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Chris Spollen
August 2011
Summer Shots
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Few people realize that my grandfather was a bit of an old steamer according to my grandmother. In this photo taken in about nineteen sixteen here he is sitting in a machine that almost killed him. A businessman, tinker and later a hardware store owner. This odd machine was basically a tuck frame that his two friends who were both boilermakers helped him fabricate. This iron monster was designed to do only one thing go straight and go very fast. The problem was at its best speed eighty-two roaring miles an hour it had a very bad vibration and became almost completely uncontrollable my grandfather barely managed to slide into sand dune barely avoiding an almost certain disaster. He never tried for a speed record after this failed attempt or at least this is what my grandmother could recall. But as for me I will always remember the man in this daring machine and the raw courage it must of taken to put the pedal to the medal in this bizarre and unknown machine.

The Henderson Steam Racer British Steam Racing Circa 1864 Shaped very much like a large mans cigar this early steam flying machine was way ahead of its time. Built for speed she applied an aerodynamic body shape to an early mono wing design. The Henderson had retractable wings and flew very much as if she were a bird Although flight is not quite the word to describe this bazaar steam machine. She had two enormous coal fired boilers that produced enmorus amounts of white-hot bellowing steam. However after several extremely noisy attempts at reaching the heavens she alas remained very much earth bound. Little is known abut the life of her builder Robert Henderson the son of a black smith, an art college dropout his life is shrouded in mystery.A loner for most of his life he dabbled in early printing presses till his inheritance ran out then it is believed he traveled to America where he is rumored to have married an native American apache woman. At the time of his death he has been said to have been working on an early version of a removable type design printing press some where in Oaklahoma.

An old wood track racer believed to be from the mid -thirties

This is believed to be one of several of Samuel Langley’s early working flight models that he crafted over a very intense two-year period during his quest for the first man to gain flight. He did succeed in building a steam-powered model that actually flew over the Potomac. However the models flaw was that it did not scale when brought up to actual size and he lost his race to the Wright Brothers. Both inventors were neck and neck in this quest for the heavens. Samuel had the packing of big money and the full pocket book of the Smithson, while the Wrights were completely self financed.

Believed to be a child’s homemade Toy space gun around nineteen thirties. Of the Flash Gorgon time period possibly it could have been a home shop project or a toy made by a parent or a relative. A true collectors item for sure.

This was called a Rat Catcher given to all English night watchmen aboard in bound cattle barges. This strange sidearm produced tremendous amounts of voltage stored in a single hot coil. Sort of like an ark gun when the single charge was realest it could kill as many as tree rats in a single burst. Relatively quiet it did seem to disturb the cattle. Little is known other wise as to the origins of this strange little aver cultural- sidearm device. England 19 04 English train history.

This is believed to be a good example of a homemade night watchman’s side arm protector. Early nineteen twenties, night watchman were responsible for supplying their own weapons and often with limited funs. Guns were often hand fabricated in either local boiler shops or at the town blacksmith’s shops.

What can I say you got to have a rocket ship, “Rocket on the Green Planet”

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