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duced several steam carriages, which were rather light and may be considered as generally unsuccessful. Other steam carriages were built in America during the period from 1840 to the present time, but most of these were experimental and were not permitted to run on the highways for any length of time. The steam carriage of Richard Dudgeon, shown on page 120, was built in the early fifties, and is still in excellent working condition. This machine was run in New York City and on Long Island, and it is at present stored at Locust Valley, L.I.
The regeneration of the steam carriage has been recent, and in great part has taken place in the United States. Three years ago there were probably less than a dozen steam automobiles in the country, while now there are about three thousand in actual use. This striking development has been greatly assisted by the introduction of liquid fuel and a wider knowledge of the properties of steam. Mention should be made of the excellent heavy steam vehicles of British manufacture, and the successful vehicles of DeDion and Bouton, Scott, Serpollet, and others in France, but the general tendency in these countries has been toward the development of gasolene carriages.
Serpollet invented his flash boiler in the early seventies, and has worked consistently on steam automobiles. A boiler of this type must be expensive to manufacture, and the time required to heat the elements before starting may be considered a disadvantage, particularly in pleasure vehicles. The success of Serpollet, however, should stand as a proof of the desirability of steam as a motive power for automobiles. Probably few engineers will deny the statement that steam is the best power for heavy automobiles. The successful operation of steam truck and omnibuses in Great Britain and France supports this view, particularly when we consider the almost general adoption in those countries of the gasolene motor for pleasure carriages.
Of the several thousand steam carriages of American manufacture a large number have been in use a long time,-certainly long enough to dispel any doubts regarding their practicability.
The results have been satisfactory to a high degree, both to the manufacturer and to the user. It has been demonstrated that the driver of a steam-motor vehicle need not be an engineer, and that carefulness and common sense are all that is required. The question of economy is not an important one, as the steam carriage may be operated by any one for less than a cent per mile per passenger, including lubricants.
The question of repairs is an interesting one. If a man expects to save money by disposing of his horses and adopting a motor carriage, he must give the latter good care and attention. Repairs are necessary to all machinery, but with proper inspection and maintenance, and common sense operation, the repair bill should be very small. Repairs to a steam carriage can be made almost anywhere, and this is an important advantage of the steam-driven vehicle.
As a hill-climber the steam carriage has proved its worth, Pike's Peak, in the United States, has been partially ascended, and an elevation of 11,000 feet has been attained. The highest peaks in the Yosemite also have been reached, and Mt. Washington has been ascended and descended twice by a steam carriage. In the 1000-mile trip of the Automobile Club of Great Britain, a steam carriage of American make competed against fifty-seven gasolene motor carriages, and its hill-climbing performances were a revelation. The steepest hill encountered on the trip was near Nottingham, and a record of the performances of the vehicles on this grade placed the steam automobile at the head of the list in a class by itself.
With the use of steam, great power can be stored in small space, and consequently the weight of a steam automobile is low-much less than the weight of an automobile driven by a gasolene or an electric motor. The reserve force in the boiler can be used to propel the carriage up a very steep hill, in which case the engine may be developing more than its indicated horse-power for a short time, and the boiler will supply a suflicient quantity of steam to the engine, provided the speed is not too great. Thus a four horse-power engine which may be developing but a single horse-power on a level road may be forced to do six or even eight horse-power. This flexibility of the steam system is an advantage.
A carriage driven by a gasolene motor does not possess this feature, and, consequently, in order to ascend the same hill at the same speed as the steam carriage, it must have an engine of greater horse-power. With increased horsepower comes an increase of weight. A standard type of gasolene phaeton of eight-horse power weighs about eighteen hundred pounds. A standard make of steam carriage of four horse-power weighs half this amount in service condition.
As to the electric carriage, the storage battery necessary to do the same work must be very heavy. The fault is not in the motor, this, indeed, being an ideal type, but in the battery, which, if forced, will be discharged too quickly, and this, as is well known, will ruin the cells.
