The 1896 DURYEA
America's first production
A full size reproduction project
is in the works. All the
documentation I have found.
The 1895 DURYEA. Close up's of the
chassis running gear, wheels, axle, frame.
The 1895 DURYEA. More Close up's of the
chassis, running gear, wheels, axle, frame,
engine ? From The HFMuseum.
Providence-RI  Horseless--Carriage-1896-Race
1895 Duryea far right.
Patent Drawing C. E. Duryea June 11
This (Above) replica is built of similar materials as the original. The same
technology, machine and fabrication methods of the late 1800s were used,
resulting in a vehicle that runs, looks, and sounds like the real antique it
The single cylinder engine consists of two gray iron castings, one for the
cylinder and the other for the main bearing support. The cylinder bore is 4' and
the stroke is 7', resulting in a total of 106 cubic inches of cylinder displacement.
The carburetor is a modified brass valve with a venturi, main jet, needle valve
and choke plate. The ignition is generated from a battery and buzz coil under the
seat. The engine rpm is controlled by advancing or retarding the spark at the
timer, which is actuated by the exhaust valve cam, 30 degree retard to 40
degree advance results in 300 to 1100 rpm range respectively. The intake valve
is of the atmospheric or 'automatic' type.
The gas tank holds two gallons and the water tank holds three gallons. Both are
made of copper, riveted and soldered.      The frame is made of 1 x angle iron
and all joints are cold riveted. The power transmission is via flat belt primary,
also serving as the clutch, then to the three-speed transmission also having
reverse, then finally to the drive axle by #50 chain.
The wheels are of artillery type and made in the Amish wheel factory at
Holmesville, Ohio.  Steering is by a tiller with king pins and tie rods at the
spindles. The brakes are internal expanding mechanical working on the counter
Specifications: Bore: 4.25', Stroke: 7.50',
Cubic Inches: 106,
Compression Ratio: 3:1;
Horsepower: 5 @ 750 rpm;
Weight: 1100 lbs.;
Top Speed: 16 mph;
Wheel Dia. Front: 34' rear 46';
Wheel Base: 64' Trac 54'; Length 105';
mpg: 15-16.
Built by Sam Silket, 68 Etling Avenue,
Barberton, Ohio 44203. Phone 330-753-0685.
-Photo-e--bay from
Duryea-1898 Duryea Gas Engine US
Patent Brochure sold by
Brochure sold by
After much rebuilding, Charles and Frank Duryea constructed their first
successful vehicle.

John W. Russell  Sons Company in Springfield shop where the the first Duryea
was built and machined in during 1892-3
Frank, working alone, then began work on a second vehicle having a two-
cylinder engine.

Summer 1895
Sufficient capital was attracted to form the Duryea Motor Wagon Company in
which both brothers were among the stockholders and directors.

November 28, 1895
After formation of the company, this second automobile was entered by the
company in the Chicago Times-Herald automobile race on Thanksgiving Day,  
where Frank Duryea as driverwon a victory.
During next year Frank, as engineer in charge of design and construction,
completed the plans begun earlier for a more powerful automobile.

(The Duryea Motor Wagon Company on November 28, 1895 in Chicago, their
vehicle, driven by brother Frank, had won America's first car race. It ran to
Evanston, Illinois and back. The only other finisher was one of three Benz cars
mostly made in Germany.

After Frank won, demand grew for the Duryea Motor Wagon.

The Duryea Brothers produced 13 cars by hand – in their garage at 47 Taylor
Street --Some sources say "at the old Industrial school"–
and thus Duryea became
the first-ever commercially produced vehicle, and also the largest automobile
factory in the United States. )
The thirteen identical automobiles, the first example of "mass production" in
American Automotive history.

Duryea family homestead garage at 47 Taylor Street Springfield built the 13 first
and only 1896?

October of 1896.
While these cars were under construction Frank was planning a lighter vehicle,
one of which was completed in October of 1896.

November 14, 1896
This machine (the lighter one) was driven to another victory by Frank Duryea  
when he competed in the Liberty-Day Run from London to Brighton England.

Fall of 1898,
Frank arranged for the sale of his and Charles' interest in the company, and
thereafter the brothers pursued separate careers. And so ends my interest in
the 1895/1896 Duryea and its inventive eccentricities. "You must conform to sell
Workmen in the Duryea factory in Springfield, Mass.,
working on some of the thirteen 1896 motor wagons.
(Smithsonian photo 44062.)
United States Patent Office.



SPECIFICATION forming part of Letters Patent No. 540,648, dated June 11, 1895.

Application filed April 30, 1894. Serial No. 509,466. (No model.)

To all whom it may concern:

Be it known that I, Charles E. Duryea, a citizen of the United States, residing at Peoria, in
the county of Peoria and State of Illinois, have invented new and useful Improvements in
Road-Vehicles, of which the following is a specification.

The object of this invention is to produce a road vehicle which shall be self-propelled, not
unduly heavy, simple and easy of control and comparatively inexpensive, together with
such minor objects as will become hereinafter apparent.

The invention more particularly relates to the construction and arrangement of parts for
constituting the driving gearing and to the means for controlling the action thereof; to an
improved manner of mounting the front, or steering, wheels upon the front axle, and of
mounting the said axle relative to the running gear frame, and to the means for effecting
the steering; to the appliances for the support of the motor and driving mechanism in an
advantageous and efficient manner, and, generally, to improved and simplified details of
construction throughout the vehicle, all as will hereinafter be rendered more apparent,
and the invention consists in constructions and combinations of parts, all substantially as
will hereinafter fully appear and be set forth in the claims.

Reference is to be had to the accompanying drawings, in which—

Figure 1 is a sectional elevation from front to rear of the improved road-vehicle. Fig. 2 is a
plan view of the running and driving gear, the vehicle-body being understood as removed.
Fig. 3 is a front elevation of the vehicle. Fig. 4 is a perspective view of the support and
suspension devices for the driving mechanism. Fig. 5 is a vertical sectional view,
longitudinally, through the shiftable driving-gear, the controlling devices employed in
conjunction with this mechanism being seen in side elevation. Figs. 6 and 7 show the
above-mentioned controlling devices as in operative relations differing the one from the
other and also from that of Fig. 5.

Similar letters of reference indicate corresponding parts in all of the views.

The parts will now be described in detail with reference to said drawings, and A
represents the body which is spring supported on the frame, B, of the running gear. This
frame, as shown, is rectangular, and has the body-supporting springs, B2, similar to those
found in common carriages. This frame has, affixed thereto, at its rear ends, sleeves, a, a,
which loosely embrace the rear wheel axle, D, which is the driven axle of the vehicle. The
axle, E, for the front wheels is centrally secured to the running gear frame, B, by the
horizontal king-bolt, b, whereby such axle may have a swinging movement relative to the
frame in a vertical plane, but it has no swinging movement horizontally, the wheels being
swivel-mounted on the ends of this axle peculiarly, as will shortly hereinafter be set forth.

