Archive for the ‘Steam Men’ Category

1870 – “Steam Man” – E. R. Morrison (American)

This wood and brass model with clockwork by Enoch Rice Morrison  is a walking mechanism probably very similar to his “Steam Man”. The maker’s name is painted on an upright as is his home town – Bergen, NJ  The model is 6.5″ tall. I have now located the patent for this mechanism – see below.

Tuapeka Times, Volume III, Issue 134, 1 September 1870, Page 7.


There is now on exhibition in New York a ” steam man ” which actually walks — not merely performs with the legs the movements necessary for walking, while the body is suspended on a fixed support like the old ” steam man” which made so much noise about two years ago [RH – Dederick 1868], and which, we suppose, is now defunct. It was claimed for the old steam man that it was to be used for traction and other useful purposes ; but the new one commences its career with no such pretensions. All that is claimed for it is that it makes an interesting exhibition. It has the same walking mechanism as the clockwork walking dolls patented some years ago [CZ: Morrison’s 1861 “Locomotive Apparatus”, not the 1862 “Autoperipatetikos”]. The mechanism is driven by one of Behren’s rotary steam engines, which has been found better suited than any reciprocating engine on account of its producing less vibration, and consequently being less liable to disturb the equilibrium of the man in the walking movement. As an ingenious piece of mechanism, the walking steam man is an object of interest.

KokomoTribune 02 June,1870 p.1

(uncorrected text – basically an extract from an 1870  Scientific American , not to be confused with the later Prof. Moore Sci Am article)

(Note: RH –  walks stand-alone due to cross-bars on its feet)

The Steam Man.
Have we not heard somewhere in Song of a wonderful steam arm which hammered away all obstacles and of a steam leg that walked the owner to death and walked away with his ghost. If our memory serves us, we have. We never expected to meet those wonderful members in the flesh but no man knows today what is reserved for him tomorrow. We have lived to see steam legs, steam arms, steam body and breeches, steam coat, hat and choker, all combined to eclipse all that poets have sung or dreamed.
Passing up Broadway we saw large Posters announcing the greatest wonder of any age, past, present, or future, which wonder was explained, In smaller letters, to be an imitation of the human form divine, impelled by steam, and approximating in agility the renowned Hanlon Brothers [famous acrobats of the time]. We paused, considered, entered the place of exhibition, and found the steam man in a perfectly nude state, with the exception of his hat.
His other articles of dress hung upon …. …  ..     them the perspiration they had absorbed in his  severe exercise. We were at fault, however in this supposition, as we were told by the steam gentleman’s valet, who was giving his master a drink of benzene through a hole in his shoulder This attendant told us that  the grace of the steam man’s movement, and the comeliness of his features had begotten a general desire in the minds of his admirers to see his manly proportions, and his modesty offering no protest he was accordingly disrobed for the benefit of the public.
We proceeded to take observations of his anatomy from drivers points of view. The gluteal region, kindly protected from rude  assaults of hostile boots in ordinary mortals, by thicker muscles than are found on other parts of the frame, was replaced on the steam man by a Behrens rotary engine, the custom of which we’d give, we may imagine, an outline — when covered by clothing —not, unlike that demanded to sustain the resemblance to a man so far as this important portion of the human  system is concerned.
This engine propels a screw, which actuates worm gears; the gears acting eccentrics, which actuate the legs and feet, which actuate the entire man at a velocity of, we should say, about forty feet per minute, when doing his level best.
His legs are merely straight bars, With large blocks of iron as feet, fastened rigidly to the legs. The legs are joined to the feet at the middle.
So that the heels are as long as the front part of the foot; and to keep the figure from toppling over side-wise, a flat bar extends laterally from each foot.
To give the appearance of bending at the knee a toggle joint is attached to the front part of each leg, but this has nothing to do with the propulsion of the automaton [RH: This comment also mentioned in the 1861 patent].
There is nothing in the movement analogous to that of the human leg. One foot is raised and then advanced, the whole leg moving forward, not swinging, with the foot, each foot being alternately the pedestal or base upon which the body rests.
The fuel employed is some fluid hydrocarbon, and the boiler is concealed in the body. The smoke escapes through a hole in the crown of the hat. When the steam man is about to take a walk, his valet takes a pair of pinchers and after opening the throttle valve, seizes with the pinchers the end of a shaft which protrudes just below the abdomen, and giving it a partial turn, a most remarkable sound resembling the rumbling of wind in the bowels commences, and the steam man sets out upon his travels with a rather unsteady gait, and with extremely short steps. When he reaches the end of his limit the steam is shut off, and he is turned about face by his faithful attendant, and retraces his steps in the same manner as we have described.
On the whole, the steam man, is a curios automaton, and much more satisfactory than his predecessor exhibited two or three years since in this city, who could only stand upon fixed crutches and kick like a punky child suffering for a spanking. 

