Latest Entries »

 

John Brisben Walker (1847 – 1931), a magazine editor and Amzi Lorenzo Barber (1843 – 1909) , a road asphalting contractor formed the Locomobile Company to manufacture steam automobiles – the name Locomobile being derived out of Locomotive & Automobile.
In 1899, they bough the patent rights for a steam car from the Stanley brothers for $250,000, with only one car of that design made and 199 pending orders.  Shortly after formation of the company John Walker left Locomobile. From 1899 till about 1902, Locomobile made and sold about 4000 steam cars. A 1901 Locomobile steamer –
Locomobile steamers were the first automobiles to be used in a war , theBoer war between 1899 – 1902. They were used as generators and to carry search lights.
Locomobile steamers were highly unreliable and troublesome and in 1902, Locomobile company sold  the patents back to Stanley brothers for $20000 and shifted their concentration towards Internal Combustion engine automobiles.
Locomobile appointed Andrew L Riker to design and make a internal combustion  engine automobile and the first car was made in 1904. Locomobile company participated in racing and, in 1906, was the first American car to win the Vanderbilt cup. The 1906 Vanderbilt racer –
The most famous of Locomobile cars was the Model 48 –
Locomobile was taken over by Durant Motors in 1922 and continued to make cars under the Locomobile Brand name. Durant motors along with Locomobile closed operations in 1929. One of the last Locomobile cars , a 1928 Locomobile –
The Locomobile logo –

 

Twin brothers Francis Edgar Stanley (1849 – 1917) and Freelan Oscar Stanley (1849 – 1940) were pioneers of the dry photographic plate. In 1897 , after witnessing a french steam car in an expo, they got interested and started developing an automobile with a steam engine. In 1898 , they made their first steam car and drove up a steep hill in 2 hours which otherwise would have taken 6 hours in a horse carriage.
A 1898 steam car with Freelan Stanley and his wife –
They produced about 200 of these cars and later sold the rights of the steam car to Locomobile company and returned back to their photography business.
In 1902, they sold the photography business to George Eastman and returned back to Automobile business. They founded Stanley Motor Carriage Company to manufacture and sell steam powered cars. Stanley steam cars were known for their quality, reliability and boasts of one of the safest boiler designs with no recorded accident of boiler explosions. The boilers and burners were placed below the rear seat and directly coupled to the rear axle. As the torque produced is high, steam cars do not require clutch and transmissions.
A 1903 Stanley steam car –
Around 1905, steam car designs evolved and housed the boiler and burners in front leading to be known as “Coffin-nosed” cars. In 1906 , a Stanley steam car set the world speed record of 127 mph (201 km/h) and the record stood for 103 years , broken by another modern steam car in 2009. Stanley steamers came to be known as “flying teapots” in view of their exploits in the racing arena.
A 1908 and an 1912 Stanley steam car – Note the shape of the front – coffin-like
The driver controls were also complex and requires an engineer to start and drive a steam car. It has many pressure gauges (water, steam , main fuel, pilot fuel) , oil winker, throttle below steering wheel, air pressure tanks, steam control etc. Below is an example of a Stanley steamer dashboard.
The mechanical layout of a steam car is also completely different as well as complex, requiring multiple plumbing to handle oil, fuel, water, steam , heat etc. Below is a layout of a Stanley steamer –
The starting procedure is elaborate and requires a minimum of 20 min to start and drive away a steam car. Watch Jay Leno start and drive a 1906 Stanley steamer here.
The Stanley Motor Carriage logo –
In the early 1900 , steam cars were one of the highest selling automobiles, next to electric cars. However, with the invention of starter motor by Cadillac and mass production of Ford Model T cars, steam cars lost steam and were on the decline. Stanley steam cars tried to counter this by an advertisement campaign , which reads –
Power –
          Correctly generated
          Correctly controlled
          Correctly applied to rear axle
This campaign was put forth to counter the rise of  “internal explosion Engine” which was gaining popularity at that time. As we know the “internal explosion engine” won the race.
Stanley Motor carriage company changed hand in 1917 and was finally closed down in 1924.