The body, as shown, is in the form of an inverted box, the motor, H, and driving gear being
accommodated within the downwardly opening inclosure constituted thereby, and the body
also has the upwardly open box-like forward extension, or pit, A2, for the accommodation
of the feet of the rider, the rider's seat being constituted by the top forward portion of the
box body. Some other suitable design of body may, of course, be used in lieu of this one

The front wheels, d, d, are hung to the front axle, E, so that the center of each wheel base
is in a line coincident with the axis of the pivotal connection which is provided between the
journals for the wheels and the axle, which arrangement practically destroys any tendency
to deflection from the course that might otherwise arise from striking an obstacle, and so
renders the steering easier. In order to effect this the axle is formed with yoked ends, the
yoke members, f, f, being above and below the longitudinal line of the axle. The short
journal, g, shown for each wheel, has at its inner end an upwardly and downwardly
extended arm, h, which is return-bent to be loosely embraced by the axle yoke, f, f. The
cone pointed screws, c, passed through the yoke members, f, and into sockets therefor in
the arms, h, of the journals, g, constitute the means for the swivel connection between said
parts. The lock-nuts, c2, manifestly, are employed with utility in this connection.

It will be perceived that inasmuch as in the arrangement shown, the pivotal connections

January 18, 1894, was a day of triumph for Frank Duryea. Writing Charles about his success the next day he
said, "Took out carriage again last night and gave it another test about 9 o'clock." The only difficulty he
mentioned was a slight irregularity in the engine, caused by the tiny leather pad in the exhaust-valve
mechanism falling out.[35] Speaking of this trip, Frank recalled in 1956:

When I got this car ready to run one night, I took it out and I had a young fellow with me; I thought I might need
him to help push in case the car didn't work.... We ran from the area of the shop where it was built down on
Taylor Street. We started out and ran up Worthington Street hill,[36] on top of what you might call "the Bluff" in
Springfield. Then we drove along over level roads from there to the home of Mr. Markham who lived with his
son-in-law, Will Bemis, and there we refilled this tank with water. [At this point he was asked if it was pretty well
emptied by then.] Yes, I said in my account of it that when we got up there the water was boiling furiously. Well,
no doubt it was. We refilled it and then we turned it back and drove down along the Central Street hill and along
Maple, crossed into State Street, dropped down to Dwight, went west along Dwight to the vicinity where we had
a shed that we could put the car in for the night. During that trip we had run, I think, just about six miles, maybe
a little bit more. That was the first trip with this vehicle. It was the first trip of anything more than a few hundred
yards that the car had ever made.
Now Frank could give demonstration rides with the motor carriage, hoping to encourage more investors to back
future work. Cautious Mr. Markham finally got his ride, though Frank had to assure him that the engine of the
brakeless vehicle would hold them back on any hill they would descend. The carriage on which he had spent so
many hours was to see little use after that. Its total mileage is probably less than a hundred miles. Little
additional work is known to have been performed on the carriage after January 1894; there is, however, a letter
[37] Frank sent his brother on January 19 which tells of contemplated muffler improvements. Another message
was dispatched to Charles on March 22, mentioning the good performance of the phaeton on Harrison Avenue
hill.[38] This was possibly the last run of the machine, for no further references have been discovered.

Frank spent the months of February and March in preparing drawings, some of which accompanied their first
patent application,[39] while others were to be used in the construction of an improved, 2-cylinder carriage.
Work on the new machine started in April. The old phaeton, in the absence of used-car lots, was put into
storage in the Bemis barn.[40] Later, on the formation of the Duryea Motor Wagon Company in 1895, it was
removed to the barn of D. A. Reed, treasurer of the company.[41] There it remained until 1920, when it was
obtained by Inglis M. Uppercu and presented to the U.S. National Museum.


For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
Washington, D.C. 20402—Price 30 cents

[1] S. H. Oliver, Automobiles and Motorcycles in the U.S. National Museum (U.S. National Museum Bulletin 213,
Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1957), p. 24.

[2] G. R. Doyle, The World's Automobiles (London: Temple Press Limited, 1959), p. 67.

[3] Recorded interview with Frank Duryea in the U.S. National Museum, November 9, 1956.

[4] Charles Duryea's statement to Springfield Daily Republican, April 14, 1937.

[5] Frank Duryea, America's First Automobile (Springfield, Mass.: Donald Macaulay, 1942), p. 4.

[6] Letter from Charles Duryea to Alfred Reeves, March 25, 1920; copy in Museum files.

[7] History notes dictated by Charles E. Duryea in the office of David Beecroft, editor of Automobile Trade Journal,
on January 10, 1925. Copy in Museum files. Hereinafter, these notes are referred to as "history."

[8] Frank Duryea in statement made to the Senate Committee on Public Administration of Massachusetts, February
9, 1952.

[9] Duryea, op. cit. (footnote 5), p. 6.

[10] Copy of contract in Museum files.

[11] Affidavit of William Rattman, March 19, 1943, states that the Russell ledgers give that date.

[12] Recorded interview with Frank Duryea in U.S. National Museum, November 6, 1957.

[13] Letter from Frank Duryea to David Beecroft, November 15, 1924; copy in Museum files.

[14] Letter from Charles Duryea to C. W. Mitman, March 21, 1922; copy in Museum files.

[15] See "history" (footnote 7), p. 6.

[16] Duryea, op. cit. (footnote 5), p. 8.

[17] Copy of letter in Museum files.

[18] Duryea, op. cit. (footnote 5), p. 12.

[19] Letter from Frank Duryea to Charles Duryea, November 3, 1893, states that the engine could be run at 700 as
well as 500 rpm. Copy in Museum files.

[20] Duryea, op. cit. (footnote 5), p. 14. Also in letter from Charles Duryea to C. W. Mitman, January 11, 1922; copy
in Museum files.

[21] Letter from Charles Duryea to C. W. Mitman, January 11, 1922; also letter from Frank Duryea to David
Beecroft, November 15, 1924. Copies in Museum files.

[22] Letter from Charles Duryea to F. A. Taylor, December 5, 1936, says he "thought" they had five teeth. Copy in
Museum files.

[23] Frank later wrote his brother, January 1894, that he fixed the tank so it would not draw sediment from the
bottom. Copy of letter in Museum files.

[24] The number of mufflers Frank Duryea constructed is not known. He wrote Charles, December 22, 1893, that he
"will try a new muffler also."

[25] Selden Patent Evidence, vol. 9, p. 110.

[26] See "history" (footnote 7), p. 2. Charles wrote, "Some parts of these [referring to the batteries], like the jars, I
had on hand for six or eight years, and did not need to buy."

[27] Ibid., p. 15.

