Posts Tagged ‘Behren’s Rotary Engine’

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.


1874-1883 Steam Man – Capt. Rowe a.k.a. C. C. Roe (Canadian)

I have not been able to locate an image of Rowe's Steam Man, or should I say Steam Men as he made at least two of them.  There is a possibility that Rowe's second Steam Man was re-incarnated as Prof.  Moore's Steam Man in 1891. More on that in a later post.

At one time I had articles included here that refered to C.Chapin Roe. Because of their similar names, and an incorrect press article giving Roe's address as Ohio, not Ontario, I thought they were the same. I've now found the patent (Canadian) for C. C. Roe's Steam Man (see here), so they appear to be two separate people.

**Update: 24 Oct 2013 – A new article published in  1874 – C.C. Roe's Steam Man "Adam Ironsides" about C. C. Roe and his steam boat "Experiment" and his children confirms that, in fact, Roe and Rowe are the same person, just different spellings of his name at different times.

At least being from Schuylkill, I'm quite confident the article is refering to the same Capt. Rowe from the other articles.

Bangor Daily Whig And Courier 19 Jan,1883 p3

In his home built upon the hull of a superannuated steamer which lies in the Schuylkill river near the Wissahickon landing, Captain Rowe is still at work upon his iron man. This mechanical biped, of which a crude model was exhibited at Manayunk several years ago, is to be operated by steam, and the Inventor who is said to have devoted a fortune to his whim, expects to live to see It running faster than any horse and performing many useful services.

 Chester Times 22 Jan,1883 p3  

Rowe a Humane Man.

Captain Rowe, the inventor of the steam man, who has been occupying quarters afloat with his two young daughters in a craft improvised from the hull of an old river steamboat, on the Schuylkill, near the Wissahickon landing, had an agent of the Society to Protect Children from Cruelty as a visitor on Saturday. A part of the hull was found to be fixed up as a workshop for the steam man and the other part as a lodging room. Although the strange domicile was dilapidated the children seemed to be well-cared for and sheltered.
It had been alleged that Rowe had been cruel to the little ones and had not half fed or clothed them. The inventor was asked to visit Secretary Crew, of the society, and speak for himself.

Evening Observer 24 Jan, 1883 

The Steam Driven Contrivance Made by a Floating Philadelphian.

A machine made of iron in the shape of a man, which is intended to walk and to haul, has been constructed by an individual named Captain Rowe, who lives on the Schuylkill river near Wissahicken Landing. Like the residences of Xing Po, Captain Rowe’s house floats upon the water.
This weird abode has been constructed upon the hull of an old Schuylkill river steamer, and in it, snug and comfortable, live the Captain’s children, who find plenty of room in one-half of the aquatic structure, leaving the other half as a workshop, where their father has been for many years- hammering and beating away upon his great man of iron. Captain Rowe says he has once or twice tested his invention, and that it has actually been seen by many witnesses to walk and run just like a human being. It resembles a short, thick-set man in ancient armor, the head being unusually large and the chest full and broad. The thing is run by steam, the boiler and furnace being located where ordinary mortals sit, the spiral tubes in which steam is generated ending in the shoulders. The smoke passes out through the top of the head. The machinery, which is of the most complicated character, is below the chest. Two cylinders of ingenious construction furnish power to a series of strong rods and cranks extending downward into the legs and feet. Like the engine of a sternwheel steamboat, these cylinders work with alternate motions and form the foundation for the forward and backward steps. The motion of the arms are regulated by cogs and cams connected with the pitman crank. The forearms and hands are provided with strong rubber cushions, and springs. Some years ago, when the iron man's machinery was not as satisfactory to the inventor as it is now, the arrangement was exhibited in Manayunk. Since then several changes in the springs regulating the action of the ankles and insteps have been determined upon. At the suggestion of an intelligent machinist it was decided to substitute strong Para rubbers for brass in two of the ankle springs, thus securing a much easier step when the machine is in motion. Twelve years ago Captain Rowe constructed a steam man from crude and imperfect ideas, which walked, so he says, although in a feeble and uncertain manner. After that he spent a fortune which was left him, in perfecting his machine; but for some years he had not given the matter much attention. He says he expects to see his steam man running on the street faster than the swiftest horse, before he dies. He thinks, also, that it can be put to many valuable and practical uses. Philidelplia Record.

Although the above article mentions "Twelve years ago Captain Rowe constructed a steam man…" , as Rowe is the same as Roe (see above), his first Steam Man was built probably at the time of his patent, being 1874, not 1871 that 12 years from the published article would make it.

Daily Advocate 6 Feb, 1883 p3 

Extraordinary and Indecorous Conduct of this Stalwart Citizen.-

His Enraged Inventor Knocks Him Into Smithereens.

