History of Early American Automobile Industry

Chapter 2

Hom     Contents Pag

1 2   3  3-A 4 5   7 8 9 10 11 12 13  14   15 16 
17 18  19 20    21 22 23   24 25  26 27  28 29   30  31  32 33

   Addmendum 1  Addendum 2   Addendum 3

Types of Power

Steam Models

A vehicle was considered an automobile when it had at least three wheels, steering, and could start under its own power. American manufacturers adapted the name from the French name whereas the English name was the Autocar, short for auto carriage. They came in all shapes driven by several different any type of fuel and motors. The first were the steam cars that lasted until the 1930s.

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1861 Roper

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1865 Model

Stephen Roper was a manufacturer of steam engines who built a total of ten steam vehicles in 25 years. He had been expiermenting with steam engines from 1859, but he wasn't notiiced until 1863 when an article in the Scientific American magazine wrote about his latest effort, a two passenger four wheeler. It had a two horse power steam engine with a 2-25 mph speed range. Coal carried undere his seat was used for firing his burner . His cost of operation was one cent a mile. His last vehicle, in 1894, was sold to a Boston business man. Two years later he had an accident that either claimed his life or he died shortly there after.

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1867 Curtis Steamer, Newburyport, MA

Francis Curtis was the superintendent of the Gas Works in Newburyport and in 1866, he invented a steam engine which was attached to a piece of fire fighting equipment. The Newburyport Daily Herald described  it as self reliant and independent as though it were a living thing.  Nehemiah Bean, designer of the Amoskeag fire engine sat next to Curtis on its initial run and it may be that his engine was used in the Famous Amoskeag Fire Wagon. He built a steam passenger carrriage the following year built to the specifications of an unnamed client. The boiler was made by the Whittier Machine Works and was placed in front of the seat with a coal box at the rear. The water tank was 20 gallons and and coal capacity was 80 pounds. The steam pressure reached 40 to 45 pounds. It had a five horse power engine that  could reach 25 mph. With a full load of coal, the car could go 30 miles, providing  a half dozen stops for water. The longest run between water stops was 9 miles in 26 minutes. The price agreed to was $1000 to be paid in installments. When the owner failed to pay, Francis Curtis took back his steamer. This had to be the first repossion in American history. There was another first. During the testing period before delivering to his client, the Curtis aroused the wrath of his neighbors, one of whom swore out a warrant for his arrest.   When the officer arrived, Curtis left in his car with the officer in hot pursuit on foot, The first getaway by car in American history. Curtis had difficulty convincing the Newburyport City Council the wisdom of steam power and he was never able to build another steam power automobile in town.

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1884 E. S. Callihan three-wheel Steamer, Woonsocket. SD


1892 Oldsmobile Steam Photo

1892 Ransom E. Olds Steamer, maker of the Oldsmobile


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C. L. 1893 Simmonds' Steam Carriage

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1898 Stanley Runabout, Newton, MA

Steam cars were put into production in 1898 with the Stanley Brothers automobile that was commonly known as the Stanley Steamer.

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An American Self-Propelled Fire Engine.

We are able to give an illustration of a self-propelled fire engine lately introduced by the Manchester Locomotive Works, Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S.A. The boiler, as in ordinary fire engines, is of the upright tubular type, the shell being steel plate and the tubes of seamless copper. The power is transmitted from one end of the main crank shaft of the engine, through an equalising compound and two endless chains, running over sprocket wheels on each of the rear road wheels, permitting the wheels to be driven at varying speeds when turning corners. The driving power is made reversible, so that the engine may be driven either forward or backward on the road at will. The steering of the engine is effected by means of a hand wheel at the front moving the fore axle through a system of bevel and worm gearing, so arranged that the constant exertion of the driver is not required to keep the vehicle in line on the road. By the removal of a key the driving power may be disconnected from the road-driving gearing when it is desired to work the    pumps with the vehicle standing still. The connecting mechanism between the steam cylinders and the pumps is of the familiar erosshead and connecting-rod type, and the pumps and other parts are of the kind generally utilised by this firm in the construction of ordinary horse-drawn fire engines.

Motor-Car Journal. Friday, May 12th, 1899.
This journal was published in London, England


Can a steam boiler and engine be so applied to a mechanically-propelled carriage for use on common roads as to produce a light, commodious, speedy, and elegant vehicle for the transportation of two or four persons? This question the writer, who has had an intimate personal acquaintance with steam boilers and engines of high and low degree for about half a century, and who has given a large part of his time for the past three years to a consideration of the many varied and perplexing problems involved in the production of the satisfactory motor-vehicle, has always answered confidently in the negative. The bulky and heavy boiler, the constant and large supply of water, and the large, hot fire demanded by a steam engine of sufficient power to
drive a motor-carriage strongly, seemed to form unfavourable and wholly unavoidable conditions of steam road wagon
driving of such magnitude as to place the steam engine outside the list of possible contestants for popular tavour in this service.

