A Standoff with Soichiro Honda

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The initial product brochure introducing sample electrical appliances that could be used with the E300 generator.



<< 1. Convenient and Easy-to-Use Portable Generator
<< 2. The Challenge of a Reduced Engine Size
<< 3. Put through the Wringer of a Prototyping Expert
<< 4. A Standoff with Soichiro Honda
<< 5. Refining the Layout in Just Three Months
<< 6. Soichiro Honda's Proposal with Young Female Users in Mind
<< 7. Walls that Stood in the Way of Final Specifications
<< 8. The Birth of the E300, a New Generator for the World
 


One day, while he was going through the usual struggles with his drawing, Koyama began to sense the presence of someone watching him from behind. Slowly, he turned around and found Soichiro Honda standing there. To his surprise, though, Mr. Honda suddenly reached for the drawing, stripped it off of the design table, and threw it into the wastebasket. Koyama was so upset he was unable to say anything. A moment of complete silence followed, after which Mr. Honda said, "Why do you have to make the crankcase so big? Didn't you even consider that you could reduce the volume by not placing the bolts inside but simply allow them to be exposed? And how did you come up with such a long crankshaft for such a small engine? Make it a split-type instead." Then Soichiro turned and left, having pointed out two fundamental flaws in the young engineer's design.

However, there was a reason for the bolt design. Since there was no external appearance thought out yet, Koyama had to focus on giving the exposed section of the engine a decent look. To that end, he had designed the crankcase shape so that the tightening bolts would not be exposed. With regard to the long crankshaft, though, Koyama himself had acknowledged the effectiveness of a split-type, cantilevered design in terms of cost and productivity. Moreover, in that design, the connecting rod could be integrated. When he actually tested the crankshaft, though, the basic problems in engineering began to show up, including deflection and a tapping noise. Even the long process of trial and error seemed inadequate to resolve these issues, and weaknesses in Koyama's design dogged him all the way to the eve of mass production.
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