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Konig History
by Sam Cullis

Curator's note:  Sam writes:  "Dick, I've been researching the history of outboard racing for about 4 years now. I have gathered information on about 130 different models of racing outboards made since the 1920's. I hope to be able to write a book on the subject of outboard racing in the near future, but this has turned out to be a very difficult undertaking to do correctly. As you have already found, data is sketchy, memories are often wrong (check out the last few hundred posts to rec.boats.racing.power to see the thinking and cross checking it took to get the Johnny Cash stories correct)...."

The story of Konig racing outboards begins in Germany in the year 1928. Rudolph Konig began manufacturing small and medium size outboards in Berlin, and was joined some years later by his son, Dieter. These early pleasure and fishing motors resemble other motors of their time period.

Sometime in the 1950’s Dieter began designing successful racing models. Some (or maybe all)of the early Konig racing outboards used modular construction. Cylinder sections stack together like tinker toys. Each cylinder was individually cast, as was each cylinder’s crankcase section and cylinder head.

These engines used an internal rotating disk to time the intake, rather than reed valves, the piston skirt, or either of the other rotary valve arrangements previously used on racing outboards: an external rotating barrel or hollow crankshaft sections. Rotary valve two stroke motors have advantages over reed valve and piston port motors. A timed rotor can be set to open a quite large intake opening at the optimum time, well ahead of a reed check valve, and close it again at the optimum time, well before the piston skirt closes the intake port on a piston port motor. Compared to the other rotor types, three advantages of the internal disk rotor come to mind. First, there is no additional drag from the external barrel type’s driving mechanism and stabilizing bearings. Second, the rotor shape did not need to be partially symmetrical, as was traditionally done with external barrel rotors running at half crankshaft speed. Third, the opening area could be somewhat larger than was practical than could be used on the hollow crankshaft type rotary valve motors. The drawback is a slightly longer crankshaft resulting in a slightly taller motor, not a problem on 15, 20, and 30 cubic inch two and three cylinder racers.

The exhaust outlet from the cylinders goes straight out the side, much like a chain saw or Go Kart motor, and usually had a narrow bell shaped megaphone. This megaphone would be tuned to match the motor’s speed. The harmonic sound wave returning to the exhaust port and reflecting out slightly before the port opened the next time helped give the motor a little more power.

Things were still tight in Germany in the late 50’s. Konig saved a little bit of money in the manufacture of their racing motors by purchasing surplus hydraulic jack pump handles (among other things) and welding them in as part of the drive shaft tower. If you find a vintage Konig with a part welded in with the notches to turn a hydraulic jack valve, you don’t have something made in some racers garage, you have the real thing!

The lower unit for these early Konig racers was a smooth aluminum casting. Gears were small 1:1 (14:14) ratio hardened steel. The cooling water inlet is a round hole directly on the point of the bullet or torpedo. Water forces its way in thru the hollow nose, and if you are going more than 15 mph or so, all the way up and thru the motor. That’s right, no water pump!

Carbs for these racers were special, too. Mounted at a slight uphill angle they are very close to the rotary valve disk. The throttles were neither regular flat butterflies nor motorcycle type slides, but rotating (half turn)barrels much like some racing cars would use 35 or 40 years later. Don’t look to hard for a carb maker’s name on them…Dieter and Rudolph made them themselves.

All this added up to give the Konig "HRE" 500cc racer 45 horsepower at 7,000 rpm. In 1957 this was very impressive from just 30 cubic inches! I don’t know who drove 500cc Konig racers, but I do know Dieter Konig ran in the A and B classes using a US designed Swift hydro.

The next generation of Konig racers were all 2 cylinder piston port motors.

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