Assuming, then, that the steam carriage has the advantage in weight, it follows that it is less expensive than the other types, and this is borne out in practice. The matter of speed is not important. It is requisite, however, that changes of speed be readily effected. A slight touch on the throttle lever of a steam carriage varies the speed instantly, and any speed from rest to the fullest capacity of the engine can be produced by this lever. It is an interesting sight to watch the performance of a steam carriage in a crowded thoroughfare. The speed can be Faried so quickly as to give the operator thorough control of his machine, and it glides in and out among street cars and trucks like a thing of life. The carriage has a smooth motion, and the general adoption of the chain as a method of transmitting power has reduced the noise to a minimum. The exhaust is muffled and the quantity of visible steam is very small-never enough to frighten horses or to be considered as a serious objection.
A word as to generators! For automobile use the Stanley type boiler is, undoubtedly, the best known. It is of copper, of the fire-tube pattern, contains 44 square feet of heating surface, and weighs 100 pounds. Steam can be produced in less than five minutes from cold water, and the boiler seems to steam as well at one water level as another. It is absolutely inexplodable under all conditions. One of these boilers was tested to 1225 steam pressure, at which point no further increase in pressure could be produced owing to slight leaks. The boiler was then cooled, tested to 600 pounds cold water pressure, and is at present in regular service.
The engine for a steam automobile is preferably of the slide-valve type and need not be compounded. Two simple pressure cylinders are generally used. It must be remembered that the cylinders in a steam carriage are small and that the stroke is short; consequently the conditions are quite different from those ruling in a larger engipe. Economy is not the most important consideration, and, generally speaking, it is not advisable to use a compound engine in a steam automobile. It is important that a steam-engine for automobile purposes should be of the very simplest type and one that can be most easily repaired. In a slide-valve engine fitted with a link motion, it is possible to vary the point of cut-off so as to work the steam expansively. It is very doubtful, however, if this is advisable, as the stroke of the piston is very short and the steam does not have much opportunity to expand. Moreover, when the engine is hooked up, the valves are given an excessive amount of lead, and unless the valve adjustment is very good, the engine will pound. When the valves are properly set and all the bearings and wearing parts are clean and well adjusted and thoroughly lubricated, the engine will run very easily and will use very little steam.
The ultimate success of any automatic boiler feed is very doubtful. Even though the boiler be fitted with a device of this nature, the water tank should have an alarm, otherwise the boiler will become dry. Generally speaking, automatic devices are not reliable, and must be watched if they are to give good results. It is advisable that the operator have control of the water supplied to the boiler. In going up a very steep hill it may be necessary to shut off the pump in order that the boiler may make steam faster; also in going down a steep grade, it ought to be possible to cut off the pump in order that the boiler may not be flooded. The operator of a steam carriage will not find it troublesome to regulate the supply and to glance at his gauge occasionally. A geared pump attached to the crosshead has been universally used, and this gives very good results, in spite of its small size. It is absolutely necessary to have two methods of filling the boiler with water, and a hand pump is probably better for this purpose than an injector. It is more simple, and can be operated by any one. An injector has not been used very much, the chief objection to it being that its orifices are small and apt to clog up. It is also apt to flood the boiler.
The subject of condensation has not received much attention. The exhaust from a steam carriage is practically invisible the greater part of the year, and in no case is it objectionable to the operator. A condenser of any type would certainly add cost and weight to the outfit. If a surface condenser be used, it would be necessary to separate the oil from the exhaust steam before returning the water to the reservoir. An atmospheric condenser would probably be better, as in summer the condenser is not needed, and in winter the low temperature would make this type very efficient.
In the United States the steam truck has not been developed to any great extent. It is obviously more expensive to experiment with a vehicle of this nature than with a small steam pleasure vehicle, and the conditions of operation, moreover, are entirely different. But as it is generally agreed that the demand for motor trucks and omnibuses is practically unlimited, and that steam is the proper power to use in heavy vehicles, substantial development may be expected before long in this field also.
Krarup, M. C. “Automobile Development,” Outing,
37 (February 1901), 548–554
Krarup observes that the gasoline motor vehicle is "cruder
BY M. C. KRARUP
Three "cycles of Cathay" have been concentrated in the few years which separate the opening of the twentieth century from the first practical application of the electric storage battery and the first mounting of a gasoline engine on a mechanical vehicle.
