WERNER SALES passed 1,000 but De Dion was the world’s biggest manufacturer of vehicle engines, producing 3,200 by year’s end with power outputs up to 2¾hp. In time De Dion engines would propel up to 150 makes of car, trike and motorcycle. A complete De Dion trike weighed in at about 200lb; yours for £50.
FOLLOWING A TRIP TO PARIS to buy a motor cycle, a British pioneer rider wrote: “The De Dion Bouton firm only recommend motor bicycles to be ridden in fine weather, as they consider it dangerous to ride on wet surfaces or through traffic…It is all right when you are riding straight ahead, with both wheels in the same straight line, but in turning corners, or even to avoid anything on the road, it is extremely dangerous, as it stands to reason that any wheel driven by motive power has a strong tendency to skid and bring down the maihine…”It is simply courting danger to cross wet places and damp spots on the road…I can only give them the advice my French friends gave me, ‘Mefiez voius, c’est tres dangereuse’ (Take care, it is very dangerous).”
IN 1893 CHARLES H Metz set up the Waltham Manufacturing Co in Massachusetts to make Orient bicycles; by 1898 he was running a racing team and, to help train his cyclists, he ordered built a tandem pacer with the pilot sitting up front and the passenger operating a French-made Aster copy of the DeDion-Bouton engine (Aster became a leading supplier, producing a range of stationary engines as well as powering bikes, trikes, cars, boats and in due course, aircraft). The tandem was a great success, and before long Metz was experimenting with a heavy-duty version of the Orient bicycle powered by an Aster/DeDion-Bouton engine. In 1900 he launched the Orient-Aster motor cycle; in adverts he coined the name ‘motocycle’.
HARD ON ITS heels came the Columbia, built by Pope using the company’s own IOE single in one of its bicycle frames. And the Holley bothers, Earl and George, set up the Holley Motor Company, making IOE motorcycle engines in Bradford, PA; sales were disappointing so they began to make and sell complete motorcycles. Rather than use bicycle frames Earl and George built their frames from scratch, mounting the engine low in place of the pedals.
REX, CHATER-LEA and OK (later OK-Supreme, OK?) debuted; there were now about 50 British marques.
S DE JONG & CO OF Antwerp fitted its Minerva bicycles with 172cc/¾hp ZL clip-on engines. They were a great success so Minerva copied the ZL engines and made its own: it also sold them to other bicycle manufacturers
AMERICAN FIRMS made 1,681 steam, 1,575 electric and 936 petrol cars.
IN CLECKHEATON, WEST Yorks, Joah Carver Phelon and his nephew Harry Rayner used a (1¾hp) De Dion in their Phelon & Rayner motor cycles but they patented the use of a sloping engine to serve as the downtube of an adapted bicycle frame. They also pioneered chain drive but could not afford to go into production so the design was licensed to Humber, which would produce it as the Humber Beeston until 1907. The sloper design would be in production for more than six decades.
A US REPORT estimated there were about 10,000 automobiles on European roads owned by 7,000 enthusiasts—5,600 of them in France, which boasted 619 vehicle manufacturers and parts suppliers, 1,095 repair shops and 3,939 stockists. By way of contrast, the report concluded: “If we put the number of automobiles in this country at 700 it will probably be an exaggeration. The number of makers actually at work or organizing is probably no more than 100.”
SINGER, BEST KNOWN for sewing machines, went into the motorcycle business by snapping up Coventry-based Perks and Birch which had developed a ‘motor-wheel’. This comprised an engine built into an aluminium wheel and featuring a surface carb and low-tension mag.
ENTREPRENEUR AND diplomat Emil Jellineck was a major distributor for Daimler and Maybach. He sponsored and specified a revolutionary sports car to be named after his daughter, Mercedes. So if she’d had a different name yuppies might still be boasting about their Brunhildes or Ermintrudes. Here’s another whimsy: 40 years later Hitler was swanning about in a huge armoured Merc. You have to wonder if he knew Emil Jellineck’s dad was a rabbi—Adolph’s favourite motor was named after a Jewish princess.
