Coats Steam Car


Coats and Coates

There is some confusion here and it will take a long time to sort it out.  The Principals are Professor Allen C. Staley of Purdue, Charles A. French of Chicago, and a Russell Waterman who worked for International Harvester.  There were several cars involved: French-Coates, Endurance, Scott-Newcomb, and Coats, with one being from Columbus, Ohio and one from Indianapolis, Indiana, and one from St. Louis, Missouri.  When we get this figured out we will let you know.
This all started with a May, 1923, Vol. 18, No. 4 issue of “The Purdue Engineering Review” that has a 4 page article complete with photos of a steam car developed by Allen Staley.  The article is entitled: “Steam Automotive Power Plant Designed at Purdue”.   Here is how it is   Coats Steam Car
described: “This new automotive plant has a small, high-speed, four-cylinder, single-acting engine of special design, which prevents contamination of the lubrication system with water.  A continuous-flow, single-coil, steam generator is used, being heated by an ordinary liquid fuel burner of the atomizing type.  … The most distinct innovation is a separate small engine which furnishes power for all the auxiliaries.”  This was to be manufactured by Coates out of Columbus.  Staley filed patents; 1,551,437 and 1,55,138 for an engine and boiler control system. 

At one time Staley worked for Standard Engineering on the Scott-Newcomb steam car.  Coates appears to have worked for Standard Engineering.  The rumor has it that a V-4 Coates engine was in a crate in a warehouse at the Bluebird bus factory in Macon, Georgia in the 1960’s.  Other than that nothing exists from any of this work.  It is clear that this is the next step in a steam car after the Stanley.  A lot of re-inventing has been done since then and with little new being learned in the process.

From the booklet: The Coats steam car is considered to be the only really successful moderately priced automobile operating on steam.

The success of this car is assured because of its design, simplicity of construction, ease of operation, fuel and lubricating oil economy, luxurious appearance, easy riding qualities and low price.


Diagram of Operating Cycle - pdf

Booklet - pdf of original brochure