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Hildebrand&Wolfmuller review

The Hildebrand brothers formed a partnership with Alois Wolfmuller, producing their first machines-motorcycle in 1894 with a water-cooled twin-cylinder fourstroke engine of 1489cc. Drive was by connecting rods to the rear wheels. Built in Germany and France from 1894 to 1898, these were the world`s first production motorcycles. Examples of the "Motorad" exist in the Deutsches Zweirad Museum on Germany, the Science Museum in London and the Henry Ford - Museum in Detroit,Michigan. There had been steam-driven boneshakers on both sides of the Atlantics in the 1850s and of course, Gottlieb Daimlers gasoline-engined Einspur of 1886, but the Hildebrand & Wolfmuller was the first powered two-wheeler to enter series production; indeed, it is the first such device to which the name motorcycle was ever applied.


Like many of their contemporaries, the Hildebrand brothers, Henry and Wilhelm, began by experimenting with steam power before turning to a (two-stroke) gasoline engine, the latter having been developed in partnership with Alois Wolfmuller and his mechanic, Hans Geisenhof. The quartets next design was a water-cooled, four-stroke parallel twin displacing 1,488cc, which until relatively recent times was the largest power unit ever fitted to a motorcycles. The Hildebrands were in the cycle business so their new engine was mounted in a bicycle frame of the newly developed safety configuration. When this proved insufficiently robust, a more integrated arrangement was devised, based on that of the Hildebrands defunct steamer, and the name motorrad registered for the new invention, which was patented in February 1894. Steam locomotive practice was further recalled by the long connecting rods directly linking the pistons to the rear wheels, which opened and closed the mechanical exhaust valves via pushrods actuated by a cam on the hub. The latter contained an epicyclic reduction gear and there was no crankshaft flywheel, the solid disc rear wheel serving that purpose. Rubber bands assisted the pistons on the return stroke. Fuel was fed from the tank to a surface carburetor and thence via atmospheric inlet valves to the cylinders where it was ignited by platinum hot tube, as developed by Daimler.


The box-like rear mudguard acted as a reservoir for the engines cooling water, while one of the frame tubes served as the oil tank. The tires, manufactured under license from Dunlop by Veith in Germany, were the first of the pneumatic variety ever fitted to a motorcycle. Although modern in many respects, the H&W was primitive in others, most notably the brakes, which consisted of a steel spoon working on the front tire, the application of which automatically closed the throttle. The rider controlled the latter by means of a rotating thumbscrew; there was no clutch, which made starting an athletic procedure, the machine being pushed until it fired, whereupon its rider leapt aboard while simultaneously trying to regulate engine speed. Despite producing only 2.5bhp at 240rpm, the H&W was capable of speeds approaching 30mph, an exciting prospect at a time when powered road transport of any sort was still a novelty. The announcement was greeted with considerable enthusiasm and plans drawn up to build a factory in Munich to produce it. In the meantime, numerous small workshops manufactured parts for the machine, which was also licensed to the firm of Duncan, Superbie et Cie for manufacture at its plant in Croissy, France where it would be marketed. Six Petrolettes were exhibited at the first Paris-MotorSalon held in December 1895 and by 1896 some 50-or-so had been delivered.
More specs and user manual of Wolfmuller you can see in next overview.


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