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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


The New York Times
April 30, 1914

To the Editor of The New York Times:
In a recent editorial article on the much-debated muffler question you seem to advocate what I understand to be compulsory elimination of the muffler cutout from automobiles.  To begin with, your statement that use of the muffler does not affect power output is incorrect.  I have before me a copy of a report on certain gasoline motor tests from which I see that (other factors being equal) removing the muffler may increase the power of a motor 15 per cent.  You are aware that aeroplane motors are run without muffler or even exhaust manifold in order to obtain the advantage of this extra power.  I admit, however, that for ordinary running speeds through the city the difference in power alone is not sufficient to warrant constant use of the cutout.

It would be a mistake, however, to make the cutout illegal.  To the trained man it gives an excellent indication of the working of the motor.  By the sound of the explosions we can tell whether good combustion is taking place.  The "racing" done by chauffeurs before taking the cars out of the garage is done not to cause wanton noise, as a recent correspondent seems to think, but to "limber up" the motors and see whether they are working correctly.

As to running on the road with the silent cars that are in use to-day it would be well-nigh impossible to locate a missing cylinder unless the cutout were brought into action.

The use of the cutout should be regulated and its abuse forbidden, but abolishing it entirely would be a mistake.

E. Adrian von Muffling,
New York, April 28, 1914.

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