Automobilism rests squarely on these and the steam-engine; the three physical pillars of modern civilization. It would be impossible except on this foundation. It stands as the most important attack upon our wonted mode of living, which without yet being brought to a successful close, seems destined to succeed completely because it involves no really new problems, but only painstaking application of knowledge which the world has already made its own. There is hardly room for the assumption that automobolism may be a huge fallacy, and that the thousands of motor vehicles now existing may disappear as completely under the horizon of a few years hence as did the steam road-wagons, which, since 1784, have appeared and reappeared on the scene at intervals of about thirty years; in each instance springing into a brief notoriety, only to vanish by reason of their inherent defects.
With perhaps 50,000 mechanical vehicles in use all over the world, it seems preposterous even to think of the possibility that further experience might condemn them to disuse. They are regularly used for carrying mail and provisions to military forts through a wild, roadless country in French Soudan; they have proved of high value in solving the transportation problems in the war against the Boer republics; they form a much-illustrated feature in French and German army maneuvers; physicians are employing them for professional calls, and in all the centers of civilization they are being more and more widely used for pleasure-driving, and for short hauls of freight, for trucking and merchandise delivery.
Nevertheless the question is asked : Are they being used on their merits, or for the sake of a theory in their favor, or perhaps for advertising, or in order to satisfy personal vanity?
It has been alleged that in a society where financial disparity did not exist, automobile pleasure-carriages could not be sold; that they are made and used only because there are persons to whom cost is a subordinate question. And it is reasoned that, this being the case, the present use of automobile pleasurecarriages decides nothing as to their real merits compared with older methods, and furnishes no decisive argument for their continued use, which must eventually be determined on the point of merit alone.
Perhaps, it is also said, the automobile movement, with its hopes and its disappointments, will prove such a fillip to the energy of horse-breeders, that soon the horse and its animal mechanism will become the subject of close and intelligent study, on entirely new lines, with the result of largely increasing its usefulness and decreasing the cost of its keep, even as we know that many halfcivilized tribes get much more and better work out of their horses than we do.
The warmest friends of automobilism themselves feed the pessimism of the doubters when they point to the great benefit which will be derived from automobilism through the road improvements that must go hand in hand with it. At the rate of $1,000 per mile only a small percentage of the road mileage in the United States could be radically improved for one thousand millions of dollars ; and if road improvement on this extensive scale is really required to assure the successful operation of another one thousand million dollars' worth of automobiles, how shall the initial difficulty of introducing them in earnest, for all classes of work, be overcome? considering that no automobile will show its full value before a large portion of the road system has been improved.
Nobody undertakes to answer these questions, or other expressions of doubt in regard to the future of the automobile. They must be answered by facts accomplished. It is realized by those best informed that a good deal of faith is required to be a stanch automobilist, and while many are strong believers on the basis of very poor reasoning, there seems to be no shorter road to the true faith than through a thorough study of automobiles in their practical workings, following upon a very complete technological education.
It is in this respect rather characteristic that the greatest enthusiasm for automobilism is found among those who prefer the explosion motor vehicle, which at present is much cruder in the quality of its performance than either the electric or the steam vehicle; and it is also notable that some of the best explosion motor vehicles are designed by electrical engineers, some of the best steam vehicles by photographers, and some of the best electric carriages by bicycle manufacturers. Automobile progress depends to such an extent on all of the principal discoveries of the past century, that it is hard to find men in the orthodox J. E. profession who are masters in all the questions involved in automobile construction. Automobilism draws its designers from many vocations. They fumble and grope in the beginning, but learn as they proceed; and when the results accomplished by all of them are exhibited, as they were recently on two successive occasions in New York, the public at large is induced to believe that it may form an approximate idea of the automobile development that has been reached; but, unfortunately, an indoor "show" fails to reveal much that is of the highest interest for judging of the real fitness of the various carriages, under working conditions; and again the public must fall back on what faith they can muster, and such evidence of faith on the part of manufacturers as one may be disposed to find in a gorgeous display, elaborate workmanship, and expensive finish.