It was therefore with the greatest surprise that the writer examined a group of steam motor-cars recently developed in Boston and its immediate vicinity, and found them to exhibit, collectively, all the essential features of the ideal automobile. These essential features may be specified as follows : Light weight, small demands on the attention of the driver,total absence of noise or odour of any kind, abundant driving power, and perfect ease of management. No single one of these Boston steam-vehicles embodies all these ideal features, but there is no apparent reason why each of them should not have all the virtues possessed by any one of them.

The four of these Boston and the vicinity steam carriages which are here illustrated and partly described were made as follows: By George E. Whitney, East Boston, who began work on steam motor-vehicles in 1885, partly built one machine, and then let the matter rest until 1895, when he began again and had his first carriage (weight 650 lb. on the road in October, 1896, and has since built and sold several othersno two alike, and all considered highly successful:  by William B. Mason, founder of the Mason Regulator Company of  Milton, Mass., who began his first steam carriage in 1885, sold it when partly completed, and began the car here shown in July, 1897. This was placed on the road October 4th, 1898;:  the Stanley Brothers, the well-known and extensive manufacturers of photographic dry plates, Newton, Mass., who began the construction of the vehicle here shown July 6th, 1897, and had it on the road in October, 1897. They have nearly completed a second wagon for four passengers, and have undertaken orders for a large number of vehicles: and by A. T. Cross, the well-known pencil-case and stylographic pen manufacturer, of Providence, R.I., who began the construction of his steam carriage in October, 1897, and first ran with it on the road in March, 1898.

So far as the writer is aware, H. S. Roper, of Boston, was the first to build a steam road-carriage in or near that city. Roper began perhaps as early as 1870, or even before that time, to experiment with automobiles. He used coal for fuel and built one very successful steam car, weighing 410 lb., having a vertical tubular boiler only 10 in. diameter, coal fired, which attracted much attention and ran in some races against horses. Roper brought out many inventions, and was a very skilful and ingenious machine constructor. He began making a steam bicycle in 1895 or before, and fell dead from this machine in a friendly speed contest with the cyclist Nat Butler on the Charles River cycle track, June 1st, 1896, at the age of 72; his death was due to heart failure. As Roper fired with coal he was unable to closely regulate his steam pressure, and when he had a fire started he was forced to run his carriage or blow his steam off at the safety valve; he was also forced to stop his car and alight to mend the fire. While the Roper carriage lacked many essentials of the ideal motor-vehicle, it was light, quick, and powerful. His steam bicycle ran the mile inside of two minutes, and is said to have weighed about 186 lb. Whitney, as a young mechanic, did some work for Roper on his motor-cycle boiler, and was very familiar with all that Roper did in the way of steam carriage construction. Whitney afterwards went into business for himself as a yacht engine constructor, and thus became an expert in light steam boiler and engine designing. Whitney and Mason were young mechanics together and intimate friends, and each owned a steam yacht, and it was quite natural that both should begin the construction cf steam motor-vehicles in 1885. More serious duties claimed their attention, and the production of a complete steam carriage was long delayed by both.

The Stanley Brothers are not practically trained engineers, but have wealth, mechanical instincts of the highest type, energy, and self confidence, and established an extensive factory so soon as they fully decided upon their model carriage. Their idea is to furnish two passenger vehicles weighing 400 lb. empty, at 600 dols. each. Whitney has so far made all his wagons to order, at prices varying up to 2,000 dols. His inventions are covered by patents which are in the hands of a strong company, and the Whitney steam carriages are expected to be soon placed in commercial manufacture. Mason built his carriage, which is a model of elegance in form and finish, for his own amusement. It weighs about 425 lb., and has cost about 1,200 dols. Cross
also built his steam vehicle for his own pleasure. His carriage weighs about 1,800 lb., and cost about 1,500 dols.

The writer has ridden on the Cross, Whitney, and Stanley carriages, and can speak with confidence of their performances. As the Mason car has a Stanley boiler, built by Stanley, and a Stanley burner, it will probably give about the same results on the road as the Stanley carriage, its weight being about the same. Whitney's vehicles are much heavier than the Stanley and Mason cars, and show their weight in hill climbing. The Whitney, Mason, and Stanley boilers are all practically equal, having shells 14 in. diameter, fitted with something over 300 half-inch copper tubes, each 13 in. long, very thin No. 20 B. and S. gauge. The Stanley and Mason burners use vaporised gasolene for fuel, and the fire is controlled by the Mason regulator, which is actuated by the boiler pressure, and holds it practically constant, the regulator operating on less than half a pound of boiler pressure variation. Some of Whitney's vehicles have had the fire under the control of the Mason regulator, but that on which the writer rode did not have the regulator, and the boiler was fitted with a pop safety valve, which frequently operated. The Stanley boiler, designed by Stanley, is extremely strong, testing to 1,000 lb. hydraulic pressure. Stanley and Mason carry steam to about 130 lb., and their safety valves are set at 150 lb., being prevented by the regulator from ever operating. If the regulator should fail, then the safety valvewould of course become useful



