Category Archives: Steam Powered
This photo like many early photos, tended to get labeled incorrectly back in their day and we believe this is one of them. Many thanks to reader John Kelm, who sent us this photo, one of a number of great early glass-plate negatives he obtained that we will be sharing with you in the future.
This was labeled as a curved dash Olds, but based on the looks of its axles, springs and perch poles, we believe that it maybe an early Stanley, or possibly an early Locomobile built after the Stanley brothers had sold the company. What is interesting, is the large tank on the top of the dash, that maybe an extra water tank, possibly used for competition?
The car appears to have been in some type of competitive event, and this may possibly be the braking test part of it, judging by the marks laid out across the road and the two men who seem to be taking a measurement. The other clue leading us to think this, is the crowd on the left all seem to be looking down the road possibly waiting for the next car?
We are confidant that some of our readers who are steam car experts, will be able to tell us all about the car, the scene and maybe even the driver. But if not, we would like to hear from anyone who has information about this photo, to help John Kelm to ID this wonderful glass plate negative.
*UPDATE* Kelly Williams has found that it indeed is a Locomobile: It WAS an endurance trial! I can hardly believe the coincidence, but I was paging through the June 1902 Cosmopolitan on Google books and found the attached.
The next endurance contest held in the United States was under the auspices of the Long Island Automobile Club, and was held on Long Island April 26, 1902. The contest was only one hundred miles, there being three classes of vehicles were provided for.
The text is garbled in the scan of “Story of the Automobile…” but it indicates that the Locomobile Co.’s entry covered the 100 miles in 7 hrs 7 min – almost dead last. Fastest car was also a steamer at 6 hrs 14 min, though there was apparently a minimum time and maximum speed for the run which disqualified several cars.
New York Times for April 27th said “The hill-climbing contest at Roslyn had about twelve entries. Awards were made for the different classes. The best time of all was made by a steam vehicle in 1 minute 42 seconds.”
*Updated* Kelley Williams found the ad (below) that was placed in the Dec. 20, 1899, The Horseless Age, where Martin Gillet Gill, Jr. had advertised his first car for sale so that he could most likley buy this one.
By Kelly Williams:
This photo from a Baltimore newspaper archive is simply marked “Mrs. M. Gillet Gill.” It shows a Stanley stick-seat runabout on the early 70″ wheelbase chassis, probably built in 1901 or 1902.
Martin Gillet Gill, Jr. (whose family was in the tea importing business for generations) was one of the first to place an order for a Stanley following the attention-getting performance of one of the Stanley brothers’ prototypes at the Nov. 1898, Charles River Park exhibition. His order became delayed by the sale of the nascent manufacturing business to the Locomobile concern. An anecdote relates that when he complained that he might be dead before the car was delivered, the brothers replied “Don’t worry, we’ll upholster your car in asbestos!”
He is recorded as having the first car in Baltimore, and it was a steam car. If he indeed got one of the earliest possible cars after the business’s sale to Locomobile, it was probably a Stanley/Locomobile built during the brothers’ hiatus from manufacturing, and not this car. However, his brother, race driver and aviator Howard Gill, established an automobile dealership which sold Stanley’s, and this car presumably arrived in Baltimore that way. In fact, it may have been one of the Stanleys’ first production cars under their name, with the improved direct-drive engine retrofitted in place of the early chain-drive.
Editors note: Kelly Williams is the keeper of the Stanley Register Online which serves as the registry for the Stanley Steam Car community. The site has photos of many Stanley’s along with links to other steam car and gas power club websites. The Old Motor photo.
Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot a French inventor, built what is believed by many to be the first self propelled steam-powered vehicle. This vehicle has been written about extensively in the past but if it is unknown to you, Wikipedia has a very good overview of Cugnot and the fardier à vapeur.
Alain Cerf who owns the Tampa Bay Automobile Museum in Florida and his workers built a working replica of the steam dray and unveiled it at Retromobile this past February in France. The video above shows it arriving in France and Cerf explains it in French, afterwards his helper and the vehicles operator David Falvey explains the basic workings in English, builds up a head of steam and operates it for a test before going to Retromobile.
The video below shows a few last minute details being taken care of, before being loaded back up to go to Retromobile for display and later demonstration runs out in front of the exhibition hall. Take the time to watch both videos and read up on it as it is quite fasc-inating even if it is outside you field of interest.