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Steam powered street waggon

Steam powered street waggon
image  artist's impression of a steam powered street waggon


The article is a description and illustration of a steam waggon, or wagon, invented by Mr. John Fowler of Leeds, England. The steam waggon is a vehicle that can carry heavy loads on roads and railways, powered by a steam engine and boiler. The article explains the features and advantages of the steam waggon, such as:


In the 1890s, steam-powered street wagons were popular means of transportation for goods and people. These wagons were developed in response to the need for faster, more efficient transportation of goods and people in urban areas. They were widely used in London and other major cities, where they were often used for deliveries and for public transportation.

One of the main advantages of steam-powered street wagons was their speed and power. They could travel much faster than horse-drawn wagons and could carry heavier loads. This made them a popular choice for businesses that needed to transport large quantities of goods quickly.

Another advantage was their reliability. Steam engines were more reliable than horse-drawn vehicles, which could be affected by weather conditions and the health of the horses. This meant that businesses could rely on steam-powered street wagons to transport their goods on time.

Despite their popularity, steam-powered street wagons were eventually replaced by motor vehicles in the early 20th century. Motor vehicles offered even greater speed and convenience, and were less expensive to operate than steam engines. Nonetheless, the use of steam-powered street wagons in the 1890s played an important role in the development of urban transportation, paving the way for the motorized vehicles that dominate our roads today.

Development of a steam powered street waggon

A remarkable specimen of mechanical ingenuity has recently been shown by a machinist of Baltimore. It is in the form of a unique wagon, which is propelled by means of a Van Dusen ten horse power gasoline engine. The proposed wagon, which is completed and has had one trip, and is now undergoing some alterations in the axle bearings, is about 16 feet in length, weighs about 6,000 pounds, and is quite long enough to seat twenty persons comfortably.

The engine, as designed and applied, is small and compact, resting beneath the floor and between the axles, and concealed by steps mounting to the body of the vehicle. One side of the engine is furnished with a metallic flywheel of forty-eight inches diameter, at right angles to which revolves a friction wheel, the circumference of which is leather. The smaller wheel is turned by the revolution of the flywheel. Upon the same axle is another small wheel, which causes to revolve a metal disk, and to the latter is attached a link chain, which likewise surrounds the rear hub. The power is thus transmitted from the flywheel to the friction wheel and thence to the hub. The speed can be increased or diminished by widening or lessening the distance of the friction wheel from the center of the flywheel, the former being ten inches in circumference, the latter forty-eight inches. A speed of from three to twenty miles is guaranteed at a cost of one cent per hour for the engine power and ten cents per gallon for the gasoline.

A tank of thirty gallons capacity will be placed in the wagon, but ten gallons per day will probably be an ample allowance. The levers necessary for the propagating, lessening and increasing the motion will be a brake, a speed lever and a steering apparatus, and the driver or steerer will be placed in the front part of the wagon, conveniently near all these. Should the wagon fulfill the predictions of the inventor, horse power as a means of street locomotion may be in a great measure done away with.

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About this article

This article is a reprint of an existing article from Engineer and Inventor, April 1893. It is the intent of this website to present this article in human and machine readable form. Format and editing changes have been made. This article is provided for the purpose of enjoyment only. Statements in this article were relevant to the published period and may not be applicable in current times.