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Front View of Cross Steam Carriage

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Side View of Cross Steam Carriage

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Showing Engines of Cross Staem Carriage

The fuel used is kerosene, not gasolene. Kerosene is safe, and is always and everywhere obtainable,and in these two points shows advantages over gasolene, although so far very few accidents have resulted from the use of gasolene in motor-vehicles. The weight of the Cross car is about 1,800 lb. The tanks carry fuel for a day's run, and water for one and a half hours. This car is fitted with a speed reduction from the engine-shaft to the drivers .The wheels have wooden spokes and rims, and metallic hubs with plain axle bearings. The tires are solid rubber, by the American Tire Co. The tires cost 100 dols. for the four wheels, which are all 38 in. diameter. The gauge is 60 in. and the wheel base is very long, 78 inThe great weight of the Cross car is due to the engine and boiler, which must, of course, be supported by a framework which can carry them safely, and the 2,100 lb. total weight is too much to be placed on ordinary pneumatic tires. The machinery of the Cross car is all carried on the body of the carriage, which is supported on three full elliptic springs, up to the engines; the engines and counter-shaft are carried on short coiled springs supported on the rear axle.This arrangement gives the boiler a vertical movement independent of the engines, and also gives the counter-shaft pinions a small vertical rise and fall independent of the internal gears carried by the driving wheels.

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1896 Cruickshank  Steamer Delivery
Providence, RI
The First Delivery Van made in the America


The Cross automobile was made by the L. F. N. Baldwin owner of Cruickshank Engine Works, Providence, RI. Alonza Cross owner of  the Cross Writing Instrument Company, made the chassis. The body was made H. M. Howe, a carriage maker in town The year was 1897 and this was the first car made in Rhode Island. This was the only Cross made.




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Stanley Brothers in their 1897 Stanley Steamer

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View of Rear Axle Showing Frame, Chain Wheel, and Brake Down

The Stanley Brothers, of Newton, Mass., in their 400-lbs. steam carriage. This wagon was begun July 6th, 1897, and first placed on the road in October, 1897. The first engines in this wagon were a pair of inclined cylinders by the Mason Regulator Co., 2|-in. bore, and having 31/2 in. stroke, link motion; then three more pairs of engines were supplied for this wagon by the Mason Regulator Co., which were over weight according to the Stanley idea, and all four of the Mason engines were laid aside, and the Stanley car is now driven by a pair of vertical engines, 11/2 in. bore, with 31/2 in. stroke, weighing only 19 lbs., built by J. W. Penny & Son, Mechanics' Falls, Maine. The Stanleys are not engineers, and hence depended on others for the practical details of their engines. There was no reverse gear which mason agreed that all vehicles should have one.



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Mason in His Steam Carriage

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Mason Steam Carriage, Front View

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Mason Steam Carriage, Overhead View


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Mason's Engines

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Mason Steam Carriage, View of Rear Axle, Showing Variable Stroke Action

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Mason Steam Carriage with a View of the Mason Engine Under the Seat

The Mason car is without a doubt the finest in finish ot any motor-vehicle yet made, and is at every point a thing of delight to the engineering eye. The weight of this wagon is perhaps something over 425 lb., as it has a 12-lb. fly-wheel and some extra levers, in addition to the Stanley equipment, besides the clock and cyclometer. The boiler weighs 95 lb., and the engines, weigh 38 lb.just double the weight of the larger Stanley engines.

This is a step in advance, if true, and must lead to the large use of these carriages as soon as they can be had at the price of 600 dols., as is proposed by the Stanley Brothers. The Mason has the Stanley boiler and burner and the Mason regulator and the Stanley frame and wheels and steering level. As Mason uses piston valves and a link valve motion, he has three levers on his quadrant stand at the right of the seat, the outside one for the cylinder cocks, the middle one for the link motion, and the inside one, latching to a very findy notched short quadrant, for the throttle valve lever. Mason drives with the same chain used by Stanley, but his engires are smaller, being only 2 in. bore with 3 in. stroke, and he uses a lower gear, with an 8-teeth sprocket on the engine shaft, and a 32-teeth sprocket on the compensation casing, which produces a 4 to 1 reduction. Mason's wheels are 29 in. diameter, of the same construction as Stanley's, having ball bearing hubs. The car has a 5of-in. gauge, and 56-in. wheel base. While the Mason car is not precisely identical with Stanley's, the two are so similar that the numerous illustrations of the Mason car are generally applicable to the Stanley car.

