First in Auto History

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First in Auto History

1885Benz

Do you know that a windshield wiper was invented by a woman in 1903?

The inventor Mary Anderson is credited with devising the first operational windshield wiper in 1903. Mary Anderson (1866–1953) was a real estate developer, rancher, viticulturist and inventor of the windshield wiper blade. In November 1903 Anderson was granted her first patent for an automatic car window cleaning device controlled inside the car, called the windshield wiper.

In a visit to New York City in the winter of 1903, while sitting in a trolley car on a frosty day, she observed that the motorman drove with the front window open because of difficulty keeping the windshield clear of falling sleet. When she returned to Alabama she hired a designer for a hand-operated device to keep a windshield clear and had a local company produce a working model. She applied for, and in 1903 was granted, a 17-year patent for a windshield wiper. Her device consisted of a lever with a rubber blade. The lever could be operated from inside a vehicle to cause the spring-loaded arm to move back and forth across the windshield. Similar devices had been made earlier, but Anderson’s was the first to be effective.

In Anderson’s patent, she called her invention a “window cleaning device” for electric cars and other vehicles. Operated via a lever from inside a vehicle, her version of windshield wipers closely resembles the windshield wiper found on many early car models. Anderson had a model of her design manufactured, then filed a patent (US 743,801) on June 18, 1903 that was issued to her by the US Patent Office on November 10, 1903.

In 1905 she tried to sell the rights through a noted Canadian firm, but they rejected her application, saying “we do not consider it to be of such commercial value as would warrant our undertaking its sale.” After the patent expired in 1920 and the automobile manufacturing business grew exponentially, windshield wipers using Anderson’s basic design became standard equipment.

Irish born inventor James Henry Apjohn (1845–1914) devised a method of moving two brushes up and down on a vertical plate glass windscreen in 1903. This was patented in the UK.

In April 1911, a patent for windscreen wipers was registered by Sloan & Lloyd Barnes, patent agents of Liverpool, England, for Gladstone Adams of Whitley Bay. The first designs for the windscreen wiper are also credited to concert pianist Józef Hofmann, and Mills Munitions, Birmingham who also claimed to have been the first to patent windscreen wipers in England.

The company Oishei formed, the Tri-Continental Corporation, introduced the first windshield wiper, Rain Rubber, for the slotted, two-piece windshields found on many of the automobiles of the time. Today Trico Products is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of windshield wiping systems, windshield wiper blades and refills, with wiper plants on five continents. Bosch has the world’s biggest windscreen wiper factory in Tienen, Belgium, which produces 350,000 wiper blades every day.

Inventor William M. Folberth applied for a patent for an automatic windscreen wiper apparatus in 1919, which was granted in 1922. It was the first automatic mechanism. Trico later settled a patent dispute with Folberth and purchased Folberth’s Cleveland company, the Folberth Auto Specialty Co. The new vacuum-powered system quickly became standard equipment on automobiles, and the vacuum principle was in use until about 1960. In the late 1950s, a feature common on modern vehicles first appeared, operating the wipers automatically for two or three passes when the windshield washer button was pressed, making it unnecessary to manually turn the wipers on as well. Today, an electronic timer is used, but originally a small vacuum cylinder mechanically linked to a switch provided the delay as the vacuum leaked off.

 

Headlights History

The earliest headlamps were fuelled by acetylene or oil and were introduced in the late 1880s. Acetylene lamps were popular because the flame was resistant to wind and rain. The first electric headlamps were introduced in 1898 on the Columbia Electric Car from the Electric Vehicle Company of Hartford, Connecticut, and were optional.

Two factors limited the widespread use of electric headlamps: the short life of filaments in the harsh automotive environment, and the difficulty of producing dynamos small enough, yet powerful enough to produce sufficient current.

“Prest-O-Lite” acetylene lights were offered by a number of manufacturers as standard equipment for 1904, and Peerless made electric headlamps standard in 1908. A Birmingham firm called Pockley Automobile Electric Lighting Syndicate marketed the world’s first electric car lights as a complete set in 1908, which consisted of headlights, sidelights and tail lights and were powered by an 8 volt battery.

In 1912, Cadillac integrated their vehicle’s Delco electrical ignition and lighting system, creating the modern vehicle electrical system.

“Dipping” (low beam) headlamps were introduced in 1915 by the Guide Lamp Company, but the 1917 Cadillac system allowed the light to be dipped with a lever inside the car rather than requiring the driver to stop and get out. The 1924 Bilux bulb was the first modern unit, having the light for both low (dipped) and high (main) beams of a headlamp emitting from a single bulb. A similar design was introduced in 1925 by Guide Lamp called the “Duplo”. In 1927, the foot-operated dimmer switch or dip switch was introduced and became standard for much of the century. The last vehicle with a foot-operated dimmer switch was the 1991 Ford F-Series. Fog lamps were new for 1938 Cadillacs, and their 1954 “Autronic Eye” system automated the selection of high and low beams.

