A Stanley Steam Car in Fire Department Service – Newton, Massachusetts, 1903: By the time our photo was taken, the Stanley brothers had been in the business of building steam cars for six years. First under their own name and then licensed to Locomobile, their designs proved so thoroughly reliable that they soon became very popular with fire and police departments.
See an article from a 1903 Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal issue giving full details about the Stanley and many more steam-powered vehicles @http://theoldmotor.com/?cat=19
I was in the process of buying that year and model of Stanley 12 years ago. Unfortunately, I lost my job and had to back out of the deal.
It would seem that the fire dept would have to keep a full head of steam 24/7 as it would take some time to build enough steam to make the car run at a moments notice.And in colder climates the water would freeze if not kept warm during the winter. Not my first choice for a emergency response vehicle. There was a Steamer at a small car show in my area once, it took him 20 minutes to get enough steam to move the car after the car had been shut down all day.
I'm no steam expert, but I know that the old steam pumpers were kept in the firehouse hooked up to the building's boiler 24/7, so they already had "steam up" when an alarm came in. Then all they had to do was light the boiler so they could start making steam enroute. Maybe a steam auto was hooked up in the same way; if so it might have even been an advantage over a gas auto.
Rick....Just as you mention, the fire departments surely had something worked out so they were always ready to go. At about this time they had already been using steam for decades and had much experience w/it.
It was pretty common to keep the pilot light lit all the time in a Stanley. That would keep things warm enough that it maintained a bit of steam pressure, and the fuel would vaporize fast enough to light the main fire almost instantly on demand. If the car were kept in a heated firehouse, the water in the main tank wouldn't freeze.
Biggest drawback to keeping the pilot light on all the time: sometimes it goes out and you're not around to notice. Then the pilot fuel continues to be sprayed in under pressure, but it puddles up unlit. When you go to light up the car, all that fuel goes up, and you have a bigger fire in the firehouse than the one the department was called out to extinguish in the first place.
My wife insists I push the Stanley out into the driveway before I even start to light anything!
A great picture!! In one of Rob's post with used cars in 1907 i think a used Locomoble Steamer was priced at $75.00 I wonder if it sold? Bud.
Bud! We should go check it out!
A few years ago, at the Bakersfield swap meet, there was enough original stuff to have put together most of a circa 1901 Locomobile. The prices were not very high. There was an original body in very restorable condition for under $3K, choice of two Locomobile script motors about $3K apiece if I recall correctly (also two no name motors, one in poor condition for a bit less), two front axles (about $1K each), two wheels that I saw, I think one rear axle, assorted misc.
I thought it was all cheap enough. $10K would have bought about 60 percent of a car. Someone I talked to reminded me that the earlier steamers are not as desirable to most HCCA tourists as the later Stanleys. And I would imagine the other 40 percent would cost about 30K plus restoration of the original parts. Besides, I had just bought my gasoline carriage.
Thank you David G! I enjoy your contributions here.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
One of our readers did come up with the details of fire house steam engine care and use:
HANDBOOK OF THE STEAM FIRE ENGINE
WITH INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE RUNNING, CARE, AND MANAGEMENT OF THE MACHINE AND DIRECTIONS FOR OPERATING HEATER
Copyright, 1897, By American Fire Engine Company
Particularly concerning keeping the steam fire engines ready:
THE ENGINE HEATER.
A stationary heater for the fire engine consists of a small boiler, placed at some convenient point near the same when in quarters. It is connected with the engine boiler by means of automatic couplings and suitable circulating pipes, the entire arrangement being adapted to maintain the water contained therein at any temperature desired.
Although the best types of fire engines boilers require but a few minutes time to generate a working pressure from cold water, the general adoption of the many modern improvements for facilitating the movements of the men and apparatus has made the stationary heater an essential part of a complete equipment.
A very reliable and satisfactory heater for this duty is built by the American Fire Engine Company. It is fully shown in the accompanying illustrations, and explicit directions for operating the same are appended.
Experience proves that the life of the boiler is prolonged by being kept constantly in a state of activity, and the elevated temperature of the water insures prompt and efficient work by the steamer at the very time when a few moments delay may breed disaster.
The rest of the manual can be found at:
Wayne,Sorry if my post was off the mark,as i only meant to show how fast steam power was falling out of favor. Now that i think about it more,mabey it was only the early carriage type?? I thoroughly enjoy David's post and pictures!! Bud.
My apologies. Sometimes my warped sense of humor results in slightly disjointed comments.
I appreciate and enjoy your contributions, always. By 1907 public favor for steam powered automobiles was falling fast. I have always found it interesting that Andrew L Riker was considered the world's top leader in electric powered automobiles around 1900. I think it was 1904 that he switched sides to become the top engineer for one of the top three steam automobile producers (Locomobile) to guide them through the shift to gasoline power and become one of the most respected producers of what had then become THE primary automotive power. A true confluence of technologies.
I was just suggesting that we should go see if that Locomobile steamer was still available for $75. I recall noticing it in Rob's post also.
Drive carefully, and enjoy the Christmas holidays! W2