Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 149,662 pages of information and 235,472 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.


From Graces Guide
May 1901.
May 1901.

American made steam car.

1901. THE OPHIR [1]

This car, to which we briefly referred in our last issue, was one of the late arrivals at the show, and was exhibited by the British and Colonial Motor Car Co, who are agents for it. It embodies some features of interest which distinguish it from other light steam cars of the customary American "Runabout" outline.

Not only is the car rather more solid looking than the majority of these machines, but one is struck at once with the fact that there is no visible gearing beneath the body of any description. Just forward of the middle of the car, underneath, is a projection which forms part of the case in which the engine is entirely enclosed, and projecting from this case is a tubing containing a directly-driven shaft, which is really an extension of the crankshaft of the engine, which runs right through to the bevel gear on the rear axle, and engages with it by means of a bevel pinion on the end of this propeller shaft. The bevel gear and balance gear, as well as the propeller shaft itself, are entirely enclosed in oil-tight casing — in fact, on closer inspection of the engine it will be found that no part except the glands is visible, though the case can easily be opened up should it be wished to get at the engine for the purpose of effecting any adjustment. The two cylinders are by 2in. bore, and the engine is a double-acting one. As we have said, the crank works in line with propeller shaft, and the steam distribution is effected by link motion.

The crankshaft is connected by a phosphor-bronze governor bearing to the main-shaft, and there is a differential gear inside the bevel ring to make the usual allowance in turning the car. Braking is effected by a double-shoe brake, which embraces the main-shaft on both sides, and is applied by pedal. The throttle or regulator is made in two styles, one fitted at the side and the other, the more modern form, through the centre steering handle. Reversing is effected by a pedal. When fully charged the fuel tank contains ten gallons of petrol and the water tank thirty-four gallons. This is claimed to give a fuel supply equivalent to ninety miles of running and a water supply which only requires renewing once in thirty miles.

Diamond single-tube tyres are fitted on wood felloes. The latter are claimed to be an advantage, as they do not tend to buckle or go out of shape in the event of the car being run into the kerb, or the wheels being strained slightly in any similar manner. In addition to the lubrication of the engine bearings by the oil bath crank case there is a sight feed lubricator which provides for the wants of the cylinders. The usual automatic fire check is fitted, closing down the fire at 200 lbs. per square inch of boiler pressure, and the safety valve is pressed to blow off at 250 lbs., the ordinary working pressure being 180 lbs.

The fire is started by igniting some spirit in a little cup permanently attached to the burners. This heats the petrol and starts vaporisation. A match is then inserted in the fire box, and the pilot light ignited under the main burner tap. This maintains vaporisation, and on turning on the main burner the whole of the jets ignite, and the fire is lit. This entirely obviates the necessity for torches. A 0.375in. steel shell is used for the cylindrical boiler, which is traversed by 405 copper tubes. It is placed in the middle of the back part of the car, as usual, and surrounded by a water tank. 700 lbs. per square inch is the hydraulic test to which it is subjected, and it is claimed that 1,200 to 1,400 lbs. to the square inch can be raised before serious damage is likely to be done to the boiler. Particular care has been given to turning out the machine so that it will stand hard regular work, and we shall he much interested in watching its behaviour.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Autocar of 25th May 1901