Mason never put his automobile into production. He used this one to test his engines and after that he kept his engine building business for several years.



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Whitney in his No. 2 Steamer


Mr. Whitney has built several wagons, no two alike. The first one weighed 750 lbs., and was driven by a pair of single engines, 2 in. bore, with 4 in. stroke. This car was completed in October, 1896, and had a light chain transmission. Whitney's second carriage, built for the Whitney Motor-Wagon Company, of Boston, from which these illustrations were taken, was finished February 20th, 1897. This car also has 2-in. by 4-in. cylinders; in his later wagons Whitney uses cylinders n\ in. bore, with 4 in. stroke. All Whitney's engines are fitted with a valve-driving shifting crank-shaft, driven by chain and sprockets from the engine crank-shaft, the valve-driving crank-shaft being fitted to change its angular position relative to its driving sprocket by means of a hand-actuated, longitudinally movable, double spiral grooved reversing sleeve. The action ol this reversing gear is the same as that of the well-known shifting eccentric, the cranked
valve-actuating shaft being introduced to avoid the large diameter sliding surfaces inseparable from the use of eccentrics, and for the sake of compactness. Whitney uses two diameters of wheels, 36-in. rear drivers, and 36-in. front steering wheels, with 3-in. Hartford
pneumatic tires, costing; 120 dols. for the four, and used with 100-lb. air pressure. The wheels have steel rims and heavy reduced spokes, with bent ends at the hub.

It is enough to say that Whitney has tried bevel gears, spur gears, and chains for his transmission, and that none of them exactly meet his views. He has used rear-wheel sprockets up to 20 in. diameter, 2 in. pitch, and 1 in. face, and these very heavy and amply proportioned chains and sprockets do not appear much more durable than the lighter ones before used. The very large bronze and steel spur gear
and pinion he used wore out with only 500 miles' travel. Whitney is at present directing his attention principally to this point of transmission mechanism. It is to be noted that all the motor-cars here illustrated have their transmission gear open to light road dust, and it is clear to the writer that the speedy destruction of all forms of gearing applied by Whitney has been due to grinding away, not to the legitimate wear of one clean, well-lubricated metal surface upon another. The general lines of Whitney's cars vary but little from common forms of carriages. The chief peculiarities of Whitney's construction are to be found in his frame construction, his valve motion, his front axle construction, and in his steering lever.

Taking these four steam cars together, they burn kerosene, not gasolene, make no noise, show no steam and emit no odour, do not frighten horses, do not require any    blower or other forced draughts, and the driver has only one hand engaged, with one foot ready for action on the brake, leaving one foot and his right hand free. Taken singly, none of these carriages do all of these things, and it is not certain that the Stanley burner will burn kerosene with any degree of success. But most unquestionably a steam motor-car, operating on less than one-third of a cent per mile for fuel, and weighing well under 450 lb. empty, under perfect control, absolutely safe, and capable of being sold at a handsome profit for 600 dols., is a long step in advance of anything in the way of mechanically-propelled vehicles of unlimited range previously shown. Writh such light weights the pneumatic tire is .durable, and with such low fuel consumption, and such small first cost as Stanley proposes, the immediate use of a vast number of these vehicles seems certain. (End of Article)


Copied from the English Motor-Car Journal, 1899 Edition

Following the Stanley and Whitney vehicles, quite a number of different types of light steam cars are beginning to make their appearance in America. The steam dog-cart, for either two or four persons, shown herewith is built by the Baldwin Automobile Company, of Providence, R.I. The car is said to have already undergone some very severe tests. The engine will, it is stated, develop from 4 to 6 h.p., is reversible, and is fitted with nickel-steel valves and valve faces. The exhaust steam as it leaves the engine is conveyed to a special combined condenser and vaporiser, and from there is returned to the water tank. In hill climbing, where the steam used is considerable, the surplus passes through an ingeniously-devised mufHer and escapes without noise. The boiler is fired by means of petrol. The exhaust steam passes through a coil in the petrol tank and raises the temperature so that a slight pressure is automatically obtained without the use of the hand pump. The burner beneath the boiler is regulated by the boiler pressure. The tanks for carrying water, fuel, etc., are so constructed that the contents are not affected by the motion of the carriage. From the engine the power is transmitted to the rear axle by a single central driving chain. Ample brake power is provided, while the road wheels are of the cycle type fitted with pneumatic tires


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1899 Baldwin Steam Runabout Automobile

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1930 The American Steamer Coupe, West Newton, MA

As years went by, steam power lost favor with the public and the last steam car that had a serious producton was in 1930

Electric Models

Of the three major types of motor power, the electric was the most favorable for easy starting and driving, comfort and the main reason that they were noiseless and emitted no nauseous fumes. They were the choice of women and doctors for these reasons. If one were wealthy enough to own two cars, one of them would be the electric.