Glover Bros of Coventry built a tidy two-wheels-at-the-front trike. The firm made its own engine, which it mounted over the front axle; the trike boasted a spring frame, Ackerman steering, belt drive, drip-feed lubrication, coil ingnition and a valve-lifter controlled from the handlebar.
THE AUTOMOBILE CLUB (the ‘Royal’ comes later) staged a 1,000-mile reliability trial. Motor cycles were still in the experimental stage with only a few imported examples in the country. Two brave riders on front-wheel drive Werners entered but were not among the 65 starters. However the cars were joined by a 3hp Ariel quad; a 2¼hp Ariel trike with Whippet trailer (a lady’s bicycle frame without the front fork but with the rear wheel and pedalling gear to help on the hills); another Ariel trike sans trailer; a 2¼hp MMC trike; and a 2¾hp Simms motor wheel (a tricycle with two wheels in front, one
behind, front driving, rear steering). They left Hyde Park on 23 April, ending Day 1 at Bristol. Day 2, on show in in Bristol. Day 3, Bristol to Birmingham via Cheltenham where the vehicles were displayed. Day 4, on show in Birmingham; Day 5, Birmingham to Manchester via Matlock and some serious hills (during which AJ Wilson, with a little LPA on his Ariel trike, beat a Panhard driven by the Hon CS Rolls which was then the fastest vehicle in England). Day 6, on show in Manchester. Day 7 was a Sunday which in those days really was a day of rest. Day 8, Manchester to Kendal with hill climbing on Shap Fell. Day 9, Kendal to Carlisle with hill climbing on Dunmail Raise. Day 10, Carlisle to Edinburgh. Day 11, on show in Edinburgh. Day 12, Edinburgh to Newcastle upon Tyne (in the teeth of a gale along the Berwickshire coast). Day 13, on show in Newcastle. Day 14 was a Sunday. Day 15, Newcastle to Leeds via York where the vehicles were displayed. Day 16, on show in Leeds. Day 17, Leeds to Sheffield via Harrogate and Bradford where the vehicles were displayed. Day 18, on show in Sheffield. Day 19, Sheffield to Nottingham (but some of the vehicles diverted to Welbeck for a speed trial in which the Ariel and trailer came third with the Century tandem sixth). Day 20, Nottingham to
Marble Arch via Northampton (a run of 124 miles). There was also a champagne breakfast hosted by Viscount Northcliffe at Calcot Park, Reading; a dinner at the Birmingham Conservative Club hosted by Alfred Bird, MP; and other social events at Manchester and Edinburgh.The 1,000 Mile Tour was designed to publicise motoring and in that it succeeded. Thousands of spectators lined the route; most of them seeing motorised vehicles for the first time. The towns they passed through were packed, to the extent the vehicles had trouble passing through them. The show days were essential for running repairs. The survivors in the (almost) motor cycle class were the Ariel quad, the Ariel trike and trailer, the Century tandem, the Empress trike and the Enfield quad. CS Rolls won the speed trial in his 12hp Panhard at 37.63mph which was officially the fastest vehicle in England— a De Dion-Ariel trike and trailer came fourth at 29.45mph. And on Birkhill, acording to Autocar, “the Ariel quadricycle, Ariel tricycle with trailer, Enfield quadricycle, and Mr Rolls’s Panhard achieved the same result.” So while solos were not yet up to such a demanding event, the trikes took on the best automobiles and gave a taste of triumphs yet to come.
MMC TRIKES SUBSEQUENTLY proved their worth in a more demanding environment when a detatchment went to South Africa to do their bit in the Second Boer War.
