|In late 1875, Frank Reade Sr. purchased the patents for the Steam Man from John Brainerd, then set about to produce his own improved version. It would take almost a year to construct the Steam Man Mark II.
From Frank Reade's journal:
"The lamp will be in his head, and his eyes will be the headlights. His mouth holds the steam whistle. In his belly, we open a door and put in fuel, and the ashes fall down into his legs and are emptied from the movable knee-pan, and without injury to the oiled leg shafts, for they are enclosed in a tube. That is why the fellow's limbs are so large. Wire cords increase the power in one leg, and cause that leg to go much faster, and in that manner we get a side movement and can turn around. Its feet are spiked like a base-ball player's are spiked, to prevent the machine from slipping under speed. The legs are very long and very far apart, so as to give it balance A stop-cock on the side will let on or shut off steam.
"I am making a low, broad, and very heavy wagon for the contrivance, and it will be finished in a few days. The hands of the man will hold the shafts of the wagon. The vehicle will carry two or three persons and hold fuel and water, sufficent for several days, and I have made a tent-like covering for the concern so that I could sleep in the wagon if I ever went on a journey. In the knapsack are my steam valves; the top of the hat is only a sieve, and the smoke will come out of that. There's drafts and stop-offs without number. The steam gauge is in the fellow's back. It can go fifty miles in one hour, on a level road I should not hesitate to run it at thirty or thirty-five an hour."
This new Steam Man's engine was nearly twice as efficient as its predecessor's. The improvements in hydraulics and lighter-weight alloys used in constructing the automaton gave the Mark II greater speed and strength than the original.
From journalist Harry Enton:
"The figure was about twelve feet high from the bottom of the huge feet to the top of the plug hat which adorned the steam man's head. An enormous belly was required to accommodate the boiler and steam chest, and this corpulency agreed well with the height of the metallic steam chap. To give full working room to the very delicate machinery in his interior, the giant was made to convey a sort of knapsack upon his shoulders. The machine held its arms in the position taken by a man when he is drawing a carriage."
Despite his significant achievement, Reade Sr. was frustrated by what he regarded as limitations in a device whose motive power was that of steam. It was his last major steam-powered project. All future Frank Sr. inventions would be powered by a newfangled source—electricity.
After Frank Jr. created the Steam Man Mark III, he also gave up on steam power. The next mechanical humanoid would be The Electric Man.