The Charles Pogue Story

Manitoba, Canada, Jan. 24, 1936—If a car weighing a ton and a half will run a mile and a half on a drop and a half of gasoline, people are very likely to forget the famous hen and a half who laid an egg and a half in a day and a half.

Evidence that a Winnipeg inventor's new carburetor gets over 200 miles to the gallon has caused many pencils to be sharpened by amateur physicists. Where and how does he get the miles?

"Gas savers" galore crowd the electric belts and the muscle-builders among the sucker ads in cheap magazines. It is not much of a trick, by get-ting the motor hot, skinning [leaning] the mixture and holding the car at its most economical speed—about 22 miles an hour—to get 50 or 60 miles out of an old boiler that usually turns in only 18 or 20 miles to the gallon.

But this 200-mile gadget is no gas saver. It is an economizer. It reminds one of the story about the fellow who cascaded two gas savers and had to stop every twenty miles to siphon some gas out of the tank.

In an imperial gallon of gasoline there are 145,000 British thermal units, more or less. This is the equivalent of 113 million foot-pounds, or 57 horsepower-hours. This would lift a 3,000 pound car 37,660 feet straight up in the air; or a little over seven miles—from the bottom of the Dead Sea to the top of Mount Everest, and then some. How far it would pull the same car along a level road depends on how fast you want to go, and how much friction there is in the wheel bearings. A man capable of generating only one-eighth horsepower can keep a car rolling, if he likes that kind of exercise.


He will get there sometime: Say you choose to exert a continuous pull of 60 pounds—with a 3,000 pound car that is equivalent to a two-percent grade, a rough approximation of friction-loss plus wind resistance at a moderate speed. At that rate she will roll 356 miles for your gallon of liquid calorics.

So, here's luck to a grand new idea. Long may she perk, and far may she fly!

Patents Block Thieves Taking Gas Economizer


Inventor Thinks Theft Is Attempt to Force Invention's Sale
Loss of three models of his 200-mile-per-gallon carburetor sometime Wednesday, was reported today by C. N. Pogue, local inventor. Thieves broke into his workshop, located in the Amphitheatre rink, through a hole in the roof, and escaped undetected.

The thieves will gain nothing by their raid, the inventor told The Tribune today. The invention is fully protected by patents in all principal countries of the world, and its theft will result only in delaying Mr. Pogue somewhat in his work of improvement and perfection.

Mr. Pogue believes that the robbers, to whom he gave credit for excep-tionally smooth work, did not take the three carburetors they stole for any financial gain. He is of the opinion that their object was to discourage the inventor and his backer, W. J. Holmes, to such an extent that they would be willing to sell their rights.

Offers Turned Down
To date, Mr. Pogue said, he had turned down countless offers to buy the invention, into which they have put thousands of dollars and Mr. Pogue almost twenty years of work. They prefer to bring it to perfection them-selves before placing it on the market.

Mr. Pogue described the manner in which the thieves accomplished their purpose, as he sees it.

"There must have been two or three of them, and they probably spent several days in their operations. How they could work here for that time, while the place was guarded day and night, I don't know. I am convinced that they were outsiders, but that they had help from someone who knew the ground here well."

Kept In Workshop
Mr. Pogue kept his carburetors and the car with which tests had been made, in a large workshop inside the Amphitheatre rink. The thieves entered, perhaps through the rink, then climbed to the top of the shop.

Here there were traces indicating a prolonged stay by the raiders. There were footprints in the shavings on the roof, and remains of meals. The raiders gained entrance to the shop through an opening in a switchbox on the roof, dropping down and removing the carburetors while Mr. Pogue was away for lunch on Wednesday.

Breen Motor Company Limited


To whom it may concern:

I made a test today of the Pogue Carburettor [sic] installed on a Ford eight-cylinder coupe. The speedometer showed that this car had already run over 9,000 miles. I drove this car 23.2 miles on one pint of gasoline The temperature was averaging round zero with a strong north wind blowing. I drove for 15 miles and back on the same road, and the distance shown by the speedometer mileage was 23.2 miles when the gasoline was exhausted and the car stopped.

The performance of the car was 100 percent in every way. I tested for acceleration, get-away from a standing start and at all speeds, and it performed equal to, if not better, than any car with a standard carburettor.

At very low speeds, under 10 miles per hour, it was smoother in operation than a standard car. In fact, below 5 miles per hour it pulled up a slight grade without labouring of any kind. I stepped on accelerator when the speedometer was below 5 miles per hour and the car got away without a falter.


T.G. Breen, President [Breen Motor Co. Ltd.]

Previous Theft Attempted
A previous attempt to steal the carburetor in April of this year was unsuccessful.


At that time thieves stole a car in which the invention had been demonstrated from a garage at the rear of the Amphitheatre. Fortunately, the carburetor had been removed from the car some time before. The invention was tested officially last December. In below-zero weather, two prominent Winnipeg automobile men, W. S. Kickley and T. G. Breen, reported 209.6 miles to the gallon.

In another test made by Mr. Pogue himself, in February, a car equipped with this carburetor is said to have travelled from Winnipeg to Vancouver on less than 15 gallons of gasoline.

Toronto, Dec. 5—Somewhere within 40 miles of Toronto, generally in a north to northeast direction, engineers are now trying out the new carburetor, invention of John [sic] Pogue, 38-year-old Winnipeg man, which has become the main gossip of engineering and motor car circles through-out the continent.

That was the message imparted to The Tribune by John E. Hammell, millionaire mining official and prospector. Mr. Hammell confirmed the report that a car using the new carburetor traveled 200 miles on a gallon of gasoline.

Just where the old residence and plant at which the carburetor is being tested is located will not be divulged. Gordon Lefebvre, of Toronto, formerly automotive engineer with General Motors, is the personal representative of Mr. Hammell in the final stages of perfecting the carburetor.

"I have not placed any big stake in this invention and won't until it is perfected 100 percent," Mr. Hammell said. "After it is perfected it will take time and it must be proved as an engineering principle."

To date the sum of $150,000 has been expended on the invention, states Mr. Hammell.

"I have hardly started to do anything yet—they've got to show me."

W. J. Holmes, Winnipeg sportsman, has backed Pogue.

"But if it clicks," said Mr. Hammell, "there will be all the money required to put it across. I have been approached by some of the biggest oil and motor men on the continent already. They laughed at Pogue when he needed help and now they can talk to me. I have signed up the entire undertaking and have made agreements with both Pogue and Holmes.

"Certainly we have armed guards at the plant where the carburetor is being perfected. Somebody broke into Pogue's shop at Winnipeg months ago, but even if things were stolen now it wouldn't affect matters."

"The carburetor has been tried out on Pogue's own 1934 Ford 8-cylin-der car. We have driven the car and got surprising performance—running over 200 miles on a gallon of gasoline. But that doesn't yet prove the thing. It is being installed on one of my own cars of the same make as the inventor's—then it will be tried on larger cars," declared Mr. Hammell.

As yet the invention is crudely made and entirely by hand. It is also costly. It is a slow process in developing. The trying out of the instrument on new cars will proceed under Mr. Hammell's engineers.


Then other engineers, a chemist and designers will be called on as part of the under-taking with all the moneys required, states Mr. Hammell.

"I have no illusions in this matter," he remarked.

"The principle must be perfected so that it can be a commercial unit and that will take time. It can hardly be said yet that it can be made in commercial quantities—that will be the job of engineers not of the designer."



The One That Got Away
Probably the most well-known of all the suppressed carburetors was the one (actually there were several) developed by John Robert Fish. The Fish carburetor was not only an economizer, it was a performer. Fireball Roberts had one on his car when he won the Indianapolis 500 in 1962.