A really competent opinion can only be formed by those who are, or might be, automobile engineers themselves, and this qualification can at present only by courtesy be admitted as properly belonging to any one person; automobile engineering not being a small, special branch of mechanical engineering, but, on the contrary, one that comprises all the requirements of all branches of engineering, in their most exacting form; with the additional requirement of experience in the art of carriage building and familiarity with all the changing conditions under which vehicles must be used. Practically, automobile engineers do not exist, but the best automobile results are obtained by co-operation between persons qualified, each in one of the branches of knowledge entering into the construction.
This is the situation especially for the gasoline motor vehicle, less so for the steam vehicle, and in a still smaller degree for the electric carriage. The
three types are therefore reaching toward perfection in the reverse of the order named; but on the other hand, the electric vehicle and the steam phaeton or surrey have limitations that seem unavoidable, while the explosion motor vehicle, once perfected, seems to be adaptable to all kinds of work for which horses and wagons have heretofore been employed.
The electric and steam carriages as known at present are to all intents and purposes new commodities, highly useful in their way, but their value is to be judged from a personal standpoint in each case without any reference to what previously has been done by horses. They are adapted for certain kinds of work in the hands of certain classes of people, and, to paraphrase Lincoln's wellknown remark, "if the kind of service they are adapted for is the kind of service a person wants, then such a person is just the kind of person who should buy that kind of a vehicle." The gasoline motor vehicle is more like an unbroken horse; it will not do any work quite satisfactorily, but nothing that we are accustomed to look upon as vehicular work is beyond its scope and possibilities.
As the limitations of the steam carriage are very largely conditioned by the high degree of skill, care, and watchfulness which they exact, and the great bulk of the boilers and tanks; it seems to the writer that the future of the steam system for automobiles would be brighter, and its field larger, if more ingenuity were expended on devising a suitable form of steam horse entirely dissociated from the carriage proper, so as to leave the latter free from the encumbrance of machinery, and frankly acknowledge the motor portion as the delicate engine which it is, wherever it is placed. But nothing has been done in this respect, and nothing will probably be done, unless the need arises for steam vehicles to be used for other than purely pleasure purposes.
What is the present status of automobilism? The question cannot be decided on technical grounds, because nobody's competency to give the decision is admitted. Each constructor is entitled to his opinion. The public can have none, except as it may judge from what the various vehicles prove themselves in practice. The exhibitions give only clues in this respect, but leave a multitude of questions unanswered. They show styles, and workmanship, but fitness only in the meagerest fashion. Still, a few data are beyond controversy, mainly the favorable ones.
Electric carriages of the larger sizes are practically where they were a year ago. The latest development tends toward diminutive electric piano-box runabouts, so small and light that two storage cells, weighing less than two hundred pounds, will propel them as far as three-thousand-pound batteries will propel a five-thousand-pound electric cab. These light electric vehicles are not subject to those troubles with the air tires that form one of the most formidable items of expense in the maintenance of the full-sized electric carriages.
Two of the largest producers of electric carriages, the American Bicycle Company and the Electric Vehicle Company, have this year supplemented their stock with gasoline vehicles of very substantial design, and containing original features in construction. These are both illustrated herewith, and it is perhaps worthy of special notice that the Electric Vehicle Company's gasoline carriage supports the engine, and driving mechanism, entirely on the running gear, leaving the carriage box free for other purposes. The spark shifter is automatically regulated according to the engine speed, by means of a governor, a provision which removes one of the features in the management of gasoline vehicles which troubles beginners most.
It is one of the most decided advancements of the year, that speed regulation, by throttling of the explosive mixture, has been perfected-as in this carriage and several others—so that now all voluntary speed changes of the vehicle may be effected as easily as with a steam-engine, while the variable gears need only be used when the speed of the engine is insufficient to produce the desired speed of the vehicle, or the power insufficient to overcome the resistance from road and wind with the normal gear. Indirectly the throttling system, which is more specially American than any other feature of the gasoline-engine vehicles, contributes to reduction of noise, reduction of the amount of cooling water to be carried, and reduction of the disagreeable shaking of the carriage-three shortcomings which have militated strongly against gasoline vehicles in the past. The value of the throttling system depends principally on the fact that, for nine tenths of the work of a vehicle, the full-sized explosion that may be produced in the cylinders develops much more power than can be utilized, and much more