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George Whitney, Frank F. Stanley, and the OTHER Stanley Steam Car

Posted by Kelly 
George Whitney, Frank F. Stanley, and the OTHER Stanley Steam Car
January 27, 2013 09:20PM
Did you know that there were two men named Frank Stanley, in the greater Boston area, at the turn of the 20th century? Who were simultaneously associated with steam cars, but of two separate designs? The infant days of the steam automobile industry were crowded and clouded enough without this additional source of confusion. Perhaps a concise timeline will at least clarify the record and facilitate accurate discussion.

The players on the left, the Newton group:
- F. E. and F. O Stanley, inspired practical engineers
- A. L. Barber and J. B. Walker, automotive entrepreneurs

The players on the right, the Boston/Lawrence group:
- George Whitney, brilliant steam engineer and steam car pioneer, but not an industrialist
- Gordon McKay, shoe machinery pioneer, manufacturer, and millionaire
- Frank F. Stanley, personal friend of McKay, shoe machinery manufacturer

------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1821 – Gordon McKay born in Pittsfield, MA
1849 – Francis Edgar Stanley born in Kingfield, ME
(along with twin brother Freelan Oscar)
F. E. Stanley was referred to as Frank by his wife
and friends.
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1850 – Frank Forrester Stanley born in Lynn, MA
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1858 – McKay purchases a patent for shoe-sewing
------------------------------------------------------------------------- machinery
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1862 – George Eli Whitney born in Boston
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1875 – McKay builds shoe sewing equipment factory
------------------------------------------------------------------------- in Lawrence, MA
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1882 – Stanley Manufacturing Company incorporated
------------------------------------------------------------------------- in Lawrence, MA, Frank F. Stanley treasurer, occupying
------------------------------------------------------------------------- buildings of the McKay Sewing Machine Co.
1885 – Stanley Dry Plate Company incorporated
in Lewiston, ME
1896 – Stanley brothers occasionally visit
Whitney’s shop
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1896 – Whitney completes his first steam carriage,
------------------------------------------------------------------------- made to his fifth design

------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1896 – Immediately upon completion, Charles D. P. Gibson
------------------------------------------------------------------------- purchases it, then claims that he invented it
------------------------------------------------------------------------- and acquires a patent
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1896-1897 – Whitney forms Whitney Motor Wagon Co.,
------------------------------------------------------------------------- issues catalog, builds at least 5 more cars
1897, September – F. E. Stanley completes his first
steam car, to his own design with considerable
differences from Whitney’s
1897-1898 – Stanley bothers build three more cars,
dismantle one
1898, September – First sale of a Stanley brothers
car to Mr. Methot
1898, November ------ F. E. Stanley and George Whitney are together ----------------------------------------------------------
------- Charles River Park contest, Whitney is present with a car but F.E. Stanley’s car’s performance stole the show

1898, December – Stanley brothers prepare
to build 100 cars
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1899, February – Stanley Manufacturing Co plant at Lawrence
------------------------------------------------------------------------- is the largest of all shoe machinery plants
1899, March – Stanley brothers have orders for
all 100 cars
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1899, spring – Whitney takes lightweight, high-powered version
------------------------------------------------------------------------- of his car to England, sells manufacturing rights to Brown Bros.
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1899, April – Stanley Mfg Co, licensees of Whitney,
------------------------------------------------------------------------- receive an order for 50 cars
1899, May – Stanleys sell automobile business
to A. L. Barber and J. B. Walker – “Locomobile”
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1899, July – Stanley-Whitney steam car ready for market

------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1899, September – F. F. Stanley, of the Stanley Mfg Co,
------------------------------------------------------------------------- builders of the Whitney steam carriage,
------------------------------------------------------------------------- joins Whitney in Europe.
1899, July – F. E. Stanley in France to demonstrate
the Locomobile
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1900, April – Brown-Whitney steam car displayed at Islington
1900, May – Stanley brothers released from
contractual prohibition against building cars
1900, July – F. E. Stanley demonstrates
improvements to his original design
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1900, July – Holmes brothers make second-ever auto trip
------------------------------------------------------------------------- in Yosemite, 2000 miles, in one of the Stanley Mfg Co’s cars,
------------------------------------------------------------------------- made in Lawrence, MA (photo still exists)
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1900, October – Stanley Mfg Co advertises their
------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mackey [sic] steam carriages
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1900, November – article describes to the Holmes brothers’
------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yosemite trip in a McKay steam carriage
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1900, November – Stanley Mfg Co exhibits their McKay steam
------------------------------------------------------------------------- stanhope, delivery vehicle, and runabout at the New York auto show
------------------------------------------------------------------------- based on Whitney patents and using a compound engine

------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1901, February – Stanley Mfg Co sells their boiler and compound
------------------------------------------------------------------------- engine package to the builder of the first snowmobile
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1901, April – article refers to the McKay steam carriage
------------------------------------------------------------------------- built by the Stanley Mfg Co
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1901, November – a used McKay steam carriage offered for sale,
------------------------------------------------------------------------- with 1,500 miles on it
1902, January – Stanley Brothers begin sale of
their redesigned car

