Monday, December 31, 2012

Salt Walther Dies at 65

Hi folks -- I never met the man, but play tennis at a park that is named for his father.  His obituary in the Dayton Daily News yesterday was only 4 lines or so. Ho could I have missed looking up and talking to this Iconic racing figure from my generation, not the fastest driver but certainly a survivor of one of the most horrific crashes of the 1970s or for that matter any decade.It was said that addiction to pain killers dominated his life after 1973 until the recent past. It was said that he lived life on the edge, at least part of it. He drove the Dayton Steel Wheel special, a car owned by his father and made possible by the wealth accrued from the Dayton-Walther Corporation. He was a generational legacy of a Dayton that is no more -- a medium sized city filled with metalworking and foundry firms, a prosperous city that is now the shell of its once proud self.

I am sure the stories he could have told me would have been one great book, a reflection of one fast-burning life that took no hostages.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

More Donks Photos

The older I get, the more I like Donks! Actually, I need to get with friend Ed Garten and go down to Nashville to visit the Donks Bar & Grill! Seriously, these cars seem to me to be a silly waste of money. But the neat thing about contemporary car culture is that there are so many varieties of the hobby.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas -- A Becker Europa Radio for the Porsche!

And it works,as I bench tested it on Christmas Eve.  Snow storm today, so I'll have to wait a while to install it. I have had several Becker radios that did not work, but this is the first that does.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Miller-Chapman Security Auto-Theft Signal System, Patent 1,343,709

As a few of you know, I am in the process of finishing a book entitled Stealing Cars: Technology and Society form the Model T to Gran Torino. Recently I purchased what is described below on Ebay. The 1920s were one high point in stolen car activity, and there were numerous devices that were sold to deter thieves. The table below lists related patented equipment, and illustrates just how complex any history of technology can be.

The creation of Earle E. Chapman of Los Angeles, the "Vehicle Shackle" was one of numerous types of wheel and tire locks that  were patented during the 1910s and 1920s. Apparently there were 34 different sizes to accommodate a broad range of tire dimensions. The one I have is  marked B1.

Patent #
Issue Date
Inventor Name
Chock for vehicle wheels
H. D. Ells
Edward E. McKee
Automobile lock
F. Scholly
Hobble for motor vehicles
J.J. McDade; F.P. Donnelly
Lock for automobiles
T.A. Reeder
Wheel chock
V.N. Perry
Automobile lock and traction device
Shannon S. Q.; Randall, Herman P.
Randall; Shannon
Chapman, Earle E.
Chapman, Earle E.
Eichorn, Frederick C. H.
James, Burke W.; Albert, Eichorn H.
Automobile-lock for disk wheels
Saegesser, Albert W.
Ignaz, Hadinger
Ignaz, Hadinger
Thompson, Charles E.
Thomas, Hill J.
Fred, Retterer
Fred, Retterer
Soleau, Charles J.
Soleau, Charles J.
Safety-lock for vehicles
Miller, Arthur E.
Miller, Arthur E.
Paddleford, Oliver M.
Paddleford, Oliver M.
Automobile theft-signal
Lawrence, Klinker
Lawrence, Klinker
Theft-warning automobile-lock
Mcdonald, John K.
Michael, Branco
Michael, Branco
Raddick, David J.
Graf, Siegfried
Auto theft signal
Ochs, Ralph J.; Hodes, Carl E.
Ochs, Ralph J.; Hodes, Carl E.
Automobile wheel attachment
Mackey, Huggins Claude; John, Cline Calvin
Mackey, Huggins Claude; John, Cline Calvin
Vehicle lock
Wingate, Rollins; Seymour, Clinton K.; Sargent, John A.
Wingate, Rollins; Seymour, Clinton K.; Sargent, John A.
Side chain shackle for automobile wheels
Chapman, Earle E.
Automobile theft signal
H.M. Lake; O.C. Betry
Vehicle lock
Arnold, Frederick A.
Arnold, Frederick A.
Auto safety device
Carey, George F.
Carey, George F.
Automobile wheel lock
Elmer, Trimm Leslie
Elmer, Trimm Leslie
Auto lock
Mchugh, James N.
Mchugh, James N.
Shackle for automobile wheels and spokes
Chapman, Earle E.
Auto-theft signal
Chapman, Erale E.
Automobile lock
William, Barnett
William, Barnett
Wire-rope shackle for automobile wheels
Chapman, Earle E.
Lock for automobile wheels
Saegesser, Albert W.
Saegesser, Albert W.
Vehicle lock
Carney, George A.
Carney, George A.
Wheel lock
Shepard, John W.
Shepard, John W.
Shackle for automobile wheels and spokes
Chapman, Earle E.
Theft warning signal or wheel lock for vehicles
Chadwick, William E.; Creighton, John A.
Gustavus, Edward Westberg
Auto lock and traction device
S.Q. Shannon
Donald R. Morrison
Automobile theft signal
H.D. Ells
H.G. Miller
Locking device for automobile wheels
A.M. Cummings

Friday, December 21, 2012

Review of Joe Corn's User Unfriendly: Consumer Struggles with Personal Technologies, from Clocks and Sewing Machines to Cars and Computers

Joseph J. Corn, User Unfriendly: Consumer Struggles with Personal Technologies, from Clocks and Sewing Machines to Cars and Computers. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 2011.
It seems the older we get the more we wrestle with the new technologies that we acquire. And particularly when it comes to digital technologies, including systems found on new car dashboards and consoles, the experience can turn us into technophobes. Personally, I can handle the tuning and synchronization of Weber carburetors and the setting of Porsche 944 cams, but just attempting to understand the controls of an Audi A5 results in high levels of frustration and defeat. Thus Joseph Corn’s easily read and sometimes amusing User Unfriendly struck a chord with this reader. And while this study covers a rather broad array of consumer technologies that includes clocks, sewing machines, appliances, and personal computers, at its heart is the automobile during its period of diffusion, namely to the 1930s. Historians have spent the past two decades examining the process of consumption in considerable detail. Yet, as Corn points out the consumption of technological devices is rather different, and beginning in the mid-19th century, posed difficulties to its owners. Learning about those technologies in historical context, then, is the subject of this book.
The introduction of the automobile proved to be a daunting challenge to its first generation of owners. First and foremost was the issue of what car to purchase, made especially difficult by not only the plethora of manufacturers and models but also the lack of knowledge on the part of consumers concerning the technologies associated with the automobile and the performance and quality of the various makes. On this topic the author is at his best, drawing on popular literature, trade magazines, manufacturers sales manuals directed towards the training of salesmen, and advertising. In the subsequent chapter “Running a Car,” however, little new is brought to the reader.  Corn discusses the difficulties of hand cranking, fixing flats, steering, shifting gears, braking, and “supervising performance” once the vehicle was underway. Suffice it to say that driving automobiles before the 1930s was as much an intuitive art as a skill, and the process of making controls and instrumentation less idiosyncratic and more uniform took several decades to achieve. By the Great Depression, however, American automobiles were far more reliable and safer than the first generation of vehicles that hit the road. And of course the fact that roads became better changed the entire equation.
What follows are chapters centering on maintenance, repair, and operation.  Drawing on a wide variety of sources including popular and scholarly literature, numerous owners’ manuals, and archival material, Corn’s engaging narrative brings in the insights of a good number of historians of the automobile and technology without bogging down in esoteric academic prose.  If you have worked with old cars and done restoration, these chapters will be familiar, but nevertheless freshly packaged. Perhaps what is missing in the author’s discussion centers on generational issues. Namely, young people have no difficulty in adapting to new technologies; however, as one gets older learning becomes increasingly difficult.  Was that the case at the beginning of the automobile age as it was with the coming of personal computers? If so, what does that mean in terms of reexamining the early history of the automobile?
John Heitmann
University of Dayton

Monday, November 26, 2012

More Historical Substance on the Trotters

The Trotters Hot Rod Club
Several years ago, as I was perusing through the stacks of my local library, I found a brief history of a car club from Middletown, Ohio.  What struck me about its contents, however, was a photo taken of a dragster that was built by an African-American car club from Columbus, Ohio known as the Trotters. I found a few photos of the Trotter’s cars on the Web, and I posted them  on my blog, but nothing else. Lately, however, two of the members of the Trotters contacted me and gave me their stories of the club and their role in the membership.
The Club began around 1952  with 5 members and one car, a 1932 Ford 2 door sedan powered with a Chrysler hemi.  During the early 1950s these 5 friends, including George Wingo, from the Dayton area, and Larry Williams, approached the Pipers Car Club from the East side of Columbus, but were rebuffed from joining. So the Trotters emerged as a primarily African American, but also interracial club that  built, owned, and maintained a show and go trophy winning B dragster, and a screaming 34 3 window coupe. Their cars and members were featured in Hot Rod Magazine and Ebony, but their very success ultimately led to their end.
The Trotters organized an annual  custom car show in Columbus, appropriately named Trott-A-Rama, that proved to be a tremendous financial success.  So much so, that the true car guys in the club were purged by a group not nearly as obsessed with racing machines. Charles Bryant, his brother, and Larry Williams were all removed from the club, a fatal move in the long run.  And what happened to the B rail dragster?  Apparently one night, after being left behind before a race, maintenance chief Bill Richardson, out of anger or frustration, took a torch to the frame of the dragster and cut it in two, thus ending the Trotter’s presence on Midwest and national drag events in 1966.
Only five members of the Trotters are still alive, the rest having gone “through the pearly gates.” During the Golden Age of the 1950s and early 1960s there were many hot rod clubs active from coast to coast, and like the Trotters their members are now either getting up there  or deceased.  With their passing we are losing historical accounts of great value. If you were once a member of one of these clubs, or know someone who was a member, please get your recollections down on paper, as they are a valuable part of auto history.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Trotters Hot Rod Club Revisited

Hi folks -- I got two emails in my box this morning from members of the Trotters Hot Rod Club, an African American group that was very competitive during the 1960s.  From the short messages, it appears on 5 members are still alive, as the rest "have gone through the pearly gates." I'll try to call my two contacts today and get back to you with some interesting history. Until then, here are a few new photos I dug up on the web.  See a previous post of mine on topic if you are interested, but I'll report back soon.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving -- Turkeys who drive cars or turkey cars?

