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The History of the Sweeping Industry

Info on Studebaker's Acme Sweeper Circa Early 1900s

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In the early 1900s the Studebaker company made a variety of machines for street upkeep, including sprinklers and sweepers. Here's what the company had to say about its "Acme Street Sweeping Machine" at the time.

StudebakerSweeperPic350 To be satisfactory, a sweeper must combine lightness of draft with durability, simplicity, ease of operation and efficiency of service. Our Acme sweeper, described in detail on the following pages, embodies all these features.

Wheels are the celebrated Metal Hub Archibald Patent, with rims riveted on each side of spokes. Front gear is full circle turn under platform, with solid collar Concord axle. Hind axle is made of cold rolled steel. Short coupling insures easy draft. Automatic broom adjustment. Simple in construction. Smallest possible number of working parts. No complicated mechanism. Nothing to get out of order. Workmanship and material are the best.

The operation of the sweeper is under the instant, absolute and easy control of the driver without leaving his seat. The Acme is what its name implies, the highest type of street sweeping machine construction. It is in every respect a superior machine, and may be relied upon to give uniformly satisfactory service.

Special Features of the Studebaker Patent Acme Street Sweeper Gear:

The style of front gear is full circle turn under platform, with solid collar Concord axle, double singletree stay chains and coach pole – advantages in construction over any other make. Rear axle is made of cold rolled steel, the same material as used for line shafting in factories.


Wheels are the celebrated Archibald patent metal hub, sixteen spokes in each wheel, rims riveted on each side of spokes. By means of our patent process, every joint in both spokes and felloes is pressed together with such force and accuracy that (with our superior stock) the wheels will outlast any other in any climate.

Each wheel is put together with a pressure twenty-seven times greater than any weight it will ever be subjected to, consequently will withstand the hardest kind of usage.


The frame is made of steel, tightly decked over. All gear parts projecting through the platform top are protected by hinged metal covers, permitting easy access for oiling and cleaning.

Equalizing Lever:

The equalizing lever is placed at the right of driver, within convenient reach, and without necessity of driver leaving his seat. The weights attached to this bar can be adjusted so that any desired pressure of the broom on the pavement may be secured. Once adjusted, the broom will follow the contour of the pavement automatically.



The power is conveyed from the rear axle to the countershaft by a heavy beveled gear. The broom revolves by a heavy adjustable link belt connecting it to shaft. This belt or sprocket chain can be lengthened or shortened in a few minutes time. The broom is thrown in and out of gear by a lever with a simple spring clutch, and provided with a ratchet to keep the clutch in place. This lever is located immediately at the right of driver, within easy reach.


All bearings are very broad and well babbitted, and provided with the latest brass automatic oil cups placed in such a manner that it is not necessary for the operator to crawl under the machine to oil it.

Driver's Seat:

The driver's seat is but 60 inches from the ground, and close enough to the team so that an ordinary pair of lines can be used.

Dust Shields:

The Acme has an iron shield in front of the broom to keep the dust out of the gearing, a dust proof platform top, and a dust apron attached to angle steel protection bar on the right-hand side. With the street properly sprinkled, there is practically no dust when operating the sweeper.


The coupling from the center of the front axle to the center of the rear axle is from 4 to 8 inches shorter than on any other sweeper. This naturally reduces the draft and permits handling the machine in a shorter space.


Due to its construction and short coupling, our sweeper is of light draft.


The journals of the broom have ball and socket bearings, consequently in adjusting itself to the contour of the pavement does not bind, and wears evenly from end to end. Machine is fitted with an angle steel protection bar on right-hand side, protecting the broom in meeting and passing obstructions. The turn-buckle on each end of the lifting bar permits the wear of the broom to be taken up by an adjustment on the protector or guiding bar. A turn-buckle on the left-hand guiding bar permits the broom to be placed at any desired angle.


Our sweeper will wear longest with less repairs, because it is simplest in construction, having no complicated mechanism, and the smallest possible number of working parts. The construction and materials used are the best.

Our Claim:

Simplicity, efficiency, easy running, positive broom action, fewer working parts, consequently less friction than in any other street sweeper on the market.


We guarantee our Acme Sweeper to be free from defects in material and workmanship, and to do satisfactory work.

The Studebaker Acme Sweeping Machine will wear longer with less repairs, because it is simple in construction and has the smallest possible number of working parts. No complicated gearing to get out of order. With reasonable care, the Acme Sweeper can always be depended upon.

Rules to be Observed by Drivers of Sweeping Machines:

First: The working parts being closely fitted, drivers will take especial care to keep all bearings well oiled.

Second. Examine all bolts, nuts and keys often, as they are liable to work loose if neglected.

Third. Should the chain bind, causing the broom to jerk, lengthen it by means of the adjustable turn-buckle. Practice will enable anyone to determine the required tension. The chain should always be loose enough to allow broom to revolve easily.

Fourth. In adjusting height of broom, if one link of the chain is either too long or too short, it can be regulated by the swivel on the chain supporting the broom. Our regular brooms furnished with any of our street sweepers are of hickory fibre, inasmuch as our experience in building these machines and constant experimenting with new styles of brooms has satisfied us beyond a doubt that the solid spindle hickory fibre broom will give the best results, do cleaner work on all kinds of pavements, under all conditions, and will outwear any other broom made.

The manner in which the hickory fibre brooms are refilled is also much more desirable and less expensive. With one of our broom filling machines a workman can, after a little experience, refill a broom spindle within four or five hours time. We carry a stock of these filling machines as well as the hickory fibre at all times. By having one of these machines and extra spindles and fibre on hand the operator can, on rainy days and at odd times, keep a supply of filled brooms on hand, and is not compelled in an emergency to stop the sweeper to await the arrival of new brooms from the factory.


We also have a story about an Acme Sweeper found abandoned in an Oregon logging town in 2013.

Studebaker Sweeper Advertisement

Thanks to James Kicza, Jr. for posting info about the Studebaker Sweeper in Street Sweepers Facebook group in 2021.

We're always on the lookout for more sweeper-oriented information we can add to the website, so let us know if you find interesting information about sweeping.

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