------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1901, December – Stanley Mfg Co advertises its McKay car

1902, May – Stanley brothers redesign power
transmission to replace chain with gears
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1902, July – Stanley Mfg Co advertises automobile parts only,
------------------------------------------------------------------------- including boilers
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1902 – Homans describes the McKay Stanhope, photographed and
------------------------------------------------------------------------- described with compound engine attached to boiler and steam-jacketed
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1903 – McKay dies, Frank F. Stanley is one of the estate’s trustees,
------------------------------------------------------------------------- administering it for many years
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1906 – Frank F. Stanley remains a trustee of the Stanley Mfg Co
1915 – Stanleys redesign their car to have a
steel frame and condenser
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1915 – McKay’s estate value is now over $5 million, all destined for
------------------------------------------------------------------------- Harvard; Frank F. Stanley is estate trustee
1918 – Francis Edgar Stanley killed in a car accident
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1920 – Stanley Manufacturing Co buildings in Lawrence, MA
------------------------------------------------------------------------- taken over by A. G. Walton Shoe Co
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1921 – Frank Forrester Stanley passes away
1925 – Stanley Motor Carriage Company leaves
Newton for Allentown, PA
1926 – Stanley Motor Carriage Company ceases
1940 – Freelan Oscar Stanley passes away
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1958 – John H. Bacon writes of Whitney’s work, though personal
------------------------------------------------------------------------- acquaintance with Whitney. The names Frank Stanley and McKay
------------------------------------------------------------------------- are not mentioned.
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1963 – Whitney passes away at age 101
------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2006 – Gordon McKay’s gift forms the greater part of
------------------------------------------------------------------------- Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science’s endowment,
------------------------------------------------------------------------- now valued at $865 million

Sources for this work are:

The Lawrence Gazetteer, 1884
American Machinist, 1898
Boston Evening Transcript, 1899
Motor Car Journal, 1899
Engineering, 1900
Engineering News, 1900
Horseless Age, 1900-1902
Self-Propelled Vehicles, James E. Homans, 1902
Automobile Review, 1901
Technology Review, MIT, 1904, 1915
Automotor Journal, 1905
Directory of Directors in the City of Boston, 1906
New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 1922
American Steam Car Pioneers, John H. Bacon, 1958
Lower Merrimack River Valley: An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites, 1976
The Stanley Steamer, America's Legendary Steam Car, Kit Foster, 2004
Harvard SEAS Newsletter, Spring 2007
Harvard Magazine, 2007

A few final comments may further clarify some discussion in an earlier thread.

1. The Whitney, Stanley-Whitney, and McKay cars are all the Whitney design. Consistent signature visual cues from 1896 through 1901 are the large-diameter wheels, spoked large-diameter rear axle sprocket, spoked inboard rear brake “drums”, and tall curved dashboard.
2. The F. E. Stanley design was different from the Whitney design in almost every way, mechanical and body. Whitney used a number of mechanical advances that the Newton Stanleys didn’t incorporate until years later.
3. The picture presented in the earlier thread is clearly the Whitney design. Not only does it bear the full resemblance, it is actually the photo used for published images of the McKay. Notice in this side-by-side comparison:
- a. the foliage on the left
- b. the angle of the left front wheel’s shadow against the right rear wheel
- c. the intersection of left front wheel, right rear wheel, and bottom of burner
- d. the exposure of the left rear leaf spring inside the left rear wheel
- e. the reflection in the front of the dashboard

The McKay picture is either the right-hand photo with the driver airbrushed out, or a second photo taken at almost the same instant in time. The driver in the right-hand photo could well be Frank Forrester Stanley, of the Stanley Manufacturing Co. in Lawrence, MA.

Kelly Williams
Mount Joy, PA
Re: George Whitney, Frank F. Stanley, and the OTHER Stanley Steam Car
January 28, 2013 05:25PM
Congratulations on writing an extrodanarily well planed article on this largely ignored topic,,
and avoiding all the verbal garbage which tends to confuse everything,,
I especially like the left/right collum to separate the two groups,,[ avoiding the lane jumper],,
Re the last two photos,,After driving the car and equipment to location,,
Tripod,,,6x8 plate camera,,case of Loaded plate holders,,Black focusing cloth/hood,,Lenz[not always carried on camera,,]],,
and if the lenz did not have a diaphram stop,,there would have been a box of "Waterhouse stops",,
ALL in boxes or cases to avoid sand and dust from the dirt roads,,
Geting the car there was no problem,,,but that liLL buggy was sure full if it was the only way they got it all there,,
So,,,with all this prep,,,it would be logical to make more than one exposure,,tho plates were expensive, the time and trip cost more,,A plate holder holds 2 plates,,in the camera case probably ,,,,camera,,,,,2-4 holders, ,,,extra holders in separate box,,
The photrographer was probably worried about his expensive rapid rectlinear lenz,,or the new Zeiss 6,3
or the 4,5 Tessar,,,,,,,,,, Heat and viberation and dirt can destroy these,,
Great subject,,,well planned,,
Re: George Whitney, Frank F. Stanley, and the OTHER Stanley Steam Car
January 29, 2013 09:45PM
A job well done, Kelly. Thank you for taking the time to sort out all of the facts between the main two different manufacturers.
Re: George Whitney, Frank F. Stanley, and the OTHER Stanley Steam Car
April 15, 2013 10:25PM
Dear Kelly:

Great piece of research and thanks so very much for bringing it to my attention. The attached image is currently under the Locomobile section of the Virtual Steam Car Museum. Yes, I will get it moved and updated and footnoted with your research, but I must finish the Stewart Book first.

