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Author Topic: Sir Hiram Maxim's Test Rig. Bexley 1894  (Read 1080 times)

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Offline alkhamhills

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Re: Sir Hiram Maxim's Test Rig. Bexley 1894
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2017, 09:31:41 »
Hiram S Maxim
In 1911 with his wife Sarah & grandson Joubert (age 8, born Boston). Also 3 servants. At Ryecotes, Dulwich Common SE.
Hiram born 1840 State of Maine, Sarah 1855 Boston.

Hiram shows himself as Civil Electrical & Mechanical Engineer (gun making etc, Inhaler Manufacturer, Vacuum Cleaner Manufacturer). “practically retired from gun making, employer in Inhalers and Vacuum cleaners”
Sarah shows married 30 years with no children (his 2nd wife—1st wife Jane (they had 3 children).

Hiram died 24.11.1916, age 76, buried 28.11.1916 Norwood Cemetery, Lambeth.
Probate. Of Sandhurst Lodge, High Rd, Streatham. Probate to Dame Sarah Maxim, widow, & Arthur William Crosse, solicitor. Effects £33090.

Offline conan

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Re: Sir Hiram Maxim's Test Rig. Bexley 1894
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2017, 23:42:28 »
Wonderful stuff HERB COLLECTOR,always impressed by the stuff you find.
To remain ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child......Cicero


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Sir Hiram Maxim's Test Rig. Bexley 1894
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2017, 23:16:00 »
Hiram Stevens Maxim was born in the USA in 1840. He moved to Britain in 1881 and became a naturalized British citizen in 1900. He was knighted in 1901. Maxim held patents on various mechanical devices and was the inventor of the Maxim machine gun. Like many inventive minds of the time he also took an interest in powered flight.

In 1889 Maxim started work on the 'Test Rig' to study aerodynamic lift. The device was a large machine with an extended wingspan of 104ft (31.7m) a length of 95ft (28.96m) and, fully loaded, a weight of just under 8,000lb (3,629kg) with a total flying surface area of 4,000 square ft (1219 sq ms). The framework was of welded steel tube. The lifting surfaces had wooden ribs with taut wire forming the leading and trailing edges. The covering was of balloon fabric.

© IWM (Q 73291)

Power was provided by two light weight steam engines of Maxim's own design. The two naphtha fueled double-acting compound engines could generate 2,100lbs (952kg) of thrust through two propellers each of 17ft 10ins (5.43m) diameter.
The machine ran along a 1,800ft (500m) length of 9ft guauge rail track set up at Maxim's home at Baldwyn's Park, Bexley, Kent (as then). Restraining rails were fitted to each side of the track to prevent the rig from lifting freely.

On Tuesday 31st July 1894, in front of an audience that included H G Wells and the Prince of Wales, Maxim and two mechanics, Tom Jackson and Arthur Guthrie, climbed on board the machine. On the third run the steam pressure was increased until the propellers were registering a thrust of 2,100lb (952.5kg). Upon release the rig soon reached a speed of 42 mph (67km/h). At this point all of the outrigger wheels were engaged with the upper parts of the restraining rails, indicating that the machine was completely sustained by its wings.
After it had run 900ft (274m) one of the rear outrigger axles broke and the rear of the machine rose up. At about 1,000ft (305m) along the rails the forward outrigger wheels broke free of the restraining rails, parts of the wooden rails flying up and damaging the rig, including one of the propellers, forcing Maxim to cut off the steam and let the machine settle. The rig was damaged but it had covered some 600ft (183m) supported solely by its wings with the last part being free flight.

Realizing that the machine was too large, unwieldy, and lacked proper flight controls, Maxim did not pursue its further development. Instead the rig was repaired and used for public joyrides at 5/- ! per journey.

Read Sir Hiram's own account of the flight on pages 130 to 141 of his book Artificial and Natural Flight. 1908, available as a free e-book @
More photos of the machine, along with his machine gun, @

There were two heavier-than-air powered manned flights before the Wright brothers, Clement Ader in October 1890 and Hiram Maxim in 1894. Both flights were uncontrolled hops and led nowhere. The Wright brothers were the first to achieve powered, sustained, and controlled manned flight.
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