Copied from the 1913 Edition of the Horseless Age Magazine

Early History of the Electric Vehicle.

At the last annual meeting of the Electric Vehicle Association of America F. M. Kimball read a paper on "New England as an Electric Vehicle Field," which he introduced with some interesting historical notes. Mr. Kimball makes the claim that New England is in a large measure the birthplace of the modern electric vehicle, in support of which he cites the following historical facts:

The first public demonstration of the electric motor as a means of providing motive power for transportation was made by Thomas Davenport, of Brandon, Vt., in the year 1835, and a similar exhibition was made by Charles Page, of Salem, Mass., during the same or the following year.Although the model shown by Davenport was necessarily crude, it operated with a very considerable degree of success, and undoubtedly served as a stimulant to the ingenuity of other inventors who from time to time thereafter amplified and improved the ideas embodied in this original model.At the time Davenport's invention was shown the public was almost wholly ignorant of any practical uses to which electricity could be put, and evinced comparatively little interest in the exhibition. It was inclined to look upon the whole affair as nothing more than a very academic experiment and failed to discern the latent germ therein, which was ultimately to expand into such an enormous and valuable industry..

After a lapse of sixteen yearsin 1851 we find the announcement of another similar experiment made by Professor Page, of Washington, D. C, who built and exhibited on the B. & O. R. R. a model motor-driven car, capable of running at the rate of 16 miles per hour, and embodying the same fundamental principles as were disclosed in Davenport's model, but very considerably improved in design, construction and resultant operation. From time to time, during the next thirty-five years, other inventors brought out new and more or less successful models, many of which embodied material improvements, and were very ingenious in design and construction.

Prior to 1885 experimenters had been generally obliged to rely upon primary batteries for a supply of electricity, but the expense of maintenance, as well as the very limited output per pound of weight, and the uncertainty and annoyance attending their use, rendered them totally unfit for employment in the service under consideration. About 1885 the storage battery began to establish itself as available for commercial purposes, and those who were interested in perfecting the electric vehicle were quick to avail themselves of this new power supply, which, together with the rubber tire, soon proved to be the long-sought keys to success..

It was not until 1888, however, that engineers and far-sighted business men really took up the development and exploitation of the electric road vehicle in an aggressive and systematic manner. The first electric street car had been put into operation by Frank J. Sprague, in Richmond, Va., in February, 1888. The success of this installation, as well as the still greater success attending the electrical equipment of the West End Street Railway in Boston, which shortly followed the equipment of the Richmond road, gave a new impetus to the interest and efforts of those who were experimenting with electric road vehicles, and real progress followed rapidly. In the summer of 1888 an electric vehicle for one passenger, built by the writer for P. W. Pratt, of Boston, was shown publicly on the streets of this city.

In 1892 the Holzer-Cabot Electric Co., of Brookline, Mass., was commissioned by Fiske Warren to build for his use an electric carriage of a design and capacity which should make it practicable for short tours. An electric brake, capable of carrying eight passengers, was at once designed and successfully completed. Its operating radius on a single battery charge at 8 miles per hour was from 40 to 50 miles, and it was capable of making a maximum speed of about 16 miles per hour on a level road.

Continually increasing progress was made from year to year thereafter, and by 1898 the business had assumed sufficient importance to be classed as an industry, and in the fall of that year, for the first time, a considerable collection of sample electric vehicles was shown at an electrical show held in Madison Square Garden, New York City. Public interest was considerably aroused by this exhibit, and the advantages of the electric vehicle were so obvious that it was not difficult to interest buyers, nor secure capital to manufacture.


Copied from the English Motor-Car Journal, 1899 Issue

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An electric vehicle that possesses some interesting and rather unique features, and which reminds us of the old Otto bicycle, has recently been constructed by Mr. A. B. Holson, of Chicago. It consists of a seat and carriage frame suspended between two large wheels, and a good general idea of its construction may be obtained from the accompanying illustration, which shows the vehicle and its inventor. Mr. Holson believes that the main improvement in his vehicle over other automobiles is the fact that he uses such large wheels. In passing o^ er rough roads the jar of the battery of accumulators is greatly lessened. The inventor says:"The reason that batteries give out so quickly in automobiles is that the vehicle shakes the batteries so badly that the active material drops out, and there is a tendency to short-circuit the battery. I overcome this by having such a large wheel.

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Andrew Riker and his 1895 Quadracycle

Neither one was ever put into production. However Andrew Riker hired by Locomobile Automobile CO. as their chief engineer and he designed Locomobiles first gasoline model in 1902.  Hiram Percy became the chief engineer for the Columbia Automobile in 1896. For years to come, these gentlemen played a prominent part in the automobile industry.

