Brooks Steamer

Brooks steamer
Photo by Ian Taylor

In 2007, local citizens raised some $50,000, enabling the Stratford Perth Heritage Foundation to acquire a Brooks steam car from Orillia Heritage Centre that was built at Stratford back in 1926 — one of only 15 known to exist out of some 150 steam powered sedans produced in Stratford between 1924 and 1926.

brooks2Brooks steamers sported some unusual features.

Bodies were made of fabric, not metal. Orillia Body Company, a division of Tudhope Manufacturing Company, made bodies using a steel frame covered with artificial leather supplied by the American Auto Trimming Company in Walkerville, Ontario. Wire netting, wadding and canvas were also employed. The companies promised “total absence of rumbling and vibration, squeaks and rattles.”

Bunsen burners heated pot boilers. Smoke stacks came as standard equipment.

Brooks steam cars had:

  • Engine: two cylinder, 3.5″ bore, 4.5″ stroke, geared direct to the rear axle, only 38 moving parts, incorporating a horizontal slide valve engine and detachable heads. This in turn drove the generator for the supply of current.
  • Boiler: 20 inch diameter, 16 inch depth, vertical fire-tube design, located under the hood. Water was supplied from a 21 gallon copper tank located under the driver’s seat, producing enough steam to travel 450 to 500 miles. The boiler was heated by kerosene, the 15 gallon tank being rear-slung.
  • Wheelbase: 122″
  • Weight: 3,800 pounds
  • Cost: $3,885

The Foundation lent the Brooks steam car to the Stratford Perth Museum, where it has been on display since the official opening of the museum on October 16, 2009. While not road worthy, it has been restored by John Smith of Hanover, Ontario, and is in excellent condition.

In a ceremony held at the museum in February, 2014, Roger Hilderley, then Chair of the Stratford Perth Heritage Foundation, conveyed full time care and exhibition of the Brooks steam car to the museum, turning over the keys, historic photos and memorabilia related to the vehicle.