Sunday, June 29, 2008

The original Steampunk: The 1894 Roper Steamer,

Via: motorcycle gadgets

"Date Line - June 1, 1896 - When 73-year-old Sylvester Roper showed up at a local bicycle track in Boston aboard this machine—a steam-powered motorcycle he invented—the young bicycle racers just laughed.

Here was this old man riding a strange contraption who wanted to race the local hotshots around the one-third-mile Charles River Park track. It wasn’t until the race was on that they realized the old man had come up with something truly amazing.

Roper took three laps, covering the distance in a little over two minutes for an average speed of about 30 mph. Then he tried to go even faster. After all, just a week earlier he had marked off a mile on Dorchester Avenue and completed that with an average speed of about 40 mph.

In this final design, Roper’s engine consisted of a small boiler over a coal firebox that was good for about 7 miles on each stoking. As the inventor liked to say:

“It would climb any hill and outrun any horse.”

This was the final ride for Sylvester Roper, he died in the saddle with a heart attack attempting more speed out of his little steamer. Roper’s biography and his motorbike is in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame."

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