S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com DUDGEON Automobile Continuation Page 1 keywords = Dudgeon Roper steam wagon automobile car Smithsonian Institution National Museum American History Long Island Nassau County Oyster Bay New York Richard Sylvester Roxbury Verbiest Cugnot Oliver Evans Trevethick

Updated:   08 Dec 2015; 01:00  ET
[Page created 28 Sep 2002; converted 27 Feb 2011;

    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
URL:  http://sbiii.com/dudgn-1.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/dudgn-1.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

S. Berliner, III's


DUDGEON Automobile
(more properly "Steam Wagon" or "Steam Carriage")
Continuation Page 1

If you love history, you might wish to visit my HISTORY page.

The Dudgeon Story, continued from the main Dudgeon page; this page is unindexed, except for Richard Dudgeon Genealogy, Richard Dudgeon, Inc. (the firm) and DUDGEON HELP!


The DUDGEON Steam Automobile of 1853*

or 1855* or 1857* or 1866*

or 1868* (or Steam Wagon)

{etcetera, etcetera, etcetera}

1866 Dudgeon at the Smithsonian
{Frontispiece courtesy of T. Kuehhas, Director of the
Oyster Bay Historical Society and Editor of its magazine,
The Freeholder.}

Did you know that there were two working steam automobiles called the "Dudgeon" (the builder's family name, not as in "high" - only a gudgeon would think that) built immediately before and after the Civil War?

See the story (and confusion) on the preceding Dudgeon page.

Carl Wakeman's
[Image of Carl Wakeman painting from FHA site.]

"In a catalogue advertising hydraulic jacks which he had invented, Richard Dudgeon wrote, in 1870, 'Above I have given a good wood engraving of my last steam carriage, as a number have expressed interest or curiosity in it.'

'This is not in the way of business or advertising at all.  After seventeen years of effort and conviction of its utility, I have learned that it is not fashionable, or that people are not ready for it.'

'Without any patent about it, it will go all day on any good wagon road, carrying ten people at 14 miles an hour, with 70 pounds of steam, the pump on the fire door open, if desired.  One barrel of anthracite coal is required to run at this speed for four hours.  It weighs 3,700 pounds with water and fire to run one hour.  It will go 20 miles in an hour on a good road.  It is perfectly manageable in the most crowded streets.'

Dudgeon Story- continued

Richard Dudgeon Genealogy

It goes against my grain to get into the multiplicity of Dudgeons around, both Richard's line and other unrelated Scots-Irish.  Because there is so much interest in this, however, I decided to present this much of the direct lineage (correct to the best of my knowledge):

  Richard Dudgeon (progenitor, b. Tain, Scotland)
  William Miller Dudgeon - m. 1893 Louise Carhart Ludlam (b. 09 Sep 1862)
  Archibald Dudgeon (b. 25 May 1896) - James Ludlam Dudgeon (b. 06 Oct 1894) - Helen Dudgeon Lee
  Cornelia Lee Marr and daughter

    (Ludlam is an old Long Island name in the Oyster Bay area.)

Richard Dudgeon, Inc.

I had written "Would you believe?  There is a Richard Dudgeon, Inc., selling and renting hydraulic systems (jacks, pumps, controls) to the "construction (manufacturing and transportation) industry".  This Richard Dudgeon, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, makes an absolutely fantastic 700-ton load cell-cum-hydraulic jack, weighing only 79 pounds, used to lift segments of giant antennae in NASA's Deep Space Network!"  These are the types of things they make that lift huge bridges, or any other giant objects, such as great observatory telescopes or the monster pressure vessels or reactors shown on my RR schnabel and road load pages.

Well, on Friday, 27 Sep 2002, I had the extreme pleasure of visiting said establishment as the guest of proprietor Allen Haight and the Marketing Director, Jim Radcliffe.  For a machinery and mechanism junkie such as I, this was a visit to heaven!  People up there wallow around in 4½-ton objects and gizmos that lift thousands of tons and such all day, and they get PAID for such pleasure!  This goes beyond the purview of a page on a steam auto, so I added it to my Science and Technology page.

Our local historian also stated that our same Richard Dudgeon invented the hydraulic jack; now that I thought I'd have to look into!  The great English engineer of the mid-19th Century, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, built a set of the largest hydraulic rams ever (at the time) to launch my favorite ship of all time, his "Great Eastern", the ship that he started in 1854 and which was too big to launch in 1857 and finally made it to the water in 1858 [see my Naval and Maritime page].  Of course, we now know the steam Dudgeon was the same man who was the hydraulic jack (not Jack) Dudgeon.

The present-day Dudgeon firm now has a History page on which they state {slightly edited} "Richard Dudgeon, Inc. was founded in 1850 in New York City.  In 1851, Dudgeon was granted a patent for a 'portable hydraulic press', a jack that proved vastly superior to screw jacks used at the time."  Well, that sure seems to tally and the firm sure sounds like "our" Richard's!  They now acknowledge their heritage; posting both the painting and the stamp@ images.

    [Oh, my!  That unprovenanced stamp image sure looks amazingly like my photo, above!]