[28] Ibid., p. 15

[29] Frank stated in this letter that the friction drum originally had two belts, forward and reverse, but since they
tended to foul each other, he removed the reverse belt and left the other to serve for both directions. How the
shipper fork might have handled two belts is not understood.

[30] As actually constructed there are only two gears on the secondary shaft. He obviously discovered that one gear
secured to two clutches would serve for both forward and reverse. Space was also limited.

[31] Recorded interview with Frank Duryea in U.S. National Museum, November 9, 1956.

[32] Letter from Frank Duryea to Charles Duryea, November 8, 1893. Copy in Museum files.

[33] Frank Duryea, in a recorded interview in the U.S. National Museum on November 6, 1957, said that he believed
these had been purchased from Rochester Rawhide Company.

[34] Letter from Frank Duryea to Charles Duryea, December 22, 1893. Also letter from Frank Duryea to David
Beecroft, November 15, 1924. Copies in Museum files.

[35] Telling of the first use of the car in later days, Frank Duryea mentions the many noises and vibrations that
accompanied the trip: the vibrating tiller, the tinny sounding muffler, the clattering chains. He later reported speeds
of 3 mph in low gear and 8 mph in high gear.

[36] Letter from Frank Duryea to Charles Duryea, Jan. 19, 1894, says they went up hill via Summer and Armor
Streets, then out Walnut to Bemis' at Central Street School.

[37] The letter read: "I have designed a new muffler and we will proceed to make it before long, in a day or two.
Instead of one shell ⅛-inch thick I shall put a shell 11⁄16-inch thick inside another of equal thickness, but about 1
inch greater diameter i.e., one chamber within another so as to cause sound to turn corners to get out. Still another
shell will be added if it prove insufficient, making it turn about again—taking care in each case to give ample room
for expansion—outer one need not be more than 1⁄32 inch possibly. Will let two threaded rods with nuts hold heads
on both or on three cases, if the 3d be essential."

[38] This letter gives further proof that the car never had a brake. Frank said the car came back down the hill with
no brake, but that the engine held the vehicle back.

[39] Duryea, op. cit. (footnote 5), p. 37.

[40] It is possible that a few parts were removed at this time to be used on the two-cylinder car. The muffler may
have been one of these, and even more likely, the governor parts. Charles Duryea wrote to C. W. Mitman December
27, 1921, stating that his younger brother Otho and a Henry Wells had put in a battery and gasoline in 1897 and
started the engine. Because the chains were not on the car they could not attempt to operate it; but the engine ran
too fast, and finally something broke, probably the engine frame, found to be broken during the recent restoration.
Charles thought the engine ran too fast because some of the governor parts were already missing.

[41] Recorded interview with Frank Duryea in the U.S. National Museum, November 9, 1956. On the formation of the
Duryea Motor Wagon Company, Mr. Markham was rewarded for his part of the venture. He had invested nearly
$3000 in the work, and sold out his rights in the company for approximately a $2000 profit.
A drawing and the first page of
the specifications of the first
patent issued to C. E. Duryea.
It can be readily seen that this
drawing was not made after the
plan of the first vehicle.


Springfield Mechanics Devise a New Mode of Travel.

Ingenious Wagon Now Being Made in This City for Which the Makers Claim Great Things.

A new motor carriage, which, if the preliminary tests prove successful as is expected, will
revolutionize the mode of travel on highways, and do away with the horse as a means of
transportation, is being made in this city. It is quite probable that within a short time one may be
able to see an ordinary carriage in almost every respect, running along the streets or climbing
country hills without visible means of propulsion. The carriage is being built by J. F. Duryea, the
designer and B. F. Markham, who have been at work on it for over a year. The vehicle was
designed by C. E. Duryea, a bicycle manufacturer of Peoria, Ill., and he communicated his
scheme to his brother, who is a practical machanic in this city.

The propelling power is furnished by a two-horse power gasoline motor situated near the rear
axle and which, when started, runs continuously to the end of the trip, notwithstanding the
number of times the carriage may be stopped. The speed of the motor is uniform, being about
500 revolutions a minute, and is so arranged that it gives a multiplied power for climbing hills
and the lower the rate of speed the greater power is furnished by the motor. The slowest that the
carriage can be driven is three miles an hour and the speed can be increased to fourteen or
fifteen miles an hour. The power is transferred from the driving wheel of the motor, which runs
horizontally with the main shaft by an endless friction belt running on a drum wheel. The belt is
controlled by a lever within easy reach of the driver and is shifted along the drum wheel to
increase or decrease the speed. The driving wheel is about twenty inches in diameter, having in
its center a depression to which the belt is shifted to stop the carriage.

The carriage can be reversed by shifting the belt from the end of the drum, which gives the
forward motion to the opposite side beyond the depression in the driving wheel. The power
which has been transferred to the driving shaft from the motor is in turn transferred to the two
rear wheels of the carriage by a combination gear and sprockets. An endless chain connects the
sprockets on the carriage wheels to the sprocket wheels on the driving shaft. All of the motive
power is located under the body of an ordinary phaeton, the hight of which is not increased by
the machinery. The motor is started by a crank which is easily applied to a shaft in the rear of the
carriage and the gasoline is ignited in the cylinder by electricity. An automatic device stops the
flow of gasoline into the cylinder when the motor ceases running. The gasoline is carried in
tanks, which hold about two gallons, and which will run the carriage for about eight hours. The
wagon is guided by a bicycle bar, and the speed is also controlled by this bar.

The method employed in this is as follows: To start the carriage press the lever down; to reverse
it throw the lever up and to guide the wagon turn the lever either to the right or left. The front axle
instead of turning horizontally plays up and down, in order that the machinery may be on a level
with the rear wheels, while the front wheels are set on the axle by a pivotal joint and are
connected with the guiding lever by bars with ball bearings. The carriage complete weighs about
220 pounds, and the essential features are already covered by patents while others are pending.

It is estimated that the carriages can be sold for about $400, and a stock company will probably
be formed to manufacture them.
Cam bar in foreground, operated by tiller,
actuates the various clutches of the transmission. The overflow gasoline tank
with the hand pump can be seen in the rear.
Half of Jackshaft, showing rawhide gears,
double shrouded pinion and half of
the Columbia differential.
Half of Jackshaft showing double-shrouded
pinion and half of the Columbia differential.
Admittance card of C. E. Duryea to the U.S. Patent Office, 1887.
(Gift of Rhea Duryea Johnson.)
That same day, March 28, Charles found working space and machinery available at John
W. Russell & Sons Company in Springfield.[11]  
The Russells had recently completed a large government order of shells for the famous
dynamite guns later used on board the cruiser Vesuvius in the Spanish-American War, and
this left an entire second floor, approximately 35 × 85 feet, virtually unoccupied, according
to an affidavit of William J. Russell of April 30, 1926. Now ready to begin the actual work,
Charles hired his brother Frank to start construction. Frank started about the first of April,
receiving a raise of about 10 percent over the salary he had received at Ames. Before the
vehicle was completed a number of other men performed work on some of the parts, among
them William Deats who had been hired by Charles primarily to work on [Pg 10]  bicycles in
the same area, but who occasionally assisted on the carriage. Russell Company records
show time charged against Charles Duryea by six other Russell employees: W. J. Russell,
P. Colgan, C. E. Merrick, T. Shea, L. J. Parmelee, and A. A. Poissant.

