Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

1896 National Cycle Show

From Graces Guide

Note: This is a sub-section of the National Cycle Show

1896 December 4th-12th. The Fifth annual exhibition was held at Crystal Palace


The fifth annual exhibition of cycles, accessories, &c., under the auspices of the Cycle Manufacturers' Trade Protection Association, was held at the Crystal Palace, Sydenham, from the 4th to the 12th inst. inclusive, and was probably the finest collection of cycles ever brought together. The demand for space was so great that every available corner of this vast building was brought into use, but the motor cars were conspicuous by their almost entire absence.

The exhibits of the leading cycle makers were practically devoid of real novelties, but there were the usual inventive geniuses with mechanical monstrosities, by which they hope to speedily climb the ladder of fame until the zenith — a limited company with several million pounds sterling — is attained. It is remarkable to see to what lengths some of these insuppressible gentlemen will go to arrive at something out of the ordinary. For instance, to reduce the friction of the chain — an infinitesimal quantity when well constructed and efficiently lubricated — one firm employs what is called an anti-friction gear wheel, in which a loose steel roller is introduced into each tooth with the object of substituting a rolling motion for a sliding motion of the link when in contact with the tooth.

The Elliptic Cycle Company, Peterborough, had on view a chainless safety bicycle, in which the rear wheel is driven direct by a sort of "sun-and-planet" motion, the pedals being attached to the ends of long levers in such a manner that they move through an oval path, whereby, it is claimed, the dead centre is obviated. Another curiosity, called a balance action cycle, did not strike us as likely to have a very large demand. This consists practically of an ordinary safety bicycle frame, the front steering wheel being replaced by a sort of two-wheel bogie movably pivoted to the forked head of the machine, while a fourth trailing wheel is provided in a frame pivoted on the axle of the rear driving wheel. This trailing wheel has a castor action, and "follows in the wake of the machine exactly." The result of the extraordinary combination is set forth by the makers as follows:— "The machine smoothly rolls over obstructions instead of bumping and jumping, and thereby vibration is greatly reduced, and the provision of the front wheels prevents sideslip and greatly minimises danger from that cause." The machine is about half as long again as the usual safety bicycle, and has four wheels in contact with the ground instead of two.

The Moonlight Patent Lamp Company, Liverpool, shows a new lamp in which the vapour of an oil which vaporises at atmospheric pressure is employed. These lamps arc a distinct novelty, and should find a ready sale for other purposes than cycling.

The New Ixion Tire and Cycle Company, Limited, Oxford-street, London, showed their new pneumatic tire, in which the method of attaching, in lieu of the continuous wire, is a flat band, which overlaps some 6in. at the ends, lying in loose pockets underneath the air chamber, so that under pressure when inflated the ends collapse circumferentially and grip the top of the rim centripetally. Another new feature to be introduced consists of a wheel with a self-contained ball hub and tire complete, for perambulators and motor cars. This wheel can be slipped on an ordinary plain axle, and for this purpose the hub, wheel, spokes, rim, and tire have all been specially designed. The wheel is of an ordinary cycle pattern, having tangent spokes, simply carried out in detail, and each wheel will be constructed to carry a lead of about two tons.

The makers of cycle-making machinery were numerous, and the appliances shown by Messrs. J. Holroyd and Co, Milnrow, Lancashire; and Messrs. Burton, Griffiths and Co., London, are worthy of special mention.

Messrs. Buck and Hickman, Whitechapel-road, London, had a large number of machine tools in operation. These machines were largely of American design, and served to show how wonderfully cheaply the component parts of cycles can now be turned out.

Messrs. Alfred Herbert, Limited, of Coventry, had also on view a very fine display of machine tools, of which a hub-making machine by the Davis and Egan Company, Cincinnati, for turning out hubs completely finished from the bar, is well designed and exceedingly useful. A bracket boring machine, made by Messrs. Herbert, and intended for boring and turning up simultaneously the bur lugs on a cycle bracket, shows considerable ingenuity in construction.

1896 Autocar Review [2]

By reference to the introductory matter in the catalogue of the great cycle show, which closes to-day (Saturday) at the Crystal Palace, Sydenham, we learn that autocars will not find a place within the confines of Paxton's Palace, owing to the enormous demand for space for cycle stands, but we had hardly passed the barrier from the High Level L.C. & D. Railway than we descried aloft the word "Pennington." At this stand, numbered 371, the Pennington autocar, tandem, and safeties appear to have a remarkable attraction for the public. The autocar is the original of the advertisement now appearing in this paper, and has been described and criticised without stint for some time past. It is the identical car which failed to garner honours in the London and Brighton run by the fact of the unfortunate bursting of the tyre alone as has been most abundantly proved. The price at which these racy-looking cars are to be sold is something between one hundred and fifty and two hundred guineas. The tandem bicycle is fitted with a two horse-power Pennington motor, as as also the single bicycle. Public attention, however, focusses round the particular safety dr1ven by an atr propeller actuated by a one horsepower Pennington motor boomed out in rear of the machine. A particularly dainty little motor, threequarter horse-power brake, to be used as an auxiliary motor for cycles, should be seen, as should also the more serious-looking sixteen horse-power autocar engine at one end of the stand, which, with a pair of gin. unpuncturable Pennington tyres, are to be fitted to a passenger-cargo 'bus for West Australia, which will carry two and a half tons of cargo and fifteen passengers. We do not exaggerate when we say that the stand provides one of the great attractions of the exhibition.