Richard Dudgeon, the man, was an inveterate tinkerer and natural engineer who also developed the hydraulic jack in 1849 and formed the firm bearing his name in 1850.  Dudgeon was originally at Columbia and Broome Streets in Manhattan (NY), moving to 789 Bergen Street in Brooklyn ca. 1859 (after building the first steamer).  On Richard's death, the firm passed to his grandson, Archibald Dudgeon (William's son, Helen Dudgeon Lee's brother).  In 1970, he moved the firm to Bedford-Stuyvesant and then to Connecticut and from 1972 to1991 it was located in the old Yale & Towne industrial complex in Stamford.  Allen Haight bought the firm from Archie in 1976 and Archie passed away in 1978.  Dudgeon descendants are still stockholders.  Al Haight moved Dudgeon to 1565 Railroad Avenue in Bridgeport ca. 1999.

On 27 Sep 2002, at the invitation of Al and James R. (Jim) Radcliffe, his Marketing Director, I visited the plant, which I found on the first floor front of an ancient factory building facing north on the old New Haven main line; Amtrackers and Metro North zoomed back and forth constantly.  The big trains really shake the ground and the building looks as if it were in danger of imminent collapse, but the front, where Dudgeon is located, is eminently solid, as you can see from these photos of the east wall:

1565 RR Av, Brdgprt - rear 1565 RR Av, Brdgprt - front
(That perspective came out rather odd-looking!)

1565 RR Av, Brdgprt Dudgeon 1565 RR Av, Brdgprt Dudgeon
(27 Sep 02 photos by and © 2002 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)

Note that the area used to have its own siding.

That inconspicuous front door hides a wealth of information, know-how, and the most amazing old, new, and reconditioned tools and hardware a mechanical engineer, technologist, or tool buff could wish!  Even the jumble of ancient test rigs in the parking lot are in workable order and can be quickly rehabbed and sent out for use.  Dudgeon sells and leases all sorts of hydraulic jacks, presses, and load cells, they design and sell complete jacking systems, and they also distribute SPX Powerteam and Enerpac products (you know, the SMALL stuff you don't sweat!).

Al was kind enough to take down a photo of an old Dudgeon steam press and allow me to photograph it; unfortunately, the lighting was not as good as I thought and the digital must have focused on a reflection instead of the image itself, so you can only see a blurry copy here (sorry):

19th Cent. Dudgeon Steam Press
(27 Sep 02 photo by and © 2002 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)

For a wild story about a steam press, see my Ordnance continuation page 1, in the paragraph starting "Ca. 1954, there was an absolutely ancient gentleman working at Watervliet Arsenal, - - - ."

I really should warn those with a serious interest in the Dudgeon automobile that there are many links out there to one Edward Dudgeon, who was in the U. S. Navy from 1942 through 1945, and who testified about the alleged disappearance of the destroyer USS Eldridge, DE 173, from Philadelphia harbor, due to mysterious devices brought on board under extreme security precautions, and the alleged disappearance of two sailors from a nearby tavern!  New reference link (23 Oct 00).  Oh yeah!  Herr Gauss would turn over in his grave!

Waterman and Gibson had the Dudgeon on display at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum (The Museum of Transportation) in Brookline (Boston area), Massachusetts, at one time [I visited the museum on 15 Apr 2004 and it is a gem!].

Anent this last, on 11 Dec 2006, a kind soul, Tom Jennings, sent me a link to the Modern Motor Car for May, 1950, Page 18, on his site, where I found this story:

"Antique Auto Show, Boston, April 15 to 23 -

Oldest vehicle in the show was the Dudgeon, a steam-driven outfit more related to traction engines than to cars, which was built in 1866.  The passengers sit on flat watertanks arranged lengthwise of the vehicle and rest their feet on the boiler!  The two steam cylinders act directly on the rear axle, and the wheels are of solid cedar with iron tires.  The famous 1896 Duryea was the only other pre-1900 exhibit.

    1866 Dudgeon  \   /  G. H. Waterman and
    1896 Duryea   /   \  K. H. Gibson, E. Greenwich, R. I."

On 25 Fev 2015, P. G. Levesque e-mailed me as follows:

"A quick note about Dudgeon.  When my friend Edwin Battison was a curator at the Smithsonian he told me that they fired it up one day and drove it around.  He had quite a lot to say about the event and really liked the thing.  I wouldn't dare guess what date this might have been.  Also, there is a nearly contemporary written account with wonderful photographs and dimensions in a small book titled "Motocycles of 1899". (Not misspelled by the way).  The reprint of this book is published by Lindsay Publications ISBN 1-55918-226-1.  Some Roper bicycle stuff in there as well.  Book is easily obtained on eBay."   new (08 Dec 2015)

Mr. Levesque is quite right; I got the book and will scan and post the material "one of these days" (when I get a round tuit).

Unfortunate incident - on 07 Dec 2015, I got "Pearl Harbored" by a purported relative of Ethel Dudgeon in the form of a very nasty telephone message!  A female-type person (no lady, she), claiming to be a loving (great-?)grand-niece of said Ethel upbraided me for these pages as being full of errors, especially about Ethel.  What did I say to occasion that?  Further, she called me a "blowhard", which may well be true, but failed to give her name (you my be aware of how I hate anonymity) or phone number, nor did she specify where I erred, so that I am unable to make any corrections, if such are warranted.   new (08 Dec 2015)

Oh, well; into every life a little rain must fall - but was it really necessary to pee on my parade?


No Dudgeon help material at the moment; the only question had to do with other steamers and is now on the Steam Automobiles page under STEAMER HELP!.

Science and technology fans; see my Science and Technology page.

Cyclops fans; see Cyclops on my Automotive page!


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


See Copyright Notice on primary home page.

Please visit the main Automotive Page, et seq.

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