1870's Railroad Velocipede
This is an original full size railroad "velocipede" (from the French for "swift footed"). It's the earliest manufactured model
and its on perfect working order. In fact this historic vehicle is known as "No.1 Velocipede Car" in the manufacturers
1800s catalog. Examples are rarely found outside museums. It dates from the 1870s and is in amazing untouched condition.
It has a beautiful rustic patina showing the weathered green paint. Note the nice wood turned details.
It's also in perfect working condition. These railroad Velocipedes were used by RR maintenance to check the line for brakes
in the rail or loose spikes. Station telegraph operators were also able to deliver messages to people living in towns along
the track with one of these. It come complete with the third wheel and outrigger that keeps it on the track.
For a smaller display footprint the third wheel and arm can easily be removed.
A BIT OF HISTORY...
After a long work week, George Sheffield didn't really want to walk home. But it was the 1870s, and trains didn't run on the
weekend when he needed to make the 10-mile commute from his job in Three Rivers, Michigan to home in Burr Oak.
So he walked, but as he did he pondered how to make the trip easier.
The answer came in his invention of a “velocipede” or three-wheeled, hand-powered vehicle made for travel on train tracks.
Without the railroad company's knowledge, Sheffield began driving his velocipede between work and home.
One night while driving, he discovered a broken rail and alerted railroad officials in time to save a train from derailing.
His unique mode of transportation, now known to the officials, piqued their interest and they requested he build several more.
The velocipede proved useful for track inspection and maintenance and in 1879 Sheffield patented it.
Three years later the Sheffield Velocipede Car Company incorporated.
In the early 1900s, Sheffield Car Company (“Velocipede" was dropped in 1892) consolidated with Fairbanks Morse.
Products included not only velocipede construction but also construction of engines for the Navy, testing of pumps and
marine parts and manufacture of copper wire. Fairbanks Morse even built railroad motor cars, of which a
I am told that this could be a BUDA Velocipede. The Buda and Sheffield cars are nearly identical in construction.
The only real differences can be found in the wheel spoke design.