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How a Wagon was Developed from a Tricycle.

25th May 1905, Page 14
25th May 1905
Page 14
Page 15
Page 14, 25th May 1905 — How a Wagon was Developed from a Tricycle.
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The First Stage Described by Mr. James Sumner.

We published last week an account, ably written by Mr. James Sumner, relating his experiences in 1884 with the first Leyland steam wagon. To-day we give the balance of Mr. Sumner's interesting communication, which, we sincerely hope, will prove to be the second of many which will reach us from the early pioneers of modern road locomotion in Great Britain. A perusal of Mr. Sumner's two articles should convince all who read them that a dogged pertinacity characterises the men who have come through the ordeal of experiment to a satisfactory issue. Evidences of this kind must indicate to the many buyers and prospective buyers of commercial motors the amount of patient, unseen work that has been put in by constructors before their present success has been achieved. We are sure that Mr. Sumner will himself be the first to acknowledge that there are others whose perseverance at least deserves to have been equally rewarded, for the history of all great industries testifies to the many who live only for disappointment without any record to survive them on the tablet of fame which comes to the few. We are confident that his colleagues on the board of directors of the Lancashire Steam Motor Co., Ltd., have no more worthy and respected co-worker.—ED.] Mr. James Sumner.

Time, the great healer, helps us to overcome our disappointments, and about six years after the events recorded in the previous article found the writer planning and scheming for further experiments in automobilism, but at its other extreme. Last time it was a heavy steam motor wagon; this time it was a light steam tricycle, and about the year 1890 he built the one illustrated. A two-seated StarIey sociable tricycle was bought from a local gentleman, and a small compound steam engine having cylinders riin. by by 41n., and a small multitubular boiler x4in. diameter by t8in, high, were made and fixed to the back axle tube of the machine. The pedals on the left-hand side were removed, and a chain sprocket was fixed in their place to take the drive from the engine, by means of a chain working on a sprocket pinion fixed on the crank shaft. The boiler was fired by petroleum with a Wells type of burner, gravity fed, the oil tank being carried behind the seat backs. What might be called a honeycomb condenser was used, which also acted as a water tank, the exhaust steam being turned into this after first passing through a copper feed-water heater. This combined water tank and condenser was supported from the hind axle tube behind the driver, on the side of the machine remote from the boiler, and was about min. square and 91n. from back to front ; it was filled for threefourths of its depth with copper tubes ain. in diameter, specially made out of 28-gauge copper, these tubes running from front to back. The engine bed consisted of a light wrought-iron framework fixed against the boiler in a vertical position, with the cylinders at the top. No reversing or change-speed gear was used, but one pair of pedals were retained on the driver's side, and these were used' for climbing hills when necessary. Several very enjoyable trips were made on this machine by the writer, but the law was again on his track, and he was, after several friendly warnings, summoned to appear before the local bench for running a locomotive on the Queen's highway above four miles an hour without a man in front with a red flag, and for not having obtained a license to use the said locomotive. A short time before this case, the writer, when out with the machine, had met one of the magistrates, who was much

interested and left his horse and trap to come and have a look at it ; knowing that the police were on the look-out for the machine, every effort was made to get him to have a ride, though without success. Notwithstanding, the entire sympathy of the bench was with us, and accounted for the small fine of one shilling and costs which was imposed, with the friendly advice that, as it was clearly against the law to run the machine, it was best not to do so in the future, and so to save the officers and themselves any unpleasant duties. This was hard luck indeed, and the writer was again doomed to disappointment, but it was evidently no use going further with the experiment at the time. Soon after the above incidents the writer lost his father, and, the entire management of the business falling on him, had not the necessary freedom to pursue his studies in automobilism further. Amongst other things the repairing of lawn mowers was part of the businessdone at the works then owned by the writer, and he often noticed how unsatisfactory it was working the larger machines by horses. As the engine and boiler

were standing useless on the tricycle, he decided to try the experiment of working a lawn mower by steam power, so these parts were removed and fitted to a machine, with the result that, after one or two trials and alterations, the steam lawn mower was pronounced a great success, and obtained the first prize and the silver medal both at the Royal Lancashire Agricultural Society's Show at Bolton in 1894, and at the Royal Horticultural Society's Show at the Botanical Gardens, Manchester, in 1895. Large numbers of these machines being required, Messrs. T. Coulthard and Co., of Preston, agreed to take a half share in the works at Leyland for the purpose of making steam lawn mowers, and a small joint-stock company was formed under the title of J. Sumner, Ltd. With the advent in 1896 of the Motorcar Act, the old spirit of automobilism began to take possession of the writer again, and his patent boiler and system of oiltiring having been greatly improved and developed by use on the steam lawn mowers, he persuaded his coadjutors to let him make a four-wheeled steam carriage. The design of this vehicle, including the arrangement of the engine and boiler, was almost exactly like the Locomobile which appeared a few years later from America; but this machine never got further than the chassis, for Mr. E. J. Pennington's arrival in England with the famous Kane-Pennington engine from America caused Messrs. Coulthard, who went to see the wonderful performances of this motor and were most favourably impressed by what they heard, to pin their faith to petrol rather than steam for motorcars. As this did not suit the writer, other co-operation had to be found, and this was provided in the person and financial assistance of Mr. Henry Spurrier, jun., who being a thoroughly up-todate and go-ahead man, and a trained and experienced engineer, was quick to appreciate the coming great industry. A considerable amount of capital was put into the business by Mr. Spurrier, and the undertaking was established as

the Lancashire Steam Motor Company in x896, the manufacture of motor vehicles being commenced in real earnest. It was thought that steam would be more suitable for commercial rather than pleasure vehicles, and it was decided not to go any further with the carriage commenced in the days of J. Sumner, Ltd., but to build a commercial van. Work was commenced on this van, which a few months later was the only one that turned up for the Crewe trials, in June, 1897, as recorded. in "THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR." The writer and Mr. Spurrier were jointly responsible for the design of this van, and it was the prototype of others of larger capacity with which the firm won two .;ioo prizes in one year, and several gold and silver medals. The writer and Mr. Spurrier have worked together very harmoniously and successfully, and the firm were further strengthened by Mr. W. Norris, M.Inst.Mech.E., who joined it a little over two years ago, shortly before its conversion to a limited company with .£50,000 capital, when it was decided to take up the manufacture of internal combustion engines. The latest success is the 36-passenger petrol motor omnibus, the first of which was sold to the New London and Suburban Motor Omnibus Company, Ltd., early in the present year. These omnibuses and the well-known steam wagons are the outcome of much patient work, which had the small beginnings of which a few particulars have been given.

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