn't think of the Bugatti, I just took the opportunity to experience a new type of drive. But comparing its acceleration with that of my manual-shift Hudson changed my mind.
A longitudinal accelerometer mounted in each car showed the significant time lost in manual shifting. If the overall ratio was appropriate, the "Lo" range might be useful as a retarder, supplementing the brakes.
Aware that the efficiency of a hydraulic drive was less than a direct mechanical one, we thought this might not be critical in a high-powered machine, and decided to take a serious look at the Dynaflow as a replacement for the defunct Bugatti box.
Subject: Transportation: Biography: William F. Milliken: Automotive engineering. ISBN-10: 0837615704 | ISBN-13:
978-0-8376-1570-7 | Bentley GEMP