”The Horseless Age”, March 1905, Truffault-Hartford advertisement.
In 1898, French cyclist J.M.M. Truffault invented what appears to be the very first shock absorber to be used on a vehicle, after installing it on a bicycle. It consisted of a front fork with a suspension that used coil springs and a friction device that minimized vibrations.
The next year Edward V. Hartford, an American, witnessed a motor-tricycle race in France that was won by a Darracq ridden by Marcellin and powered by a 12 HP Buchet twin-cylinder engine. It was equipped with a La Fourche Truffault, a sprung-fork built by the Frenchman with his new invention.
The two soon became friends after Hartford had Truffault install a unit on his 2 1/4 HP de Dion tricycle with what he described as most gratifying results. In the fall of 1900 he purchased one of the new 1901 curved-dashed Oldsmobile’s and shipped it to France to have his friend experiment with and install a set of the devices on the little car. After the cars return to the States, the pair who were working together were unable to interest any American manufacturers in using the shocks, other than one offer from one to buy the patent. Negotiations back in France with Peugeot resulted in the automaker installing them on his own car and also selling a few sets.
The first real marketing success of the friction-dampers came when Leon Thery was able to see the merit of using them and equipped his Richard-Brasier racing car with a set. The units in turn helped him as he went on to win the 1904 Gordon Bennett Cup race. On The Old Motor you can view many more photos, see more info and read the rest of the story @ http://theoldmotor.com/?p=105386
Drawing for the original shock absorber patent granted on March 18, 1902.
Chris, Excellent photo, we will include it in Part II of the series.
Does anyone else have any unique photos about shocks of the companies that sold them for the series??
Here's a 1911 advertising postcard with a pitch one won't see today, and an advert illustrating the "high-grade" cars equipped with Hartfords...
(Higher-resolution files of these and other Hartford print ads available if required)
Funny this should be discussed. I was just looking at the old forums and saw this:
It might lead somewhere.
There are hartford style friction shocks available for Model T speedsters: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Model-T-Ford-speedster-friction-shock-set-of-4-/16104180 3087