It is Frank Duryea's remembrance that he started work on Monday, April 4. He first removed
the body, with its springs, and placed it on a pair of wooden horses where it remained until
the summer of the following year. The next step was to remove the rear axle and take it to a
blacksmith shop where the old axle spindles were cut off and welded to a new drop-center
axle. Following this the front axle spindles were removed, the ends of the axle slotted, and a
webbed, C-shaped piece carrying the kingpin bearings was fitted into each slot, braced
from underneath by short brackets which were riveted and brazed in place. The old spindles
then were welded to the center of offset kingpins which in turn were mounted in their
bearings in a manner similar to that in which the frame of the Columbia high-wheeled
bicycle was mounted in its fork. Arms welded to the lower end of the kingpins were
connected by the tie rods to an arm on the lower end of the vertical steering column, located
on the center of the axle.

While work on the running gear advanced, some progress was made in the construction of
the engine.[Pg 11] Patterns for the castings were fabricated, most of them by Charles
Marshall on Taylor Street,[12] and castings were poured. The body or main casting of the
engine resembled a length of cast-iron pipe: it had no bosses or lugs cast on, nor any water
jacket, for they thought the engine would be kept cool merely by being placed in the open
air. The front end of the engine was secured to the vehicle by four bolts which passed
through the halves of the bearings and onto four projections on the open end of the engine.
As the crankshaft of this engine was retained in constructing the present engine, it is logical
to assume that the bearings were the same also. The head was cast as a thick disc, with
both intake and exhaust valves located therein, and was bolted onto the flanged head end
of the engine.

Inside the cylinder was the strange arrangement previously suggested by C. E. Hawley. To
the connecting rod was attached a rather ordinary ringed piston, over which was fitted a
free, ringless piston, machined to fit closely the cylinder bore. This floating piston could
move freely a distance equal to the compression space. The intention was that on the
intake stroke, suction would open the intake valve, which had no positive opening
arrangement, and draw in the mixture which then was compressed as in a regular Otto
engine. Fired by the hot-tube ignition system, the force of the explosion would drive both
pistons down, forcing the outer one tight against the head of the smaller one, and at the end
of the stroke the longer wall of the outer piston would strike an arm projecting into the
cylinder near the open end, moving forward the exhaust valve rod to which the arm was
attached, thus pushing open the valve in the head.[13] On the exhaust stroke the
unrestrained outer piston moved all the way to the head, expelling all of the products of
combustion and pushing the exhaust valve shut again. With a bore of four inches or less,
this engine, Charles believed, should develop about three horsepower and run at a speed
between 350 to 400 revolutions per minute.[14]

As no ignition system had yet been provided, they prepared a 4½-inch length of one-quarter
inch iron pipe, closed at one end, and screwed the open end into the head. Heating this
tube with an alcohol burner would cause ignition of the mixture when a portion of it was
forced into the heated tube toward the end of the compression stroke. No attempt was
made at this time to use the electrical make-and-break circuit used in their second engine,
as the free piston would have wrecked the igniter parts on the exhaust stroke, and the push
rod located on the end of the piston would have prevented the piston from closing the
exhaust valve.

After keying the flywheel to the lower end of the crankshaft, Charles and Frank decided to
make an [Pg 12]attempt to run the engine. Carrying it into a back room, probably during July
or August, 1892, they blocked it up on horses. A carburetor had not yet been constructed,
so they attempted to start the engine by spinning the flywheel by hand, at the same time
spraying gasoline through the intake valve with a perfume atomizer previously purchased at
a drugstore in the Massasoit House. Repeated efforts of the two men to start the engine
resulted in failure.

portion of the Russell shop
records showing charges made against
Charles Duryea during 1893-1894

In the belief that the defects, whatever they might be, could be remedied after the engine
was installed, the Duryeas went ahead and mounted the engine in the carriage. To do this
they shortened the original reach of the carriage, allowing the engine itself to become the
rear continuation of the reach. The four ears on the front, or open end of the engine, were
bolted to the centrally located frame, with the bearing blocks in between. This frame, the
same one now in the vehicle, was constructed of two pieces of angle iron, riveted and
brazed together. Greater rigidity was obtained by a number of half-inch iron rods running
from the frame to both front and rear axles. Because of the absence of any mounting
brackets on the engine casting itself, a wooden block with a trough on top to receive the
body of the engine was fitted between the engine and the axle, while two U-shaped rods
secured it with clip bars and nuts underneath.

Beneath the flywheel was mounted the friction transmission of Charles' design. This
consisted of a large drum, perhaps 12 inches in diameter, equal in length to the diameter of
the flywheel and keyed to a shaft directly under the center of the crankshaft and parallel to
the axles. (Diameter of drum estimated by examination of existing features.) In view of the
four projections of the frame extending downward and just in front of the jackshaft position,
it is likely that these supported the four jackshaft bearings. Being a bicycle manufacturer,
Charles saw the need for a differential or balance gear. Accordingly, he purchased from the
Pope Manufacturing Company a very light unit of the type formerly used on Columbia
tricycles, and installed it somewhere on the jackshaft. A small sprocket on each end of the
shaft carried a chain from the larger sprockets clamped to the spokes of each rear wheel.
The lower surface of the flywheel had been machined so as to form a friction disc, with a
one-quarter inch depression 3 inches in diameter turned in the center. The drum was
positioned so that its upper surface was one-quarter inch below the face of the flywheel.
Hanging loosely around the drum was an endless belt, one and one-half inches wide, first
made of rather soft rubber packing material. The belt lay on the drum surface between the
fingers of a shipper fork. While it lay under the 3-inch depression in the center of the
flywheel, the belt and the drum were at rest, but when it was moved away from that
depression the belt wedged itself tightly between the drum and flywheel, the resulting
friction causing the drum to turn and setting the vehicle into motion. The farther the belt was
moved toward the outer edge of the wheel, the faster the drum and the vehicle moved.

In September 1892, Charles, who had contracted with a Peoria, Illinois, firm to have bicycle
parts manufactured, decided to move to that city. Departing on the 22d of September, he
did not return to Springfield for over two years, and thus was not able to participate in the
completion and testing of the[Pg 13] carriage. At the time of his departure several units on
the carriage were incomplete. A carburetor had not been built, nor had a satisfactory burner
or belt-shifting device. Charles had experimented with various shifting levers just before
leaving Springfield: however, as he reported later, he did not succeed in designing a
workable mechanism.[15] Frank Duryea, now left to finish the work unassisted, continued
the experiments with the belt shifter. He finally worked out a fork mounted on a carriage that
was supported by two rods, each of which slid in two bearings. Although the short distance
between the two bearings caused the shifter carriage to bind occasionally, the device was
thought to be sufficient and was installed just in front of the frame. Connected to a system of
cables, arms, and rods, possibly similar to the present cam-bar shifter, the shipper-fork
carriage was moved from side to side by raising or lowering the tiller.

Turning now to an efficient burner for heating the ignition tube, Frank started with an
ordinary wick-type kerosene lamp with a small metal tank. Wishing to use gasoline in the
lamp, he found it necessary to fabricate a number of burner units before he found a type
that gave him a clean blue flame. He then found the flame to be very sensitive to drafts and
easily extinguished, and devised a small shield or chimney to afford it some protection.

Early in October, while still working with the burner, Frank developed a severe headache.
He felt the fumes of the lamp had probably caused it, and went to his room in the home of a
Mr. and Mrs. Patrick on Front Street in Chicopee. After he noticed no improvement, a
doctor's examination showed he had typhoid fever, and on October 5 he was admitted to
the Springfield Hospital. Here he remained for one month, being discharged on November
5. Returning to his room he was informed that because of the fear that he might be a
typhoid carrier, the Patricks preferred him to find other lodgings. He readily accepted the
invitation of Mr. and Mrs. D. H. Nesbitt of Chicopee to take a room with them. After several
weeks recuperation in their home, he left Springfield to visit his mother in Wyoming, Illinois.

After a restful visit at home Frank Duryea returned to Springfield and finished the work on
his burner. Now only the lack of a carburetor prevented a trial of the vehicle. He recalls that
he studied several gasoline-engine catalogs and in one of them, a Fairbanks catalog he
believes,[16] he saw a design that seemed to suit his needs. He decided to simplify the
construction and operation of his carburetor and had a small bronze casting made to form
the body of it. Inside was a gasoline chamber with two tapped openings, one to receive a
pipe from the 2-gallon gasoline tank mounted above the engine, the other taking a pipe to
the overflow tank underneath the engine, thus maintaining the gasoline level without the
use of a float valve. This latter tank had a hand pump on one end so that the overflow
gasoline could at times be pumped again into the main tank. Gasoline passed from the
carburetor chamber through a needle valve, adjusted by a knob on top, then through a tiny
tube that entered the pipe leading to the intake valve. It is not certain whether this intake
pipe was at first fitted with the choke arrangement later used with the second engine.

Frank, hoping at last to be rewarded for his efforts by the sound of explosions from the
engine, was ready to give the carriage an indoor trial. Standing astraddle of the reach and
facing to the rear, he spun the flywheel with both hands, taking care not to get his hands
caught between the wheel and the frame. His efforts were in vain, as there was complete
failure to obtain ignition. He then made a new ignition tube, nearly twice as long as the
original 4-½-inch tube, and turned down its wall as thin as he thought safety allowed. The
thinner wall did not conduct the heat off so rapidly and thus kept the tube hot enough to
permit ignition. After this slight change, he was able to get a few occasional explosions but
he does not now believe that the engine ever operated continuously. Each explosion was
accompanied by a [Pg 14]loud knock, due, undoubtedly, to the movement of the free piston.
Had the engine operated continuously, it is likely that the action of the free piston would
have shortly wrecked the engine. Further efforts appeared unwarranted until alterations
could be made.

The two pistons were first pinned together into a single unit which was probably ring less,
since it is believed the walls of the outer piston were too thin to admit rings. Because the
piston no longer struck the exhaust valve, a short rod had to be screwed into the piston
head; this pushed the valve shut at the completion of the exhaust stroke. The remaining
problem, the opening of the exhaust valve, was solved by screwing a device to the side of
the cylinder which operated from the side wise motion of the connecting rod. This device
shifted a small spacer between the piston and the striker arm of the exhaust-valve rod,
permitting the piston to push open the exhaust valve. On alternating strokes the spacer
shifted back out of the cylinder; therefore, no contact was made between piston and striker
arm. Sometime in February 1893, the altered engine was successfully started.

At last the transmission could be tested. Will Russell had come upstairs to watch the trial,
and according to a statement by him, given April 30, 1926, Frank, standing to the right of the
engine and behind the rear axle, reached forward and with the combination tiller-belt-shifter,
moved the belt into driving position. The carriage started forward, but as it approached the
wall of the building Frank discovered that he could not get the belt back into the neutral
position. In desperation, he grasped the rear axle with both hands and was dragged a short
distance, attempting to stop the machine, before it struck the wall. He had, however,
sufficiently retarded it so that no damage was done.

This short trial demonstrated some of the weaknesses in the friction transmission. Since the
speed of the surface of the flywheel, in feet per second, increased in proportion to the
distance of the point of contact from the center, the outer edge of the belt attempted to run
faster than the inner edge. This conflict of forces not only put an undue load on the motor
causing a great loss of power, but it also created a tendency for the belt to work towards the
outer edge of the flywheel. Conversely, when the operator desired to return the belt to
neutral, it strongly resisted any efforts to slide it toward the center of the wheel, as Frank
had learned from the wall-bumping incident. Furthermore, the rubber belt on the friction
drum had worn so badly that it had to be replaced at least once during the brief experiments.

Figure 18.—Ignition chamber, switch,
and breaker contacts of the present Duryea engine.At this point, Frank and Markham felt
that the carriage was anything but satisfactory. While they were trying to decide what steps
should be taken next, Frank added one last improvement to the engine. Fearing that the
uncooled cylinder might suffer damage from the excessive heat, he constructed a copper
water jacket in two halves, drew them together around the cylinder with clamping rings and
soldered the seams. Asbestos packing sealed the end joints where the jacket contacted the
cylinder. Thinking back, Frank does not recall that he ever used a water tank with this
engine, though he does remember adding water through the upper jacket opening. The
engine was run only for a few brief periods following this addition.

Obviously this collection of patchwork could not fulfill their needs for an engine. First, it
would be next to impossible to start if the body was placed on the running gear, as the
flywheel then would be practically inaccessible. The absence of rings on the piston caused
a further loss of power to the already overloaded engine. The flywheel was too light. The
absence of any form of governor left the operator with no control over the engine speed.
Ignition was poor, partly owing to the hot-tube arrangement, and partly to the excessive
distance between the engine and the carburetor. Frank wrote his brother Charles on
February 6[17] that in his opinion the mixing chamber was so far from the engine that the
gasoline could not be drawn into the cylinder as liquid, and it was too cold to vaporize and
go in as gas. Thus he had difficulty in getting the engine started. When it did start the
explosions were unmuffled. Less important to him than these defects, however, was the
awkward and unsightly wooden engine mount

Description of the Automobile
Sometime in the early part of March, Frank convinced Markham that he could construct a
new and practical engine, using only previously tried mechanical principles.[18] Drawing up
new plans for this engine, he took them to Charles Marshall who began work on the
patterns for the new engine castings. After the patterns had been delivered to the foundry,
Frank left Springfield for a short vacation in Groton, Connecticut, where he visited with his
fiancée. On May 17, 1893, several weeks after his return to Springfield, they were married.

