Steam car

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Cugnot's "steam car", Paris 1769

A steam car is an automobile (car) powered by a steam engine. The first automobile, a Three-wheeled vehicle, was powered by a steam engine.


History[change | change source]

The steam carriage was invented in 1769 by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, a French engineer.[1] It was a large three wheeled vehicle that used coal to make steam in a boiler.[2] The boiler was mounted in front which made the vehicle unstable.

In the United States, about the time of the American Civil War, a number of inventors were working on steam-powered cars.[3] In England about 1868 J. H. Knight had created a very successful design of steam car. In 1883 in France, Jules-Albert de Dion and Georges Bouton began building steam cars.[3] In 1886 Ransom E. Olds was producing a steam car in the US. In 1899 the Stanley brothers, Francis and Freelan began making the famous Stanley Steamers.

Advantages and disadvantages[change | change source]

Steam engines in cars have a great amount of torque.[4] With all this torque they can accelerate very quickly. Because the torque is available over a broad range of speeds, a transmission wasn't needed.[4] They could also carry heavy loads with ease. The speed of a steam car is controlled by the throttle alone and the engine never stalls.[5] Steam cars had fewer moving parts than gasoline powered cars.[6] Also steam cars are very quiet.

A major disadvantage is that a steam car has to "fire up" its boiler (has to get up to operating temperature). This can take as much as 20 minutes before the car can move.[7] In the winter there was the added problem of water freezing.[6] A steam car could not go very far without adding water.[4] The water turned to steam, which was lost as exhaust when it exited the engine. Steam condensers were added to these cars later. This converted the steam back to water. But they came too late. By then steam cars had lost out to cars with gasoline (and diesel) engines.[4]

Gallery[change | change source]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Smithsonian; Timelines of science (New York: DK Publishing, 2013), p. 151
  2. Marshall Cavendish ,Inventors and Inventions (New York: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 2008), p. 89
  3. 3.0 3.1 Leslie A. White; et al., Modern Capitalist Culture (Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2008), p. 112
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Allen Fuhs, Hybrid Vehicles: and the Future of Personal Transportation (Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2009), p. 2
  5. Windsor T. White (18 October 1908). "The Steam Car Superior to Gasoline Cars from Standpoint of Flexibility and Ease of Use". New York Times. http://www.whitesteamcar.com/White_Steam_Car_Registry/Articles_files/Steam%20Car%20Superior%20to%20Gas%20Cars%20%2810%3A18%3A1908%20NYT%29.pdf. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Michael L. Bromley, William Howard Taft and the First Motoring Presidency, 1909-1913 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2003), p. 54
  7. "Stanley Motor Carriages Technical Information". StanleyMotorCarriage.com. 2003. Retrieved 23 August 2014. 

Other websites[change | change source]