Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Good Roads Movement

The Good Roads Movement
            Dirt paths, rutted country roads, rocky inclines, and railroad right of ways were challenges that faced Horatio Jackson in 1903 on his transcontinental trip and then countless others in the years that followed.6 Initially, these potential obstacles had little appeal for all but the most adventurous; if you wanted to go anywhere beyond the city limits, you faced the possibility of getting stuck in the mud, and to make things more tenuous, automobile tires were simply not very good in those early days.7 For the automobilist, puncture repair was as important a skill as shifting gears.
            The improved highway provided the common person with the unprecedented freedom to move beyond the narrow bounds of life, particularly for those living in the country. Without paved roads, the car would have had a limited impact on everyday activities, and a limited market appeal. The most discernible social impact of the automobile on American life took place along the highway, because it was there that gas stations, restaurants, auto camps, tourist cabins, and eventually motels were erected to serve ever-restless drivers and passengers.
            Complex forces that emerged toward the end of the nineteenth century ultimately forced road construction in the U.S. Key pressure groups consisted of organized bicyclists, farmers, rural postal delivery advocates, and automotive enthusiasts. As mentioned previously, the bicycle created an awareness of how flexible and convenient travel by road could be. The bicycling craze demonstrated just how bad American roads really were. Thoroughfares outside of major cities were almost always dirt paths, unmarked, and rarely maintained. As a result of these difficult conditions, bicyclists spearheaded a campaign for improved roads. Their chief lobby group was the League of American Wheelmen, formed in 1880 in Newport, Rhode Island, “to ascertain, defend, and protect the rights of wheelmen, to encourage and facilitate touring.” As part of this program, a good roads campaign was launched that in the end gained very limited success. In part, the campaign failed because the League of American Wheelmen had no national following, as a majority of its membership came from New York and Massachusetts and only 12% of its members lived in states west of New York. Also, while the bicycle was a boon to urban dwellers residing on flatlands, it had little utility for the farmer, and so initial attempts to create highway legislation were defeated.
            A second stream of activism concerning good roads surfaced by the 1890s, and that involved rural farmers. During the 1890s, there was a wave of agrarian discontent in America, in part fueled by railroad abuses that included high freight rates. Good roads meant more money for farmers transporting produce to the marketplace. Some populist leaders reasoned that perhaps highways could serve as alternatives to railroads, although at least in the south, the railroads recognized that roads fed into their transportation networks. Politicians clearly recognized their eroding population base and sought to arrest rural to urban migration. Furthermore, in southern states, patrician leaders argued that good roads could be constructed at minimal cost by employing convict labor. A booster in Virginia exclaimed that “History teaches that the best and most permanent roads constructed all over the world have been built by convict labor.”8 

As a result of this demand for more equitable transport, the National League of Good Roads was established in 1892. The group held a convention in Washington, D.C. a year later, and subsequently in 1893 the Office of Road Inquiry was established within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This agency, with little funding to operate adequately given the task at hand, was responsible for collecting factual data on the nation’s highway system. Its 1904 road census was most revealing. The U.S. had 2,151,570 miles of highway, of which 153,662 miles, or 7 percent, could be classified as improved. Of this total, some 38,622 had a small stone surface, 108,233 had a gravel surface, and the rest was covered with sand, shell, and even some plank. Only 141 miles of roads could be considered acceptable for vehicle traffic (particularly in the light of the unreliable and frail autos of that day) – 123 miles of brick and 18 miles of asphalt.9
            Additionally, to placate farmers who felt they were cut off in terms of communications, particularly since the postal system was so well established, the first successful Rural Free Delivery system was established in and around Charleston, West Virginia. Soon many other communities followed.10 In sum, good roads were perceived by the politically astute as potentially slowing down rural to urban migration, possibly saving traditional folkways, and not incidentally, arresting the pace of shifts in voting patterns that this transition was causing.
            Of far more significance than the political pressures of bicyclists or farmers was the appearance of the automobile. The motor vehicle added to the pressure for road improvement, and indeed was an even stronger incentive than the bicycle, since it was a lot harder to extract a car stuck in the mud than a bicycle. And the fact that the automobile was an expensive item initially motivated the most wealthy and politically powerful group of Americans in having a personal interest in the Good Highway Movement.
            As automobile transportation grew rapidly in the decade after 1902, there were clear signs that farmers would embrace the automobile as much as city folk. The American Automobile Association was founded in 1902 to lobby for motorists. This group held a joint Good Roads Convention with the National Grange in 1907. It would be only a year later that the Model T appeared. Perhaps never was there a machine that did more to initiate change, both social and economic. If the automobile boom was to continue to flourish, surely good roads had to be constructed.

