The Steampunk World

Being the continued explorations of a living steampunk.

The steampunk world is all around us, lying just out of sight, in a continuous thread of steampunk builders and culture that extends from the Victorian era to the present. You'll find no science fiction here: This is real life steampunk.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Editor's Note: When Blogger stopped supporting FTP it pretty much threw a big monkey wrench into all of my online publishing. The service seems to be plagued with bugs and I suspect we are seeing the death of another once-relevant web icon. The same thing happened to me when Yahoo bought e-groups, and again when geocities ceased to be. (Frustratingly accumulating multiple accounts as all things become Google) has become my online resume and is updated rarely and by hand. Chicagofreakbike, which was updating only a few times a year even when I was in Chicago, has slowed way down and is being updated by hand. It still remains, as many people tell me, a great place to poke around for ideas and so it shall survive. My blog, which is ten years old this year, has ground to a halt as I attempted to migrate it to but I forgot and updated the old one by hand and I'm just finding the whole blog thing to be less relevant these days as I use the internet less and less. has been giving me a "migration pending" beachball on the blogger dashboard for several months now. I intend to keep the site and update it by hand as I develop my pennyfakething designs. My great-grandfather's diary, The Diary of Fletcher Ames Hatch, is the only one that really works for me on blogspot because I still have the source material in hand and can trust my site's content on the servers of a company that may go the way of geocities. I really only put it there, and at twitter in order to trickle it into the internet cache. Meanwhile for aggregating content that is not my own I find tumblr to be quite easy to use and you may enjoy & Steampunk Vehicles. As I find myself busier and more active in real life I update less and less, and for this I apologize to anybody who may be out there enjoying any of these fine online Johnny Payphone products these last ten years. The world is a drastically different place than it was then, and so is the internet, and so is my life. I always like answer emails about wacky bike design and can still be reached at payphone at primate dot net.

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Screw Drive Roundup

I have long been fascinated with screw drive & cannot wait until I am mudbogging in one of my own creation. The conditions and budgets neccessary to make this a sane project have only aligned a few times in the past century. You can read a detailed history at the wikipedia page.

Apparently the Peavy family had two as early as 1907, one steam-powered. The advantage in the agricultural field is that it plows as it goes.

The earliest usage was for agriculture, such as the Fordson Snow Motor:

As you can see they were putting these things on Chevys by the 1920s.

Even Tucker got in on the action:

During WWII the Nazis had a version:

The Russians tried out a few designs. You can find more history here.

My favorite is the ZIL version. Seeing these videos is what changed my vision from a isn't-that-clever art car to a mud-boggin' badass. I wanna take it to the Redneck Yacht Club!

During the 60s Chrysler developed the Marsh Screw Amphibian:

The Marsh Amphibian and its massive, unweildy descendant the Riverine Utility Craft were evaluated by the Army's Mobility and Environmental Administration. There is more weird locomotion at the Army's great website on the subject.

....aaaand of course Chrysler Defence Operations Division, given enough time and enough money, will eventually come up with what I deem "Operation Hatful Of Assholes":

...ever heard the expression "A camel is a horse designed by committee"?

Apparently Samuel Cody (of the Cody Manlifter) submitted a patent for an augur drive tank, but the government didn't bite. From Shusharmor come these pictures of a model of his patent:

source: Shusharmor

Further Reading:

There was a Dutch version called the Amphiroll so named for its high sideways speed. is a great site, especially if you wanna see some bad ideas.

For more bad ideas, see Unusual Locomotion.

Of course, there are many modern augur drive vehicles such as those used for arctic exploration. They aren't as much fun to look at so find 'em yourself. There's also the Tyco Terrain Twister R/C car and Segway's robot platform. Some augur drive tanks have appeared in various video games. There's a Survival Research Laboratories robot that uses the technology.

Vintage U.S. Augur Drive

From Shusharmor:

In the winter of 1941-42, the Americans began feverishly to increase fleet that can move through the snow - it seemed that at the Alaskan base should not encroach mad samurai, not the Kremlin's man-eater, not a madman Fuhrer, and then all together. Has not spared it the urgent creation of snow machines and party shnekohody. In particular, a farm tractor was equipped with two screws and started testing, but soon he was gone so quickly that not even left behind no evidence of TTX ...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

ZIL augur pic

Found another picture of a ZIL screw-drive in a set of 60's promotional pics at

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Emigrant

I built this pennyfakething in two weeks as soon as I heard about the Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition. I envisioned the bike I would build to ride west to Californy during the gold rush. Scavenging an old wagon wheel and an iron caster from a shop cart, I built a fork from railing and used saw handles for grips. Californy here I come!

For the rear tyre, I used the old pennyfarthing technique. I drilled two holes in the rim, then ran a few lengths of baling wire through some old worn gas hose. I ran it around the wheel a few times and then twisted it tight through the holes.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Land Yachts

Glenn Curtis, of Curtis-Wright aircraft, developed the "motor bungalow" beginning in 1919 after the failure of his flying car at the 1917 Pan-American Exhibition.


This ultra-streamline Reo tractor was specially built to tow a Curtiss Aerocar, on of the earliest production fifth-wheel trailers. Custom built for Dr. Hubert Eaton of the Forest Lawn Memorial Parks, its innovative cab-forward aluminum and leatherette body was constructed by Standard Carriage Works of Low Angeles, a coachbuilder that specialized in bodies for trucks and other commercial vehicles. It featured a large storage area, sleeping quarters for the driver, and a separate four-cylinder engine for auxilliary power. A Williams air-brake an dual rear-wheels accommodate the permanently attachehed 10,000 pound trailer. First equipped with a flat-12 White truck engine, the Reo tractor was fitted with a 300-horsepower Cummins 6-cylinder diesel in 1953 when the original engine wore out after more than 250,000 miles of use.

The luxurious and expensive Aerocar trailer was built by Curtiss of Coral Gables, Florida, a firm also known for motorcycles and pioneering aircraft. Nicknamed "Vagabond" by Dr. Eaton, it was outfitted for hunting excursions and to transport company executives on trips to inspect various real-estate holdings. Special features include a self-contained restroom and kitchen, comfortable seating for eight, cup holders, and an observation deck equipped with a speedometer, compass, and intercom for communication with the driver. Though currently set up for day travel, the interior can be modified to sleep up to six passengers. The dramatically styled rig was in regular use until retired by Forest Lawn Memorial Parks in 1991 - Peterson Automotive Museum

The aerocar was meant to be ridden in, so that the owner and pals could have a swingin cocktail party on the road while the driver even slept in the cab! Twelve cylinder engine with four-cylinder generator!

Apparently the observatory model was too expensive, because Curtiss dialed it back a bit with the economy model:

This one started life as a LA hotel's Tijuana excursion vehicle and then a rodeo rider toured in it for 30 years. It's now owned by Henry Wallace.

The sedan pictured towing the Aerocar quickly proved too underpowered for the busy traveler. Most owners had a custom 5th-wheel tractor built:

This International is owned by Hindley's Garage.

The African explorer Attilio Gatti built two of these Jungle Yachts to explore the Belgian Congo. You can read more about them here.


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Junk of a Steampunk

Location: Berkeley, CA

The Haul's winter berth is strewn with the casting of the mad scientists within. This pile of junk is fractal; examination of any section of it will reveal as much variety as a perusal of the whole.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Steampunk Motorcycles