Category Archives: Steam Powered
In total contrast to the twenty-two Ferrari Testarosta’s exhibited at Pebble Beach and the Ferrari Best of Show win there this year, there was a special class just for early steam cars. The well-known Stanley and White steam cars were both on display along with a couple of steamers rarely seen today that included: the 1892 Philion Road Carriage and a 1904 Turner-Miesse from England.
The Philion from the National Auto Museum was built by Achille Philion and has been reported to have run as early as 1890. It was steerable from either the front or the rear seat where the boiler operator sat while attending to its operation. Philion patented the design in 1892, and it was on exhibit at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. It was driven onto the field.
Several of the cars took part in the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance including Nick Howell’s 1902 Toledo steam car that was featured here recently on The Old Motor. The reports we have received from attendees was that the class was well received, and many of the spectators were amazed by the cars all which were over 100-years old. The photos are courtesy of Steve Natale.
Like to learn a bit more about the steam car? Follow along in a short video below produced by CNNMoney as Peter Valdes-Dapena visits with Tom Marshall at the Marshall Steam Museum. The second-generation steam enthusiast goes through the 30-minute start-up procedure and then they both go out for a short ride. You can also learn more about steam cars at Stanley Steamers and The Steam Car Club of Great Britain.
While a number of White Steam Cars are converged at Pebble Beach on the West Coast for the Concours, today we have a pair of photos of the Steamer’s that Peter Christian Wick drove for his employers here on the East Coast. He first worked for Richard P. Hart from March of 1903 to September of 1906 and then for George Howe for a little over a year until January of 1908. Both were in the New York City area.
The photo above would have to date to the time when he was working for George Howe. Based on the time frame that he drove for him and its appearance, this limousine maybe either a 1907 or 1908 model. If you can help to date it and tell us what model it is, please send us a comment.
The photo below has a notation on the back as having been taken on January 1, 1905, at Coney Island. It appears to be a 15-h.p. Model E that was introduced for the 1905 model year. This car he drove for Richard P. Hart. You can see both the Rainier he later drove and also a Fiat here.
The Doble brothers’ dedication to the use of steam power in automobiles bordered on the fanatical. Long after others had abandoned the concept, their continued devotion to the type would eventually result in some of the most remarkable steamers ever produced.
Our article today deals with their earliest efforts. Together, they assembled the little buckboard seen below between 1906 and 1909 while still in high school, using components salvaged from a wrecked White but incorporating an engine of their own design.
With the assistance of his brother John, Abner completed his Model “A” in 1912, seen below, after dropping out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The second prototype, the Model “B”, incorporated many innovative features. The use of a honeycomb radiator to re-condense used steam virtually eliminated water loss, dramatically reducing the need for refills.
A twenty-five horsepower engine enabled it to reach a top speed of 75 miles per hour with a zero to sixty time of 15 seconds, a blistering pace for a road car at the time. The full mechanical details of this car can be found in The Automobile magazine at the bottom of this post.
Abner drove a Model “B” from Boston to Detroit in 1915 with the goal of attracting investors. He was able to raise $200,000 with which he established the General Engineering Company to produce a new car in 1917, the ill-fated Doble-Detroit. The design incorporated still more advanced features including simplified controls, electric firing, and a very rapid start up.
It was initially well received but issues with quality control and production are said to have kept it from living up to its potential. It was Doble’s contention that war time material shortages contributed to these failings. You can find more steam related information and photos on The Old Motor. Photos courtesy of The Bancroft Library.