The White V4-106
Every once in a while you run across something really odd that requires a lot of research. In this case it was a mysterious two-stroke loop-scavenged V4 built by the White Diesel Engine Division of White Motor Company. If loop-scavenged diesels ring a bell, go back to the September 2017 issue of Diesel World where we discussed the Cerlist. The Cerlist was a two-stroke loop-scavenged diesel built under a license from AVL, the engineering company formed by Dr. Hans List. List was an Austrian engineer who perfected loop scavenging in both gas and diesel two-strokes and many loop-scavenged diesels built in their heyday of the ’50s and ’60s were List-derived.
When we were first introduced to the White V4 mystery engine in the collection of the National Automotive and Truck Museum (NATMUS) in Auburn, Indiana, we were convinced it was a List design. That proved incorrect, as AVL could find no record of issuing a license to White. More than a year later we were still clueless, but a review of SAE records turned up a paper dated 1955 with lots of clues, the most important of which was the designation, V-106. Then a good part of the rest of the story fell into place and we were able to find a bit of factory information on the engine.
According to a 1955 SAE paper, the White Motor Company began looking at compact diesels in 1951, mainly for their new Model 3000 cab-over trucks. They were open to just about anything, but a few years later had settled in on a European two-stroke system that combined elements of a Krauss-Maffei design with the Schnuerle port. Krause-Maffei was (and is) a German company with tendrils in many aspects of manufacturing but well-known for diesel locomotives. Adolph Schnuerle was a prolific German engineer with many patents in internal combustion technology, and most other loop-scavenged systems were derived from his work. Dr. List based much of his work upon Schnuerle’s, and that’s the only connection between the White engine and the List.
It may actually have been Superior Engine Division of the National Supply Company that’s most responsible for the White V4. Some sources indicate that development of the two-stroke V4 began with Superior and fell into White’s lap when White Motor Company bought the Superior Engine Division in early 1955, calling it the White Diesel Engine Division. The purchase included Atlas-Imperial in California, which National Supply had absorbed in 1948, and Superior in Springfield, Ohio. This has yet to be clarified, and while White may have been looking for new diesels in 1951, the timing would seem to indicate White came into the loop-scavenged development later than 1951.
White called the engine series “V-106,” the V for the vee configuration and the 106 for the per-cylinder displacement.
White called the engine series “V-106,” the V for the vee configuration and the 106 for the per-cylinder displacement. A V4 and a V6 were developed and tested, displacing 424 and 636 cubic inches, respectively. The V4 was rated at 170 horsepower at 2,200 rpm and the V6 at 255. Part of a modular series, a V8 was also envisioned and would likely have produced 340 horsepower at 2,200 rpm from 848 cubic inches using many of the same parts as the V4 and V6.
It’s known that at least one V4 was installed in a White 3000 truck and there are indications as many as six trucks were tested with some version of the V-106. Marine and stationary applications were also envisioned and the engine in the NATMUS collection could be in that category, differing in many ways from the truck engines. It was installed into a crane used at the Springfield, Ohio, White Diesel Plant. When that plant was being closed and its equipment scrapped in 2001, the engine was saved and donated to NATMUS. It isn’t clear whether the crane installation was done originally for tests or later just to utilize a leftover test engine for a practical purpose.
The late-breaking news is that the NATMUS volunteer group gearheads got the V4-106 running in May of 2018 and you can view the video on YouTube. By the time you read this, the engine may well be on display in the NATMUS truck area, along with a collection of many other diesels. If you find yourself passing through Auburn, Indiana, NATMUS is well worth a visit!
It may actually have been Superior Engine Division of the National Supply Company that’s most responsible for the White V4. Some sources indicate that development of the two-stroke V4 began with Superior and fell into White’s lap when White Motor Company bought the Superior Engine Division in early 1955…
National and Truck Museum