In 1935 Tatra T77a introduced light with cornering function – the front had three headlamps of which the central unit was linked to the steering, making it possible to turn this lamp with the steering wheel.

The standardized 7-inch (178mm) round sealed beam headlamp was introduced in 1940, and was soon required for all vehicles sold in the United States. Britain, Australia and other Commonwealth countries, as well as Japan, also made extensive use of 7-inch sealed beams. With some exceptions from Volvo and Saab, this headlamp size format was never widely accepted in continental Europe, leading to different front-end designs for each side of the Atlantic for decades.

The first halogen headlamp for vehicle use was introduced in 1962 by a consortium of European bulb and headlamp makers. Halogen technology increases the efficacy (light output for given power consumption) of an incandescent light bulb and eliminates blackening of the bulb glass with usage. These were prohibited in the U.S., where non-halogen sealed beam lamps were required until 1978. Starting that year, sealed beams became available with halogen bulbs inside. These halogen sealed beams remain available, 25 years after replaceable-bulb headlamps returned to the U.S. in 1983.

High-intensity discharge (HID) (xenon) systems were introduced in 1991s BMW 7-series. European and Japanese markets began to prefer HID headlamps, with as much as 50% market share in those markets, but they found slow adoption in North America. 1996’s Lincoln Mark VIII was an early American effort at HIDs, and was the only car with DC HIDs.

HID headlamps produce light with an electric arc rather than a glowing filament. The high intensity of the arc comes from metallic salts that are vaporized within the arc chamber. These lamps are formally known as gas-discharge burners, and produce more light for a given level of power consumption than ordinary tungsten and tungsten-halogen bulbs. Because of the increased amounts of light available from HID burners relative to halogen bulbs, HID headlamps producing a given beam pattern can be made smaller than halogen headlamps producing a comparable beam pattern. Alternatively, the larger size can be retained, in which case the xenon headlamp can produce a more robust beam pattern.

 

History of road trips

The first recorded road trip was attested in stele in the court of Ramses II. He was said to “come down on the Medeans in his chariot after driving all night from Memphis.” Road trips were important throughout antiquity. Alexander’s march into India was described by the historian Nearchus. During the Roman Republic, it was not uncommon for young patrician men to gather together to tour the Roman world.

Young European men of means would often go on a grand tour during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. People of many religions went (and still go) on a pilgrimage. Carl Jung identified the road trip as a “persistent element of human culture.”

 

The first intercontinental road trip

In 1907 the Peking to Paris motor race took place over a distance of 9,317 miles or 14,994km, which can be seen as the first intercontinental road trip.

There were forty entrants in the race, but only five teams ended up going ahead with shipping the cars to Peking. The race was held despite the race committee cancelling the race.

There were no rules in the race, except that the first car to Paris would win the prize of a magnum of Mumm champagne. The race followed a telegraph route so that it was well covered in newspapers at the time. Each car had one journalist as a passenger, with the journalists sending stories from the telegraph stations regularly through the race.

It was held during a time when cars were fairly new, and went through remote areas of Asia where people were not familiar with motor travel. The route between Peking and Lake Baikal had only previously been attempted on horseback.

The race was won by Italian Prince Scipione Borghese of the Borghese family, accompanied by the journalist Luigi Barzini, Sr.

The event was not intended to be a race or competition, but quickly became one due to its pioneering nature and the technical superiority of the Italians’ car, a 7,433cc (453.6cu in) 35/45 hp model Itala.

The Peking to Paris race was followed up the next year by the 1908 New York to Paris Race, the longest distance motor race in history.

 

The first road trip in North America

Jackson driving the Vermont on the 1903 cross-country drive. The first successful North American transcontinental trip by automobile took place in 1903, and was piloted by H. Nelson Jackson and Sewall K. Crocker, accompanied by a canine named Bud. The trip was completed using a 1903 Winton Touring Car, dubbed “Vermont” by Jackson. The trip took a total of 63 days between San Francisco and New York, and cost US$8,000. The total cost included items such as food, gasoline, lodging, tires, parts, other supplies, and the cost of the Winton.

The first woman to cross the American landscape by car was Alice Ramsey with three female passengers in 1909. Ramsey left from Hell’s Gate in Manhattan, New York and traveled 59 days to San Francisco, California. Ramsey was followed in 1910 by Blanche Stuart Scott, who is often mistakenly cited as the first woman to make the cross-country journey by automobile East-to-West (but was a true pioneer in aviation).