The best part of the research was the last line in the Horseless Carriage magazine about attribution!

Very best wishes!

Don Hoke
The Virtual Steam Car Museum, Inc.

Re: George Whitney, Frank F. Stanley, and the OTHER Stanley Steam Car
April 16, 2013 07:06AM
The article containing this picture is in The Horseless Age, September 26, 1900. It is available on Google Books here -


Or search in Google Books for

Holmes Yosemite Stanley Lawrence

The last sentence is indeed interesting; it shows that there was confusion between the two Stanleys even at the time. Perhaps this is why Frank Forrester Stanley decided to start calling his cars McKay?

Re: George Whitney, Frank F. Stanley, and the OTHER Stanley Steam Car
April 17, 2013 08:08AM
Hey! If you want to add even more confusion to the mix, there was also Arthur M. Stanley. Among other things, he worked on steam car powerplants for General Electric. Patent #995,384 describes the valve gear used in an experimental wobbler engine, which is now in the possession of SACA Prez. Tom Kimmel:


Patent #1,060,034 involves a complete steam automotive powerplant.


If you just want to get into somewhat confusing similarity in names there was also Allen C. Staley who worked on the Scott-Newcomb car for Standard Engineering and was later an engineer for Chrysler. His patents included:

1453291 Regulator for Systems of Apparatus
1551437 Steam Engine
1551438 Steam Generator Temperature Controller
1633502 Control System for Liquid Fuel Burners
1664328 Steam Automotive Vehicle Boiler
1664329 Automotive Steam Power Plant

Fun, ain't it?
Re: George Whitney, Frank F. Stanley, and the OTHER Stanley Steam Car
April 17, 2013 05:47PM
I thank you all for a most interesting and informative thread. There is no doubt that the competition between the parties during this incredible period of inovative genius was most competitive. My friend Ben had deades ago told me of the legends and storys of what whent on.
Kelly you are most informative and I thank you much.
I only know dimly of the struggles between Whitney and the Stanleys, Whitney was mentored by Roper and never given the redit from his inventions,
A car mentioned is the Scott-Newcomb that my single print of shows some of the most advanced concepts of engineering thatI have ever seen, possibly more advanced than the Doble. Another car was the Endurance car by possibly two other creative giants. The boiler was a monotube and possibly a Lamont type with tangential drum inlets, an exhaust turbine for condensing that also incorporated extended blades that added air pressure to the burner inlet to increase burn rate. It aso had an auxilary engine to provide auxilaries. Did anyone ever get built? A most fantastic blueprint/design.
So much done back then and so little known.
Thanks to all for this information, George
Re: George Whitney, Frank F. Stanley, and the OTHER Stanley Steam Car
April 17, 2013 05:49PM
This most modern type concept mentioned above was the French-Coats car, excuse my 75 year old mind. any information on the French Coats car would be most enjoyable.George
Re: George Whitney, Frank F. Stanley, and the OTHER Stanley Steam Car
April 17, 2013 07:36PM

There is lots of available information on the French-Coats steam car. See attachment below providing this website will work, usually it will not work and nobody seems capable of fixing it. If it does not, I will send it as an e-mail..
The car was to have been built in San francisco.


/Users/jim_laptop/Desktop/working files/The Purdue Engineering Review Article with Coats Brochure an.pdf,
Re: George Whitney, Frank F. Stanley, and the OTHER Stanley Steam Car
April 17, 2013 08:16PM
It should also be possible to see the article by going to Google books and searching for The Purdue Engineering Review Volume 18 Number 4, the article is by Allen C. Staley.


PS,Also try clicking on the following link:


Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 04/17/2013 08:24PM by frustrated.
Re: George Whitney, Frank F. Stanley, and the OTHER Stanley Steam Car
April 22, 2013 06:07PM
My modesty usually prevents me from mentioning that some years ago I paid the Purdue library to make a scan and that is available as item #312 in the Storeroom Catalog under "Literature and Drawings" where it is reprinted along with some relevant patents. We are doing an analysis of the Storeroom Catalog and many of these recent additions will be re-priced to reflect the efficiencies of newer printers and thus be affordable. While on the subject I solicit similar educational material for us to offer from the Storeroom. Our primary job is to make little known material available to the public and the secondary job is to make money for the club. Those who work as Storekeepers do it for free. And lastly, these vehicles have just disappeared from the face of the earth. I have no idea how to go about tracking them down and it is a shame. Tom Kimmel
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