            One example of the nature of early roads and road maps can be gleaned by reading the Arizona Good Roads Association Illustrated Road Maps and Tour Book, published in 1913.11 The tour book was a costly and time-consuming endeavor on the part of boosters to depict the new state as a progressive place with considerable economic opportunities. Detailed maps listed mountains and hills, crooked roads, grades, water, bridges, railroad tracks, buildings, telegraph, telephone, and power lines, rivers and washes, and most importantly accurate mileage between points.

Which came first -- good roads or the automobile?

From Out of the Mud to On the Open Road
“O public road, you express me better than I can express myself.” – Whitman1
            In any careful analysis, the highway is inseparable from the automobile. While these two technological systems are quite different in terms of engineering expertise, materials and construction/production techniques, they intersect in critical respects. For example, the design of the modern automobile’s – in terms of power plants, suspension, and safety features – was largely determined by the highways on which it traveled. Automobiles are engineered either to transmit the “feel” of the road (a more recent American priority forced upon us by the Europeans), or eliminate it (the living room ride of Detroit iron during the 1950s, for example). Similarly, highway construction, in terms of width, grade, surface, drainage, and layout, is planned only after taking into account the nature of the vehicles that will traverse the land. Safety is a major point at the intersection of these two systems, although sadly that has not always been the case.
Which Came First: Good Roads or the Automobile?
            The interrelated topics of adoption of the automobile and the construction of good roads in America have been the focus of a “chicken and egg” historiographical debate during the past twenty years. The central question is whether the coming of the automobile resulted in the development of improved roadways, or conversely, that existing roads in a number of cities were critical to the acceptance and growing popularity of the car. The interpretation that the car led to good roads was primarily the result of work done in the 1960s and 1970s by John C. Burnham, John Rae, and James Flink, whose interpretations corroborated reports written in trade magazines and popular literature dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century. Rae wrote in 1971 that, “When mass production of motor vehicles was introduced, it preceded any major improvement in the highway network. The historical principle that the highway is built for the vehicle, rather than vice versa, holds good for the automobile.”2 Later, these scholars were labeled by urban historians Eric Monkkonen and Clay McShane as “technological determinists.” Monkkonen asserted that politics had a primacy over technology related to urban transportation when he stated that “good roads are purely political creations.”3 Monkonnen was settling scores with interpretations that were far more sweeping than those written by automobile historians. Yet to extend his analysis to the sphere of America both urban and rural, Monkonnen was traversing dangerous ground.

            Clay McShane, whose previous work had been on urban infrastructures, followed Monkonnen’s lead in Down the Asphalt Path: The Automobile and the American City. McShane also took a position contrary to that of Rae’s, remarking, “The decision of American municipalities in the closing decades of the nineteenth century to adopt asphalt and brick pavements played vital roles in the emergence of the auto. Policy conflict over the regulation of vehicles and the provision of smooth pavements provides the crucial background for automobilization.”4 In particular, McShane, who has taken a position as a “social constructionist,” argued that bicyclists and their influence on the improvement of urban highways should not be ignored, nor should the fact that the automobile had its roots in a number of cities, especially New York City. To some degree, this scholarly spat is the result of discussions concerning moving targets. One’s answer concerning whether politics or technology drove road construction depends specifically on when and where. Circumstances were quite different in 1903 than in 1910 or 1920 or 1930, and what held for explanations concerning the automobile and the road in New York City is hardly similar to that what took place in Mississippi, Louisiana, or for most of America.5 That said, it would be an egregious omission to avoid tackling the topic of the history of roads in twentieth century America in any serious study of the history of the automobile.