The Locomotive Act of 1865 , also known as the RED flag act , required –

1. Self-propelled vehicles to have a speed limit of 4 mph(6 Km/h) in country roads and 2 mph (3 Km/h) in city roads
2. It should have a crew of 3 – a driver, a stoker and flag man
3. The flag man need to carry a Red flag and walk 60 yards (55 m) ahead of the vehicle.
This effectively restricted the speed of the vehicle to the walking speed of the man carrying the Red flag. He has to warn the horse carriages about the self-propelled vehicle ahead and ensure that the driver stops the vehicle till the horse or the horse carriage passes by.
The amended Highway & Locomotive act of 1878 reduced the distance of the Red flag man to 20 yards but all the other conditions remained same.
Below is a depiction of the implementation of the red flag act –
These restrictive rules and regulations choked the development of the British Motor Industry , helped by the Railway and Horse carriage lobbies.
Finally , on 14 November 1896 , the new Locomotives on Highways Act 1896 was passed with the following changes and was applicable to vehicles less than 3 tons in weight.
1. Speed limit was increased to 14 mph (22 Km/h)
2. Was exempted from the 3 member crew as well as the Red flag
To celebrate this event, Harry Lawson of Daimler (England) and his friends organised for the London to Brighton “Emancipation” run. The London – Brighton run starts off with the symbolic tearing of the RED flag.  The London – Brighton run is being regularly conducted from 1927 till date.
The 1896 emancipation run –
By 1903, the speed limits were increased to 20 mph and later on the laws were repealed.

 

George B Selden (1846 – 1922) was a patent lawyer and an inventor. In 1879 , he filed a patent for a horseless carriage – Road engine powered by liquid-hydrocarbon engine of the compression type. After many updates, the US patent office finally  awarded the patent to him in 1895 – Patent no 549.160. The liquid-hydrocarbon engine mentioned in the patent was of the Brayton cycle type.
Even though George Selden never built an automobile , he intended to use the patent effectively to collect royalties. In 1899, Selden sold the patent to Electric Vehicle Company (EVC) who wanted to control the Electric vehicle business by controlling the Gasoline powered automobiles through the Selden patent. Immediately they filed patent suit against Winton Automobiles who were one of the largest sellers of automobile.
By 1903, 30+ automobile manufacturers got to togather to support the Selden patent with a view to limit and shut out competition, called theAssociation of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers (ALAM). The Association would pool in royalties from the members and use it partially to find patent infringement cases. Winton joined the ALAM and the case against him was dropped.
The royalties started with 1.25 % and was finally fixed at 0.75%.
In 1903 , Ford Motor Co decided to contest the patent by refusing to pay royalties and a long drawn legal battle ensued. In 1909, Ford lost the case as the judge ruled in favour of Selden. Ford appealed and, in 1911 , the US courts ruled against the Selden patent , the main reason being that the current automobiles use Otto cycle engine and not Brayton cycle engine.
Thus, one of the longest patent battle for the Automobile ended in 1911.
George Selden did found an automobile company in 1905 and they produced cars between 1909 and 1911.  The Selden Motor vehicle company ceased production in 1911.

 

 

James Sumner (1860 – 1924) was a British Engineer involved in the manufacture of steam lawn movers and experimenting with self-propelled steam vehicles. In 1892 , he converted a tri-cycle to run on steam.

In 1895 , he designed and developed a 3 wheel steam car for Mr Theodore Carr.

In 1896 , he along with Henry Spurrier (1840 – 1922) and his sons Henry Spurrier II (1869 – 1942) and George Spurrier (1872 – 1946), formed the Lancashire Steam Motor Company in the town of Leyland. In 1897 , they introduced the first steam wagon.

1899/1900 saw the introduction  of stem passenger vehicles which started the bus business. Below is the 1900 steam bus sold to Dundee Motor Omnibus. In fact the first export was a steam mail van to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

While the company was manufacturing bigger and better steam trucks and buses, they were experimenting with Petrol-engine power also. In 1904, they introduced the first Petrol-engine Lorry , named as “The Pig”.

In 1907 , Lancashire Steam Motor company was renamed as Leyland Motors , taking the name of the town where it was located.

Leyland continued its domination of the Lorry and Bus market , shifting out of steam to petrol. In 1920, they introduced their car – Leyland Eight.

