An Entertaining & Informative Vintage Automobile Internet Magazine

1900 Locomobile

This modest machine is a 1900 Locomobile, rated at a mere 3.5 hp. However, one should not dismiss the car out of hand based on that rating. The power-to-weight ratio made these scrappy. F.O. Stanley drove a similar car to the top of Mt. Washington in 1899.

Steam cars generally love hill climbing, but descending them is another matter. Look closely for evidence of brakes on this car, and all you will find (barely) is a band at the center of the rear axle. However, with steam one has the option of descending with the engine in reverse, with the drip valve open, so the engine acts as a compression brake vented to atmosphere.

This car has a side tiller, and a mirror near the driver’s foot, which allowed him to look at the vertical water glass beneath the hand throttle, to check the water level. Photo courtesy of Bob Swanson.

2 responses to “1900 Locomobile

  1. I have found that reverse braking on a steam car works better if you do not open the steam chest while braking. When the steam chest is openned, the steam cylinder oil is all blown out of the steam chest and slide valve damage will soon happen. Alternative is to quickly release the reverse pedal and then re-apply the pedal again. That will “burp” the baby. Occasionally while reverse braking, bumping the throttle valve open will renew the steam cylinder oil to the valves and pistons. The reverse braking will only work for just so far, and the engine becomes over heated and the oil in the cylinders turns to blue smoke coming out of the exhaust. Then it is time to park it and to let it cool off before heading down the hill again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *