Identical twin brothers Freelan Oscar and Francis Edgar Stanley were one of the first motorcar producers in the United States and one of the more successful in steam powered car production. Freelan Oscar and his wife are credited with being the first individuals to drive an automobile to the top of New Hampshire's Mount Washington on August 31st of 1899. Their Locomobile steam runabout took two hours and ten minutes to climb the slope, excepting the time required to refill the boiler with water. Their journey took about half the time required by a team of horses.

The Stanley brothers had created a successful business in manufacturing photographic plates. When the world was introduced to the motor car, the brothers began to tinker. By the autumn of 1897 they had produced their first motor car, with their automobile business opening in November 1898.

Their cars were shown at the Boston motor show in 1898 but prior to this, John Brisben Walker, publisher of Cosmopolitan magazine, acquired about buying the business. The brothers quickly stated a very high sum of $250,000, which was accepted, too much surprise of the Stanley brothers. The brothers were appointed as General Managers. To aid in the acquisition, Walker took Amzi Lorenzo Barber as partner in this venture. Barber had made a fortune paving America's cities and was known as 'The Asphalt King.' By June of 1899, deliveries of the Locomobiles had begun.

Almost as quickly as these acquisitions and alliances formed, they began to degrade. Quarrels between Walker and Barber broke out which later led to Barber running the Locomobile production on his own, with the help of his son-in-law Samuel Davis. In the very early 1900s they significantly changed the Stanley brothers designed. By 1904, Barbed decided to leave Locomobile.

The Locomobile was simple and proved to be popular with the American public. Its Achilles heel was its appetite for water, thus the non-condoning design required frequent fill-ups. Despite its appetite, the steamers proved popular and Locomobile became the largest motor vehicle produced in America.

As 1900 was coming to a close, the Locomobile lineup received a new four seat steam carriage. The Style 5, also known as the Locosurrey, became the new larger Locomobile.

With the larger vehicle and increased carrying capacity, Locomobile reinforced the chassis and fitted robust hubs with reinforced axles. An improved braking system was soon adopted, consisting of four bands with two at the differential and two on the rear wheel.

The 1901 Locomobile was available as a Runabout, Buggy Top or Victoria Top Runabout, and the Locosurrey.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2017
 
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