Leyland Eight was sophisticated and expensive and did not sell well. It was stopped in 1923.

Leyland continued its domination in the Lorry and Bus segment. Leyland was the first to design buses to maximize passenger space which led to the driver sitting on one side of the engine as well as Double-Decker buses. Below is a 1906 Leyland bus and a Double-Decker bus.

Leyland also had the concept of “Leyland Zoo” where the trucks were named after animals , including Octopus for their multi-axle trucks.

After the acquisition of Standard Triumph in 1963, the company was renamed as Leyland Motor Corporation. In 1968 Leyland Motor Corporation merged with British Motor Holdings (BMH) to form the British Leyland Corporation (BLMC). This merger brought in a bouquet of cars (Morris, Austin, Wolseley, Siddley, Standard, Triumph, Rover) under the BLMC umbrella.

In 1975, after financial problems, BLMC was nationalised and renamed as British Leyland (BL). In 1986 , they acquired the Rover group. In 1987 , the DAF group of  Netherlands acquired BL and the company was renamed as Leyland DAF.

1993 saw the bankruptcy of DAF group which led to the management take over as well as splitting in to Leyland trucks LDV Limited (for Vans) Leyland Bus and spare parts division LEX.

In 1998 , Leyland truck was sold to PACCAR group of USA and prior to DAF bankruptcy, Leyland Bus was sold to Volvo in 1988.

The Leyland Logo –

In India , Leyland still lives on in the form of Ashok-Leyland.

 

 

Charles Brady King (1868 – 1957) of USA was an inventor and Engineer.  In 1894 he formed the Charles B King Company to manufacture Stationary Engines, Marine Engines and Pneumatic hammers and was holding numerous patents.
In 1893 , he made a plan to develop a “horseless” carriage which will be self-propelled by a Gasoline engine.
The first car was made in 1895 with a 2-cylinder King engine. The second car was made in 1896 and was driven around.
After experimenting successfully with cars, King continued to concentrate on Engines and pneumatic hammers. In 1900, King sold the Marine Engine business to Old Motor Works and joined the company as Chief Engineer. After the disastrous fire at Old Motor Works , he left the company and joined Northern Manufacturing Co (Later to be renamed as Northern Motor Company) in 1902.
At Norther Motor Company , King developed many engines and introduced new features on Northern cars. One of the well know being the “Silent Northern” car.
When Northern Motor Company was taken over by E-M-F in 1908 , King left Norther Motor Company and pursued higher studies. On completion of his studies , in 1910, King incorporated his company – King Motor Car Company.
King Motor Car company produced a few cars , the famous being the King 8 with a 8-cylinder engine, advertised as “the car of no regrets“. A 1912 King 36 roadster –
The King Logo –

After 1916 , sales kept falling and finally King Motor Company was closed down in 1924

 

Louis Semple Clarke (1866 – 1957) of USA was in the business of steam boat services. Early in 1890s  he started experimenting with motorization. In 1897, he formed the company Pittsburgh Motor vehicle Company. The first attempt was a Gasoline powered tricycle in 1897 and later, in 1899,  a proper 4 wheeled car called “Pittsburgher” was introduced.

In 1899 , the company was renamed as The Autocar Company and was experimenting with cars and trucks.
A 1901 Autocar car –
Autocar was known for innovation and inventions. LS (Louis Semple), as he was known, invented the Porcelain insulation for spark plugs. The patent was later sold to Champion and is still the main element of a modern spark plug. LS also was the first to put the steering on the left hand side which led to standardization of RH traffic. He was also the first to use oil circulation system for lubrication of engines.
By 1907 , Auto car decided to concentrate on manufacture of trucks. Some of the early Autocar trucks – a 1910 Autocar truck and a 1932 Autocar Tanker.

By 1912 , Autocar stopped manufacture of cars and  concentrated on the manufacture of trucks.
The Autocar Logo –
Autocar was taken over by White Motor Company in 1953 and trucks were manufactured under both White and Autocar brands. In 1981 , Volvo acquired White Motor Company and Volvo also continued to manufacture trucks under Autocar brand. In 2001 , Volvo stopped manufacture of Autocar trucks sold the Autocar brand to General Vehicle Holdings.