It is interesting to note the reference to the Hanlon Brothers as Morrison’s 1861 walking mechanism patent was actually assigned to them!.

Morrison’s Steam Man utilised the Behren’s rotary steam engine.  

Here is a picture of a rather large Behren’s Rotary Steam Engine. See site here for more information plus an animation on how it works:

There is a possibility that Rowe’s first Steam Man is the same or similar to Morrison’s Steam Man, and may be linked to Prof. George Moore’s Steam Man..  

The video clip below shows the “Autoperipatetikos” doll in motion. Note that only one of its legs appears to be operational.  

Morrison’s patent for “Autoperipatetikos” – (Walking Doll)

Patent number: 35886
Issue date: 1862

See full patent document here.

Morrison’s 1861 patent for “Locomotive Apparatus” . Notice it was assigned to the Hanlon Brothers, who get mentioned in the Scientific Americal article on this Steam Man. It has been generally acknowledged that the “Autoperipatetikos” walking doll was the first walking toy, but if the Hanlon Brothers did produce toys based on Morrison’s design, Morrison may still have the recognition of having the first patented toy walking mechanism, but realised on his earlier patent, not the later “Autoperipatetikos” patent.

Inventor: E. K. MOKEISON [Google OCR error – should be “Enoch Rice Morrison”]
Patent number: 33019
Issue date: Aug 6, 1861

Enoch Rice Morrison was residing in South Bergen , New Jersey at this time.

See full patent document here.

Note: 30 July 2010. Both the above patents have not appeared on the internet before. They are not found under the normal search criteria using Google patent search, either, and are the results of many tens of hours of indivdual patent searching, such is what I do for some of my researched postings. Enjoy!

See all the known Steam Men and early Walking Machines here.

See all the known early Humanoid Robots here.


French Steam Horse “Cheval Vapeur” – Model (French)

This French model, attributed to Alain Gillier, looks as if it is a working model, with the steam boiler in the cart, and a flexible tube leading to the engine mounted in the body. You can see the flywheel in the shadows.  The linkages are similar to other Mechanical Horses in this blog.

I have seen references to several Steam Horses (Cheval Vapeur) being in France around 1875. Any further information most welcomed.

The model was  seen at the International Miniature Museum in Lyon, France.

1874 – Adam Ironsides – The Steam Man – C. C. Roe a.k.a. Capt. Rowe (Canadian)

Patent number: 4175
Patent filing year: 1874-01-01
Name/City: ROE, CYRENIUS C.: HAMILTON, Ontario, Canada
Year granted: 1874-12-15

Source: Star And Sentinel, 08 Aug 1878, p2.

Letter from Reading.READING, PA., August 5, 1878.
STAR AND SENTINEL,:—The visitors to the sea shore……………..
next column   …………………

This looked rather disheartening to a church goer, but after the middle of the day I concluded it best to do as other people do when the preachers are all away, and, seeing a strong current moving down Sixth Street to the river bank, I floated along. There I found several thousand people waiting to take passage in the Steamboats Eclipse and Gazelle for High's woods, and favorite resort two miles down the Schuylkill -of course you'll understand the woods is not in the river but on the bank adjoining. On every trip the boats were crowded, and I did not succeed in getting passage until the fourth trip after I reached the wharf. But I got to the woods at about 3 oçlock and the "day" was in "full blast." The first thing that attracted my attention was a "side-show" tent and a thousand people around it.
Having got a red ticket with my Steam-boat pass, I soon crowded into the tent. There I found walking around a circle of ten feet diameter Mr. Adam Ironsides.
Now Adam is somewhat of a peculiar "make-up." He consists entirely of steel and iron, and is no less than a Steam Walking Man. This piece of mechanism is the invention of C. C. Roe, of Hamilton, On., is run by two small engines, and can be made go [sic] backward or forward. The legs and feet have the actual motion of a human being. The "Showman" explained all, and said it was his purpose to utilize his invention for road purposes by so improving it that the engine may be carried in the wagon and have the Iron man fastened between the shafts. Adam was dressed in a full suit of clothes, had a fine head of hair, and an attractive face. I think if he were divested of what was put on him to make him look like a man all that would be left would be a small upright steam engine. When in full performing trim Adam weighs 88 pounds.  ………….. H.B.W. ENDS

Note:  Patents database give reference to Cyrenius Chapin Roe, of City of Hamilton, Country of Wentworth, Province of Ontario, Dominion of Canada (See unlelated patent # 169,482 . Signed "C. Chapin Roe".

The Patent shows a double-throw crank and a single cylinder engine, the above description suggests there are two cylinders earlier on in the description, then "a small upright steam engine" near the bottom.

See Section:  History of Industry in Hamilton

"During this time period, there was great experimentation with new technology, some of which lead to such idiosyncratic inventions as Adam Ironsides, the Steam Man, by Cyrenius C. Roe who is listed in Hamilton city directories as both a machinist and a showman between 1875 and 1878."

