Category Archives: Steam engine powered photos
Leon Serpollet and his brother Henri, early French steam car pioneers, worked together to perfect the flash tube boiler that introduced an efficient and new way produce steam. The exact date that their innovative system was first built appears to be unknown, but after further development it went on to make steam power in an automobile more practical because of its advanced design and quick steam output.
A steam tricycle was built in the late eighteen-eighties to test the system and it soon convinced others of the merit of the design. In 1898 the brothers met Frank Gardner, a wealthy American and the Gardener-Serpollet Company was soon formed. Shortly afterwards, one of the best-engineered early steam cars to be found entered the automotive marketplace.
The flash-tube or mono tube boiler as it is also known, turns a small quantity of water into steam quickly and it also has the ability to provide a continual supply to the engine when correctly designed. The new boiler also reduced the long period of time it took to get a conventional unit up to a useable pressure. Linking it to the advanced four cylinder engine Serpollet designed, resulted in a fast and powerful performer.
The Gardener-Serpollet success story soon resulted in Leon setting a new World Land Speed Record at 75.06 mph on April 13, 1902, driving the “Easter Egg” in Nice, France. He then turned his attention to producing the Gardner-Serpollet and the Serpollet Steam Tram until his death in 1907. Top photo from the Peter Helck collection courtesy of Racemaker Press.
The photo above shows what appears to be a 1904 Serpollet racing car. It is unknown at this point if it did in fact ever take part in a competition event. If you can tell us anything about this unusual car wearing a large steam condensor mounted out front, please send us a comment. Photo via Isabelle Bracquemond courtesy of Varia.
The photo below shows a slightly later 1906 Gardner-Serpollet engine, which clearly illustrates the advanced enclosed design and the camshaft actuated poppet valves. More information, photos and illustrations can be found at the source of the photo, Grace’s Guide. You can also view a 1903 Gardner-Serpollet in the collection at the Larz Anderson Museum.
* Update * at the bottom of the post.
If you have been a reader The Old Motor for a while, you know that we like steam-power and everything that goes along with it, so it makes sense to use it to bring in the New Year and our fourth season of publishing the magazine. I grew up hearing the sound of the steam whistle at the Eagle Lock Company in the Terryville, Connecticut, a small factory town. It announced the start and the end of each work day and was used as a call to bring the fireman to the station when there was a fire, but perhaps the best tune it played was the “no school” message on a snowy winter morning.
Watch and listen to the many sounds of the steam whistle heard in the interesting video above, as it brings in the New Year at the Pratt Institute.
* Update * Keith Willams at the New York Times reports:
“A longstanding Brooklyn tradition might end tonight with a blast – literally. Since 1965, Conrad Milster, the chief engineer at Pratt Institute in Fort Greene, has blown in the new year with his private collection of steam whistles. But the loud whistles marking the start of 2014 might be the last to be heard”.
You can read the rest of the very interesting story by Keith Willams at the New York Times. Just below you can see another short video showing Conrad Milster operating some of his incredible collection of whistles at previous new years event at Pratt.
Jean-Jacques Heilmann, whose patent drawings appear above and in two thumbnails below, was a French engineer and inventor who is perhaps best known for his steam – electric railway locomotives. He built a prototype in 1894 and two larger locomotives in 1897. Heilmann experimented with both DC and three phase AC current systems to determine which would suit the locomotive application best. He chose DC, finding that it allowed the steam engine and generator to work efficiently at a constant speed while the traction motor speed could be varied.
The two cylinder compound steam engine in the prototype developed between 600 horsepower at 360 r.p.m. and 1000 horsepower at 600 r.p.m. It drove a dynamo that generated about 400 kilowatts. This combination allowed speeds of between 40 and 66 miles per hour to be maintained while hauling a train with a combined weight of 183 tons on a 33 mile test run. His engines are rightfully considered to be the ancestors of the modern diesel-electric locomotive.
- Above, middle and below is No. 8001, Heilmann’s ninety-three foot long, 122 ton steam-electric locomotive, one of two built in 1897.
It appears that the design for the Compound Spring Suspension System came from the same fertile imagination. The chassis in our workshop photo above looks quite similar to the earlier Pipe bus we covered here recently, with the exception of not having rubber tires mounted. Although the photo quality is poor, when the original was enlarged, the Pipe insignia can clearly be seen on the rear hubcap. This leads us to suspect that they are one and the same unless other units unknown to us were also assembled. Heilmann’s patent and drawings can be seen here. You can also find many more unusual machines on The Old Motor. Photos courtesy of Ariejan Bos