Sunday History Photo, SA/NSW

Submitted: Sunday, Apr 05, 2009 at 02:28
ThreadID: 67540 Views:4271 Replies:5 FollowUps:1
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In 1907, Felix Caldwell, an Adelaide engineer, invented a device by which power was transmitted equally to all four wheels of a car. After four years of experimentation, he built the first Australian-made motor-lorry, and fitted it with his four-wheel drive. His firm, the Caldwell-Vale Company of Auburn, NSW, made 50 of these lorries, which were sold to the Government and to private firms for £1250 each.
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The patent described four wheel drive with four wheel steering:
Drive to both front and rear axles is by propeller shafts and bevel gears. Half shafts carry the drive along live axles to open-style steering knuckles. Modern looking universal joints allow steering, and the drive continues through hollow stub-axles to drive fully floating hubs and the wheels. Front and rear wheels are shown steering in opposite directions. (This improves manoeuvrability and reduces transmission wind-up in turns, without the need for a differential between the axles.)
A later patent application from Felix Caldwell in 1912 covers Improved power steering gear for heavy motor driven road vehicles. The steering wheel indicates an intended direction for the road wheels. The difference between the actual and intended directions is used to engage cone clutches which bring power assistance into play to turn the steering arms in the intended direction. One can only speculate on the durability of the cone clutches.
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The Caldwells combined with Henry Vale of New South Wales and formed the Caldwell Vale Motor and Tractor Construction Company in Auburn NSW. From 1910 on they constructed perhaps 40 large four wheel drive trucks some of which were used as early road trains. The trucks had the Caldwell four wheel drive system and power steering, but apparently only steering the front wheels.

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Reply By: Willem - Sunday, Apr 05, 2009 at 06:09

Sunday, Apr 05, 2009 at 06:09
Good one Doug. What are you doing up at

Following on with your theme I found this 4x4 site. Althouigh it is an American site some of the 4x4 tips are quite relevant and some might find it interesting The ABC of 4x4

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Follow Up By: Member - DAZA (QLD) - Sunday, Apr 05, 2009 at 08:06

Sunday, Apr 05, 2009 at 08:06
Hi Doug and Willem

Another bit of interesting information you both contributed, may be you Gentlemen could tell me if that 1913 Caldwell Vale 4x4 is a resemblance of Sir Kevs Darkie ?, lol lol.
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Reply By: landed eagle - Sunday, Apr 05, 2009 at 07:25

Sunday, Apr 05, 2009 at 07:25
Thanks for another interesting history lesson Doug. Makes getting up Sunday morning all the more enjoyable.

The ability and ingenuity of the blokes back in the 'good 'ol days' never ceases to amaze me. They did all this stuff without the aid of supercomputers to work out stresses and such on components. Trial and error was the test bench ,not an integrated circuit!
A good friend of mine ,who recently passed away, was one of the first hydro engineers to bush bash into the southwest and west coasts of Tassie. He also did some work on the Snowy . He had to work out flow rates of the rivers and decide where the most effective place was to build the dams. A lot of the work was done in the field and his 'calculator/computer' was a slide-rule and logrithym book!
I work for his daughter, and he'd call in for a chat somedays. I'd always get him onto the subject of his times in the bush with no support and only their wits and bush experience to get them through.Great stories!

AnswerID: 358126

Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Sunday, Apr 05, 2009 at 08:41

Sunday, Apr 05, 2009 at 08:41
Another good one Doug!!!!
Well done.

AnswerID: 358133

Reply By: Member - Axle - Sunday, Apr 05, 2009 at 11:51

Sunday, Apr 05, 2009 at 11:51
G/Day Doug.

What a ride you would have had in one of those !!,

Doubt if there was a back that wasn't stuffed out of those old drivers..LOL

But! a big step forward all the same.

Good Stuff.

Cheers Axle.
AnswerID: 358170

Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Sunday, Apr 05, 2009 at 15:39

Sunday, Apr 05, 2009 at 15:39
Good article.

For a list of other firsts see Site Link There is at least one Aussie first in that.

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