Tag Archives: Knox Automobile Co.
The Knox car, built in Springfield, MA, by Harry R. Knox was a bit different that most right from the start. The firm started out with a one-cylinder air-cooled engine which was in a very distinctive three-wheeled-tiller-steered chassis in 1900-1901. Knox soon moved to four wheels in 1902, along with a two-cylinder engine which was horizontal as the earlier one-cylinder was.
The Knox cars were tiller driven until 1904, in 1905 they adopted a steering column and wheel, but it appears that they used the tiller column visible in front of the drivers arm, for other control functions. This car uses the style of hood which is seen in a 1907 catalog illustration, but could have possibly also have been used in 1906. The model F was offer-ed in three different wheelbases during 1906 that ranged between 81″ to 90″ and in 1907 only as a 91″ version. During both years the engines are listed as being rated at 14/16 h.p.
Most makers of air-cooled engines utilized cooling fins which were usually cast integral with the cylinder block. At the time it was found this would only work for light duty engines, as it could not carry off heat fast enough under heavy loads. Harry Knox took it one step further and came up with the clever invention called pin-cooling. The illustrat-ion below shows his solution, where hundreds of specially made pins with a spiral-knurled surface which increased the surface area a reported 100%. The pins were thread-ed into holes which were drilled and tapped into the casting. According to the 1911 edition of Self-Propelled Vehicles, these pins which were machined out of brass round stock. The combination of the pins and a small mechanically-driven fan, kept the Knox engine running at normal engine temperatures. This pin-cooling lead to the air-cooled Knox engine acquiring the nickname, “The Porcupine engine”. The Old Motor photo.
A couple of gents are shown out for a ride in their 1910 Model R Knox, having a 117″ w.b. and a very advanced and powerful 40h.p. four cyl. engine along with a Tonneauette body. The photo below from the Horseless Age magazine, gives you a good look at the construction of the removable overhead valve heads along with the pushrod actuated rocker arms. Photo above courtesy of The Seal Cove Auto Museum.
George Schlitz must have thought big, in 1914 he converted the 120 passenger Stephenson bus below, so that it could be pulled by motive power. Previously it was considered to be the largest horse drawn bus in the world and it was pulled by ten horses. George modifi-ed it so that it could be pulled fifth wheel style by a Martin Tractor which was produced by the Knox Automobile Company of Springfield, MA.
Schlitz used this Martin pulled bus to transport passengers to and from Brooklyn into New York City. Stop and think about it for a moment and envision what this operation must have really looked and sounded like at the time in crowded city streets. It appears that Schlitz may have increased the capacity of the bus by also putting passengers on the roof, which we have observed in photos of other buses of the time. The roof was accessible from ladders on the bus body.
Below is a photo of a Martin Tractor hauling a garbage container, it gives you a good look into the Martins makeup. Note the double chain-drive and the unique steering arrangement.