1911-1916 Wright 6-60 Engine

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his in-line 6-cylinder engine was the first Wright-manufactured motor to cool the cylinders and the heads. (Previous engines cooled the cylinders only.) Weighing 305 lb., it had 406 cubic-inch displacement and produced about 50 hp in the 1911 version. It retained the characteristic compression release to aid starting and a foot pedal to adjust magneto timing as previous Wright engine designs.

The Wrights improved the motor in 1912 with cam-operated intake valves. This and other small changes boosted the horsepower to 60 and earned the motor the nickname "6-60" – six cylinders, 60 hp. Options included a muffler and dual ignition.

In 1913, the motor was equipped with dual Zenith carburetors and for the first time a Wright motor had a throttle – the pilot could vary the speed of the motor in flight. The Wright Company also introduced rubber motor mounts to absorb vibration and transmit power smoothly to the chain drive. Further improvements gradually increased the horsepower to 70, and finally 75 hp.


  • Cylinders: 6
  • Bore: 4-3/8 in (11.1 cm)
  • Stroke: 4-1/2 in (11.4 cm)
  • Displacement: 406 in3 (6.7 l3)
  • Horsepower: 50 to 75
  • Ignition: Spark plugs powered by high-tension Mea magneto.
  • Weight: 305 lbs (138.3 kg) dry
  • Unique features: Compression release, fuel injection (in early engines), twin Zenith carburetors (in later engines)


  • McFarland, Marvin W. (ed), "The papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright." McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1953, p 1215-1216, plate 230.
  • Hobbs, Leonard S., "The Wright Brothers' Engines and Their design." Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1971, pp 48-56.
  • Lippincott, Harvey H., "Propulsion System of the Wright Brothers." In Wolko, Howard S. (editor), "The Wright Flyer, an Engineering Perspective." The Smithsonian Institution Press, 1987, pp 89-91.

 [Submitted by Joe W. McDaniel]

The right side of an early Wright 6-cylinder engine. These were much more than extended versions of the 4-cylinder engine. Introduced in 1911,they were a serious step forward in power, reliability, and ease of operation.

A slightly later version of the Wright 6-cylinder engine, with ports for two carburetors.

One of the options available on a Wright 6-60 was this "flexible flywheel drive." It did the same job as today's harmonic balancers, reducing impulse torque and engine vibration.

Some of the major parts of a Wright 6-60 engine. Note the engine block has been split into two parts.

It was also standard equipment of the Wright Model D, a high-speed "scouting" aircraft.

The left side of an early Wright 6-cylinder engine. Note that the intake valves are still "automatic;" this engine was manufactured before both sets of valves were cam-operated.

The final form of the Wright 6-60, with two linked carburetors, exhaust ports on the far side of engine (opposite the intake ports), and both intake and exhaust valves cam operated. In this configuration, the engine could produce as much as 75 horsepower.

A front view and side view of the Wright 6-60 engine.

The Wright 6-60 was first offered on the Wright Model C, the follow-on to the popular Wright Model B.

The Wright 6-60 was most effective in later Wright models, including the F, G, and H. The Wrights placed the engine ahead of the passengers in these aircraft and enclosed it in a fuselage. On this Model F, only the exhaust ports are visible. This provided better balance and aerodynamics.

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