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Are steam cars poised for an epic comeback?
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Please review your cart. You can remove the unavailable item s now or we'll automatically remove it at Checkout. Remove FREE. Nevertheless, commercial interest ballooned. By April , General Engineering had orders for 11, cars and more than 5, cash deposits. The company planned to start delivering cars in early —until President Woodrow Wilson declared war against Germany, and America rearranged its industrial might to support an army fighting in Europe. War or no war, by that September General Engineering had leased a 52,square-foot factory in Detroit and engaged an advertising agency to promote its brand.
However, the brothers quickly found that they had little grasp of mass production, especially in a wartime economy. Abner blamed the government for redirecting steel to military uses, but the Doble-Detroit had other woes. The 11 vehicles that Doble-Detroit Steam Motors did deliver proved sluggish and unreliable. Doble-Detroits tended to pop unexpectedly into reverse. Finicky boilers caused breakdowns. Steam Heat: Doble steam generators used long lengths of tubing to achieve constant power.
His self-aggrandizement wore on John, the most mechanically gifted Doble. John sued Abner for patent infringement. Amid growing enmity, Abner sold his General Engineering shares in and returned to San Francisco. Later that year Doble-Detroit closed its doors. His company bankrupt, the Doble-Detroit discredited, and snarled in a fraternal patent dispute, Abner quit the car business. But when John, 28, died of lymphatic cancer in the surviving brothers reconciled and formed Doble Steam Motors Corporation of San Francisco. Swells, especially Hollywood high-rollers, swore by the car.
Boasting a compound four-cylinder engine driven by a steam generator, the Model E boasted a ,mile engine warranty.
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With alcohol keeping its water supply liquid, the E reliably started even in freezing weather—a challenge for a Model T—and a new electric starter had steam up in 90 seconds. An E could accelerate smoothly from 0 to 75 mph in 10 seconds, pressing occupants into their seats with 1, lbs. In addition to speed, the Model E boasted craftsmanship. An E rolled off the Emeryville line as a chassis fitted with drive train and mechanical components. Workers added a makeshift seat and instrumentation.
Company drivers steered the bare-bones assemblages miles south to the Walter M. Murphy Coach Works in Pasadena. The brothers had the steamer market to themselves, yet once more mass production eluded them. A maharajah bought a Model E for tiger hunting in India. He had Murphy install taps for beer and ice water. In Texas, year-old tool-and-die heir Howard Hughes was clocked doing mph in the desert at the wheel of his Model E. But again the Dobles bobbled the basics. The 5,lb. Model E proved heavy, hard to steer, and difficult to stop since, like most cars of the day, it lacked front brakes.
No two Model Es were identical. Every time they sold a Doble, the brothers lost money. Abner also ran into legal trouble. But the California state commissioner of corporations barred the company from issuing additional stock until 50 cars had reached the road and were still running six months after being sold. Before the New Year, California authorities indicted Abner and three associates on five counts of securities violations. In , Superior Judge Michael J.
Roche ruled Abner personally liable for ensuring the company paid 30 cents on the dollar to stockholders who had bought shares sold fraudulently. Oldie but Steamy: At a steam car meet, a Doble and its steam generator were the talk of the tarmac. Bad publicity, legal costs, and the crash of prevented Doble Motors from issuing more stock, the start of a fatal decline punctuated by tragedy.
The following year, Doble Motors, which had built and sold 42 Model Es, was forced to liquidate its assets. Even so, Abner Doble remained committed to steam. He devoted the rest of his life to evangelizing on behalf of steam and consulting in the United States and Europe. In , chainsaw mogul Robert Paxton McCulloch hired Doble to develop an engine for his newest project—a steamer called the Paxton Phoenix. Abner, 70, was living in Santa Rosa, California, when he died of a heart attack on July 16, Photo by Walker Dalton. Steamers like the Doble are great show-off cars. Your friends might know a little about cars and engines but chances are good they have no idea how a steamer works, so you get to be the expert.
Steam ruled from until around , and the Doble came out in the s, so it is something of a throwback, although a very refined throwback. The Doble is the only steamer that starts at the turn of a key. A steamer creates and stores power in the form of steam. Stanleys and other steamers use o steam. Their boilers heat all the water at once, like giant teakettles. With a Stanley, you light the pilot and have a cup of coffee or two, by which time you have steam up.
The Early Days Of Motors And Motor-Driving - Steam Cars - H. Walter Staner - Google Livros
Dobles are ready to go right away because they superheat water to o or o with a steam generator, which is like a tankless water heater. Imagine a long, red-hot tube. You put water in one end and instantly steam comes out the other end. The fire generating that steam burns at 3,o. At that temperature, all the fuel burns, so few unburned emissions go into the air. A drop of water superheated under pressure expands 2, times. It explodes. To move a vehicle, you have to multiply the torque those four strokes produce, and for that you need a clutch and a transmission.