Thursday, July 19, 2012

Moore's Steam Car

Sir Walter Scott is known to have been interested in steam powered rail transportation.   About a month before Scott was born, there was an invention of a steam powered carriage, which took a test run on July 19th, 1771.  The carriage sported 15’ wheels.   The inventor was Francis Moore, who is basically unknown after this point in history.  From James Burnley’s “The Romance of Modern Industry”:

‘…But wheels themselves, apart from any application of steam, have a history ; and, in the multitude of their present variety, they have a decidedly independent mission in mechanical life. Wheeled conveyances, however, underwent very little development from the period of the ancient chariot to the era of stage coaches. For thousands of years they remained the same in their chief essentials—mere boxes on wheels. It was not until 1555 that the first coach was made in England, but by the middle of the eighteenth century wheels were traversing the country in all directions. This was the stage-coach era, and stage coaches continued to be improved from year to year, until it seemed that the world had really reached its most rapid limit of transport. Just over a century ago large wheeled vehicles were brought out in London, and were referred to in announcements in the papers. One of them was: "On Saturday evening Mr. Moore's new-constructed coach, which is very large and roomy, and is drawn by one horse, carried six persons and driver with amazing ease from Cheapside to the top of Highgate Hill. It came back at the rate of ten miles an hour, passing coaches-and-four and all other carriages it came near on the road." One description of the vehicle was: "Mr. Moore has hung the body, which is like that of a common coach reversed, between two large wheels, nine feet and a half in diameter, and draws it with a horse in shafts. The passengers sit sideways within, and the driver is placed on the top of the coach." George III. is said to have spoken in praise of this remarkable concern. Mr. Moore seems to have studied wheels, for it appears that he made many experiments as to the carrying powers of horses under the varied condition of two or four-wheeled carts. On the 19th of July, 1771, he tested the capacity of a pair of horses, which drew upon a two-wheeled cart twenty-six sacks of coal from Mr. Paiba's wharf in Thames Street to Mr. Moore's house in Cheapside, and repeated this four times in succession. Twice as many horses, he maintained, would have been required to do the same with a cart of ordinary construction. But what sort of a vehicle was Mr. Moore's "cart"? It certainly would be a grotesque sight in the present day to see such a machine ambling along the thoroughfare towering high above the quadruped supposed to be "drawing" it. "Mr. Moore's new invented coal carriage, the wheels of which are fifteen, feet high, passed through the streets attended by a great concourse of people. Two horses abreast drew two chaldrons and two sacks of coals with more ease and expedition than the common carts do one chaldron with three horses at length." Here, again, "the. coal-carriage was tried on Friday evening with thirty-one sacks, making two chaldrons and a half, drawn by two horses only to the foot of Holborn Hill, when a third was put to it to help them up the hill. This they performed with as much ease as one chaldron is commonly done by three horses." With this last performance Mr. Moore seems to have retired, as we can glean nothing more of his experiments, or of the development of his extraordinary notions…’

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