Nicolas Joseph Cugnot1770

Musée des arts et métiers

Musée des arts et métiers

In 1769 military engineer Nicolas Cugnot built the first vehicle able to move without animal power. A boiler alternately supplied two cylinders on either side of a single drive wheel with steam, exerting linear pressure on the pistons, which a system of ratchet wheels turned into movement. This mechanism, previously used in clockmaking, also allowed the vehicle to move backwards. Promising trials of a small prototype encouraged Cugnot to make another fardier, which could carry five tons at a speed of four km/h. In 1771 he abandoned the bold project, which had unleashed the passions of men like the artillery field marshal Marquis de Saint-Auban. "The craze for new things, Sirs, has been taken to a nearly unbelievable level," he wrote in a letter dated 1779. "The claim has even been made that fire machines set in motion by piston pumps can replace the horses and carriages that pull artillery."

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  • Title: Fardier
  • Creator: Nicolas Joseph Cugnot
  • Date: 1770
  • Date Created: 1770
  • Location: France
  • Provenance: Musée des arts et métiers
  • Subject Keywords: Machine à vapeur à piston / Mécanisme de transformation de mouvement / Voiture militaire
  • Type: Bois, cuivre, fer, fonte, osier
  • Contributor: Author : François Mathias
  • Inventory number: Inv. 00106
  • Credits: © Musée des arts et métiers-Cnam/photo Jean Claude Wetzel