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  • Nikola Tesla did have a project relating to MC electricals, in the form of a brief collaboration between the inventor and a young Julian Spagthorpe on an early prototype of the Spagthorpe Sheltie scooter, first built in 1903. In addition to the rotarian valves, and the unique fuel delivery system on its five-and-a-half cylinder methane-burning engine (the system took advantage of the fact that motor vehicles shared the road with many horses--it was called "Scoopercharging" ), the Sheltie had no on-board electrical system whatsoever. Instead, the battery, coils, condensers, and wiring was all contained in a unit which stayed home, and the carefully modulated and timed signals were beamed to the motorcycle by way of a large superstructure in the back yard (first prototyped at Wardenclyff, Long Island) and a unique toroidal antenna mounted on the back of the cycle. When at full throttle, the antenna would emanate an eerie blue glow which streamed backwards from the speeding cycle, scaring the horses and providing a richer fuel mixture.

    The Sheltie was never put into full-scale production due to range problems, and the fact that the antenna would tend to ground when at full lean, causing the motor to misfire, which made quite a mess. Also, as the automobile became more popular, it became obvious that a fuel tank would have to be fitted, and the methane burning motor replaced with a more mundane fuel system. This proved disastrous in combination with the resonant discharge of the antenna. The project was dropped in 1907.



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