Long steam tricycle

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Long steam tricycle
Patent drawing dated July 10, 1883
Manufacturer George A. Long
Production c. 1880
Class Steam tricycle
Engine Gasoline-fired steam, 2-cylinder, 90-degree, V-twin engine
Bore / stroke Unk.×1 5/8"
Transmission Two speed, rear-wheel drive via quasi friction drive
Frame type Steel tubular
Suspension Solid; full-elliptic springs suspending independent, height adjustable seats
Brakes Spoon brake (front)
Tires Front: 2×36 in (910 mm)
Rear: 60 in (1,500 mm)
Solid tires on spoked wheels
Weight 350 lb (160 kg) (wet)

The Long steam tricycle appears to be one of the earliest preserved examples of a steam tricycle, built by George A. Long around 1880 and patented in 1883.[1][2] One example was built, which after some years of use was dismantled and the parts dispersed. In 1946, one John H. Bateman, with assistance from the 96-year-old Long, reassembled the machine, which is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution.[2] The example at the Smithsonian has been noted as the "oldest completely operable self-propelled road vehicle in the museum".[3]

In 2004–2010, the item was displayed at Blackhawk Museum in northern California.[4][5]


Specifications in the infobox to the right are from the Smithsonian Institution America on the Move collection.[2][6]

Steering the two front wheels was accomplished via two independent tillers which would have made simultaneous steering and control of the brake levers difficult for a single individual.[2]


  1. ^ "1880 Long Steam Tricycle - Pictures". Remarkablecars.com. 2009-06-17. Retrieved 2010-07-29. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b c d "America on the Move | Long steam tricycle". Americanhistory.si.edu. 2008-10-24. Retrieved 2014-06-17. 
  3. ^ Oliver, Smith Hempstone; Berkebile, Donald H. (1953), Wheels and Wheeling: The Smithsonian Cycle Collection, Smithsonian Institution Press, p. 49 
  4. ^ "Arts Listings: Museums-East Bay Through May 30", The Berkeley Daily Planet, May 18, 2010 
  5. ^ "Automobiles de collection: Long steam tricycle", Les voitures anciennes et histoire des marques des véhicules (in French) 
  6. ^ Roger White, Nicholas Jackson, ed., "Race to the Museum: Long Steam Tricycle, About 1880", The Atlantic blog, The Atlantic 

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