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AUTOMOBILES ON VIEW.

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

AUTOMOBILES ON VIEW.

The New York Times
January 28, 1900


Features of Some Horseless Carriages Exhibited at the Bicycle Show.

The exhibition that has attracted thousands to Madison Square Garden during the past week did not bring them to the vast amphitheatre for the purpose of examining the bicycles exclusively.  As a matter of fact, the show of automobile vehicles of every description was the strongest feature of the week, and hundreds examined the mechanism of horseless carriages with great care and minuteness, while but a casual glance was given to the bicycle, with all of its up-to-date improvements.

There were all kninds of motors as well as shapes of vehicles, and the difference between the gasoline, naphtha, electric, and other motors was the subject of anxious inquiry on the part of interested spectators.  Each of the various salesmen in turn glibly attempted to convince every prospective purchaser that his particular motor was the only reliable one.

"Useless carriage" was the humorous term applied to an automobile by one of the spectators who strolled past the stand of one of the exhibitors.  Upon being asked to qualify his remarks, he replied that he meant "horseless," and then further explained by saying they were doubtless "useless" when the electricity did not work.

A feature of one of the gasoline automobiles on exhibition is an arrangement by which no water is used in its operation, gasoline only being employed, there being no carburettor present.  There is a compensating rear axle for turning corners and an equalizing front axle for uneven roads.  The motor can be attached to any carriage body, for the reason that no machinery is used in the body of the vehicle.  There is no steering lever in front to interfere with the knees.  There are two steer centres hung on ball bearings, and all of the ball bearings have two rows of balls.  A compound hand brake is used on wood or steel rims.  The truck is made of steel tubing.  Pushing one button rings the bell, another operates the brake, and a third changes the speed.  The engine is operated by a dry battery and is self-oiling.

Another motor that has attracted a goodly amount of attention is propelled by a storage battery.  The storage battery is a number of lead plates placed in a rubber cell and submerged in acid.  The current is led from the batteries to a controller, and from the controller to the motor.  The controller is practically a number of small switches operated by a single lever.  In going ahead the lever is pushed ahead, thus closing a certain number of switches which group the batteries, allowing a small amount of current to the motor.  Pushing the controller ahead into the second notch groups the cells differently, allowing a greater amount of current to flow, and consequently increasing the speed.  On the reverse, the direction of the current on the motors is simply changed, which causes it to run in an opposite direction, by the same handle on the controller.  Steering is done by a handle that comes within reach of the hand, which is simply pushed backward and forward.  The brake is operated by the foot, and is generally what is called a band brake.  The carriages are generally perfectly noiseless, and there is absolutely no vibration, because the motor is of rubber.

An advantage claimed for the electric automobile is the absence of smoke or smell; but this is offset, in the opinion of many enthusiastic automobilists, by the fact that the fuel for a gasoline or a naphtha carriage can be replenished at any place in the country at a low rate, while if the storage battery of an electric vehicle is exhausted, the operator is practically helpless.



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