Daimler’s water-cooled car brakes and some other early motoring trivia

Motorcars were practically unheard of in Scotland before 1897. So, when T. R. B. Elliot, a resident of Kelso, started driving his Paris-built Daimler alone at night, a scare spread about “something on wheels without a horse.” Eventually, police caught the apparition and were surprised it was Elliot. Brought before the magistrates at Berwick, he was fined, not for driving but for failing to employ a fore-runner with a “red flag,” because that was the rule for hobbyist drivers in those days.


Early cars were slow by any standard, but their brakes struggled even with the glacial speeds. Overheating was a common problem, so Gottlieb Daimler developed a water-cooled band-brake. “It consists of a small water tank and conduit, which conveys water drop by drop to the drum. This is done only when the brake is in use, the lever by means of which the brake is applied being so connected to the valve on the tank as to open the valve when the brake is applied, and to close it when the brake is released.”


When the time came to decide which was the fastest car in Britain — a Mors or one made by Pennington & Baines — the organisers faced a difficulty in finding a track for the race. Since public highways could not be used, they decided to do time trials up a steep hill. “The competing cars should ascend and descend the same (the descent not to be at a greater speed than the ascent) a hundred or more times. The car ascending the oftenest in a given time to be declared the winner.”



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