A Look at the Stanley Steamer a Steam Engine Powered Automobile
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A Look at the Stanley Steamer a Steam Engine Powered Automobile

The Stanley Steamer Automobile was an interesting concept back in the early 1900s.

The Stanley Steamer automobile, not to be confused with Stanley Steamer Carpet Cleaners, was a steam engine powered automobile that was manufactured in the early 1900s. The company founders were two twin brothers, Francis and Freelan Stanley. Francis Stanley was the actual inventor of the Stanley automobile, and Freenlan partnered with Francis to manufacture the automobile.

The Stanley automobile was powered by a steam engine. The Stanley Steamer engine boasted only 15 moving parts in the Stanley Steamer automobile. However, it took about 25 minutes to bring the car up to full power. This definitely became a disadvantage as the internal combustion engine, or as the Stanleys referred to it the “internal explosive engine”, became more developed.

The Stanley brothers founded the Stanley Motor Carriage Company in 1902. Throughout the cars 25 year history it is estimated that approximately 16,000 cars were produced. I’ve seen conflicting information on the number of cars built. The range has been anywhere from 11,000 to 16,000 cars. During this time period the automobiles that were produced were considered a luxury. Who would have thought that such a creation as the automobile would become what it is today. No longer considered a luxury, an automobile is important and essential to our everyday lives. I’ve read that there are about 600 Stanley Steamer automobiles in existence today.

The internal combustion engine was the demise of the steam engine powered automobile. Automobiles with combustion engines were more efficient, cost less money, and were faster than the steam engine. The Stanley Steamer ceased production in 1924 and the company went out of existence in 1927.

You can still see the Stanley Steamer automobile at auto shows and at the Stanley Museum in the Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado and in Kingfield Maine. Kingfield, Maine is the birthplace of the Stanley twins. The museum in Kingfield is located in the Stanley School that was built in 1903. The Stanley Hotel was built by Freelan Stanley, and opened its doors for business in 1909.

I also stumbled on this internet site called the Flint Hills Steam Car Tour. There are a lot of pictures of present day cars that have been on tour in different parts of the country over the past several years. Another good site to view for information on the Stanley Steam automobiles is the Steam Automobile Club of America. You can see links to past tours of the automobile and future events.

I was able to see the Stanley Steamer automobile myself as it sits in the Stanley hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. The vehicle is a 1909 Model R Stanley Roadster. This is the first time that I have seen both the Stanley automobile and the Stanley hotel. Both are fascinating. Someday I would like to visit the museum in Kingfield, Maine as I am very interested in the history of the Stanley family. They have made remarkable contributions to many facets of American history.

Jay Leno owns a 1909 Model R Stanley Roadster, and I have included his video of how to start one of these automobiles.  It's very interesting.  I hope you enjoy the video.  I found it pretty interesting.  The video is quite lengthy, but it illustrates how long it actually takes to get the automobile ready to drive.  You will definitely see why the combustion engine became the choice for automobiles.  This video was by far the easiest information to understand that was available on the internet for the Stanley Steamer automobile.  







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Comments (1)

An interesting example of competing technologies in a new industry. Hmm. What will be the Stanley Steamers of the Internet age?