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The Westinghouse Gasoline Car and very interesting 1904 forging and welding films from The Library of Congress

The Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Co. had a long early history of industrial manufacturing in the areas of electrical equipment, electric motors, generators and railroad air brakes. Many are not aware that the company also made a gasoline-powered automobile between the years of 1905-1907.

The car was designed in Pittsburg, PA., but was reported to have been built in Le Havre, France, by Westinghouse operations there. The car was popular in France, the UK and a number of them also found the way to the U.S.

An illustration and specifications as seen (above), was found in the April 8, 1907, Horseless Age. Production ceased after the French division entered into a short receivership. One Westinghouse car has survived in the Nethercutt Collection.

                        

Other Westinghouse products are seen above and all are from the 1905 -1910 period. Left to right above are; a portable gasoline engine, an ad for electric motors manufactured for electric cars, and a belt-driven air compressor “For Automobile Garage Service”.

What prompted us to show the Westinghouse automotive operations was the discovery of two short films from The Library of Congress (above and below). Both were made by the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company during 1904 and filmed by camera man, G.W. “Billy” Bitzer. The film above was shot on April 18, 1904, at the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Co. in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

                      

In the film a group of men forge weld one area of a large ring. They use the heat from a fire and weld it the old fashioned blacksmith way, after multiple heats and much hand and steam hammering. Take the time to watch this fascinating look back at how it was done well over 100 year ago. The ring is presumably a piece of a generator or motor. The thumbnails (above) show details.

This film is also very interesting and shows a steam hammer at the Westing-house works forging some form of a part for an unknown piece of equip-ment. Follow along as they take it out of the fire and forge one end of it to shape with the steam hammer. The film is dated May 4, 1904, and was also filmed in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The thumbnails (below) show details.

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7 responses to “The Westinghouse Gasoline Car and very interesting 1904 forging and welding films from The Library of Congress

  1. The one Westinghouse car that exists has to be the one that for decades was in the collection of Bob Bohaty of Centerport, Long Ialsnd , New York. Bob ran a small local garage that was typical of what you would see in the 1920s and did car repairs, fixed flats etc. He had his own small museum of early cars at that location and started collecting prior to WWII. The building still exists looking muych the same as it did when he owned it 70 + years ago. He also had a great service car/wrecker made up from a 1928 Packard 4-43 limousine with either Holbrook or Judkins body. That service car servives intact in a collection in Ct. unrestored with his name still on the side.

  2. Posted from Fe26 who has worked on big power hammers…..It is all quite interesting to read.

    Talk about the good old days (not).

    That is the biggest Double Arch Hammer I’ve ever seen (2nd Film). I’ve worked on a two ton and have seen a three ton hammer in action, but that beast has to be four/five ton.

    Open die forging at that size can be dangerous, if there is a misunderstanding in the hand signals between the Blacksmith and the Hammer Driver those men on the Porter Bars go flying through the air.

    Another thing is the heat. In a Heavy Forge the temp is around 1400-1500 degrees F. After a big job like that you get to cool down a bit while the job goes back in the furnace for the next heat. Notice in the Light Forge (the still image) the Striker on the left standing on the ring is wearing wooden clogs to insulate his feet from the heat.

    Another thing, the Blacksmith who made that joint would have not been popular with the men in his gang. He used a very inefficient technique as evidenced by the fixture holding a prepared joint on the opposite side of the ring. That led to a lot more hammer work some of it upside down, and very rare to see. With another type of joint the 500lb Steam Hammer could have done all the hard work. Still, it’s good to see images of how we were, thanks for sharing.

  3. When I first got interested in old cars –1954 probably– I was told by an older acquaintance that there were a bunch of Westinghouse auto engines in the weeds at the old Bergdoll place on West Chester pike in suburban Philadelphia. When I expressed interest, he said “you dont want them, they are two main engines–ball bearing –but still two main.”

    I went and investigated, but there was no scrap iron of any kind around, or in, the still standing building.

    Now I have to say that the fellow that told me this–who later became a very good friend– was prone to believing everything that he heard. He was correct, though, with the location of an ’06 or ’07 Stoddard Dayton, which shared a fallen down two car garage with a twenties Chevy. Bodies of both cars were rusted away, wood wheels were collapsing- and during the Second World War someone had broken into the then still standing garage and stolen anything brass off the cars.

    Ah–the good old days!

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