Philadelphia Press.
The steam man is no more. His inventor and master, Captain Rowe, became enraged a few weeks ago because of his pupil's intractability, and struck him a fatal blow in the temple, crushing in his skull, and causing his vapory brains to fill the air for yards around.
He fell on the ground, gave one heart-rending whistle through his iron nose, and then slowly puffed his life away. Various causes are assigned for the steam man's tragic and untimely demise. He had been built by Capt Rowe, at the corner of Marshall and Willow streets, after years of patient thought and persistent labor, and when completed appeared as a wonderful libel on real humanity. His head was large, and the width and depth of his forehead indicated great intelligence. His body was well rounded, symmetrical and powerful, while his arms were exaggerated imitations of the arms of a powerful blacksmith. The legs of the steam man were marvels of inventive genius. They were joined at hip, knee and ankle, and were intended to cause the curious piece of mechanism to walk, and run and trot as naturally as a human being.
Soon after finishing the work of almost half a lifetime Captain Rowe gave a private exhibition at Manayunk. The steam man was generously fed with a diet of wood, coal and water and then to conform with the laws of his peculiar organism, a blaring torch was applied to this seemingly indigestible food.
It took ten minutes or more for the Steam Man to exhibit signs of life after finishing the meal Then his eyes began to glow; his breath came with a long, powerful respiration; his chest heaved, and he stretched his off leg as though proud of his power. Captain Rowe came forward and pressed a lever located on the steam man’s stomach. With a shrill Shriek of delight, the iron pupil stepped out with a firm tread, and after going a few steps, paused and began to breathe very hard.  Captain Rowe became slightly irritated, and gave the lever another turn, whereupon the man lifted his left foot and made a vicious kick at his master. Captain Rowe at once saw that his pupil wanted water and in order not to cool him off too suddenly administered a small drink of twelve gallons. This appeared to please the man for a few moments, and he breathed forth a fiery cloud of thanks. Again was the lever manipulated, again did the curious being start forward this time waving his arms and snorting loudly. Captain Rowe was standing a few feet in advance, and in attempting to get out of the way he stumbled. The next instant the man was on top of him and had given him a stunning blow in the chest with his iron arm. The captain, who is a large, powerful man and somewhat impulsive, got angry and aimed a blow at his pupil's nose. It was countered verv cleverly, and the man struck the captain the chin. Capton Rowe saw that to stand in front would be placing himself at an immense disadvantage, and almost livid with rage he jumped nimbly aside seized a club and struck the steam man in the head, knocking him "silly." The unfortunate creature trembled from head to foot and then went down all in a heap. Not content having felled his intractable pupil Captain Rowe attacked him as he lay prostrate and he broke him into small pieces.
The remains of the defunct steam puglist are now in the queer-looking  boat that the captain calls his home, now lying on the Schuylkill bank, near Wissahickon landing The statorial house was found yesterday afternoon in charge of the captain is children and his eldest boy expressed the opinion that the steam man would never be resurrected.
He added the further information that his father is now confining his attention to the construction of a steam carriage The latter invention is housed beneath a shed on a vacant lot at Ninth street and Girard avenue.

Oshkosh Daily Northwestern  21 Feb, 1883 p2  

Steam Man,
In an old unused steam tag on the Schuylkill River near the Wissahickon landing lives Capt Rowe. The boat is the queer combination of dwelling-house machine shop, nursery and steam tug Capt. Rowe is as queer as his boat. He is possessed of an idea that he can construct a steam man, and asserts with great deal of confidence that in a few weeks he will have one walking about the streets of Philadelphia, strong enough to draw a horse car and swift enough to distance the greatest runner. When the machine is put together it will resemble a short, thick-set man in ancient armor. The head is unusually large and the chest full and broad. The boiler and furnace are in the back of the machine, the spiral tubes in which steam is generated ending in the shoulders The smoke passes out through the top of the head, heating in that manner two small reservoirs of water in the neck and part of the head and back.
The machinery is in front, below the chest. Two cylinders of ingenious construction furnish power to a series of strong rods and cranks extending downward into the legs and feet. Like the engines of a stern-wheel steamboat, these cylinders work with alternate motions and form the foundation for the forward steps. The motions of the arms are regulated by cogs and cams connecting with the pitman cranks. The forearm and hands are provided with strong rubber cushions and springs.
Capt. Rowe has been working on his steam man for many years, and judging from imperfect tests made last November feels confident that his machine is now perfect. Twelve years ago he built a steam man from crude and imperfect ideas, but did not meet with much success. The machine, when tied between the shafts of a wagon, would walk in a feeble and uncertain manner. It would not stand alone, and for this reason was of no value. People laughed at the idea then and ridiculed the invention. For several years Capt. Rowe pondered on the problem of equilibrium, and in his experiments wasted the greater part of a legacy bequeathed to his wife by a cousin, who had made a large amount of money in the Pennsylvania oil regions Failure after failure made Capt. Rowe morose, and he soon became madly insane on the subject of his invention.

For all the Steam Men, see here.

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