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What is Horsepower?

HorsepowerSince the invention of the automobile, we have measured an engine’s power in terms of horsepower. But why horsepower? How much power does a horse actually have? And what does a horse’s power have to do with automobiles?

The term “horsepower” was coined by the 18th century Scottish engineer James Watt, who invented the first modern steam engine. To sell his new invention, Watt needed to express its power in terms his customers could relate to. What better unit than the power of a horse, the principal “beast of burden” his mechanical marvel was designed to replace?

To determine what “horsepower” actually was, Watt went to a local mill where a draft horse, tied to a millstone, was used to grind grain. He observed that the horse traveled in a circle 24 feet in diameter — 75.4 feet in circumference — and did so about 144 times each hour, meaning it traveled an average 188 feet per minute. He calculated that the horse pulled the equivalent of 180 pounds — although how he came to this figure is not known — and multiplying 180 pounds by 188 feet per minute came up with the figure just short of 33,000 foot-pounds per minute, which is the standard 1 hp we use today.

What this means is that a 1 hp engine can move 33,000 pounds one foot in one minute. A 100-hp engine can move a weight 10 times greater one foot in one minute, the same weight 100 feet in one minute, or the same weight one foot in 0.6 seconds.

Today’s average sedan has an engine that can deliver about 300 hp. Some high-performance sports cars generate more than 400 hp. That’s a lot of horses, assuming you could get them to all pull in the same direction.

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If you have a love of horsepower, consider Automotive Technology training from WyoTech, one of America’s leading institutions preparing students for work in the automotive, motorcycle, diesel, collision/refinishing and marine industries. Offered at WyoTech’s Blairsville, Laramie and Long Beach campuses, the Automotive Technology program prepares students for automotive careers via a yearlong combination of intensive classroom training and hands-on training in modern workshop facilities. The program is taught by experienced automotive professionals, and the school’s Career Services department helps match graduates with local employers, including auto dealerships, service facilities and customer car fabricators.

Financial aid is available for those who qualify.

For information on how to turn pro, contact WyoTech today! Programs and schedules vary by campus.

For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program and other important information, please visit our website at www.wyotech.edu/disclosures.

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