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1898 Columbia Landau, Hartford, CT

Electric cars were the choice of taxi companies for the very same reason that the housewives had. The rich and famous were transported to their events in style and comfort. 

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1907 Bailey Electric, Victoria Phaeton, Amesbury, MA

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1912 Woods Electric Brougham
Woods Motor Co., Chicago, Ill.

There were many electric car companies of the era with two distinct styles. One was the Victoria Phaeton and the other was of the regular car style. The Victoria Phaeton models were manufactured by almost all of the major electric automobile companies its style remained very popular until 1913. However, the gasoline style body were being used at the same time.

When the public demanded affordable automobiles for vacations and family use, the electrics began to lose in favor of the cheaper gasoline models that could drive a greater distance before refilling that only took a very short time to do so.

Gasoline Models

The engine was called an explosive engine because on the fourth stroke, the position of the cylinder was in the correct position to have the spark  ignite the fumes for an enough explosive power to drive the car. It only took a very small amount of gasoline to provide the necessary fumes. In its natural state, gasoline will not burn. But in its gaseous state, there is enough power in the fumes of a gallon of gasoline to wipe out a city block. To make it more revelant, a gallon of gas can pull a 3000 pound car for twenty miles.

There were several types of types of fuels tested in the beginning, but gasoline, or "gasolene" as originally spelled, became the prefered one. When Rudolph Diesel invented his engine in 1890, he used peanut oil.

Those noisy, smelly, crank-starting machines that had caused many accidents by a frightened horse while it was being passed on a country road were continually being built and sold in larger and larger quantities. For al of its faults, it had its advantages. The electric car needed to have a battery charge every eighty miles that required a four-hour charging time. The steam vehicles had to stop at almost every available water hole to have their boilers filled and then wait another twenty minutes for it to gain enough steam pressure. The gasoline car could travel over three hundred miles on a tank of fuel. Still, there was enough demand for all three of them to be able to continue.

In any type of business of this importance, there are people who want their product to be known as the very first. So, it was with the gasoline automobile.


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George Seldens 1877 Model

George Seldon completed his car with his engine 1877, but he neglected to patent it until 1895. When he did, he patented both the engine and the automobile. In the mean time, Karl Benz patented his automobile in 1886 and is given credit for the first gasoline model made and John Lambert is recognized as being the first in this country.

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John Lamberts 1891 Model

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1893 Duryea Buggy and the 1894 Model with the Duryea Brothers

In 1891, Charles Duryea , an inventor of the spray carburetor living in Peroia, IL, contacted his brother Frank, who had left his Illinois home to study and work as a mechanic and now living in Springfield, MA, to design and build a gasoline engine for an automobile. In the next two years, the designs that he made were sent to Charles who always wanted a small change. Finally, the engine was made and tested to mechanically sound and with sufficient power for use. It was place on a high wheel buggy and driven around Springfield for a year. The following model, made in 1894, had an entirely different body that was much easier to handle and drive.

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1893 Haynes-Apperson Model

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1894 Haynes Apperson and 1895 with the Apperson Brothers

Throughout the long history of the Haynes-Apperson Co., Elwood Haynes, of Kokomo, IN, always claimed to be the first one to build a gasoline car in America and he always advertised it as such. When he was ready to put his engine to test, he hired the Apperson Brothers who owned a machine shop in Kokomo to build a chassis for it. They agreed to do so and to help finance it for half interest in the company. The car was tested later that year. It ran a short distance before the engine died. It had to be pushed off the street, but it had run. It was two years later before the next model was made and this one was put into production in 1896.

The first of October 1n 1901, the Apperson Brothers notified Haynes that they were ending their partnership and as of the last of the month, it would be finalized. The Apperson Brothers came out with their 1902 Apperson car. Elwood Haynes continued making cars under the Haynes-Apperson name until 1905.

Alternate types of power

Carbonic Acid

Copied from the English Motor-Car Journal, 1899 Issue

Carbonic Acid Motor-Vehicles

Renewed attempts are being made in the United States to propel motor vehicles by the aid of carbonic acid gas. Hitherto all attempts to solve the problems involved have proved unsuccessful, but some experimenters have now claimed that they have successfully solved all difficulties. The carbon-dioxide is admitted to the engines under the full vapour tension of the liquid under normal temperature, the gas being heated to a high temperature before being admitted to the cylinders of the engines. One company is reported to have secured a factory at Kingston, N.Y., in which locality several very extensive cement factories are operated. The reputed cause for the selection of this centre as a site for the factory is that arrangements have been made with these cement companies for the gathering and storing of the carbon-dioxide generated during the burning of the cement. It will need considerable and extensive experiments to convince us that the project is likely to be successful. It has been the dream of many engineers to successfully operate carbon-dioxide engines, but hitherto the difficulties encountered have been insurmountableat any rate, from a commercial standpoint.

