Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Horseless Carriages Invade Burnett's

Two Locomobiles on the main street of Burneett's. The green and blue colors, among others, were factory options. I picked those since they matched the color of my Locomobile and that of a friend's.
"According to the Oakdale Leader, two "horseless carriages" were spotted traveling through Burnett's this week. Both were powered by steam and driven by persons who otherwise appeared normal. The vehicles sped through town traveling at least 15 miles per hour and were last seen on the Knight's Ferry Road east of Oakdale."
Powered by steam, the boiler of these cars is under the seat along with the engine. The rear of the
car contains the water tank. You can see the tufted upholstery on the left-hand car.
That's the history record. The actuality is the completion of two 1900-era Locomobile steam cars. Once the most popular car in America, the Locomobile company switched to gasoline cars in 1902 as did almost everybody else. Driving an antique steam car is somewhat of a thrill. Even though the speed is not that high (25-30 mph), you feel like you're speeding down the street while sitting on a card table. How do I know? I have a 1901 Style 02 Locomobile in my garage which I restored back in the 1990s. Ever since then, I wanted to make a model of one for the railroad. Yes, it is slightly anachronistic but I had fun building them.
     The bodies of the two cars were made using 3D printing. I worked up a drawing in Sketchup and then sent it to Shapeways to do the actual printing. There are three parts: the body, the chassis and the tires. When I received the parts from Shapeways, I still had to fabricate springs, the tiller and other small parts. Photo-etching enabled me to produce the wheel spokes which fit into a groove in the tires.
On the workbench before being placed on the railroad.
  Although all this may sound somewhat high-tech, each part is actually not too bad. Sketchup is a free program which can be downloaded. It takes a bit to figure out just how to get what you want but there is plenty of documentation. The photo-etching was done with the Micro-Mark etching kit in a sink in the bathroom. Again, not very difficult. Seeing the parts you working with may be another story. I recommend the Optivisor which I have used for years. If you can see it, you can work with it!
     Upholstering the car was little  more difficult. The prototype used leather in a tufted pattern. Not having any wish to actually use fabric, I substituted a piece of styrene and scribed it where the folds would fall. A small drill was used at each intersection to make a small dimple which would represented the buttons.
The author's 1901 Locomobile. Note that the tiller is now on the side of the car rather than the center.
This was an improvement in 1901 as was the ability of the brakes to work when going backward.
      Just a bit more history of the car and the railroad. The first car into Yosemite was a Locomobile in 1900. In 1901, two Locomobiles drove from Stockton to Yosemite. There was a nice article in the August 1902 Overland Monthly about their adventures with photographs. I found it a nice read and it is available on line.

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