Category Archives: Steam engine powered photos
The film above is quite interesting, as it shows an gasoline-powered-chain-drive automobile chassis (possibly a Panhard), used as the power plant for a tracked tractor. German captions where used in the film, as it was an advertisement to try to sell the vehicles in Germany. After bit of investigation it was found to be a Hornsby Chain Track Tractor.
An interesting article (below), was found in the British Motor Traction magazine, Feb. 22, 1908, issue, covering what appears to be the same gasoline-powered machine shown in the film. If any readers can identify the chain-drive automobile used to power this machine, please send us a comment.
Hornsby tractors were built at Grantham, in Lincolnshire, England by Richard Hornsby & Sons. It appears that the firm first built steam-powered units, which were then followed by oil-fired machines, one of these units was a Hornsby chain track tractor that was delivered to the British War Office on May 5, 1910. It was later converted to gasoline in 1911.
Hornsby patented the concept in 1904, but little commercial interest followed other than one machine being sold, which ended up in Canada to haul coal. Much of this Hornsby Chain Track Tractor has survived. Several appear to have been sold to the British military, but interest in the machines faded. Hornsby sold the patents to the Holt Manufacturing Company of America in 1911. Holt later merged with C.L. Best and became The Caterpillar Tractor Company. Photo below of a steam-powered machine courtesy of Hornsby Steam Crawler.
Steam-powered machines have not been covered lately in any detail here on The Old Motor, so we picked an interesting story on three forms of travel by this type of motive power.
The Besler Brothers were involved with the plane, train and the automobile, but do not appear to have built any from the ground up. After buying out the Doble Steam Motors Company after it failed, they continued on with its development of that car with with Abner Doble. Next they turned to the airplane and finally we will show a locomotive they rebuilt with a new form of steam engine that you will learn about in Part II.
First off is a short newsreel film (above), where you will see a Travel Air plane the Beslers and Doble adapted to operate on steam power, watch it fly and also learn quite a bit about it.
Above is an illustration from the British journal Flight showing the steam power plant installed in the nose of the Travel Air biplane.
This famous airplane was based on a Travel Air biplane and flew at least several times at the Oakland, CA., Airport during 1933. It was powered by a two-cylinder, 150 hp vee-twin steam engine that was designed by the Besler’s and Abner Doble. The complete unit including the burner, boiler and controls weighed in at about 500 lb. One benefit to the steam engine in an airplane, was the ability to change its direction very quickly and use the reverse thrust of the propellor for quick stopping. It has been stated that in landing at 50 mph, the craft could come to a stop within 100 feet.
Photo (above) courtesy of Virtual Steam Car Museum, where you can see more photos of the aircraft and engine development.
You can also learn more about this craft in excellent coverage of it, complete with photos and illustrations, which were in the July 1933, issue of Popular Science at Modern Mechanix. In our next post Part II, we will cover the Besler Steam Train. If you enjoy reading and learning about steam we have many more posts here on The Old Motor all about steam-power.
It is fairly likely that many of you may have seen this photo before, of the famous 1895 train wreck at the Paris, France, Gare Montparnasse terminal. After seeing photos of it again, via an acquaintance in France, it prompted us to learn more and find out the cause behind it.
The derailment and wreck of the Granville - Paris Express was on October 22, 1895, after it overran a buffer stop and crashed through a (2 ft) thick wall, shot across an outside terrace and plummeted (30 ft) onto the street below, where it ended up as seen in the photos. Amazingly only two of the 131 passengers and two conductors sustained injuries. Tragically there was one fatality of a woman running a newsstand who was killed instantly by falling masonry.
Photos showing other views of the Montparnasse Station. The middle photo shows ongoing work three days later to remove the locomotive.
The Engineer Gallium Marie Peelers, who had 19 years of service with the railroad, was nine to ten minutes late leaving the previous station. Peelers who wanted to arrive on time at Montparnasse station, was in a hurry and possibly speeding and apparently did not, or could not slow down soon enough.
The best account we have been able to find on the incident is by Pierre Birge and reads as follows:
“As could be expected, there were serious and extensive inquiries into the reason of the accident, however none were particularly conclusive as to the exact cause. It is clear that the Westinghouse air brakes either failed or were applied too late by engine driver Guillaume-Marie Pellerin. Unfortunately by the time both conductors realized the train was going too fast to be able to stop in the station, it was too late, Albert Mariette did try to turn the handbrake but the train crashed before he had time to tighten it.
It was concluded that there was a technical problem with the Westinghouse brakes, but no legal responsibility. In a legal report, engine driver Pellerin was declared guilty, as his train arrived too fast to stop without the use of the Westinghouse brakes, which was against regulations. Conductor Mariette was also declared guilty of not operating the Westinghouse air brake himself.
Both men were tried on 24th February 1896; on 30th March 1896 the court sentenced Pellerin to two months jail with deferment (if that’s the legal term, not sure) and 50 Francs fine, Mariette was fined 25 Francs with deferment. The Compagnie de l’Ouest (West railway of France) was designated as legally responsible.” From a post by Pierre Birge at World Rail Fans.
An amazing dream sequence of the train wreck can be seen (above) in Martin Scorsese’s amazing 3-D movie “Hugo”.
There were only five serious injuries; two passengers, a firefighter and two employees of the railways. Unfortunately, the locomotive fell near a newsstand located outside the station, where Marie-Augustine Aguilard was, as she had substituted for her husband who operated the stand, while he had gone to get the evening papers. When Aguilard was killed by the wreck, she sadly left behind two young boys. The Railway paid for her funeral and also set up an annuity for the couples two children.
The locomotive remained mostly intact and remained suspended for four days before the railway crew managed to remove it. The event caused huge crowds of curious people from the city of Paris to assemble at the site, gathering from early morning morning until darkness descended at night.
This film (below) shows the quarter scale train, tracks and the Montparnasse Station, built for the film along with the amazing process of filming the train scene.
You can also see another locomotive that crashed through a wall in Hartford, CT., circa 1900, along with eight pages of other locomotive photos here on the Old Motor.You can also read about the Westinghouse car and other products in both the U.S. and France here on The Old Motor.