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Illustration of 1887 Gormully and Jeffrey Two Track tricycle, from an 1887 catalogue

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Illustration of 1887 Gormully and Jeffrey Two Track tricycle, from an 1887 catalogue


This object appears in the following sections:

Smithsonian Bicycle Collection — The collection, 1887-1891

Two-track tricycle
Catalog #: 328,718, Accession #: 276,932
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection

This tricycle was donated to the Smithsonian in 1968. It was used by one of the donors-Mrs. Richards-during her childhood. Though many cycles that were made for children were inferior in quality, an examination of this one reveals that it has been carefully engineered and finely constructed.

This kind of machine is known as a two-track tricycle, meaning that the single front wheel is in line with one of the rear wheels-in this case, the right wheel-so that fewer obstacles are encountered than with the symmetrical three-track tricycle with its front wheel in the center. No markings of identification have been found on this tricycle, yet it is so nearly identical to the Ideal tricycle shown in the 1887 catalog of the Gormully & Jeffery Mfg. Co., of Chicago, Illinois, that it may not be unreasonable to assume that this is one of their products.

Physical Description

Artifact. The tricycle's rear wheels are 34 inches in diameter, each having 36 radial spokes and 3/4-inch red Para rubber tires on steel rims. The front wheel is 16 inches in diameter, with 18 radial spokes and a 1/4-inch tire. Rear wheel track is 24 inches. The framework is of seamless steel tubing, tapered where necessary, and consists of the rear axle housing, two members angling downward to support the pedal cranks, another angling toward the rear to prevent tipping over backward, and the arm leading to the front wheel. The steering head has a long spindle similar to that found in many of the Ordinaries, such as the Columbia. On the left side of the fork is an arm, from which a rod runs backward to the rack-and-pinion steering assembly located to the right of the rider.

To either side of the rider is a vertical arm on which a vulcanite handlegrip is fitted, the right one serving as the steering control, while the left one serves merely to steady the rider. Both handles are adjustable for height, as is the spring-mounted suspension saddle; the latter can also be adjusted forward and backward. The pedal shaft is mounted in front of the rider in adjustable bearings so that the slack of the chain may be taken up. The throw of the cranks is 3 1/2 inches. Both the front sprocket and the wheel sprocket have 16 teeth, so that the tricycle is, in effect, direct-drive. A bronze chain guard is provided for the now missing 1-inch-pitch block chain.

Driving force was applied to both rear wheels, which was a practical advantage, for if the power is transmitted to one wheel only, the tricycle tends to turn toward the opposite side. Because both rear wheels are driven, a small differential is necessary, this being attached to the hub of the left wheel.

A brake drum, 4 inches in diameter and 7/8 inch wide, is attached to the sprocket of the left wheel, a vertical hand lever operating a leather-lined steel band against the drum. Lubrication is provided through oil cups on the front hub, pedal shaft bearings, rear axle bearings, and the left hub. The right hub requires none since it is fixed permanently to the axle.

The machine has not been restored, but it is obvious that nickel plating originally covered the hubs, seat springs and support post, handle posts, brake, steering parts, and pedals, though the pedal cranks appear to have been painted black. The wheel rims, front fork, and frame were finished in black, and traces of fine gold striping can still be seen on the frame.

Date Made:
about 1887
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Grover C. Richards

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