Scott's 1987 Porsche 944

Hi folks, former student Scott just purchased this beautiful 1987 944. Note that the most recent ediciton of Winding Road Magazine listed the ten cars that you should buy now because they will go up in value in the near future. The 944 was one of those cars!  Thanks, Scott, for keeping in touch! Go Flyers!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The 1964 Argentine Touring Car Grand Prix

The Argentine Touring Car Grand Prix, 28 October to 7 November 1964: one-two-three victory for Mercedes-Benz. Ewy Baronin von Korff-Rosqvist and Eva-Maria Falk with their Mercedes-Benz 300 SE (W 112), starting number 609. This female team came third in the overall rankings.
The Argentine Touring Car Grand Prix, 28 October to 7 November 1964: one-two-three victory for Mercedes-Benz. Using the "flying workshop" in the American Cordillera. Eugen Böhringer and Klaus Kaiser (starting number 617) with a Mercedes-Benz 300 SE (W 112). As a team, Böhringer & Kaiser came first in the overall rankings. Team director Karl Kling is standing to the right of the vehicle.
The Argentine Touring Car Grand Prix, 28 October to 7 November 1964: one-two-three victory for Mercedes-Benz. Dieter Glemser and Martin Braungart (starting number 605) with their Mercedes-Benz 300 SE (W 112). The driving team of Glemser & Braungart came second in the overall rankings.
The Argentine Touring Car Grand Prix, 28 October to 7 November 1964: one-two-three victory for Mercedes-Benz. Pilar from 2 in the morning, local time. Eugen Böhringer & Klaus Kaiser start in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SE (W 112). As a team, Böhringer & Kaiser came first in the overall rankings.