THERE WERE TWO major cycle shows, the National at the Crystal Palace and the Stanley at the Agricultural Hall, Islington. They were run simultaneously; both, according to the Autocar, featured “exhibits of autocars, motor cycles, fittings, and accessories”. At the Stanley, for example, Alfred Dunhill’s exhibit included “a new waterproof gauntlet glove lined with wool. He has brought this out in response to numerous enquiries for a glove of this description, and we, from personal use, can speak of it as most comfortable, as it gives a maximum of protection from damp and cold with a minimum of clumsiness. One of the most interesting Dunhill novelties consists in some new puncture-repairing patches. These are made simply of two layers of pure rubber in such a way as to prevent curling. Petrol is the only thing required in using them, and when applied they not only stick to the air tube, but fill up the punctures as well. They should do much to dispel tyre troubles…The Motor Clothing Co will show some motor garments in which a specialty is made of extra thicknesses of cloth and leather over the chest. Also similar garments for ladies’ wear, and some very smart lines in liveries for motor servants…Brown Bros will show the Brown motor tricycles and quadricycles, the Brown-Whitney steam carriage, motorcycle frames and fittings, motors, repair parts and an immense varied collection of motor accessories…The Enfield Cycle Co will have their tricycles and quadricycles with
several recent improvements added…In addition to motor eye-shields, new pattern horns, a new patent induction coil, and a new carburetter for De Dion tricycles, SW Gamage will exhibit ear-guards, foot-muffs, sparking plugs, acetylene, oil, and candle lamps, together with a large assortment of specialties in autocarist garments. A particular object of interest will be the chauffeur’s “Combination” garment, which will do equal duty as a rug or overalls…Hoare and Sons will show the special ‘Autocoat’ and ‘Autosuit’ for those who follow automobilism. We can vouch for their being suitable in every way for the purpose for which they are built. The garments are absolutely wind and rain proof, no matter the force of the gale or the downpour, and are stylishly made withal in the best material…Humber will have quite a number of machines from motor tricycles and quadricycles upwards…C Lohmann will have the Perfecta acetylene lamps made in large sizes for motor cycles, motor cars, and carriages…The Motor Carriage Supply Co will show the new 3½hp Simms voiturette fitted with the Simms-Bosch magneto-ignition…Roots and Venables will have the only machine in either show burning ordinary paraffin…Swain Patents Syndicate will show a very interesting motor cycle tyre. It has neither wires nor thickened edges, and is held on the rim by the patented method in which the lining is woven…Benton and Stone, Bracebridge Street, Birmingham. The exhibitors are actual manufacturers of inflators, reservoir tanks, and kindred articles, and they make a good show of them. The motor cycle reservoirs are constructed with steel barrels and steel bands, and the swivel fastenings are made specially strong…Bowden’s Patents’ Syndicate. The clever Bowden mechanism has hitherto been applied principally to cycle brakes, but the time is doubtless not far distant when the general engineer will wonder how ever he got on without it. The mechanism is already being made in various strengths for motor work, and is covered first with a waterproof material and then with a German silver wire. A simple exhaust lifter is introduced for use on motor cycles. A lever pivoted at one end engages with the cotter in the valve stem, and is operated by the Bowden cord from a small lever on the handlebar. It can be readily fitted by the rider without any drilling or like operations. The British and Foreign Electrical Vehice Co are exhibiting the ‘Powerful’ car which took part in the recent trials and the run to Southsea, making a very good impression on those who saw it. It is an immense vehicle, and as at present constructed only carries two passengers, which seems rather a small result for two and a half tons of mechanism, but it is really only an experimental vehicle…Benetfink & Co has now extended its motor department to the length of motor cycles, and it has made a most excellent selection in the Ariel. We can only emphasise our opinion that the Ariel motor cycle is second to none in the world…W Canning & Co is showing a combined motor and dynamo arranged on one shaft and forming a generator for charging accumulators…It can be made entirely automatic, so that when the accumulators are charged the current is cut off. The starter is provided with a “no load” release, so that there is no danger of injuring the motor when switching on the current…The Churchbank Cycle Co. Some wooden wheels are shown fitted with Gare’s tyre. This consists of an iron tube with an eccentric hole laid in a bed of rubber.