 

Thomas Buckland Jeffery (1845 – 1910), emigrated from England to the USA and was involved in selling bi-cycle components. In 1881, along with his friend R Phillip Gormully, he started a bi-cycle manufacturing company – Gormully and Jeffery.  G and J successfully fought Albert Pope over the Lallement patent on bi-cycle manufacture. G&J made bi-cycles under the Rambler brand name.
Thomas Jeffery , being an inventor, was holding many patents to his name including the “clincher tyre” , which was later sold to Dunlop.
In 1897 , Thomas Jeffery designed and created the first Rambler car.
The car received good reviews over the next few years and this made Thomas Jeffery to exit the bi-cycle business and enter automobile business. In 1900, Thomas Jeffery sold off his holdings in the G&J manufacturing company to the American Bi-cycle company and invested in Thomas B Jeffery company to manufacture automobiles.  Along with his son Charles Jeffery , Rambler cars became famous and sought after. A 1902 Rambler –
During the initial years , the Rambler cars were sold by John Willys , as a distributor.
After the sudden death of Thomas Jeffery during 1910 , Charles Jeffery took over control of the company. In 1914 , Charles Jeffery renamed the Rambler brand as Jeffery in memory of his father (reverted back to Rambler later). Rambler also expanded in to the manufacture of Trucks with 4 wheel drive and 4 wheel steering and was used extensively during the World War I.  A 1918  Rambler Quad ( Nash) –
A running model of the Nash Quad military truck can be seen here
Logo of Jeffery and Rambler –
In 1916, Charles Jeffery sold his company to Charles Nash of Nash Motors. Nash Motors continued to make cars and trucks under the Rambler as well as Nash brands. 1937, Nash Motors merged with appliance manufacturer , Kelvinator to form Nash-Kelvinator.
By 1954, Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson Motor co merged to formAmerican Motor Corporation and Nash and Rambler brands continued to exist along with AMC. By 1966 – 68 , the Rambler brand was slowly dropped and then disappeared.
American Motor Corporation, after a brief alliance with Renault , was taken over by Chrysler corporation in 1987.

 

Rene Thury (1860 – 1938), a Swiss electrical engineer, was known as the “King of DC” due to his inventions in the field of high voltage Direct Current. transmission. In 1877 , along with his Medical student friend , Jean-Jacques Nussberger , he built a steam powered tri-cycle which operated on coal.
In 1904, it is claimed that Thury developed the first “Parallel Gasoline – Electric Hybrid“, where the gasoline engine and electric motor operate on the same shaft. This hybrid vehicle had a range of 40 Kms in pure electric mode with 500 Kgs of battery. The vehicle like the current Toyota Prius , can operate in 3 modes – Pure electric , Pure Gasoline and Mix of both.

Rene Thury continued his career in the electrical engineering field and no more Automotive exploits were recorded.

Emile Mors (1859 – 1942) , a Frenchman , was in to his family business of electrical equipment when he got interested in cars – steam cars.  During 1887 – 89 , one of his employees Henri Brasier built a three wheeled steam car. After experimenting with steam for a few years , they shifted ther focus to petrol engine cars
By 1897 , Mors built their first car – a 2 seater , 5 HP car and achieved an average speed of 19 mph in races.
Mors and Panhard & Levassor were the leaders in all the races during this period and race car driven designs evolved very quickly , each trying to out do the other. In 1901/1902 , Mors introduced the famous race car , the Mors 60 HP – the first V4 engine on a car , pumping 60 HP out of 10 litre capacity. The rear wheels were driven through chain. A Mors 60 HP –
In 1902, Mors was the first car to use shock absorbers to improve the ride quality and thus improve stability and increase average speeds in the races.
Some of the famous MORS models are – a 1904 Mors, a 1909 Mors and a 1925 Mors  (last car) –
In 1905/06 . Mors Collaborated with St Louis Motors in the US to make and sell Mors in America, a venture which did not work well.
The Mors Logo –
By 1906 , Mors was in financial trouble and Andre Citroen was appointed as the Managing Director. Things started looking better for the next few years in car production and later during war production. By 1922, Mors was acquired by Citroen Motors as additional capacity to manufacture Citroen cars and by 1925 the Mors brand was dropped.