Fifty years ago Mercedes-Benz dominated the 8th Argentine Touring Car Grand Prix (“VIII Gran Premio Internacional de Turismo Super Nafta YPF”) with yet another sparkling performance. At the end of the race (which ran from 28 October to 7 November 1964), the model 300 SE “Tailfin” Saloons (W 112) occupied the first three places in the overall rankings. It was the fourth win in a row for the Stuttgart-based brand in this prestigious long-distance competition, which was considered to be the toughest road race in the world at the time. Previous winners included Walter Schock and Manfred Schiek in 1961, the female team of Ewy Rosqvist and Ursula Wirth who pulled off a spectacular victory in 1962, and Eugen Böhringer and Klaus Kaiser who secured 1st place in 1963 – a feat which they repeated in 1964.
Eugen Böhringer crossed the finish line of the Argentine Touring Car Grand Prix on 7 November 1964, beaming victoriously. This was the second time that the Mercedes-Benz rally driver had won this, the toughest long-distance race in the world at the time, together with his co-driver Klaus Kaiser. Böhringer led a triple victory for the luxury Mercedes-Benz 300 SE Saloon (W 112), following six stages covering a combined distance of 4,779 kilometres. This was even the fourth consecutive victory for Mercedes-Benz in this race, officially known as the “Gran Premio Internacional de Turismo Super Nafta YPF”.
The start on 28 October 1964 was marked by great expectations and stiff competition: would the German brand with its strong “Tailfin” saloons be able to come out on top again over the route described as the “track with a thousand bends”, as it had done in the three preceding years?
The success story began in 1961, when Walter Schock and Manfred Schiek triumphed in their Mercedes-Benz 220 SE. The same vehicle was driven to victory a year later by the female team of Ewy Rosqvist and Ursula Wirth. Then, in 1963, Eugen Böhringer and Klaus Kaiser crossed the line in 1st place in a 300 SE, spearheading a quadruple victory for the “Tailfins”.
At the end of October 1964, four near-standard Mercedes-Benz 300 SE vehicles started the race in Buenos Aires. The only modifications made to the cars used in the race involved the installation of larger fuel tanks and changes to the engine characteristics as well as the transmission or final-drive ratios. The 300 SE had proved itself as a racing vehicle. In the 1964 season alone, Eugen Böhringer won the ADAC International Six-Hour Race at the Nürburgring and the Macao Touring Car Grand Prix in this car.
A total of four vehicles, all painted light blue with white roofs designed for tropical climates, set off from starting line of the Argentine Touring Car Grand Prix. Dieter Glemser and Martin Braungart had the number 605, Hans Herrmann and Manfred Schiek’s car bore the number 607, Ewy Baronin von Korff-Rosqvist and Eva-Maria Falk started with the number 609, and Eugen Böhringer and Klaus Kaiser – the eventual winners – drove the car with the number 617.
A total of 268 vehicles entered this, the 8th Touring Car Grand Prix involving six stages. Every two days of racing was followed by a day of rest. After only the first stage of 781.5 kilometres, all four Mercedes-Benz vehicles were already at the top of the rankings, with Eugen Böhringer setting a new record with an average speed of 181 km/h. At the same time, 91 vehicles were already out of the competition due to accidents or technical defects.
The start of the second stage, which was 731.9 kilometres long, became a celebration of the Mercedes-Benz rally cars. The “Tailfins” from Stuttgart also raced through the finish line in quick succession. Through stages three (729.4 kilometres), four (630 kilometres), five (the longest section of the race at 961.1 kilometres) and six (945 kilometres to the finish line), the route of the Touring Car Grand Prix led the competitors west and north, before turning back east to Buenos Aires.
Eugen Böhringer and Klaus Kaiser won the race with an average speed of 138 km/h, having overcome steep mountain passes, tight bends and seemingly endless scree-strewn slopes. The rally cars trailed long plumes of dust behind them as they drove along many of the unsurfaced roads.
While the car driven by Hans Herrmann and Manfred Schiek pulled out during the sixth stage, the three other Mercedes-Benz 300 SE vehicles drove on to achieve the brand’s last major victory for that era of motor sports. The 1964 Argentine Touring Car Grand Prix marks the end of an outstanding period in which “Tailfin” saloons used by the work plants achieved numerous victories in touring car rallies and long-distance races. Supported by team manager Karl Kling and the Argentine Mercedes-Benz Champion Juan Manuel Fangio, the vehicles with their characteristic profiles once again showed the outstanding performances they could help their drivers to achieve in that autumn 50 years ago.
The Mercedes-Benz vehicles at the 1964 Argentine Touring Car Grand Prix
Mercedes-Benz 300 SE rally car (W 112, 1963)
As a rally and touring car, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SE dominated the long-distance competitions from Argentina to Europe in 1963 and 1964. Like all Mercedes-Benz cars used in rallies in this era, the large “Tailfin”  saloons were very closely based on the respective series production vehicles. Daimler-Benz AG highlighted this fact at the time as a selling point for the series-production models. The saloons did undergo modifications, however, according to their intended use. Measures here included the reinforcement of chassis elements, enlargement of the fuel tank, and adaptation of the engine characteristics, for example by changing the fuel injection system or lowering the compression ratio; the transmission and final-drive ratios were also modified.
Technical data of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SE rally car (W 112)
Period of use:    1963-1964
Cylinders:           6/in-line
Displacement:  2,996 cubic centimetres
Output:                154 kW (210 hp)
Top speed:        over 200 km/h

