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1932-1934 Franklin V-12

The Development of the Franklin V-12

In late 1931, at about the time McEwen arrived at Franklin, the company planned to unveil the Franklin V-12. The car at that stage was to be a stretched version of the 1932 Airman, with 5.5 inches added to the front of the frame to accommodate the slightly longer engine.

The V-12 itself had been under development since 1928, when H. H. decided that Franklin needed a grander engine to stay competitive. Most automakers in Franklin's price range were coming out with straight eights: Studebaker, Peerless, Auburn, Marmon, duPont, and others.

These would soon be joined by the likes of Buick, Hudson, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Chrysler, and Dodge. A cylinder race was under way, and Franklin didn't want to get left behind.

But because air-cooled straight eights weren't practical (for reasons we'll come to in a moment), H. H. hired an outside engineer, Fred Glen Shoemaker, in 1928 for the task of leapfrogging the eight and developing a V-12.

Shoemaker had been an aeronautical engineer at McCook Field in Dayton, Ohio, where he was concerned mostly with cylinder cooling, ignition systems, and flow characteristics in aircraft engines.

After H. H. brought Shoemaker to Syracuse and handed him the V-12 assignment, he worked on it for a year, suggesting improvements to Franklin's six-cylinder engine along the way.

Shoemaker laid the groundwork for sidedraft cooling, in which air flowed across and between the cylinders rather than down from above. He also advocated the use of aluminum cylinder heads and introduced ways to improve cooling-fan efficiency.

All of these advances were used in the 1930 Franklin. By then, though, Shoemaker had left for General Motors, where he worked on Charles F. Kettering's two-stroke diesels. After he left, Franklin's senior engine designer, John Rogers, took over the V-12 project, but progress remained slow.

Go on to the next page to learn about air-cooled engines and the Franklin V-12.

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