Wellsboro Agitator 24 Sep 1878 p3

An Ohio genius is exhibiting at Columbis, Pa., an iron man that walks by steam The iron man walks on a circle of boards about seven feet in diameter, and is moved by two little engines in the chest, to which steam, is communicated from a boiler by pipes through the hands and arms. In the mouth is a tin tube through which the exhaust steam escapes.

The above article says he is from Ohio. This is incorrect and a bad interpretation of Hamilton, Oh(io)., versus Hamilton, On(tario).

It is interesting the above article mentions Weston, the famous pedestrian of the time. Later in 1893, we know of a walking automation resembling Weston. Are these related?

The articles conclusively linking C. C. Roe to the later Captain Rowe.

Source: Reading Times and Dispatch, Reading, PA., Monday, August 5, 1878.

Some Sunday Amusements Down the River-……

 The principal attraction, however, was Adam Ironsides, the Steam Walking Man. This ingenious piece of mechanism, the invention of C. C. Roe, of Hamilton, Ont., was exhibited in a tent, into which all who had come to the woods by steamers, were admitted free. Others were charged ten cents admission. The "Walking Man" is run by two small engines, and walks over a circular course about seven feet in diameter. The machine can be made to go backward or forward, and the legs and feet have the actual motion of a human person. The machine is five feet high, and weighs 83 pounds. It will be exhibited in this city, commencing on Wednesday next. Mr. Roe and his family travel with their curiosity, upon a small steamer called the "Experiment," which is stationed at present at High's Woods.

This first article refers to  "Mr. Roe and his family travel with their curiosity, upon a small steamer called the "Experiment," which is stationed at present at High's Woods".

The second article extends this description further: Source – Lebanon Daily News, Tues Sep 21 1880.

A Steam Man.
C. C. Roe, of Hamilton, Ont., who is traveling on the Pennsylvania and Union canals in a steam yacht yesterday afternoon arrived at this place and anchored at the Ninth street wharf. Mr Roe has on board the figure of a man made of iron, which is run by steam and imitates the perfect actions of a human being. The engine also runs a music box, and can make 2,000 revolutions per minute,
The Experiment is a wooden vessel, about 60 feet long, and draws one foot of water. Mr. Roe was in this city several years ago with the same vessel. He then had his family with him. The wife has since died in Washington. On the trip he was accompanied by to men and his children. In this way they travel from place to place and enjoy the scenes in the towns they visit. The steam man was patented in 1874. Ha walks on a circle of boards about seven [feet] in diameter, in the middle of the circle are four rods holding the iron pipe which leads from the boiler of the engine and conveys the steam to the man's hand, and through his arms to his chest, in which are placed two small engines. The legs of the man consist of two iron rods, one fixed and the the other movable, which cross at the knees and join at the ankles. The movable rods in each leg are worked by their respective engines, and give natural motion to the legs. The exhausted steam escapes through a tin tube, about ten inches long, placed in the mouth. The man walks as if he was rather stiff in the joints, but the motion is similar to that of an ordinary man. The heel comes down first and then the toe. The whole apparatus weighs about eighty pounds.

See all the Steam Men listed here.

1830c – Walking by Steam – Robert Seymour (British)

The world's first concept for a powered exoskeleton ? We often forget that even the now bygone era of Steam power and locomotion was new and in its infancy, satirists looked at a future whereby the most absurd objects could be powered and animated.
Locomotion – Walking by Steam, Riding by Steam, Flying by Steam, by Robert Seymour published by Thomas McLean, London .
"Locomotion", a late 1820's or 1830c satire on the coming of the Age of Steam; the inventions to be expected in the wake of the newfangled steam railroad are, from left to right: a steam walker ("Walking by Steam"), a steam carriage ("Riding by Steam"), and a steam ornithopter ("Flying by Steam") 

There's a second companion plate "A few small inconveniences — There's nothing perfect" that shows the newfangled steam inventions breaking down and blowing up.

'Locomotion', London, c1820. In the centre a man wearing steam driven boots has ground to a halt, as the fire has gone out, below a servant attempts to start a blaze with a pair of belows. People in other forms of transport are also experiencing difficulties. 

Notes: 1. For an explanation of the Machinery see the next Number of the Edinburg Review" [RH-2010 – Not yet located].

2. Etched signature below image, "Shortshanks del. s.p." pseudonym for Robert Seymour and was a play on Cruikshank who threatened to sue so Seymour stopped using it. The illustrations are sometimes incorrectly attributed to George Cruikshank, a contemporary of Robert Seymour who used the same publisher, Thomas McLean.

3. Possibly an inspiration for Nick Park's "Wallace & Gromit's : The Wrong Trousers."

1964 – “The Pud” Steam-powered robot – C. Hampton (British)

A Radio Controlled, Reversible, Steam Powered Christmas Pudding

Is "the Pud" an earlier form of the "Crabfu" type of  machine? 

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