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1901 Breer Steam Automobile

Remarkable cars picture encyclopedia - 1901 Breer Steam Automobile

1901 Breer Steam Automobile
1901 Breer Steam Automobile



Carl Breer made the steam engine and boiler, the crankshaft and connecting rods, the levers and other controls, and the wooden body. He bought the chassis and gauges and hired local carriage workers to paint the car and upholster the seats. The 2-cylinder double-acting steam engine generated about 5 horsepower. The car had two gears - forward and reverse.

Breer restored the car in his later years when he worked at Chrysler in Detroit. Louis Breer, Carl's father, moved from his native Germany to the United States in 1854. He settled in Los Angeles and set up a small blacksmith shop next door to the family's home on what became San Pedro Street.

With the help of his sons and hired hands, Breer repaired wagons and carriages, tools and machinery, and horse-drawn street cars. Determined tinkerers, working in small shops like Breer's, shaped the automobile in its early years. Even after the industry outgrew its modest beginnings, the urge to tinker continued to create new visions of the car.

Louis Breer's son, Carl, learned to work metal and wood by helping his father. Fascinated by the few cars he had seen, during the summer of 1900 the 17-year old Carl started to build one in the blacksmith shop. He powered the car with a small steam engine and boiler based on designs in a magazine.

The steam car, completed in 1901, convinced the faculty of Throop Polytechnic Institute (later California Institute of Technology) to waive the normal admission requirements for Breer. He went on to study at Stanford before entering the auto industry as a mechanical engineer.

Early car makers applied common tools and processes, but the automobile demanded a wider range of skills than most other jobs. To build his simple car, Carl Breer had to cast engine parts from wooden patterns, machine the metal castings on a foot-powered lathe, and forge the crankshaft at an anvil. Hand skills included filing and finishing the metal parts and carving and cutting precise shapes from wood.

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