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1898 Compressed Air Carriage 
Pneumatic Cariage CO, Trenton NJ

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1898 Carbonic Acid Motor Carriage
New Power Co., of Trenton, N. J


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1899 Gibson Carbonic Acid Automobile


Liquid Air

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1901 Liquid Air Runabout


Half Water and Half Gas


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1903 James A. Charter Water-Gasoline Tonneaua
Chicago, Il

This automobile's engine was designed to use half water and half gasoline as fuel. Because gasoline will not mix with water and will rise to the top, when the engine fired, there was enough power to drive the car and the water would cool the cylinders.

And Others

Two gentlemen decided not to use any type of fuel and and showed their ingenuity with their idea of spring power.


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An unidentified man is riding his spring driven vehicle sometime before 1895. It was driven by four large springs and could go three miles on one winding.

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Ingersoll Moore Spring and Spring Driven 1890 three Seater

Ingersoll Moore , Bloomimgton, IL claimed to be very astute about automobiles and had been studying them for two years before he invented this model. It is driven by four batteries, each having three flat coiled springs. Each battery is connected by a gear and all are wound by a lever on the driver's right side. By means of double action ratches, the lever winds the springs both ways.

The Word's First Hybrid


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1898 Munson Electric-Gasoline Hybrid , Munson Company, La Porte, IN

The Munson was the first gasoline-electric vehicle made. It used the battery to start the gasoline engine to drive the vehicle and the generator would keep the battery charged. When more power was needed on uphill or braking power downhill grsdes, a switch would engage the battery power. With a ten gallon tank, there was enough fuel to go for 120 miles.

The First Four Wheel Drive

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1902 Twyford Four-Wheel Drive Automobile

There were two sets of emshed gears used, one for the rear and one for the front. These were connected to anothe set oof gears that would drive each wheel indepentently. It was so complicated that it was always being repaired and very few if any were sold.

The First Automatic Drive

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1904 Sturtevant Automatic Drive Touring, 
Sturtevant Mill Co., Boston, MA

The Sturtevant had a mesh gear transmission that allowed the car to be driven at different speeds by applying pressiure to the foot pedal or releasing. There was no reaction as each speed was obtained.

The Combination of all Three, Gasoline Automatic, and Electric

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1905 Gas-au-lec Side Entrance Tonneau

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1905 Gas-Au-Lec Autmobile Advertisement


By 1902, the "Horseless Carriage" was being morphed into the American Automobile. Articles written in the automobile trade journals in 1904 and 1905 gave proof that the American automobiles had passed the European models in style and reliability. Amerian models were now being shown at the European shows.

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1902 Boston and Amesbury
Boston and Amesbury Motor Car Co. 
Made by Miller Brothers, Amesbury, MA


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1902 Thomas Rear Entrance Tonneau
Thomoas Automobile Co.  Syracuse, NY

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1903 Upton Touring
Upton Automobile Co. Beverly, MA

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1904 Welch, Pontiac, MI

However, there were several prominent American makers still using European styles, especially the Renault and Garrad Serpollet. Franklin automobiles used the Renault style from 1910-1920 and were very popular.


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1902 Robinson Rear Entrance Tonneau
Robinson Automobile Co. Hyde Park, MA
Renault Style body

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1906 French Serpolet, Garrad Style
The 1905 Essex Tonneau was an almost duplicate.
Essex Automobile Co. Boston, MA
Built by S. R. Bailey & Co., Amesbury, Ma

There were some companies building cars that to say the least, were a little odd.

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1898 Eastman Electro-Vehicle 
Cleveland, OH


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1899 Canda Auto-Quadracycle

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1896 M.H. Daley's 195 pound Motor Carriage, Charles City, IA

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1897 Charles Burrows
New York, NY


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1899 International Motor Wheel Delivery Van
International Motor Wheel Co., New York, NY
Invented by J.W. Walters, New York

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1903 Orient Buckboard
Waltham Mfg. Waltham, MA
From 1903-1908, it was the largeat selling car in the world and was exported to every continent.

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1896 Horseless Carriage Wagon
Higdon & Higdon, patent attorneys, of St. Louis, Mo.
There was no patent on this car and any part could be copied. It was used as an advertisement gimmick.


European Automobiles Made by Companies in the United States
These were American Companies with licenses to manufacture

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1906 American Mercedes Automobile Showing the Name of the Body Builder. MooreMunger, Co.