At Stand 29 in the North Nave, whereat the "Bantam" cycles, made by the Crypto Cycle Co., are staged, may be seen a motor tricycle, fitted with a two cylinder two horse-power Pennington motor driving the front wheel. The motor is fixed one cylinder on each side of the steering pillar, the oil supply in a half drum, also round the socket above, and the battery on the backbone. The wheels are 24 x 3.5-in. pneumatics in diameter, the rear pair having a heavy oat pattern non-slipping tread, while the front cover is sn1ooth. The rear wheels can be driven in the usual way.

On another part of this stand is found a motor bicycle of an elongated Bantam type, fitted with a horizontal four cylinder engine, carried in the frame between the wheels. The four cylinders are formed by 2in. tubes placed side by side, and each made with two slots about 6in. long at one side. The two pistons are connected by the piston rod, which is made with a cross-head projecting through the slots aforesaid, and carrying at the outer end of the connecting rod, which proceeds directly to the crank on the back-wheel axle, thus driving without the intervention of gearing, and the inner projection actuating the novel valve rods. The cylinders, moreover, form part of, and are not merely attached to, the frame. The charges are electrically fired. The particular novelty, however, is in the ingenious method of actuating the valves. Above the division between the cylinders is a rod, upon which a kind of traveller connected with the piston's cross-head is carried. This traveller also carries a steel point, which, in reciprocating consonantly with the pistons, engages at the end of each traverse with a curiously shaped cam, which it partially revolves, and so opens and closes the valves. The design of the motor and its parts, as well as the method and manner in which it is carried on the Bantam type bicycle to which it is fitted, are the inventions of Major Holden, F.R.S., R.E., and are provisionally protected. Other improvements are to be introduced before the motor will be regarded as perfect by this gallant and learned officer.

Again, at Stand 162, close by the parrots at the far end of the North Nave, will be found Lane's autocar, at present a somewhat ramshackle looking two-seated chaise, fitted with a twin-cylinder motor, one cylinder on each side of the carriage. The particular feature of this motor, as we gathered from the exhibitor, is the fact that valves are filled in the piston itself, and the explosive charge is first drawn into the upper end of the cylinder, and then upon the forward stroke passes through these valves behind the piston, the return of which con1presses the mixture and at the same time draws in a fresh charge into the forward portion. The compressed charge being exploded, and the piston having travelled about one-third up the cylinder, the exhaust port is opened, the waste products escape, the exhaust port closes again, and the loose charge already in front of the piston flows through the valves therein, to be compressed and exploded behind the piston in its turn. The carriage is fitted with three speeds, and is said to have most successfully run. If we understand the principle of this motor aright, it appears to us that there must be some loss from allowing the exploded gas to escape before the full advantage of its expansion ·has been taken. But presuming the above to be correct it will also be seen that with this twin-cylinder motor two power strokes are obtained to every revolution of the crank axle.

In the Theatre Space, at Stand 239 , the Wolseley Sheep Shearing Machine Co., Alma Street, Birmingham, show a tricycle two-seated I autocar, which, on outward semblance at all events, has much to recommend it. It has ordinary bath-chair steering, which can be made for either hand. The body, although low, is on the lines of a dogcart, the passengers sitting back to back. A twin-cylinder oil motor with upward inclined cylinders is carried under the rear seat, where is also the oil reservoir. The cylinders are water jacketed, and the supply for this purpose is carried under what we presume we must call the box seat. The motor drives a shaft, which is connected by gearing attach ed to two small drun1s, over which a band passes, and which is tightened or loosened in its grip upon one or the other as high, low, or backward movements are required. This gear arrangement, though simple and particularly ingenious, is quite impossible of description without a diagram, which we hope to be able to produce in a subsequent issue. The charges are electrically fired, and the whole arrangement is n1ost excellently self-contained. The frame of the carriage is constructed altogether of steel tube, and the form of the vehicle seems to us to indicate a class of auto car that will grow into large favour with the public. The motor and gearing afford the car a maximum speed of ten miles an hour, and weigh, all included, water and oil reservoirs charged, four cwts. Special Dunlop autocar pneumatic tyres are fitted.

Returning to the clock end of the Palace we find, at Stand 69, J. Holdsworth & Co., 6r, Lord Street, Liverpool the safety bicycle fitted with a quarter h.p. steam motor, which was shown by the same firm at this Show last year, and again at the Horseless Carriage Show, held at the Crystal Palace, last summer. At present, the arrangement of this motor with its cylindrical boiler carried before the handle-bar, and the method in which the work is got on the crank axle from the cy1inder, a r e somewhat crude, and, so far as the boiler itself goes, suggests, at first sight, the idea of an ice-cream carrier.


It was the same at the 1896 National Cycle Show, December 4th-12th, at the Crystal Palace. The committee refused all motors and the 2,306 cycles (world's record for any show) fairly filled the Palace.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1896/12/18
  2. The Autocar 1896/12/12
  3. Motor Magazine of 3rd November 1908