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The Bailey Bullet

Discussion in 'Electric Vehicles' started by tonybelding, Feb 27, 2007.

  1. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

    Aug 17, 2006
    Hamilton, Texas
    Cross-posted from . .

    The following excerpt comes from The Electric Vehicle and the Burden of History:

    Colonel E.W.M. Bailey . . . the general manager of S.R. Bailey and Company, the manufactuer of the electric touring car known as the Bailey Bullet, had mounted several private campaigns in support of electric touring, including a 258-mile jaunt through Massachusetts and Vermont timed to coincide with a regional meeting of the National Electric Light Association in Burlington, Vermont, in September 1913. Soon thereafter, on October 14, he set off from Boston in a stock model of his eponymous electric roadster. On October 31, two and a half weeks later, after traveling more than 1,500 miles across New England and the upper midwest, he arrived in Chicago, host city for the fourth annual convention of the Electric Vehicle Association of America. Bailey was expecting a warm welcome from the assembled delegates. After all, who would have thought it was possible to travel from Boston to Chicago by electric car? That evening, he was indeed the guest of honor at the Illinois Athletic Club. Unfortunately, only a few EVAA members from the Chicago area were there to celebrate his feat; the convention had ended three days earlier, on October 28, and everyone else had gone home. Bailey had misjudged how difficult the journey would be and how long it would take. He had made it from Boston to Chicago in an electric vehicle, certainly a noteworthy accomplishment, but he had also inadvertently confirmed the conventional wisdom he had set out to overturn: even as late as 1913, touring by electric vehicle was not a trivial undertaking.

    As details of the journey leaked out, it became clear that Bailey had encountered two major obstacles in his attempt to demonstrate the practicality of touring by electric vehicle. First, the roads through much of the trip, especially from Buffalo to Cleveland and east from Cleveland to South Bend, were "heavy" at best and "vicious" or "atrocious" in bad weather. Although he reported no mechanical problems with his Bailey roadster, the poor roads increased his energy consumption as much as fourfold over normal city driving. High current consumption alone, said Bailey, would have been manageable, except for the second problem -- the appalling lack of charging facilities. He noted the "uniform courtesy and interest" of the central station managers whom he encountered along his route, but opportunities to charge were too few and far between. In one instance, Bailey was forced to prevail upon a local sawmill operator, who started up his 1,200 horsepower mill engine to give the roadster a boost. In short, notwithstanding the colonel's valient efforts, touring by electric vehicle was simply not feasible for most Americans.

    There's no doubt, as shown by Colonel Bailey's experience, that the obstacles to cross-country travel were huge. Not only were the roads awful, but much of the countryside didn't have electricity at all, and there was no standard battery plug among either electric vehicle manufacturers or local utilities. The vehicles didn't operate at a standard voltage either, so rectifiers and converters often had to be used. You practically had to be an expert electrician and jury-rig a charging circuit at each stop.
  2. DDB

    DDB Member

    Sep 1, 2006
    Bailey's experience, in my mind, raises a question that still remains unanswered today. Why aren't the utility companines backing EVs Today? They would have that much more of a stranglehold over consumers for not only energy, but also transportation needs if we cut our dependence on petro... ???

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