M. Constantini of Paris, France, and his Motor Roller Skates are well known due to a April 1906, Scientific American story showing this set of photos of him and a detailed article about the Skates. That fascinating text is online, and you can read the complete story of the construction and use of Constantini’s skates below.
Research while looking for any other early motorized roller skates was rewarded by the discovery of two different patent applications filed here in America between October 15, 1905 and May 17, 1906. Images of the period application drawings can be viewed below.
Motor Roller Skates by the Paris Correspondent of The Scientific American – April 1906. The new motor skate which has been lately brought out at Paris by M. Constantini, a well-known inventor of carbureters and other devices for automobiles, is attracting considerable attention owing to its novelty, seeing that this is the first time that a gasoline motor has been applied to a roller skate.
A short time ago we gave a description of this apparatus, which was exposed for the first time at the Paris Automobile Show. Since the above article appeared we have been able to secure the present photographs, which were kindly supplied by the inventor. These show the skates as they are applied to the person. In view of the fact that each skate contains a gasoline motor, carbureter, battery, and spark coil, it will be seen that the whole has been reduced to a comparatively small size.
The use of the rubber-tired wheels is found to give a very smooth-running movement. On the back of each skate will be observed the small sheet-iron box which contains the battery and the spark coil. From the box a pair of wires protected by rubber tubing passes up to the leather belt which the person wears, and upon the belt is placed the switch by which he is able to make or break the ignition circuit when he wishes to start or stop the motor or to regulate its speed.
On the back part of the belt is fixed a small gasoline tank in the form of a flat and slightly curved sheet-iron box. From this reservoir a small rubber pipe specially treated to withstand the deteriorating action of gasoline as it runs down to the skate and connects with each of the carbureters. A second controlling device fastened to the belt enables the person to adjust the gasoline feed from the tank to each of the motors.
The gasoline reservoir is made to hold from one-quarter to half a gallon of fuel. Owing to its small size and flat form it occupies but little room and, as will be observed, is covered by the coat, leaving nothing visible but the tubes and wire. running to the skates. Each, motor weighs 4 kilogrammes (8.8 pounds) and consumes a liter of gasoline per 60 kilometers. The weight of the skate complete is but 6 kilogrammes (13.2 pounds), and speeds of from 3 to 25 miles an hour are obtainable with it.
To start, the operator turns on the gasoline, relieves the compression by means of a special valve-raising lever, and then skates along the road. As soon as he has gotten under way, he switches on the ignition current, and the motors begin to operate. If the novice does not take care to lean forward at this moment, the sudden acceleration may upset him. To stop, it is only necessary to break the ignition circuit or to raise one’s self upon the front wheels.
By doing the latter, the driving wheels are raised off the ground and the motors race, running free. If one motor runs faster or better than the other, the operator can correct this by moving that foot back of the other, or by bearing more weight upon the faster-running skate. M. Constantini has given the new skate a very thorough trial and has been exercising with it in the parks near the city. He finds that a person can travel either at slow speed or at quite a rapid rate, and that he soon becomes accustomed to using the device, and to controlling the speed of the motors easily.
At present the inventor is engaged in constructing two different types of motor skate. The first of these is the one we have already described in detail in a preceding number, and which is shown in the present illustrations, it having been but slightly improved in the details since the last account. Since then the inventor has designed a new form of motor skate, which he has already constructed at his factory.
A rubber tube passes across along the rod to take the gasoline over to the motor on the other skate. A novel feature is the use of two different speeds on the wheels, and this is obtained by an arrangement. The motor is placed in a nearly horizontal position.
If you can tell us about any other interesting early powered objects, please let us know. The article was digitized by the Internet Archive.