The engine castings were undoubtedly received from the foundry prior to Frank Duryea's
marriage, and the work of machining and assembling the parts went on through the spring
and summer. This engine, still on the carriage in the Museum of History and Technology, is
cased with a water jacket, and has bases on top to support the front and rear bearings of
the starting crankshaft, and a base with port on the upper right side where the exhaust-
valve housing was to be bolted. On the underside are two flanges, forming a base for
seating the engine on the axle. A separate combustion chamber is cast and bolted to the
head. Inside this chamber are located the igniter parts of Frank's electric ignition system.
The fixed part, an insulated electrode, is screwed into the right side of the chamber and is
connected with the ignition switch outside, to which one of the ignition wires is attached. A
breaker arm inside is pinned to a small shaft extending through the top of the chamber.
Around the breaker-arm shaft is a small coil spring (originally a spiral spring, according to
the letter of Charles Duryea shown in fig. 17), anchored below to a thin brass finger
extending toward the right side of the car, and above to a nut screwed tightly onto the shaft.
This nut is also the terminal for the other ignition wire. The action of the spring keeps the
breaker arm and the electrode in constant contact until the push rod on the end of the
piston strikes the arm and separates the two parts. Breaking contact then produces the
ignition spark. Since the mechanism would spark at the end of both the exhaust and
compression strokes, the battery current is conserved by a contact strip, on the underside
of the larger exhaust-valve gear, by means of which the flow of current is cut off during the
greater part of the cycle.

On the left side of the combustion chamber is bolted the housing containing the tiny intake
valve. A comparatively weak spring seats this valve in order that the suction created by the
piston can easily pull it open. Clamped onto the valve housing is the intake pipe, enclosing
the choke and carrying the carburetor on its forward side. The choke consists of two discs
which block the pipe, each with four holes at the edges and one in the center. Turning one
disc by means of a small handle outside, so that the four outer holes cannot coincide with
those in the other disc, decreases the flow of air and causes all air to rush through the
center hole, where the tiny carburetor tube passes through. The present carburetor was
transferred over from the first engine. When Frank later installed the engine on the carriage
he noticed the close proximity of the intake pipe to the open end of the muffler. Believing
that the fumes might choke the engine, he attached a long sheet-metal tube to the intake
pipe so that fresh air would be drawn in from a point farther forward on the vehicle.

Moving to the right side of the engine brings the exhaust-valve assembly into view. This
valve is contained in a casting bolted over the exhaust port in the side of the cylinder, and
from the casting a pipe leads to the muffler underneath. The valve is pushed open by a rod
connected to a crank which is pinned to the lower end of a shaft carrying an iron gear on
top. This gear is in mesh with a fiber gear, keyed to the upper end of the crankshaft, with
half the number of teeth. This ratio permits the opening of the exhaust valve on every other

The crankshaft of the first engine was retained for the new engine, thus giving the two
engines the same stroke of 5-⅜ inches, but the bore was increased slightly to 4⅜ inches.
With this larger bore and with the engine speed increased to 500 rpm, Frank rated this
engine at 4 hp.[19] A heavier flywheel, with a governor resting in the upper recess, was
pressed onto the crankshaft. As the operator of the vehicle had no control over the
carburetor once he climbed into the seat, this governor was necessary to maintain regular
engine speed. Its function was to move a slide on the exhaust-valve unit to prevent the
valve from closing. Thus the engine, with the suction broken, could not draw a charge on
the next revolution. During the recent restoration of this carriage it was found that while [Pg
17]most parts are still intact, nearly all of the governor parts are missing. A description of
them must therefore be based on the recollections of Frank Duryea, along with certain
evidences seen on the engine.

Figure 19.—Under side of exhaust valve mechanism showing electrical contacts that give
spark only on every other revolution.

Just on top of the flywheel, and surrounding the crankshaft, rest two rings, 3⅞ inches in
diameter. Into the opposing surfaces of these rings are cut a series of small inclined planes,
appertinent to each other. On the outer circumference of the upper ring two pins pass
through a pair of lugs mounted in the flywheel, causing the ring to rotate with the flywheel,
yet permitting vertical movement. Underneath, the other ring is allowed to turn slightly when,
by means of two connecting links, the arms of the governor push against them. These two
arms, each constructed like a right angle and pivoted at the apex, are arranged directly
opposite each other far out in the flywheel recess. As a weight on one angle of the arm
presses outward by centrifugal force against a spring, the other angle presses inward
against the connecting link mentioned above. The turning of the lower set of inclined planes
against the fixed set above raises the upper ring and the fork resting on it. The upward
movement of this fork, which is a continuation of an arm pivoted to a bracket midway
between the crankshaft and the slide carrying the exhaust valve stop, causes the other end
of the arm to drop, pulling the slide down with it. In this manner the closing of the exhaust
valve is blocked, preventing the intake of the next charge, and therefore the engine misses
one or more explosions until it slows to its normal speed.

A starting shaft is mounted above the engine casting by a cast-iron bracket on either end.
The front end of the shaft has a bevel gear which is held by a coil spring behind the front
bracket, just out of contact with a bevel gear pressed onto the upper end of the crankshaft.
The short rear portion of the shaft is a tube which slides over the main shaft. Fitting the
removable handcrank to the squared end of the hollow shaft and turning the crank
clockwise, will advance the forward section of shaft through the medium of a pair of inclined
collars. With the bevel gears now engaged the engine may be cranked. When ignition
begins, the inclined collars slide back down each other's surfaces, the shaft is again
shortened, and its bevel gear springs free of the one on the crankshaft.

Figure 20.—Piston and connecting rod of second engine. Screw on rod is where oil is
poured into connecting rod to lubricate wrist pin and crankshaft.

While Frank worked on his engine, he realized that certain parts of the old running gear
would need to be altered or replaced. In view of the heavier and more powerful engine, he
felt the old wheels, probably having compressed band hubs, were inadequate. He procured
a set of new, heavier wheels[20] with Warner-type, cast-iron reinforced hubs. The angle
iron frame, apparently sturdy enough to carry the added weight, was retained, but it was
decided to install a heavier rear axle.[21] The front axle assembly was at first allowed to
remain unchanged, as was the steering apparatus. A short time later when the engine and
friction transmission were bolted in place on the running gear, Frank saw that the rigidity of
the framework had an undesirable effect. When the vehicle passed over any unevenness in
the shop floor, the framework was distorted and caused the jackshaft bearings to bind
tightly enough on the shaft to prevent its being turned by hand. In order to provide the 3-
point suspension necessary to eliminate this distortion, Frank attached the forward parts of
the framework to an extra wooden spring bar, installing between this bar and the front axle a
vertical fifth wheel of the type ordinarily used in a horizontal position in any light carriage.

