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Help solve the Roper riddle.... (long post)
Posted by: (
Date: January 31, 2007 08:37PM

Was wondering if anyone could add to this fact finding expedition - for history's sake. I know of some facts, but are not included in this post. Please share yours.
According to various reports, Sylvester Hayward Roper (1824 - 1896) built 10 vehicles (2,3, and 4 wheelers). I am not including any other items (boats, knitting or sewing machines, etc.), although please add what you know.
During my research, I can only account for 6 of them. Anyone know of the other 4?
The vast majority of information was gleaned from Bacon's book.

1) The first velocipede is in the Smithsonian. The world's first motorcycle.
2) The second one is now in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. This started as a bicycle given by a local bicycle concern in which to experiment. Weighed about 150 lbs. Produced 150 lbs. steam (average), but was capable of generating to 185 lbs., which is equal to 8 horsepower. Roper carried 3 or 4 lbs. of coal at a time, which was enough for 25 miles. He passed away while riding this one.
3) Carriage with a water (or coal) bucket underneath. Weighed 410 lbs. Vertical tubular boiler, 10 in. dia., coal fired.
4) A carriage that is in the Henry Ford Museum.
5) A vehicle for the City of Boston Municipality (fire engine?).
6) The last carriage he built - completed in 1894. Sold to William Holmes of Fisk, Holmes and Company - firebrick manufactures of Devonshire St., Boston, Ma.
Boiler was 10 in. dia. / 20 in. height. 70 1/2" tubes. Engines were double 2"x4" cyls. Geared 4 to 1. Was coal fueled but was in process to be converted to naphtha by Holmes.
I am also posting this to other steam forums. Will summarize when the time is appropriate.
Advance thanks to all that respond.

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