11201 1/5 Visible Rotary Engine
What makes a Wankel tick?
The significant principle is that of replacing the piston, cylinder and crank assemblies with simple rotating discs, which have sections removed to form firing chambers. The reduction of weight and size is also significant. The Wankel is smaller than conventional engines, thus fewer parts; there is less ware, less friction and greater reliability.
The lightweight of the Wankel also results in lower horsepower requirements to achieve the same speeds (much of the power in an automobile has to be used to pull the engine itself).
The “T” type rotor featured in the Wankel was first used in 1588 as part of a water pump and in 1782 James Watt tried and failed to use the same principle in a steam engine.
Inventors tried to apply the principles of rotary combustion to engines as early as 1908, but none was successful until 1954 when Felix Wankel devised the first rotary combustion engine, the first working model of which was built three years later.