[Pg 18]Frank next calculated that with the faster running engine the speed of the vehicle
would be about 15 miles an hour, too much for the heavily loaded wheels. As he intended to
make use of the original transmission, he decided to decrease the speed by increasing the
size of the friction drum. He accomplished this by sliding a heavy fiber tube over the original
drum, bringing its diameter to approximately 14 inches. The original shipper fork carriage
was improved by separating the original bearings to a greater distance, and eliminating one
of the two bearings on one end. This permitted a smooth and free operation of the small
sliding carriage.

In August 1893, possibly as a result of indoor experiments, Frank discovered that the chains
running from the small 5-tooth[22] jackshaft sprockets to the large, bronze, wheel sprockets
were tight at some times and loose at others. This caused considerable unnecessary noise.
The difficulty apparently was the result of the sprockets being cast and not machined. The
patternmaker had said he believed he could make the pattern accurately enough so that no
machining of the castings would be necessary. Nice castings were produced, but "these
sprockets were the reason why an unusual construction was put on the crankshaft
[meaning jackshaft]," explained Frank Duryea during an interview at the National Museum
on November 9, 1956. Elaborating further, in reply to the queries of E. A. Battison, of the
Museum's division of engineering, Duryea told of the problem and the solution when he
explained that the sprockets had places where the shrinkage was not even. The hot metal,
contracting as it cooled, did not seem to contract uniformly, creating slightly unequal
distances between teeth. This resulted in the chain hanging quite loose in some places and
in others the tightness prevented adjustment. He contacted Will Russell, foreman of the
Russell shop, where the automobile was made, and Russell showed him a device, built by
George Warwick, who had made the Warwick bicycle. It was an internal-cut gear, according
to Duryea's description, with sprocket teeth on its periphery. With sprockets outside and
normal teeth inside, the wheels were about 6 inches in diameter, externally.

These little internal-gear sprockets were hung on double-shrouded pinions secured to each
end of the jackshaft. A solid disc or housing fitted against both ends of the pinion to prevent
the internal gear from working off sideways. Duryea explained the function of these unique
little parts: "as soon as tension came on that ring gear that we talked about, it not only
tightened the chain hanging on this sprocket on the upper side, but it tightened it on both
sides. [The sprocket] rocks right out: both sides of the chain are tight."

This feature is one rarely encountered elsewhere, and Duryea, later in the interview said,
"To tell you the truth, I think I was just a little bit ashamed about the thing, because I had to
pull it off. I didn't like the looks of it after I got it on."

Two small tanks, each with a capacity of approximately two gallons, were mounted over the
engine in the positions they still occupy, the one on the left for gasoline,[23] the other for
water. The small fitting under the gasoline tank has a thumbscrew shutoff and a glass-sight
feed tube, leading to the carburetor. The water tank, an inch longer than the gasoline tank,
communicates with the water jacket of the engine through two pieces of half-inch pipe,
entering the jacket from above and below. The overflow tank, holding just over a gallon, is
suspended between the rear axle and the flywheel.

A number of mufflers were constructed for the engine.[24] The first experimental one was
built of wood, being a box 6 × 6 × 15 inches with a hole for the exhaust pipe in one end and
a series of small holes in the opposite end. Inside, Frank arranged metal plates which were
somewhat shorter than the depth of the box. Every other one was attached to the bottom of
the box; the intermediate plates were fastened to the top. This contrivance muffled the
sound considerably, but, as might be expected, soon began to smoke. There can be little
doubt that it was replaced before any of the outdoor trials began. Another type consisted of
a cylindrical metal shell, perhaps six inches in diameter and ten or twelve inches long. Here
a series of perforated baffle plates were inserted, with alternating solid plates having parts
of their external edges cut away. Two bolts running the length of the muffler held on the
cast-iron heads in a manner quite similar to the Model-T Ford mufflers of later years.
Though partially satisfactory, Frank, in a November 6, 1957, interview, complained that it
[Pg 19]made a metallic sound. Perhaps this was the muffler he used from September to
November 1893.

Figure 21.—Illustration of the no. 2 Samson battery
used by the Duryeas in their vehicle. (Smithsonian photo 46858.)

On August 28 Frank wrote to Charles saying the carriage was almost ready for the road and
that he hoped to take it out for a test on the coming Saturday, "off somewhere so no one will
see us...."[25] There is no evidence showing whether the amount of remaining work
permitted the proposed trial on September 2. The body was finally replaced on the running
gear, at which time it was found necessary to raise the seat cushion several inches by the
insertion of a framework made of old crating boards. This allowed sufficient room between
the seat and the frame to suspend the batteries and coil. Six no. 2 Samson batteries were
contained in this space, three on each side, in rows parallel to the side of the vehicle. The
Samson battery consisted of a glass jar containing a solution of ammonia salts and water,
with a carbon rod in the center, housing a zinc rod. It is difficult to understand why they used
Samson batteries rather than dry cells; perhaps they were concerned with the mounting
cost of the machine and were making use of parts already on hand.[26] A coil, possibly from
an old gaslight igniter system, accompanied the Samson batteries under the seat. This
original coil is now missing.

The iron dash frame, previously recovered and provided with a rain apron to be pulled up
over the knees in the event a heavy rain blew in under the carriage top, was bolted back in
place. Frank and Mr. Markham gave the carriage a quick painting; later Frank admitted, "the
machine never had a good job of painting."[27] Before the motor wagon actually got onto
the road, a reporter on the Springfield Evening Union got some statistics on it and an item
appeared on September 16, giving the first public notice of the machine.

Figure 22.—From the Springfield Evening Union, September 16, 1893.

Text of Article

Toward the latter part of the following week, Frank was ready to give the product of his
labors its first road trial. On September 21 the completed carriage was rolled onto the
elevator at Russell's shop. Seeing that the running gear was too long for the elevator, they
raised the front of the machine, resting the entire weight of 750 pounds on the rear wheels.
Once outside the building, they pushed it into an area between the Russell and Stacy
buildings. After dark, "so no one will see," Will Bemis, Mr. Markham's son-in-law, brought a
horse and they pulled the phaeton out to his barn on Spruce Street.[28] There, on Spruce
and Florence Streets the first tests were made. The next day Frank wrote his brother
saying, "Have tried it (the carriage) finally and thoroughly and quit trying until some changes
are made. Belt transmission very bad.[29] Engine all right." He did admit the engine seemed
to be well loaded most of the time. He also had an idea in mind to replace the poor trans[Pg
21]mission, explaining the plan to Charles: "The three gears[30] on secondary shaft have
friction clutches, the two bevel gears on same shaft are controlled by a clutch which frees
one and clutches the other at will. This provides a reverse."