The Fish carburetor was no simple device. The patent for his 1941 model (send 50 cents to the patent office in D.C. for #2,236,595) covers nine pages of explanations and drawings. His carburetor had no choke and wouldn't idle very well, which should have been no problem to solve—had he had a little more money to develop it. However, Fish was so broke before he died in 1958 that he had to have the money for one of his carburetors in advance in order to then turn one out. The

U.S. Post Office sent all his mail back with "fraudulent" stamped on his orders when he tried to sell them by mail. "Fraudulent" could hardly have been a legitimate reason when no less a manufacturer than Ford admitted that the Fish exceeded their standard carburetor on two separate road tests by 32.5 percent and 42.8 percent respectively.

Fish went to his grave saying that someone in the auto-oil industry had "bought off" the Postal authorities in order to put him out of business.

What do you think?

While the writer was interviewing Mr. Hammell, a long distance call came in from W. J. Holmes, the original backer.

"Holmes just confirms that our handshake on the matter goes for good—we're sticking on the deal 100 percent. Holmes has been recently approached by influential interests but our agreement stands. Pogue is now inspecting every detail of the carburetor being installed on machines other than his own. As the affair is made by hand many test runs must be made and many adjustments made.


"If this carburetor is right—and I've got to be shown—it will be a tremendous benefit to mankind not only through automobile and gas engines, which are countless, but more so for airplanes, as it cuts gas down to one-tenth. I'm a flying man and everywhere I go these days is practically by plane so I visualize what the thing might mean."

A typical breezy talker, Mr. Hammell replied to some questions.

  • "How about armed guards?"

  • "Sure we have a flock of armed guards. They are carrying guns ready to pop at anybody."

  • "Is the inventor worried?"

  • "He is nervous and very apprehensive. However, if there was danger before it has now passed. Anything broken or stolen can be replaced with-out harm to the invention."

  • "Who owns the thing?"

  • "All I have is an option for control and full and absolute power to handle it anyway I see fit. Mr. Pogue will receive his interest, as will Mr. Holmes."



"It's Got Me Nuts," Says He, Telling of Pogue Gadget

Toronto, Jan. 28

—Inventors are "funny people"—and that goes for C. N. Pogue, of Winnipeg, young mechanical wizard who turned out a gas-saving carburetor. Pogue may be a nice boy, but his invention, armed guards and wolf-hound proved too much as a steady diet for Jack Hammell, millionaire mining magnate.

Hammell, backer of the carburetor, told about his reaction to inventors and inventions in an address here Wednesday to the Kiwanis club.


The wealthy mine-owner spoke the day after Professor Alcutt of the University of Toronto, had termed "impossible" the claims made for the Pogue invention.

"My engineers like it," said Hammell, "but I don't know. It's got me nuts. Did you ever have anything to do with an inventor? They're funny people. He (Pogue) put this big device on cars for us and we got up to 215 miles a gallon out of them. But it's still got to be proved to me—and then it has to have a little sex appeal put into it for commercial production.

"After our engineers tested it I said, T still think it's screwy.' Pogue told me he was going to try to get 450 miles a gallon out of a carburetor and I said 'No you don't—two hundred is as high as I can stand.'"

"There's no reason for the oil companies to worry or for you to sell your oil stocks—it'll be the greatest thing for oil companies that's ever happened, if it works out.

"You could put Amelia Earhart into an airplane and let her fly it from Frisco to Berlin and back without refueling—that's what it'd do."

"I had the inventor out at my place and there were two men with revolvers and a big wolf-hound but that wasn't enough for him. He had a revolver himself but he insisted on hiring five more guards with sawed-off shotguns and things and finally I had to send him back to Winnipeg.

"He's spent $35,000 on this carburetor and his backers have spent $150,000—and they haven't got a thing out of it." "I was glad to get rid of Pogue. He's a nice boy but he's an inventor."

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