Jump to content

Early Electric Cars


TAKerry
 Share

Recommended Posts

Believe it or not, there were fleets of electric taxicabs in New York, London and Paris as early as 1897. Scientific American did a write up on the New York ones at the time.

https://www.theengineer.co.uk/august-1897-london-electrical-cab/

Electric cars were popular in cities where electric power was available, and a battery charger could be installed in the garage. Some commercial garages offered charging, and even fresh batteries that could be swapped in. The Willard battery company had a chain of such garages in the teens in the northeast.

In rural areas and small towns without electric power electric cars were useless.

In the heyday of electric cars, the teens of the last century, a typical electric might offer speeds of up to 20 or 25 MPH and a range of 50 miles or so on level roads. It took several hours to charge one up, depending how far the batteries were run down. In normal use one would be left on charge overnight for use the next day.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In 1920 there were 1750 electric delivery vehicles within the city limits of Chicago. Wannamaker's department store in Philly had a fleet of 50 electric delivery vehicles.  Curtis Publishing in Philly had several 10 ton electric trucks that delivered huge rolls of news print from the docks to their printing plant.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think I saw that thing in 'Frankenstein'.  Very interesting replies. I knew that the electric vehicles were not all that uncommon, my curiosity was on their range and charging. I have seen in publications a few that have been restored using the batteries/charging system of a golf car.

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, TAKerry said:

. . . I have seen in publications a few that have been restored using the batteries/charging system of a golf car.

I believe that most of those old cars originally used Edison batteries which were nickel-iron with a caustic electrolyte. I am not a chemist nor battery expert, but that sounds a lot closer to the chemistry of the NiMH hybrid or low end EV car batteries that were used starting around 2000 than the lead-acid batteries traditionally used in golf carts.

 

I suppose it is only a matter of time before some of those old cars will be fitted with batteries from something like a wrecked Nissan Leaf. It would probably give them back the range and performance they lost when Edison batteries were no longer available and people had to start using lead-acid batteries to keep them running.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The electric car market was often advertised for well to do women who could operate the auto without having to deal with crank starting and buying gasoline.  It was easy to use that type of car in town for errands and meeting friends.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

53 minutes ago, Restorer32 said:

I suspect many saw service during WWII due to rationing of gasoline.  The Rauch and Lang we restored and showed at Hershey last year had a New Jersey safety inspection decal on the window from 1942.


Steam cars had a bit of a renaissance for the same reason.  Kerosene was not rationed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/12/2020 at 6:18 PM, nzcarnerd said:

There is a story - with pictures - somewhere of an electric car making a cross country run - circa 1910 maybe.

 

Might jog a memory somewhere?

 

More on my thought about an electric making a long trip. This photo was posted on a facebook page today. 

 

Date 1920, location near Mt Rainier, Washington. No more info yet.

 

 

20 electric.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/11/2020 at 10:18 PM, nzcarnerd said:

There is a story - with pictures - somewhere of an electric car making a cross country run - circa 1910 maybe.

 

Might jog a memory somewhere?

 

Read up on Oliver Fritchle from Denver.  He managed to drive one of his Frichle Electric cars from Lincoln Nebraska to New York City, and around the East Coast in 1908.

 

Electrics back then typically had a range of 50-100 miles - but maximum speed was 20-25 mph.  Batteries were either lead acid, or Edison cells.

 

Charging was done either via motor-generator setups (believe it or not, the Lincoln welder folks used to make them), or General Electrics vacuum rectifiers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, Andrew Benoit said:

Nzcarnerd, there is a Fritchle at History Colorado. It’s an interesting car, amongst other things they had regenerative braking...

 

In some article I read about Fritchle, he mentioned regenerative braking as being useful in the hilly areas surrounding Denver.  There were a few other electrics back then that also did some form of regeneration.  The concept wasn't completely new - as some electric trolleys and interurban railroads also used it.

 

In the early 1910s there was a organization called the Electric Vehicle Association of America or EVAA.  They published a monthly trade journal called "Electric Vehicles".  You can find scanned copies of many of them at archive.org and google books.