 

The road enthusiast

Those who look upon road trips not as a method of travel but rather a hobby frequently describe themselves as road enthusiasts, professional road trippers or roadgeeks. These motorists take the concept of road trips very seriously, some have devoted time and resources to the pursuit of the hobby. Although there are many personalities in the road tripping community, many road enthusiasts advocate sharing the roadways, preservation of historic places and natural spaces, and safe driving. Much like backpacking, many road enthusiasts also subscribe to the ideas of Leave No Trace. The goal of road trip enthusiasts is to experience the culture, nature and history of the route, and to celebrate the open road.

One topic of frequent discussion amongst professional road enthusiasts is the latest road tripping technology. This includes new technology, as well as some old familiars. Items of frequent discussion include mobile internet, cellular phones, laptops, GPS units, Digital Mapping Programs, real-time tracking smartphone apps, CB/Wireless Radios, and of course, vehicles. With the advent of larger vehicles, such as minivans and RV, more individuals are now able to participate in a road trip without adding additional vehicles.

 

Impact of automobile associations

In many countries Automobile Associations play a major part in facilitating long distance road trips. Automobile Associations, such as AAA and CAA in North America, RAC in the United Kingdom and ADAC in Germany among just a few, provide their members with services and materials to make road trips more enjoyable. Many of these groups offer some sort of Roadside Assistance, coming to the aid stranded motorists, as well as travel materials, such as guide books, maps, destination guides, and even road trip gear. Such associations allow a motorist to venture further from their home, and as long as they are in an area serviced by the association or an affiliate, can use the local association for booking lodging or entertainment tickets, roadside assistance, or get new travel guides and maps. This allows travelers to have a sense of comfort that they will have access to these services when they travel.

 

First cross-country automobile journey

Although several other German engineers (including Gottlieb Daimler, Wilhelm Maybach, and Siegfried Marcus) were working on the problem at about the same time, Karl Benz generally is acknowledged as the inventor of the modern automobile.

An automobile powered by his own four-stroke cycle gasoline engine was built in Mannheim, Germany by Karl Benz in 1885, and granted a patent in January of the following year under the auspices of his major company, Benz & Cie., which was founded in 1883. It was an integral design, without the adaptation of other existing components, and included several new technological elements to create a new concept. He began to sell his production vehicles in 1888.

In 1879, Benz was granted a patent for his first engine, which had been designed in 1878. Many of his other inventions made the use of the internal combustion engine feasible for powering a vehicle.

His first Motorwagen was built in 1885, and he was awarded the patent for its invention as of his application on January 29, 1886. Benz began promotion of the vehicle on July 3, 1886, and about 25 Benz vehicles were sold between 1888 and 1893, when his first four-wheeler was introduced along with a model intended for affordability. They also were powered with four-stroke engines of his own design. Emile Roger of France, already producing Benz engines under license, now added the Benz automobile to his line of products. Because France was more open to the early automobiles, initially more were built and sold in France through Roger than Benz sold in Germany.

Bertha Benz, the wife of Karl Benz, undertook the first road trip by car, to prove the road-worthiness of her husband’s invention.

On 5 August 1888, without telling her husband and without permission of the authorities, Bertha Benz drove with her sons Richard and Eugen, thirteen and fifteen years old, in one of the newly constructed Patent Motorwagen automobiles—from Mannheim to Pforzheim—becoming the first person to drive an automobile over a real distance. Motorized drives before this historic trip were merely very short trial drives, returning to the point of origin, made with mechanical assistants. This pioneering tour had a one-way distance of about 106km (66mi).

Although the ostensible purpose of the trip was to visit her mother, Bertha Benz had other motives: to prove her husband—who had failed to consider marketing his invention adequately—that the automobile they both heavily invested in would become a financial success once it was shown to be useful to the general public; and to give her husband the confidence that his constructions had a future.

On the way, she solved numerous problems. She had to find ligroin as a fuel; this was available only at apothecary shops, so she stopped in Wiesloch at the city pharmacy to purchase the fuel. A blacksmith had to help mend a chain at one point. The brakes needed to be repaired and, in doing so, Bertha Benz invented brake lining. She also had to use a long, straight hairpin to clean a fuel pipe, which had become blocked, and to insulate a wire with a garter. She left Mannheim around dawn and reached Pforzheim somewhat after dusk, notifying her husband of her successful journey by telegram. She drove back to Mannheim the next day.

Along the way, several people were frightened by the automobile and the novel trip received a great deal of publicity, as she had sought. The drive was a key event in the technical development of the automobile. The pioneering couple introduced several improvements after Bertha’s experiences. She reported everything that had happened along the way and made important suggestions, such as the introduction of an additional gear for climbing hills and brake linings to improve brake-power.

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Author: AllOntario Team

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