Germain 6HP Twin Cylinder Open Drive Limousine

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6HP Twin Cylinder Open Drive Limousine





The Ateliers Germain was a Belgian engineering manufacturing company based in Monceau-sur-Sambre near Charleroi. The company manufactured motorcars under license in the early 20th century until the First World War, after which is concentrated on rail vehicle manufacture.

The Société des Ateliers Germain (Matériel de Chemins de Fer et Tramways, Voitures Automobiles) was founded 30 October 1897, with a factory at Monceau-sur-Sambre, Belgium.

Initially, a workforce of 200 men built the 2 cylinder 6V model with 6 horsepower. The first finished product rolled out of the factory on June 25, 1898 with many more to follow in the coming months. By the end of 1898, the factory had involved itself in manufacturing Elan carts under license, and in April 1900, they added a 12 horsepower 4 cylinder, known as the 12CV, into the range of products.

The company initially manufactured automobiles under license from Daimler-Phoenix and Panhard-Levassor, and later small automobiles (Voiturettes) under license from Elan, Renault, and Hardt. The company used the brand names "Germain", "Panhard belges" and "Daimler belges". Car production continued up to the beginning of the First World War.

In 1902, Germain acquired the license from Loppart and Cie to construct the Renault light-duty car for Belgium. These Renaults featured seriously reinforced front and rear axles to resist the rough Belgian roads and were built with a new range of 7.5, 10, 15 and 20 HP motors in the Panhard system format. In the beginning of 1903, many commercial vehicles were also manufactured, from a 500-kilogram truck to the 5-tonne payload truck, and later that year, an experimental bus was provided to the city of London.

By 1903 distinctive Germain features began to appear, such us spun-brass water jackets shrunk on to separate steel cylinders and an ingenious system of valve0lift control. Early models had wood and flitch plate chassis and the pressed-steel frame was not used until 1906.

In December 1903, the factory exhibited at the Salon de Paris the new Germain Standard series which would turn out to be a great success. There were three four-cylinder models, the 16/22, the 24/32 and the 35/45, were L-headed with variable lift mechanical inlet valves. In 1904 business was prosperous, and exports, especially to England, flourished, and Germain celebrated the exit of their thousandth carriage.

From 1906 with the new steel chassis came a patented design of forged steel, fully floating, live axle, though chain or shaft drive could be had to choice on the 28HP 4-cylinder models. The first 6-cylinder model, had a built-up crankshaft running in very large ball bearings.

By 1909, though the brass water jackets were still in use, most of the new Germain models had T-head engines. Full pressure lubrication and automatic advance/retard mechanism were fitted at a time when such refinements were still rare. Transmission on the ne 28HP model was via an expanding clutch to a gearbox which would be considered commendably short and compact today. The lay-shaft was arranged to be out of mesh when direct drive top gear was in use, but an ingenious little turbine affair, worked by the lubricating oil, kept it spinning gently and this had the effect of a primitive synchromesh when changing down and a clutch stop helped with upward changes. Quite a wide range of models was made, the smallest being a 4-cylinder 14HP and the largest 100HP Grand Prix type 4-cylinder. Six-cylinder cars of 20, 30, 40 and 60HP were listed.

For 1913 Germain began using the double sleeve-valve engine for many of their models, without in any way suffering the “auntification” which overtook so many of those who succumbed to Knight`s disease. 

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