 

One of great interest to me and a few others is an article in the November 1914 issue of Electric Vehicles.  In it they describe an attempt to map out charging locations along the Lincoln Highway - from New York City to San Francisco.  The goal was to drive a EV along the LH to attend the Panama-Pacific Exposition in SF in 1915.  They failed, of course.  But they did publish a snapshot of their findings in the article.  They did a pretty complete job up to about the Mississippi River, and then found a few places in Iowa to Omaha.  But west of Omaha, things were pretty bleak.  There were a couple places in Wyoming, and in the Salt Lake City/Ogden area.  Then essentially nothing until Sacramento.

 

A couple of us have researched and found most of the 1914 Lincoln Highway locations.  In some cases the original buildings are still there, though long since repurposed.  In one location in Illinois, my partner-in-crime in this effort visited the location of an original building and literally a month later the building was demolished for redevelopment.  I have found and visited all the locations in California (none original), some in Utah and Wyoming, and one in Iowa.  My partner in this lives in Maryland - and he has visited pretty much all the locations from PA to Wyoming and Utah.  He has also visited a lot of locations that Fritchle used in the 1908 drive.  Using internet resources such as google maps and street view, Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, and even scans of old city directories have made this task much more feasible than it would have been even 10 years ago.

 

 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Photos 1,4,5,and 7 were electric vehicles. The only gasoline vehicle is #6. 
You will notice that # 5 is discribed as an electric cart on steel tracks. Was that common in larger cities at the turn of the century?

026835C8-15D1-40C0-8057-6759AF1726E2.jpeg

Edited by Robert G. Smits
Addition (see edit history)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 hours ago, Robert G. Smits said:

notice that # 5 is discribed as an electric cart on steel tracks. Was that common in larger cities at the turn of the century?

When the direction of what our road construction would be around 1901, some suggested and some cities experimented with ''steel roads''. A steel two track as shown in the drawing. I would guess Andrew Carnegie had a lot to do with that campaign. There is an article about it in an old Horseless Age magazine.

 

-Ron

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, padgett said:

Haven't the Brits been using electric delivery vehicles for like forever ?

Quite possibly, they were also using steam powered trucks (Lorries) up until recently, but also keep in mind, one of our 50 states, Texas is 2-1/2 times larger than England and it is not a lot larger geographically than Florida. It's most likely that parcel trucks here in rural areas travel 200+ Miles per day.

 

-Ron

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Doubt that metro complexes here are larger than London. (btw 879 driving miles from border at Pensacola to Key West. Driving distance from Land's End to John O'Groats is 837 miles. Suspect electric delivery vehicles would work as well here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, padgett said:

Haven't the Brits been using electric delivery vehicles for like forever ?

 

They've never left the U.S., either.  Just relegated to golf courses, factory floors, and the like.  Generally with lead-acid batteries, motors with brushes, and crude control electronics.  In a larger context, a lot of rail transportation has been electrified, in one sense or another, for well over 100 years.

 

Earlier in this thread, @ply33 wondered about fitting modern Li batteries to antique electrics.  About a year ago, I met a fellow from Canada who was doing exactly that with an antique electric he was restoring.  (I forget which brand.  Maybe R&L?)  I think he was just using LiFePO4 batteries, and not something more exotic from a Leaf or other EV.  LiFePO4 are fairly compatible with lead-acid voltage levels, and are packaged with built-in battery management systems to prevent under- or over-charging.  So it seems like a relatively easy thing to do.  Big savings due to much better energy density, both in terms of weight and volume, too.

Edited by wws944 (see edit history)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mentioned before have a friend making quite a few shekels putting 48v LI packs into Golf Carts. Apparently good ones are plentiful on eBay and makes for a very fast, long range cart. Is now designing controller/chargers.

 

BTW Li jump boxes are light, small (fit in pocket) and use USB type C chargers. Claims seem a bit of hype ("12000mAh" in one place and 44.4Wh in another) but several for half a Benjamin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...