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The Sheppee was an English steam automobile manufactured in York by the Sheppee Motor Company run by Colonel F. H. Sheppee.[1] The firm mainly made steam-driven commercial vehicles but in 1912 at least two passenger cars were made with 25 hp engines and flash boilers.

Sheppee Cycleaid

The company manufactured the patented Sheppee Cycleaid, a motorised petrol-driven bicycle designed and marketed for women. The Cykelaid made its debut on Stand No 49 at the Cycle & Motorcycle Show, Olympia, in 1920. The founder, Colonel H.F. Sheppee, had already been manufacturing steam-powered vehicles, making fourteen different models over a ten-year period.

The following is taken from Grace’s Guide:

  • 1921

In production the complete power unit was carried on a special front fork, with the 104 cc two-stroke engine on the left with its main-shaft run through the wheel spindle to a flywheel. Ignition was by chain-driven Runbaken magneto bolted upside-down to the crankcase base, and transmission was by chain up to a counter-shaft carrying a clutch and then back to the wheel by a second chain. The firm offered a package of wheel, engine unit and front fork or the choice of complete ladies’ or gents’ machines. The complete Cykelaid could be purchased for £50. The specification included an Eadie coaster brake, rear hand-operated brake, number plate, rear stand and Brooks saddle. The wheels were 28″×1.75″, shod with Dunlop Roadster tyres. Alternatively, the complete front fork assembly was available for £32, as a conversion of an existing bicycle. The early versions were not fitted with a front brake and, as mentioned above, the complete machine was fitted with two independent rear brakes. Presumably, when buying the front fork unit to convert an existing bicycle, one was also expected to fit an additional rear brake to the machine. Although the engine was lubricated by the petroil mixture, an additional oil tank was fitted. An oil pump driven by the front wheel hub delivered a measured supply of oil to the engine’s main bearings. It would, therefore, be inadvisable to allow the engine to run for a long period with the clutch disengaged, since this would cut off the supply of oil to the crankshaft. None of the available options proved to be very popular with the buying public.


Late that year modifications were made and the machine appeared as the New Cykelaid with simplified ignition and a pump system in place of petroil lubrication. Capacity was increased to 133cc and girder forks were added. The wheel size was reduced to 26″×2″. Protection for the rider was improved by fitting deep valences to the mudguard and by lengthening the exhaust pipe. A front brake was now fitted. The 133 cc two-stroke engine fitted to the left of the front wheel, chain drive via a counter-shaft and a flywheel magneto on the right that was driven by the main-shaft running through the wheel spindle. Although the performance was quite adequate, it had become outdated.


A dummy-rim rear brake was adopted.


The last year of production.

Note: The engine unit increased the weight of a cycle by 35 lb. It was claimed that it would propel a bicycle at speeds from 3 mph to 20 mph and that a 100-mile journey could be completed on a full tank of fuel.

Sheppee Engineering

In 1926 the Sheppee Motor company became Sheppee Engineering, and began to manufacture various products, including washing machines. One example still exists today in the museum in York. Sheppee Engineering was a leading force in the area, providing bespoke solutions to the local industry. It was in 1938 when Sheppee Engineering took a new direction that would remain with the company to this present day. The company was requested to find a solution for a local bottle maker, National Glass in York, to automate the handling process of newly formed bottles and with that, Sheppee Engineering developed the glass bottle industries first automated ware handling equipment.

Sheppee International

This proved to be the success story that Colonel Francis Sheppee had been searching for, and this catapulted the business forwards. The company grew and soon had to expand its premises and acquired adjacent land on James Street in York, where the company operated until in 1993, when Sheppee Engineering Ltd. hit financial difficulty and fell into liquidation. The management team bought the company under the new name Sheppee International Ltd.

Today operating from Elvington in York, Sheppee International is a supplier of ware handling equipmentfor the glass container industry.[citation needed]

See also


  1. Georgano, N. (2000). Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile. London: HMSO. ISBN 1-57958-293-1.