It's a Fact
After Alexander Winton produced his first horseless carriage in 1896, he was followed by many others. By 1930, 75 different nameplates had graced radiators of automobiles made in Cleveland. In 1904 the city was the nation's largest auto producer. Although Cleveland eventually lost the "Motor City" title to Detroit, Cleveland has long been the nation's second largest manufacturer of automotive components.
Winton Automobile, Bicycle and diesel literature, postcards, letters, factory magazines; "The Auto Era," Ephemera, photos, miscellaneous memorabilia.
Early Automotive Efforts Up to 1897
The first Winton motor carriages, beginning in 1896, were built by a small crew of workmen in a small section of the Brush Electric Company's factory at the corner of Belden and Mason Streets in Cleveland We don't have a contemporary account, But the February 1905 issue of The Auto Era, the Winton magazine,' later described the crew as a group of sixteen men.
One was a tinner, one a blacksmith, one a painter, one a trimmer, two were woodworkers, seven were machinists and three were helpers. Everything that went into the production of the first Wintons was made by hand. Even the wheels were built in that "one little room" as needed. Winton borrowed from his bicycle experience to design the running gear of these experimental vehicles, But the engines were his own inventions, based largely on experiments he conducted in the basement of his home on Bolton Place.
Winton's first self-propelled vehicle was a dos-a-dos motor carriage which was described in his own words in The Horseless Age of November 1896 and The Autocar of April 17th, 1897. The text in each publication is virtually the same, suggesting that both were repeating information provided by the factory. Perhaps the claim that the vehicle weighed no more than 400 lbs. and was capable of 30 mph was nothing more than an indication of Winton's optimism at the time. The following is an exact reprint of the report from The Horseless Age:
"The transmission of gear is not fully covered in the Patent Office yet, so I do not care to say anything on that point just at present. I may say, however, that the Winton vehicle, to carry four persons, will have an 8-hp improved gasoline motor which is fully covered by patents. The important points are the hydro-carbon feeder, the electric igniter, and the regulator. The feeder converts oil to a fixed gas before entering the cylinders, without any of the objectionable features of the carburetor now in general use. It is very economical in fuel, The igniter is absolutely positive in its workings, requires no adjustment, and will run for years without any attention whatever. The governor is pneumatic and by pressing a button the speed of the motor can be varied from 200 revolutions per minute when running light to 700 or 800 if necessary. The engine is entirely self-oiling, all its working parts being submerged in oil, A condenser or cooler is used to reduce the temperature of water for cylinders. Five gallons are all that is necessary, and it does not attain more than 200 degrees Fahr., so that evaporation is very light. My vehicle for two persons will not weigh to exceed 400 pounds and will be capable of a speed of 30 miles per hour. Ball-bearings, wood rims, and special pneumatic tires will be used on all Winton vehicles."
A photo of Winton's second vehicle appeared in The Horseless Age of May 1897 with the following description:
"In just 60 days after the organization of the company, the first new and improved carriage was turned out. This machine has been put to every conceivable test and fully demonstrates the practicability of the self-contained hydro-carbon motor and its complete adaptability to road locomotion. It was given a road test of 60
miles from Cleveland to Elyria and return, and proved its perfect utility for every purpose to which a horse and wagon can be put. The motor and driving mechanism are snugly concealed in the body of the vehicle and are self-lubricating. The wheels are 36 inches in diameter in the rear and 30 inches in front, and equipped with nickeled spokes, steel rims, and three-inch pneumatic tires. Ball bearings are used throughout, thus securing the greatest possible freedom from friction and wear. The body is supported on easy-riding springs and is handsomely finished in polished natural wood, nickeled trimmings, leather cushions and dash. It will be provided with a canopy top when ordered. The weight of the entire machine is 1,800 pounds."
"The 10-hp motor of the hydro-carbon type is said to be compact, practically noiseless, odorless and free from vibration. It uses gasoline, carrying seven gallons, which the patent feeder converts to a fixed gas before entering the cylinders without any carburetor. It is very economical in fuel and costs less than 1 cent per mile, carrying six passengers over ordinary country roads and city streets. The improved igniter is claimed to be positive in its workings, requiring no adjustment. Mr. Winton's perfected and patented pneumatic governor places the machine under perfect control, and by pressing a button the speed can be increased and held anywhere from zero up to the maximum power of the motor, which is capable of 30 miles per hour. The carriage is operated by a lever which at will engages, releases or reverses the driving mechanism or applies the brake. The steering gear is simple and easily handled."
The Winton Motor Carriage Co. was incorporated on March 15, 1897 with a capital stock of $200,000 divided into 2,000 shares of $100 each. As previously mentioned, the factory and offices were located in rented quarters in the Brush Electric Building at Belden and Mason streets in Cleveland. Several other young Cleveland industrialists were conducting scientific experiments at this location at that time.
At the same time in other shops in Cleveland there were others experimenting with "horseless carriages," including Walter Baker, Otto Konigslow, Frank Stearns and Rollin White. Konigslow's company, which also started in bicycles, stopped building automobiles in 1904 and went into the metal stamping business. Today it's known as the Otto Konigslow Mfg. Co., and they're doing business as usual at 13300 Coit Road in Cleveland. Stearns, of course, became a successful manufacturer of gasoline cars, But that's another story. Baker and White were proponents of electric and steam propulsion respectively, and they, too, are another story, as is the Peerless Company which at the time was only on the fringe of the automobile business. Perhaps Sperry's lack of success was the reason Winton never tried to build an electric car, and we can only guess why he never considered steam propulsion.
In those early days of "explosion motors" the best method of development was cut and try, and Winton was a firm believer in testing his vehicles on road and track. It was reported in Scientific American of July 24, 1897 that Winton completed his first motor carriage on September 1, 1896, that it was "in constant use since that time in all kinds of weather and over all sorts of roads," and that on Decoration Day. 1897, he ran it one mile on a circular track in 1:48, "thus breaking all records." The story carried no byline and was illustrated with the famous "six-on-board" photo of Winton number two, indicating that the magazine did not have a reporter on the scene but was merely publishing in good faith a news release sent to them by Winton.