Figure 23.—Type of spark coil the Duryeas are believed to have used in their electrical
as shown in a catalog illustration. (Smithsonian photo 46858-A.)

The Springfield Evening Union of September 22 carried a notice of the trial. This report, too,
commented on the faulty transmission and the plan already in Frank's mind for the new

... The friction belt allowed of the speed being steadily increased or diminished at the will of
the driver and caused no sudden forward motion of the carriage, but while this arrangement
has many advantages it uses up the power so that the two-horse power furnished by the
motor [somewhat less than the rating Frank gave the engine] was reduced to less than
three-fourths horse power on reaching the main shaft. This would not be sufficient to propel
the carriage up steep grades but would be sufficient to run the carriage on level road.

The inventors will do away with this belt in favor of a clamp gear and will make the drum
wheel smaller. By this means there will be very little power lost in transmission to the shaft
and by a patented arrangement the carriage may be started gradually but the speed must
be increased by shifting the clamp gear to a succession of gears on the driving wheel of the
motor. The speed of the carriage will be fixed permanently according to the size of the gear
that the smaller one is shifted to. The test of the machine with the gear arrangement will be
made soon.

In October Frank decided on another vacation and went to Chicago to see the Columbian
Exposition. Charles had come up from Peoria to see the fair and the two talked over the
progress on their motor wagon, and discussed the transmission problem. They gave
particular attention to everything relating to engines and motor carriages, and Frank recalls
seeing a Daimler quadricycle that impressed him with its performance.[31] Just what
decisions the two might have made there are unknown, yet it is likely that they agreed to
give the old transmission one more chance to prove itself.

Returning to Springfield, probably in the first week of November, Frank gave the friction
drive its final test, this time substituting a leather belt for the rubber one first used.[32] Mr.
Markham, though intensely interested in the experiments, apparently was dubious
concerning the safety of the carriage. It had no brakes, and fearing failure of the
transmission on a downgrade, he was reluctant to ride in the machine. On November 9 he
asked Will Bemis to try it for him. The following day the Springfield Morning Union gave a
description of the run:

Residents in the vicinity of Florence street flocked to the windows yesterday afternoon
astonished to see gliding by in the roadway a common top carriage with no shafts[Pg 22]
and no horse attached. The vehicle is operated by gasoline and is the invention of Erwin
Markham and J. F. Duryea. It has been previously described in The Union and the trial
yesterday was simply to ascertain the practical value of a leather friction surface which has
been substituted for the rubber one previously used. The vehicle, which was operated by
Mr. Bemis, started from the corner of Hancock avenue and Spruce street and went up the
avenue, up Hancock street and started down Florence street, working finely, but when
about half-way down the latter street it stopped short, refusing to move. Investigation
showed that the bearing had been worn smooth by the friction and a little water sprinkled
upon it put it in running condition again. The rest of the trip was made down Florence and
down Spruce street, to the residence of the inventors. They hope to have the vehicle in
good working condition soon.

Figure 24 below.—Running gear of Duryea vehicle,
showing the second engine and
other parts as used in January 1894.

The same evening, the late edition ran a brief paragraph stating that "the test was made to
determine the value of a leather friction surface for propelling the wagon, that had been
substituted in place of the rubber surface, used in the former test." Bemis, according to
Frank Duryea's recollection, was not impressed with the performance of the machine,
saying "the thing is absolutely useless," and for a time it appeared that further support from
Markham would not be forthcoming. Frank, believing eventual success to be near, drew up
plans showing his geared transmission, and with these managed to gain Markham's partial
support. Money for material and use of the shop was to continue, but Frank was to
complete the work on his own time.

Now receiving no salary, Frank worked hurriedly on the transmission throughout late
November, December, and the first two weeks of January. First discarding the old friction
drum and shaft, and the shipper-fork carriage, he bolted a rawhide bevel gear to the lower
surface of the flywheel. This turns two bevel gears, in opposite directions, on a countershaft
directly underneath, approximately in the position of the old jackshaft. The right bevel gear
is secured to the main countershaft on which two clutches are mounted, one on each side
of the crankshaft. On a sleeve turning freely around the countershaft is mounted the reverse
bevel gear and clutch. Three free-running clutch drums, the right one carrying the high-
speed gear, the two on the left carrying the combination low speed and reverse gear
between them, complete the counter[Pg 23]shaft assembly. The clutch assemblies are of
Frank Duryea's design, having internal arms, expanding outward to press leather-faced
shoes against the inner surface of the drum, thus securing the drum and its gear to the
shaft. Behind this machinery is the jackshaft with its small differential on the right, two
laminated rawhide gears[33] meshing with the iron gears of the countershaft, and the
internal-gear sprockets hanging on the small pinions at either end. A sliding cam bar,
mounted nearly in the position of the former shipper-fork carriage, is operated by the vertical
movement of the tiller handle to engage any one of the three clutches. With the tiller
depressed, the vehicle is in reverse. Elevating it slightly puts it into low gear, and raising it
still higher runs the machine at its highest speed.

Vehicle: 1895 Duryea


57 inches

Track - front/rear
53 inches

Wheel-Tire Size – front/rear
38 inches / 46 inches


Number of Cylinders

Horse power
(information not available) bhp

(information not available)
cubic inches

Bore x Stroke
4 inches x 4-1/2 inches

Engine Location


1,208 pounds

Total Produced
2 units

Sale Price
Not Applicable
Note all the folliowuing from...
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Museum of History and Technology, by Don H. Berkebile


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Vehicle: 1895 Duryea

57 inches

Track - front/rear
53 inches

Wheel-Tire Size – front/rear
38 inches / 46 inches

Number of Cylinders 2

Horse power
(information not available) bhp

Bore x Stroke
4 inches x 4-1/2 inches

Engine Location

1,208 pounds

Total Produced
2 units

Sale Price
Not Applicable

Reference Material:
Carriages Without Horses, J. Frank Duryea and the Birth of the
American Automobile Industry by Richard P. Scharchburg.

A great site to visit for Horseless Carriages And Brass Era
Replicas is

Have you thanked God today for your many blessing?

Vehicle: 1896 Duryea


60 inches

Track - front/rear
52 inches

Wheel-Tire Size – front/rear
34 inches / 38 inches

Number of Cylinders 2

Horse power
6 bhp   Displacement  138 CI

Bore x Stroke
4 inches x 5 1/2 inches

Engine Location

700 pounds

Total Produced
13 units

Sale Price
$1,000 to $2,000
the-Russell-shop-lathe he
built the first Duryea on.

Charles Duryea summarized what he and his brother had
accomplished in their lives in a May 16, 1931, article for The
Saturday Evening Post called “It Doesn't Pay to Pioneer.” In it,
he wrote that they “designed and built the first gasoline
automobile to actually run in America, sold the first car on this
side, did the first automobile advertising, and won the first two
American races.”