Hi folks -- there are a few images depicting turkey cars -- Pintos. Pacers, Edsels, etc. Not that funny. More significantly, we need to think about all the turkeys who drive cars -- stupidly as a a turkey. You know them -- the folks who don't dim their high beams, go the wrong way on an interstate entrance ramp, are texting while driving, and it goes on and on. We need to gut their heads off, and be thankful they are off the road!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mitt Romney Pumping Gas in LaJolla

Hi folks -- I visited Romney's place in LaJolla back in August ( well ,to better explain I drive by it), and wish I were there for Thanksgiving! We all look ruffled once and a while. A good man who would have been a good president, but it wasn't in the cards.
Unless you are in New Jersey where they have mandated gas station attendants (what a bunch of quasi-socialist  bullshit -- let's give all morons a job!), filling your own tank is a reflection of the democratic ideal.

More Mary Kay Cars and Women

Hi folks -- I am sure the stories behind the people are far more interesting than the cars themselves  It is about determination, entrepreneurship, self image and esteem, and overcoming the odds.  It is about inner strength and developing a spiritual whole that exudes self-confidence. The car is a symbol of achievement, but more importantly about the inner being!  Congratulations to all who earned a pink Mary Kay car!.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Laughing on the scene (Oceanside, CA) at a driver involved in a fatal crash!

The driver who led police on a high-speed chase and crashed, injuring himself and killing a passenger, was heard saying someone was laughing at him while he was trapped in the vehicle according to several witnesses.
Two cars were street racing at speeds over 100 miles per hour on State Route 78 according to California Highway Patrol officers.
An officer spotted the 1991 Honda Civic racing a dark colored sedan in the westbound lanes near College Boulevard in Oceanside.
The sedan slowed but the driver of the Honda took off on residential streets at Mission Avenue going 80 miles per hour officers said.
Then while traveling on Mesa Drive, the Civic hit two dips, fishtailed and crashed into a parked truck, killing the passenger instantly.
The driver, Jorge Luis Lopez of Oceanside, was injured in the crash. The passenger has not been identified.
Sandra Zamarripa said she witnessed what happened after the crash and claims she heard officers laughing at the driver who was screaming for help.
She heard screeching of tires and a loud smack.
“You could hear the young man screaming, 'Kill me too,'” Zamarripa told NBC 7 San Diego. “They went up to the young man and told him that he had just killed his best friend, he was dead and they were smirking at him.”
“He just started screaming ‘What are you laughing at? What are you laughing at?’ They were laughing," she said.
It's not clear at this time, if Zamarippa saw a CHP officer or an Oceanside Police officer.
A neighbor who said he could see the rescue of the driver from his driveway about 100 feet from the crash scene said he also heard the driver complaining about being mocked.
After officers approached the vehicle, the man said he couldn't hear the exchange but soon afterwards, the driver began screaming.
"The driver was cursing and asking officers ‘What the f--- are you laughing at?,” said the man who asked not to be identified.
However, he said the driver cared only about the condition of his car.
"His only concern was his car. ‘My car, my car, my car,’" said the witness.
He said he heard officers ask the driver, “'What about your friend?'” referring to the deceased passenger.
The man recalled seeing five CHP officers and two Oceanside police officers around the vehicle.
“They were really calm so I couldn't hear them," he said. "I could see the expressions on their faces and they were all business.”
A third neighbor, Shauna Haley, said she didn’t hear officers laughing but did hear the driver ask officers to shoot him.
Around 1 a.m., Haley heard the sound of a car speeding down Mesa followed by sirens and a loud crash. She recalled 10 police cars surrounding the crashed car.
From where she was standing, she could only see the driver and the officers, however she said there were so many onlookers, the driver may have been speaking to someone standing on the street.
“I certainly didn’t see any police acting inappropriate at all,” she said.
She said it took firefighters a long time to demolish the vehicle and remove the deceased man from the wreckage.
"They dismantled the car. They took great care in taking care of getting that second person out of the car," Haley said.
Oceanside police responded to the criticism of officers' reaction with this statement:
"The Oceanside Police Department strives for professionalism in all matters. If this indeed is the case, this is something we absolutely do not tolerate. We will be looking into it as the investigation continues."
The OPD conducted a preliminary investigation of the alleged misconduct. They reviewed CHP video footage and spoke to several witnesses in the neighborhood. They determined there was no evidence that the officers behaved inappropriately.
"They're compassionate people," said the witness who asked not to be identified. "But when somebody kills somebody and then his only concern is about his vehicle, how would that make you? I wouldn't be real compassionate to that dude."
Investigators say alcohol was a factor in the collision. Lopez faces several felony charges including evading, felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter according to the CHP.
“He was lucky they were there. It was senseless, absolutely senseless,” the man continued.
The dark colored sedan was not wanted at this time.