The Copeland Steamer

The Copeland Steamer of 1884

In 1881 experiments with a power unit for a bicycle were started by Lucius Copeland of Phoenix Arizona. He started with a penny-farthing bicycle but found it too dangerous. He turned his attention to the Star bicycle which reversed the arrangment by having a large driving wheel behind and a small steering wheel. A light engine was mounted under the handlebars driving the rear wheel by belt and pulley, whilst a boiler was mounted over the front wheel. The Copeland Stemaer was said to be capable of 15mph and was exhibited at various fairs in Phoenix, San Francisco and New York. He soon built a steam powered tricycle as well as the fore-runner of the sidecar outfit with a steam bicycle with an outrigger. One machine made the return trip to Atlantic City, a trip of 120 miles. All up about 200 steamers of all types were made.

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Murray Barnard, Perth, Western Australia

1996 mbarnard