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E. S. Youse Manufacturer of Drop Brakes in 1909

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In the early 1900s it was said that "Second only to ability to go is the power to stop, on which account the brakes are most important".

Early brakes such as tire brakes consisting of a shoe bearing against the tire of the wheel was considered unsafe and detrimental to the tire. The best brakes in the early 1900s were band brakes that were applied to the countershaft, to the rear sprocket or to the large gears of the balance gear.

The best brakes were equipped to the hubs of the wheels and there were two types of hub brakes.

Internal or expanding bands or external or contracting bands. Early American Automobiles used external bands with one end attached to the frame and the other was attached to the operating lever.
1909 Drop Brakes
However this form was faulty when running backwards because the friction of the loose end of the band against the drum tended to release the band, with the results that brakes of this kind hold well in one direction but not the other.

In addition when parked on an incline the early automobiles tended to roll backwards. Conditions worsened when the streets were wet or had snow on them. So what was the answer to this problem?

E. S. Youse of Reading, PA had the answer - "Drop Brakes". To prevent movement backwards Youse designed a Drop Brake that could be easily installed on an automobile for only $4.00 (1909 prices) that was simple, inexpensive and reliable.

1909 Drop Brakes
1909 Drop Brakes

Another term for this type of emergency brake was "Sprag" or "Sprag Drop Brake". A sprag consisted of an iron rod pivoted at its front end upon one of the rear cross members of the frame. The other end of the rod was pointed and normally held up by a cable, out of contact with the road. When the Drop Brake was required, the cable was released by the automobile driver and the pointed end made contact with the roadway.

1909 Drop Brakes
1909 Drop Brakes

If the automobile starts backwards, the pointed end of the Drop Brake digs into the roadway and prevents backwards movement. E.S. Youse appears to be the only maker of the Drop Brake and production appears to have minimal. After 1909 more advance band barkes were developed by American automakers.

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