Search Results for: Stanley Steam Car
- Newton, Massachusetts Fire Department Chief Walter Randlett and fireman William V. Fogwell in a 1903 Stanley Solid Seat Runabout
By the time our photo was taken, the Stanley brothers had been in the business of building steam cars for six years. First under their own name and then licensed to Locomobile, their designs proved so thoroughly reliable that they soon became very popular with fire and police departments. Fire departments were very well acquainted with steam equipment operating practices having used steam pumpers since the mid-19th century. We suspect that the location of the Stanley factory right in Newton also made Chief Randlett’s choice of vehicles an easy one.
Their acceleration was swift and the direct gearing of the 8 HP engine to the axle as seen in our bottom photo eliminated the possibility of any clutch and transmission problems. The article above from the Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal describes the favorable power to weight ratio and reasonable price of these early Stanley models that contributed to their success and the ingenious boiler design that all but eliminated the likelihood of explosion.
Locomobile would abandon steam car production in 1903. Stanley continued on and prospered in following years until Delco’s introduction of the electric starter in 1912 eliminated a major drawback of “internal explosion cars” as Stanley called them, after which interest in steamers began to decline. You’ll find many more posts about Stanleys and other steam cars previously on The Old Motor and some interesting Newton Fire Department history here. Photo courtesy of Historic Newton.
*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.
* Updated * At the bottom of the post are a number of very interesting observations about the featured film by expert early car historian Ariejan Bos.
It wasn’t very long after the first gasoline was combusted in a cylinder before large motor shows were organized to bring this revolution in personal transportation to the attention of the public. The world’s first international event was organized by Albert de Dion and the Automobile Club of France in Paris in 1898. The British Motor Show has been held regularly since 1903, initially in London at Crystal Palace, then at Earl’s Court and later at the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham where it stayed until 2004. Our photos today depict scenes from the 1904 New York exhibition at Madison Square Garden, the fourth year it was held.
The bare chassis’ in the Peerless and Stearns booths above provided an opportunity for show goers who may have never even seen an automobile before to get a glimpse of it’s inner workings. Aside from the various makes on display, you’ll notice that aftermarket accessory vendors that had already become a vital part of the industry were allotted space to hawk their wares in the balcony overlooking the main exhibition floor, a practice that continues at many shows to this day. You might also spot the Indian motorcycle banner up there. The front-motored Baker Electric Surrey in the center photo was an somewhat unconventional design and it can also be seen in the photo on the right.
The video below made by the Edison Company depicts what is probably the very first automobile parade held in downtown Manhattan on November 4, 1899. The wide variety of types and designs of automobiles seen in it at this very early date is quite remarkable. Well represented are the Electric Vehicle Company’s taxis and we think we spotted an early Stanley in there as well. You’ll also find scenes from some later auto shows here on The Old Motor. Baker Motor-Front Electric Surrey and Mercedes 18-22 photos credit the The Automobile of January 30, 1904. All other photos courtesy of the New-York Historical Society, Video used courtesy of the Library of Congress.
* Update * Ariejan Bos has sent along the following observations about the film below along with a list of the cars featured in it that we have posted as a separate comment: “There appear to be in total 32 vehicles, of which 10 gasoline, 3 steam and 19 electric. Most cars date from 1899. The most surprising for me was the Peugeot (probably a type 15), as I never spotted an early Peugeot in the US. Moreover there is some indication that the movie is reproduced in mirror image: the Oakman Hertel has the steering tiller on the left side (where it should be on the right side)”.