11-12 October 2012

Collection of John O’Quinn

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Lot 274

1900 Milwaukee Steam Runabout

  • Identification no. 33

Sold for $44,000

6 hp, twin-cylinder vertical slide valve steam engine, single chain drive, solid front axle with transverse full-elliptic spring, live rear axle with longitudinal full-elliptic springs, and double-acting bronze differential brake. Wheelbase: 58.25 in.

• Offered from the estate of John O’Quinn

• Known history

• Rare survivor of the marque

The Milwaukee Steam Automobile Company was organized in December 1899. “Steam is our oldest artificial power,” claimed the makers, which was true. In the longer term, it would prove to be impractical for the general public. In 1900, there were 61 manufacturers turning out steam cars, comprising a quarter of all automobile production. Milwaukee, however, was one of the earlier companies to fail, having overproduced in the early part of 1902. By June, the company had begun bankruptcy proceedings. In the next month, its effects were sold at auction.

The original owner of this Milwaukee steamer was F.R. Clouse, of Auburn, Indiana. It was on loan from 1938 to 1944 to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. In 1962, he sold it to Jerry and Herb Ottaway, of Wichita, Kansas. The Ottaways got into the steam vehicle business through their interest in carnival rides, steam-powered carousels, and amusement trains. Their Ottaway burner remains a favorite of steam hobbyists today.

Jerry Ottaway drove this Milwaukee steamer on tours for 38 years, selling the car to Jim and Joyce Bradley in 2004, who later sold it to John O’Quinn. An older restoration, it still presents well in black with red relief panels and running gear. In the fashion of most early steam vehicles, the engine is under the seat with the boiler beneath the rear deck. Steering is by tiller on the right-hand side. Early steam cars are simple to operate, fun to drive, and fairly uncomplicated to maintain. This car is an ideal vehicle for an enthusiast learning steam lore from an experienced owner.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver


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