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Twenty years of Haynes innovation explored 1893-1913

When Elwood Haynes left Indianapolis with the Indiana Automobile Manufacturers’ Association Indiana-Pacific Tour on July 1, 1913, he was celebrating 20 years of automotive innovation. It is interesting to reflect on those first 20 years from our vantage point some 100 years later.

First, let’s look at Haynes’ “Pioneer” automobile that he demonstrated on the outskirts of Kokomo on July 4, 1894. Haynes conceived his idea of a “self-propelled vehicle” in 1890 while driving a horse and buggy and inspecting a natural gas field near Greentown, Indiana. After first considering steam and later electricity as motive forces, Haynes found a one-horsepower Sintz gasoline engine at the Chicago World’s Fair in the summer of 1893.

1894 Haynes Pioneer
Elwood Haynes in the 1894 Pioneer
Copyright Elwood Haynes Museum

In the fall of 1893, Haynes tested his Sintz engine mounted on sawhorses in the family’s kitchen. The engine ran with such speed and vibration that it pulled itself from its attachments to the floor. This prompted Haynes to design and build a much heavier chassis frame than he had originally planned. He also devised the test procedure to determine the amount of power and gear ratios necessary to move the machine at a speed of seven to eight miles per hour up a 4 percent incline.

On the afternoon of July 4, as the men rolled the strange-looking contraption out of the shop, men, women, and children rushed out and encircled the machine. Out of concern for the spectators, they arranged to tow the machine three miles from the center of town, to a spot along Pumpkinvine Pike. They started the engine, climbed aboard, and moved off at a speed of about seven miles per hour. Haynes drove a mile and half further into the country and then chugged all the way back into town without making a single stop.

Haynes’ innovation quickly took off. His second automobile built in 1895 introduced the first use of aluminum in automotive engine design. In 1907, he received patents for nickel and chromium alloys used in auto ignition systems. The Haynes Automobile Company was the first to equip an open car with a top, a windshield, headlamps, and a speedometer as standard equipment in 1911.

Haynes No. 13
Haynes No. 13
1913 IAMA Tour participant

A six-cylinder engine joined the Haynes line for 1913, and later that year the Vulcan Electric Gearshift was introduced for a short run on all models. Other standard features on these models included: hand buffed leather seating, an electric starting and lighting system with two large headlights, two cowl lights, a tail light, sight oil feed gauge, an auxiliary air pressure pump with gauge, rim wind clock, rain-vision ventilating windshield, coat and foot rails, electric horn, tire irons, full tool equipment, and one demountable rim. How’s that for a list of standard features?

In 1914, Haynes commented, “The best speed attained with the “Pioneer” was about eight or nine miles per hour. Whereas, nineteen years later, the Haynes “Six” Model 23, on which I was a passenger during the 1913 tour of the Indiana Automobile Manufacturers’ Association to the Pacific Coast, coasted into Columbia, MO, over a good stretch of highway, at 35 miles per hour.”

The Haynes Automobile Company of Kokomo, IN, was a good benchmark for automotive innovation during its first 20 years in business from 1893 to 1913. Thank you Elwood Haynes for your innovation in automobiles and alloys.

For more information on our automotive heritage follow this link.

Elwood Haynes’ automotive innovation began over 100 years ago

Ideas for one of America’s first automobiles formulated in Elwood Haynes’ mind as early as 1888, while he traveled Jay County’s rutted sandy roads in a horse and buggy. He was concerned about the horse’s lack of performance and endurance.

1894 Haynes Pioneer
Elwood Haynes in the 1894 Pioneer
Copyright Elwood Haynes Museum

Haynes’s thoughts stemmed from his formal training at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. He was one of the first automotive pioneers with formal training in engineering and technology. His technical training would serve him well in the automotive and metallurgical industries.

He demonstrated his first automobile, later known as the Pioneer, on July 4, 1894, in Kokomo. Haynes and the Apperson brothers formed an informal partnership to build a new car for America’s first automobile race, the Chicago Times-Herald race in 1895. This auto drew on Haynes’s metallurgical experiments and used an aluminum alloy in the two-cylinder engine. This alloy is the first recorded use of aluminum in an automotive engine. He was also the first to introduce a nickel-steel alloy in automotive use in 1896.

The Haynes-Apperson Company was incorporated in 1898 to manufacture motor carriages, gasoline motors, and gearing for motor vehicles. The 1903 Haynes-Apperson models featured a tilting steering column to allow easy access for the driver or passenger upon entering or leaving the vehicle. In addition to being president of the automotive firm, Haynes continued his metallurgical and mechanical experiments. In 1905, he relinquished direct control of the automobile company and devoted his attention to metallurgy.

In 1907, while he was researching a suitable material for use in the distributor, he discovered the alloy that he patented under the name of Stellite. This alloy proved to be harder than steel and resistant to wear and corrosion even at high temperatures. In 1912, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved Stellite as a tool metal alloy. Stellite had a strategic importance during World War I in machining aircraft cylinder forgings and turning metal shell casings. Stellite is still in use today in space exploration and other highly corrosive environments.

Haynes improved his iron and steel alloys by adding chromium, thus developing one of the first types of stainless steel also in 1912. Stainless steel became popular for cutting utensils and other corrosive applications.

In 1913, he supported road improvements across the country and participated in the Indiana Automobile Manufacturers Association continental tour from Indianapolis to San Francisco, California.

Elwood Haynes’ contributions to industry definitely place him among the high achievers in automotive history. Next time you’re driving your car or working in the kitchen, thank Elwood Haynes for his metallurgical innovations.