Department of Commerce engine acceptance tests

This forum contains affiliate links to products on Amazon and eBay. More information in Terms and rules

Does anyone know a link to, or how to access, or who to ask for old (1930's) US Department of Commerce engine tests? Failed or otherwise?

Looking for a possible test of the Aviation Diesel Company Ltd diesel in or around November 1931..... but will bound to be looking for others later .....

I tried on the modern FAA site; I couldn't seem to get anywhere with old stuff (or I gave up too easy).

Thanks in advance :)

Aviation Diesel Engine Company.png
AEHS also has a list of all US engine type certificates from 1928 to 1939.
Look for the "Engine Approved Type Certificate List, Nos. 1 ~ 218, 1928 through 1939" link.
Spoiler - It isn't on that list either.
Thanks Simon - two great lists, but I suspected not many diesels ever passed..... Any idea if they would have recorded the 'failures' anywhere? I have a newspaper report saying the company had submitted it for tests, but can't confirm anything regarding the test/lack-of/failed test.

Thanks for what you have found though :)
Hey brianwnz,

From "The Aircraft Yearbook 1934"

"The Aviation Diesel Engine Company, Ltd., has developed a diesel engine on which the firm hopes to get into production in 1934. It is a variable controlled high speed diesel of 400 horse-power. The test model, a radial on the four cycle principle, had 1,000 hours running time at the end of the year."

There is no mention of the Aviation Diesel Engine Company, Ltd., in subsequent yearly volumes of "The Aircraft Yearbook" series.
Last edited:
I am not aware of a list of those engines submitted for testing. ThomasP is on the right track - I didn't think to look through the usual periodicals.

From 'Aero Digest" March, 1935, pp 30-31,
Article entitled "Will Future Aircraft be Diesel-Powered?" by GLENN D. ANGLE. (Angle's Engines)

"The Packard engine created a great deal of interest when it was introduced about five years ago, and within a short time two other American designs in the same class were introduced by Guiberson and the Aviation Diesel Engine Company. Although all of these engines have undergone considerable flight testing, they have yet to become adopted as standard power plants by any of the better-known aircraft manufacturers."

Maybe contact the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. They have files on just about every engine ever developed in the US, and a lot on engines from other countries.

I found reference to a file containing photos of the engine you are interested in, ie "BA-087000-20: Aviation Diesel Engine Co 7-Cylinder Radial", but they have not been digitized yet.
Thanks Guys, really appreciate your efforts. I have already trawled through and found most sources I can, including the above, even searched (has some good LA news about the company and people), and I have requested scans of the Smithsonian photographs.

I think this is just one of those manufacturers who left very little behind.

John H. Suter was the designer/inventor, and just to add to confusion there were at least three John H. Suter's in LA over that time! But I am confident the man involved was John Hans Suter; he'd spent some years with Western Machinery Co. building gas & Diesel engines, and patented a few inventions in this and oil well fields - strangely nothing about an aircraft diesel though. Ross McCollum was another involved with the company,; he was a Californian oilman, and I suspect some on the money behind the company. The two were to stay business partners after the Aviation Diesel days.

Just so they aren't forgotten...... :)
This is just a thought, but could the engine in question be someone else's design, with the Aviation Diesel Engine Co acting as the sales (and potential manufacturing) branch? Possibly they made some improvements using Suter's patent for fuel injection.
This is just a thought, but could the engine in question be someone else's design, with the Aviation Diesel Engine Co acting as the sales (and potential manufacturing) branch? Possibly they made some improvements using Suter's patent for fuel injection.
Hi Tom,

Definitely a possibility, but the search stalled in the patent arena without a name (neither Suter nor Aviation Diesel appear except for Suter's earlier inventions). It's also possible it simply wasn't that 'new' an idea; after all, there already were heaps of radial engines out there by 1930. Suter is mentioned as the designer in contemporary publications though.
I suspect he did use his 1920/1923 fuel injection patent in the design, as both an early Western diesel, and the Aviation diesel, both discuss low pressure rise after injection - so I assume that was a function of his earlier patented injection system. Certainly would have been handy in an aircraft diesel with 7" bore and stroke; I can only imagine the shaking going on otherwise! Perhaps the injection design was the only really 'different' part of the design, although the fuel control system sounds tantalisingly 'different' too.
It's frustrating that so far I only have a single repeated photograph of the engine (and poor quality at that); plenty of technical details written, but no diagrams or detail photos whatsoever - and we all love pictures right?
But I've found that persistence pays off, and I have the rest of my days to look for them :)

Always appreciate others' help and ideas though......

I was looking for a paper by A. R. C. Markl on SIF's, and found this:

"Application of Compression-Ignition Oil Engines to Aviation" V. L. Maleev, Mechanical Engineering Vol 63 Issue 6 June 1941, p 446 - 450. This is on page 448:

View attachment 710587
Thanks Simon,

I have Mr. Maleev's paper also, as well as a book he wrote on diesels (no mention of this specific engine in that book). I think this is one of those obscure things that is simply lost to time unless more leads can be exposed.
But I really appreciate the responses on this forum about it :)
Incidentally, Vladimir L. Maleev worked for Western Machinery (as did John H. Suter, principal engineer of the Aviation Diesel Engine Company), in 1928, unsure of exact dates apart from that year. Suter had left Western a year before, but it is possible the two men knew each other, or at least of each other. Maybe that is also how Maleev knew of or mentioned the Aviation Diesel engine Co. specifically.
Maleev went on to teach at University......

Users who are viewing this thread