Wednesday, April 8, 2015
1901 De Dion - Bouton
De Dion-Bouton was a French automobile manufacturer and railcar manufacturer operating from 1883 to 1932. The company was founded by the Marquis Jules-Albert de Dion, Georges Bouton, and Bouton's brother-in-law Charles Trépardoux.
The company was formed after de Dion in 1881 saw a toy locomotive in a store window and asked the toymakers to build another. Engineers Bouton and Trépardoux had been making a starvation living on scientific toys at a shop in the Passage de Léon, close to the "rue de la Chapelle" in Paris. Trépardoux had long dreamed of building a steam car, but neither could afford it. De Dion, already inspired by steam (though in the form of rail locomotives) and with plenty of money, agreed, and De Dion, Bouton et Trépardoux was formed in Paris in 1883. This became the De Dion-Bouton automobile company, the world's largest automobile manufacturer for a time, becoming well known for their quality, reliability, and durability.
Already by 1889, de Dion was becoming convinced the future lay in the internal combustion engine, and the company had even built a ten-cylinder two-row rotary. After Trépardoux resigned in 1894, the company became De Dion, Bouton et Compagnie. For 1895, Bouton created a new 137 cc (8.4 in3) one-cylinder engine with trembler coil ignition. Proving troublesome at its designed speed of 900 rpm (throwing bearings and running rough), when Bouton increased the revs, the problems vanished; in trials, it hit an unheard of 3500 rpm, and was usually run at 2,000 rpm, a limit imposed by its atmospheric valves and surface carburettor. Both inlet and exhaust valves were overhead and a flywheel was fitted to each end of the crankshaft.
This engine was fitted behind the rear axle of a tricycle frame bought in from Decauville, fitted with the new Michelin pneumatic tires. It showed superb performance, and went on the market in 1896 with the engine enlarged to 1¼ CV (Horsepower) (932 W) 185 cc (11.3 cu in), with 1¾ CV (1.3 kW) in 1897. By the time production of the petite voiture tricar stopped in 1901, it had 2¾ CV (2 kW), while racers had as much as 8 CV (6 kW).
In 1898, Louis Renault had a De Dion-Bouton modified with fixed drive shaft and ring and pinion gear, making "perhaps the first hot rod in history".
The same year, the tricar was joined by a four-wheeler and in 1900 by a vis a vis voiturette, the Model D, with its 3¾ CV (2.8 kW) 402 cc (24.5 cu in) single-cylinder engine under the seat and drive to the rear wheels through a two speed gearbox. This curious design had the passenger facing the driver, who sat in the rear seat. The voiturette had one inestimable advantage: the expanding clutches of the gearbox were operated by a lever on the steering column. The Model D was developed through Models E, G, I, and J, with 6 CV (4.5 kW) by 1902, when the 8 CV (6 kW) Model K rear-entry phaeton appeared, with front-end styling resembling the contemporary Renault. Until World War I, De Dion-Boutons had an unusual decelerator pedal which reduced engine speed and ultimately applied a transmission brake. In 1902, the Model O introduced three speeds, which was standard for all De Dion-Boutons in 1904. In 1901, the De Dion-Bouton Motorette Company began manufacturing De Dion-Bouton automobiles under license in Brooklyn, New York. A small quantity of American De Dion Motorettes were made. These had either 2 seater vis-a-vis or closed coachwork and were powered by 3.5 hp American made engines.
The venture was in operation for only one year. They gained a reputation for unreliability during that time. Representatives of De Dion in the United States claimed that the licensee violated their contract and advertised for a new licensee.