Monday, October 13, 2014

Building a Fuel Cell Infrastructure in Germany

Automobile manufacturer Daimler and gases and engineering company The Linde Group will team up with oil and gas companies TOTAL, OMV, Avia and Hoyer this year to significantly increase the number of hydrogen fuelling stations in Germany. To this end, the two companies are investing around EUR 10 million in ten fuelling stations each. On 29 September, the first of the Daimler- and Linde-initiated public fuelling stations for fuel-cell vehicles was officially opened at a TOTAL multi-energy fuelling station on Jafféstrasse in Berlin-Charlottenburg. The following locations have been earmarked for additional stations by the end of 2015:
  • Geiselwind, Bavaria, on the A3
  • Fellbach, Stuttgart region
  • Ulm
  • Karlsruhe
  • Neuruppin, Brandenburg, on the A24
  • Cologne-Bonn Airport
  • Berlin city centre (upgrade of the existing fuelling station at Holzmarktstrasse)
  • Greater Munich area
  • Greater Nuremberg area
  • Greater Stuttgart area
  • Stuttgart-East
  • Leipzig, in the vicinity of the A14
“We are pleased to be driving this expansion of Germany’s H2 fuelling network,” comments Dr Andreas Opfermann, Head of Clean Energy & Innovation Management at Linde. “We are making a valuable contribution to the successful commercialisation of fuel-cell vehicles while supporting initiatives like the Clean Energy Partnership (CEP) and ‘H2 Mobility’.”
“There is no question that fuel-cell technology is reaching maturity. From 2017, we are planning to bring competitively priced fuel-cell vehicles to market. So now is the time to build a nationwide fuelling infrastructure. The aim is to enable motorists to reach any destination in Germany in their hydrogen-fuelled vehicles. This initiative is a huge step forward on the journey to a truly nationwide H2 network,” states Professor Herbert Kohler, Vice President Group Research & Sustainability and Chief Environmental Officer at Daimler AG.
Negotiations on the details and construction of the remaining seven refuelling locations with additional partners are at an advanced stage. The National Organisation Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NOW) is supporting the project as part of the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology National Innovation Programme (NIP).
Linde already secures half of the hydrogen for existing CEP fuelling stations from “green” sources, and it will power the 20 new stations with fully regenerative hydrogen. The gas is obtained from crude glycerol – a by-product of biodiesel production – at a dedicated pilot plant at Linde’s gases centre in Leuna. The certified green hydrogen obtained in this way produces far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional methods. Linde also has other sustainable sources at its disposal like bio natural gas and water electrolysis using wind-generated electricity, as part of the ‘H2BER’ project for example.
From 2017, Daimler AG plans to bring mass-produced competitively priced fuel-cell electric vehicles to market. To speed up technology optimisation and minimise investment costs, the company formed an alliance with Ford and Nissan at the start of 2013 for the joint development of a drive concept. Experts reckon that in 2018, well over ten thousand fuel-cell vehicles will populate European roads.
By the end of 2015, the number of Hfuelling stations supporting this growing fleet in Germany is set to reach 50 with the support of the Federal Ministry for Transport along with partner companies and organisations (see Furthermore, the ‘H2 Mobility’ initiative, which Daimler, Linde, TOTAL and OMV are also part of, agreed last year on a detailed plan of action to expand the network to around 400 stations by 2023.
In July this year, Linde opened the world’s first small-scale production facility for hydrogen fuelling stations in Vienna.

Fuel Cell Cars: the Mercedes B

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL is in customers hands in Europe and the US already since 2010.

With more than 300,000 kilometers, a B-Class F-CELL from the current fuel cell electric vehicle fleet of Mercedes-Benz has achieved a continuous running record under normal everyday conditions. The world's unique and still running test show that fuel cell cars are reliable even under extreme stress and over several years. For this achievement, Daimler AG was honored with the "f-cell Award 2014" and therefore was, for the third time, convincing with its developments in the field of fuel cell technology in the competition for the Fuel Cell Innovation Award. "The test is a step in the direction of series-ready application of the fuel cell drive train", says the jury comprising of experts from economics, science and politics.
Produced under series production conditions, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL has already been in day-to-day use with customers in the European and American markets since 2010. Today, the total mileage of the Daimler fuel cell fleet, which now numbers more than 300 vehicles, including numerous research vehicles, reaches far more than 9 million kilometres. Based on the current and pending results, the Mercedes engineers expect to identify further potential for optimization, which will flow directly into the development of the next generation of fuel cell electric vehicles. The company has the clear objective to develop a common drive train in cooperation with Ford and Nissan and to bring competitive fuel cell electric vehicles in large numbers on the streets by 2017. Pressing ahead, Daimler is thus working on market preparation - and is involved in several initiatives, such as H2 Mobility, for the build-up of a hydrogen infrastructure. "We have clearly demonstrated that the fuel cell electric drive is ready for the road," says Prof Herbert Kohler, Vice President Group Research and Sustainability, Chief Environmental Officer of Daimler AG. "The last hurdles we will overcome in intensive cross-industry and cross-border teamwork."
The f-cell award is given for the fourteenth time by the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Protection and Energy Sector Baden-Württemberg and the Stuttgart Region Economic Development Corporation (WRS). Donated by the state of Baden-Württemberg, the Innovation Award honors application-oriented developments around the fuel cell topic. Its aims are to honor outstanding developments in one of the most interesting fields of technology of the new century and to stimulate further innovation.