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Make a Motion.
A discussion of the difference between motors and engines.

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Make A Motion . . .

Trey was sitting on the wooden steps in front of the job trailer when John's pickup truck pulled into the gravel parking lot. As John rolled up the truck's window and opened the door, Trey walked over to greet him, "Good morning, John", Trey pointed to the front of the truck, "Looks like you have something dripping under there. Why don't you pop the hood so we can have a look at the motor?"

John pulled the red lever under the dashboard. The hood bounced upward. John circled to the front of the truck. He reached into the grill to push the safety latch. Finally, John growled his first words of the morning, "I can think of three motors in this truck. There's the starter motor, the fan motor and the fuel pump motor. . ." He lifted the hood open, . . . But THIS is NOT a MOTOR. It is an ENGINE. An internal combustion ENGINE."

Trey rolled his eyes, "OH boy! Get down off the pulpit, motor mouth! ( I DID use that term correctly, didn't I ? ) It was perfectly OK what I said. It is OK to call that a MOTOR."

John grunted, "It's an engine. An engine takes fuel and converts it to a mechanical energy - motion. That's what we have here. An Engine. A motor uses energy and changes that energy to a mechanical energy. Engine: Fuel in, energy out.Motor: Energy in, energy out."

Trey shook his head, "Nope! You are making it all way too complicated. 'MOTOR' comes from the same root word as 'MOVE', 'MOTION', and 'MOTIVATE'. A MOTOR causes MOTION. That is all there is!It is a device that causes MOTION."

"On the other hand", Trey continued, "An ENGINE is a device that makes, transforms or creates. The root word for ENGINE is also the root for 'ENGINEERING', 'INGENUITY', 'INGENIOUS' . So, you see, MOTORS are ENGINES and ENGINES are MOTORS."

John pointed to a single yellow blossom sprouting from a clump of grass near the chain link fence, "You see that flower over there? Let's say I said to you: 'Look at that yellow cabbage!' You would laugh at the misapplication of the word 'cabbage'. You probably would think I was a moron . . ."

Trey smirked, "Aw, I already think you are a moron! Actually, if you called that weed a 'cabbage', I would just figure you are trying to start something again."

"Anyway", John continued, "I say it would be incorrect to call it a cabbage. You would say it is OK because dandelions and cabbages are both PLANTS.'

Trey disagreed, "No. That is not a good analogy at all. Obviously 'cabbage' would be wrong. 'Flower' would be correct and general in the same way THIS . . .", he pointed to the truck's power plant, ". . . Can be called a MOTOR! It is the device that causes the truck to MOVE! Hence:MOTOR!"

John leaned over the fender and pushed the heater hoses aside, "It is wet here on top of the water pump". Then he looked up and grinned, " By your definition, a sail is a motor. A sail causes the motion of a sailboat. By my definition a sail could not be defined as a motor because the sail is not converting energy to motion. It is simply capturing an existing motive energy. MY definition does not allow for a sailboat to be classified as a motorboat as YOUR definition would!He-he.Gotcha."

Trey was able to spin a hose clamp on a heater hose, "Here. This hose clamp is so loose I can move it, see? You should take better care of your motor!" Trey stood up and scratched his ear, " I could have sworn I just heard you say 'motorboat'. As in : 'Motorboat' powered by an 'outboard motor? Wouldn't YOU say 'engineboat' powered by an 'outboard engine'?"

John rummaged in the toolbox looking for a nut-driver, " 'Motorboat'. That is just an expression."

Trey watched as John tightened the hose clamp, " But isn't that what we are talking about? How people express their ideas? People talk about 'The Motor Vehicle Department', 'motor cycles', 'motor scooters', 'motor homes', 'motocross', even motels - a cross between 'motor' and 'hotel'. All are clearly expressions to refer to engine-driven vehicles as motor vehicles. So who are YOU to define a word precisely while the language uses it generally ?"

John slammed the hood shut, "People who call engines 'motors' are not expressing their ideas. They are revealing their ignorance. Just because people refer to engines as 'motors' doesn't make it right."

Trey kicked the front tire, "It sure does! That is what language is! "

John tossed the nut-driver back in the toolbox and closed the lid, " Look, the clearest example of an 'engine' is a steam engine. You put wood, coal or something in one end and get mechanical energy out of the other end. Now that is a classic example of what I am trying to get through your skull."

Trey pulled on his chin whiskers, "Well, let's see. The combustion of a fuel produces heat energy. By YOUR definition, a motor would convert that heat energy into mechanical energy. Therefore, we can logically call a steam engine a MOTOR. I would say the same holds true for your internal combustion engine here." Trey patted the hood of the truck."Hehe.Gotcha."

Scott, the Job Superintendent, strode across the gravel parking lot, "I don't allow fighting on my job site."

John shrugged, "We weren't fighting.

Scott lit a cigarette, "It sure sounded like a lot of yelling to me!"

"Naw, we were just . . . Debating"

Scott sneered, "Debating?Debating what?"

"John scratched the gravel with the toe of his boot. "We were debating the correct definition and application of the words 'motor' and 'engine' . . . "

Scott threw the cigarette down and stomped on it, "FOR @!%#SAKES! WHO THE @!%#GIVES A @!%#"

John winked at Trey, " In his usual eloquence, Scott has summed up this debate with very few words."

Trey nodded, "Yep, a concise summation, all right."


John grabbed his toolbox. He teased, "See Trey? By YOUR definition, Scott would be a 'motor' because he induced motion in both of us. . ."

Trey slowly shook his head, "Boy! You never give up, Do you?"



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