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Car and Driver: This 1937 Film Explains the Secrets of Splash Engine Lubrication

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A vast number of the engineering challenges faced by those who develop internal-combustion engines come down to one simple factor: friction. Countless years have gone into creating surfaces, coatings, oils, and bearings that attempt to overcome this universal force.


And yet the most basic way in which an engine copes with friction, its lubrication system, hasn’t really changed in the past 80 years. It’s all about the even distribution of an adequate amount of clean oil. And even if you’re already abidingly familiar with the inner workings of an oil pump, or you’ve witnessed the heartache of an oil-starved main bearing with your own eyes, a refresher course never hurt anybody.


You know how much we love these Jam Handy educational films. The inimitable Henry Jamison “Jam” Handy had a long and amazingly productive career creating fantastic educational films—like this one explaining car differentials. Or this one demonstrating the inner workings of a manual transmission. Or this one, all about the design of a typical car’s suspension system.


This video, “Riding the Film,” explains the splash approach to engine lubrication starting from the very basics: why oil works better than water to allow two surfaces to slide against each other. With stone-simple visual demonstrations and that delightfully old-timey Handy voiceover, this film has all of the things we’ve come to love about Jam Handy’s work, even if this particular method is no longer in use in today’s engines.


Gather up the kids and watch a few Jam Handy videos. They’ll learn something useful—and even if you’re a pro, you’ll probably learn something yourself.



This story originally appeared on Road & Track.


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