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1902 American Charron 
American Charron Automobile Co. Rome, NY

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1906 American Mercedes 
Daimler Manufacturing Co of Long Island City, New York   

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1905 American Napier Touring
Napier Motor Car Company of America,  Boston, MA

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1906 American Mors
The St. Louis Motor Car Co. St. Louis, MO 

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1901 De Dion-Bouton Motorette
De Dion-Bouton Motoreete Co. Brooklyn, NY

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1906 American Berliet Touring
American Locomotive, Co, Providence, RI

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1914 American Fiat Touring
American Fiat Co., Poughkeepsie, NY
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1923 American Made Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost
Rolls-Royce of America Inc. Springfield, MA

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The American Napier was made in Boston from 1904-1905 andf Jamacia Plain from 1906-1911


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1906 Amewrican Mercedes Advertisement


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1902 American C.G.V.
First American C.G.V. Built at Rome, NY

Copied from the 1902 Issue of the Automobile Topics Magazine

The first of the new Charron, Girardot & Voigt automobiles to be constructed in this country was delivered at the garage of Smith & Mabley this week. It is made completely in accordance with the plans and specifications of the French patentees. These automobiles, which are built in the factory of the Rome Locomotive Works, at Rome, N. Y., are equipped with four-cylinder motors, developing 15 horse power, and having a speed capacity of about 40 miles an hour. They will sell for $5,5000


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1901 American Daimler Delivery Van
Daimler Mfg. Company, Long Island City, NY

Copied from James Homans 1902 book "Self Propelled Vehicles"

In 1888, William Steinway, maker of the Steinway Pianos, secured the rights to manufacture engines and automobiles under the Daimler Motor Co. in Hartford, CT. He died in 1896 and  the company was reorganized as the Daimler Manufacturing Co. in Long Island City, NY making engines, but a very  few commericial vehicles were made. In 1905 the company started making exact copies of the Mercedes, but stopped in 1907 after their factory was destroyed by fire.


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1903 American Darracq


1907 Westinghouse Limousine

In 1902, the Kensington Automobile Co. of Buffalo, NY,  was negotating with the Darraq company in France to build the Darraq cars at its factory, but it never happened. The American Darracq was imported into this country by the American Darracq Automobile Co. headed by F. A. La Roche.

There always has  been a question as to where the 1907 Westinghouse automobile was made. Was in made in the America and exported to France or was it made in France and imported into America?  Beverly Rae Kimes Standard Cataloque of American Cars was not sure.

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This advertisement was cut from the November Issue of the 1907 Automobile Topics Magazine and shows it as an import.for American taste.


Twombly Automobiles

These cars and their designer and manufacturer deserves special mentioning, but not knowing where to place them to get special attention, they were placed here. Williard Twombly, New York, NY, made three attempts to manufacture a successful car, but all three were disapointments. His first atempt was in 1904 when he made a steamer, but it was too expensive to produce.

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1906 Twombly Gasoline Side Entrance Tonneau Automobile

In 1905, he built a gasoline model to experiment with using a kerosene carbueretor and pneumatic suspension. This car was too expensive to put into production and he decided to make his living at his Twombley Power Coropration in New York City.

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1910 Twombly "Quick Detachable"   Touring

He spent the next four years and $250,000 to build his 1910 Twombly Steamer. This car was designed to so anyone could change engines in 5-10 minutes. An owner was encourged to have a spare engine on hand just in case there was an engine malfunction. By quickly changing engines would save a great deal of expense from transferring loads to another car. The entire body could also be replaced in  minutes. The body was constructed in such a manner that by following instructions, it could be converted into a torpedo or a limousine style body by simply rearranging the removable body panels.

He  was sure that he had a winner and all he had to do was to wait for investors to come calling, but they never did. Not to be deterred from his mission to build a car that would be acceptable to the public, he spent the next three years designing his next car that turned out to be a Twombly Cycle Car in 1913

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1913 Twombly Cyclecar

The Twombly cyclecar was William Twombly's third attemt to make a successful car and was his most successful one. It was a a very beautiful car for a cycle care with a price of $600.00. It was made by Driggs-Seabury in Sharon, PA.

In 1914, the model was made to a LIght Car. He thought that he had a sure winner, but his financier, wanted immediate success and when it did not happen, he pulled the plug on operation and Twombly's dream of automobile manufacturing went down the drain in 1915.

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1914 Twombly Light Touring

They were built in roadsters and touring models.   He was going to make it this time and he ordered 3,000 cars to be made by Driggs-Seabury in Sharon, PA. Unfortunately, his backer did not have the patience to wait for the company to make a profit and in 1915, he forced the Twombly company into bankruptcy.


In 1904, W.P. Williamson, owner of the Youngstown Carriage Co, Younstown, OH, and Charles Gaither, his engineer, designed aan automobile and they a Man named Mahoning to finance their venture. The Mahoning Motor Car Company was incorporated  and the first car was produced that year. They were built for only one year. Then, the Mahoning company wanted out.

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The heavy costs of labor was given as the main reason, but the car had a s

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   Addmendum 1  Addendum 2   Addendum 3

evere flaw. The motor was too small to to drive the car up the slighest grade. The passengers had to get out and walk with only the driver was able to ride.