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On this day: 12th June 1899 Fred files a triple patent whammy

12th June 2020

Fred Lanchester was responsible for hundreds of patents during his lifetime that included everything from his first drawing machine the ‘Isometrograph‘ in 1888 to a pneumatic piano that could play itself!

But one of his most productive days was 12th June 1899 when he was living in Ladywood Road, Birmingham when he filed not one, but three ingenious patents.

LAN-6-44-5 Patent for improvements in power propelled vehicles, 12 June 1899

LAN-6-44-5 Patent for improvements in power propelled vehicles, 12 June 1899

First up is a patent for “Improvements in Power Propelled Vehicles” (LAN 6/44) which aims to provide a form of gearing for two forward and one reverse speed.  It would have been especially useful  for light vehicles (eg. tram) designed to run on rails because it would also incorporate a swivel mechanism for changing direction at the end of the line. Perhaps this was an inspiration for the new Very Light Rail trams coming soon to Coventry?

 

LAN-6-45-4 Patent for improvements in motive power engines, 12 June 1899

LAN-6-45-4 Patent for improvements in motive power engines, 12 June 1899

Next is a patent for “Improvements in Motive Power Engines” (LAN 6/45), to help balance opposed cylinders on a single crankshaft by allowing the whole motor to revolve around the same axis. Many of Fred’s patents are concerned with his obsessions for smoothness and vibration reduction and this early one is no exception.

LAN-6-46-4 Patent for improvements in starting arrangements for gas and oil engines, 12 June 1899

LAN-6-46-4 Patent for improvements in starting arrangements for gas and oil engines, 12 June 1899

On a busy day even for Fred, his third patent was for “Improvements in Starting Arrangements of Gas and Oil Motors” (LAN 6/46).  Here he proposes a starter that used compressed air to get the engine going, instead of inconvenient and sometimes dangerous external cranks.

Exploring the patents are a good way to get into the Lanchester Archive if you’re not familiar with some of his amazing achievements. They are listed in chronological order but can be searched by title – although they can be a little vague – usually starting “Improvements to…”.

Example patent

 

The first couple of paragraphs give a brief outline of the idea before going into more depth about what makes each idea unique, before one more more diagrams demonstrate how it would work.

You can print the whole record, or email a link to someone else (each patent has it’s own unique website address that can be shared, and is made available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 license) and can even be downloaded as a PDF.

If you are conducting some further research or just find a few patents that you wish to come back to later, you can add them as saved records and they will be bookmarked next time you come back to the site in your browser.

Some of our highlights include:

Have an explore and see what there is amongst the self-playing pianos, aircraft carriers and revolving fireplaces!

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