The hole is filled with rope. The tyre is said to be both silent and wear resisting…The Crypto Works. A sample of the Lawson motor bicycle is exhibited. The motor proper is mounted on one side of the front wheel, being balanced by the flywheel, which is arranged on the other side of the wheel. A strutted fork is employed, and the ring post of the strut carries a tank which holds a gallon of petrol, and also a supply of lubricating oil. The motor is of one horse-power, and has incandescent ignition. The handle-bar is carried on a strong loop spring…The Enfield Cycle Co, Redditch. Three motor cycles are exhibited; the surface carburettor has given place to one of the Longuemare type, and we have no doubt that the alteration will be found a considerable improvement. [At this time a ‘motor cycle’ might have two, three or even four wheels.] AW Gamage. Some large bells are well calculated to effect the purpose of the horns in a more pleasant way. In the electric department we notice Peto and Radford’s batteries, and the Reclus incandescent sparking plug; also a clever little instrument for sorting out the poles when one gets the wiring mixed up. There are some excellent jackets and overcoats, with skin inside, outside, or in between, with and without the fur in situ. A good show, truly. Gibbs’ Auxiliary Power (Cycle) Syndicate). This is hardly a motor exhibit in the ordinary sense of the word, but the safety bicycle shown is intended at some period of its progress to be propelled by compressed air. The front wheel axle is provided with two cranks connected to pistons in oscillating cylinders with suitable connecting rods. On going downhill the cranks are set to work and air is compressed into the main tubes of the frame, which act as a reservoir. On coming to a rise the valves are reversed, causing the compressed air to drive the cranks and front wheel. A device is fitted for regulating the power at which the compressed air shall be utilised. Under ordinary circumstances a charge of air will last about half a mile. Iliffe, Sons and Sturmey. This firm have the latest issues of The Autocar and other publications of interest to the automobilist, such as ‘Motor Cycles’, ‘On an Autocar through the Length and Breadth of the Land’, ‘Horseless Vehicles’, and Lacy Hillier’s cycle and motor novel, ‘The Potterers’ Club’…Joseph Lucas. This noted lamp firm have not yet produced a special motor lamp, though they are by no means neglecting the matter. Meanwhile, they recommend their Holophote cycle lamp for use on motor cycles, as it is well calculated to stand the vibration…The Meyra Electric Co. Meyra batteries are calculated to work for some three or four hundred hours-practically a whole season. They are made throughout of British materials, and the company make a fair allowance for discharged cells in Dart payment for new ones…Powell & Hanmer. In addition to carriage lamps of the ordinary pattern some motor cycle lamps are exhibited, one pattern having the spring handle at the side and another at the back. In the latter case the red light is fitted in the back of the lamp in accordance with the legal regulations…HW Van Raden. Mr Van Raden’s woven glass accumulators are attaining a very high reputation, and have been recognised by such large users as the Post Office… Into a warp of lead wires spun glass is woven as a weft, and this forms a grid which holds the paste. The whole plate thus constructed is wrapped in an envelope of spun glass, the positive and negative plates being of identical construction, so that the current can be reversed from time to time. An exceedingly neat little dynamo is shown which may be run off a fly-wheel to keep the accumulators charged. Another battery is combined in one case with a coil, and forms practically a rotary magneto, so that with a very small expenditure of power the rider is saved from the trouble so frequently attending batteries. This device deserves very close attention, and seems one of the best solutions of the sparking difficulty.”
FRENCH WATCHMAKER JEAN Constantin teamed up with a M Cabanes to design and manufacture a 1½hp (approx 250cc) engine with a spray carburettor which revved up to 2,400rpm. They duly bolted one into a bicycle frame, mounting it horizontally because Constantin believed this would minimise engine vibrations felt by the rider. Drive was by chain rather than belt; the chain could be tensioned by loosening and turning the left crankcase plate. Claimed top speed was about 28mph. Constantin’s machine was put into production by Rouanet and Co in Saint-Chinian in the South of France; it won a gold medal at the International Exhibition in Montauban. Fewer than a dozen were built, of which a few had strenthened frames and forks. Two complete machines and an engine have survived.