Often we don’t realize the depth of difference between our lives and those of our grandmothers and even more of us often don’t realize what situations brought about the changes that we take for granted today. Dress is a prime example.
Dress reform began in earnest in the 1850’s with Amelia Bloomer’s efforts to abandon tight lacing or to abandon corsets altogether, and to encourage women to wear trousers underneath a knee-length version of the ankle-to-floor length dresses common at the time. If you ever heard your grandmother refer to panties as bloomers her choice of wording was linked to Amelia Bloomer’s dress reform movement.
A few forward thinking women eagerly followed her example, and a few farm women realized the practicality of it while doing outdoor chores in nasty weather, but the number of trouser-wearing women remained miniscule for several decades. The following article is insightful in that it credits riding in large part for the public’s acceptance of dress reform.
“It really begins to be debatable whether anything has happened to the human race since the first locomotive drew the first train of cars that will affect it so materially as the bicycle. Consider its effect on women. Within two years it has given to all American womankind the liberty of dress for which the reformers have been sighing for generations. The dress reform movement never seemed to affect any considerable number of women, or to modify women’s clothes to any noticeable degree. The bicycle has not put many women into trousers–nothing will do that in this country–but it has given all women practical liberty to wear trousers if they want to, and indeed, to get themselves into any sort of decent raiment which they find convenient for whatever enterprise they have in hand.” – Source: Brooklyn Eagle. Quoted from Scribner’s. June 17, 1896.
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I find it fascinating how existing vehicles were converted to engine power once motorized conveyances caught on, and the following article explains the process of conversion very simply and adequately.
H. K. Clever of Omaha, Neb., has invented a gasoline motor which he claims will create a sensation in the wheeling world. The design is a gasoline motor attachable to either bicycles or carriages, but perfected only as to the former. Mr. Clever has been working upon his plans for the past seven years and now feels that his efforts have met with success. As attached to a bicycle the motor consists of two cylinders fastened to the rear semi diamond by means of clips, the whole weighing fifteen pounds, or seven and one-half pounds on each side, making an even balance. Each cylinder is two inches in width by nine in length and two in depth housed in forged steel of one-sixty-fourth of an inch in thickness, it being thin in order to afford a cooling surface greater than the heating surface. The cylinders are fed by gasoline, for which the tubing of the bicycle is the reservoir. The tubing of an ordinary wheel holds three and one-half pounds of gasoline, sufficient to last sixteen hours. This, with the cylinders added to the weight of an ordinary road wheel would make the total weight about forty-two pounds. The cylinders are connected with the rear wheel by means of a cut raw hide gear, the engine running three to one at the rear wheel. The speed of the engine is 950 revolutions a minute, with a two by two stroke and will furnish about one and one-sixteenth horse power. Running at the full speed of 950 revolutions per minute at a ratio of three to one of the rear wheel, that would mean about 320 revolutions of the bicycle wheels or a lineal distance of about 800 yards with twenty-eight inch wheels. The fluid supplied through the tubing of the frame is drawn into a vaporizer by the suction of the piston through a small tube passing into the vaporizer, the latter being supplied with a needle valve to regulate the flow of the fluid, that being set before starting out so that the proper amount of gasoline and air is drawn in. The pistol travels up and causes a vacuum in the crank by using, which draws the air and gasoline in; the housing and in the process mixes the air and gasoline sufficiently to develop the combination into gas. When the piston starts down it compresses the gas slightly, until it passes into the corrugations below the cylinder and being released it rushes into the top of the cylinder and the piston rod starts its upward stroke, closing the corrugations. The gas is compressed in the top of the cylinder, where it is exploded by an electric spark and the piston is driven downward until the exhaust valve opens and the burned mixture and dead gasoline are allowed to escape. The corrugations again spark, or rather the current developer is fastened to the cross piece in the rear truss of the diamond just over the wheel, and is revolved by the revolving of the rear wheel. One revolution of the wheel gives speed enough to produce three sparks upon contact with a mercury pan in the cylinder. The double motor is operated and the speed is regulated by a throttle on the handle bar. It is so arranged that when pressure is released on the throttle the machine stops. When at full speed the revolutions of the crank shaft to the driving wheel of the bicycle is three to one, but it may be regulated to suit the rider. While the plan provides for two engines, one on either side, sufficient power may be developed by one to run the wheel. Source: Brooklyn Eagle. April 3, 1896 © Material from this website is the property of the author, and may not be reproduced without the consent of the author. Thank you.
“We have engaged the service of expert motor cyclists, who will give daily demonstrations of the autorette motor cycle, also lesson in operating same, at $1.00 per lesson. Amount paid refunded to purchasers.” Source: Brooklyn Eagle. May 28, 1901.