Monday, April 30, 2012

Some very nice customs from Ed Brown's Garage, near Leechburg, PA

Photos sent to me by Samuel Matchett!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Study Sheet for HST 344, Final Exam

HST 344 Final Exam Study Sheet, Spring, 2012
Dr. Heitmann
Exam on either May 2, 12:20 p.m. or May 4, 12:20 p.m.
I Identification and historical significance (40 pts.).  Answer four (4) of the following six  (6) people, places, and things in a concise and detailed paragraph, in five sentences or less for each.
John Muir and How to Keep your Volkswagen Alive
Cadillac and the establishment during the 1950s and 1960s
Ralph Nader and the Corvair
The Muscle Car
Oil Shocks I and II
The Federal Government, the automobile industry, and the 1960s
W. Edwards Deming
The Rise of the Pickup Truck in the late 20th century American Market
Bullitt and the automobile chase scene
Crap Cars of the 1970s
Roger and Me
Low - Riders
The Drive-By
Airbags and ABS
NASCAR in the recent past
Women, Poetry, and Passion, post-1980
The Revenge of the Electric Car
Transplants from Japan
Why the automobile industry crisis of 2008 – 2010?
II Essay (60 pts.):  In a well-organized and factual essay that contains both an introduction and a conclusion, answer the following question.
Ben Hamper’s Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line is a remarkable tale focusing on the nature of assembly line work at General Motors during the late 1970s and early 1980s. It is among other things, quite an indictment of General Motors’ management practices, ironically coming from an unhinged worker.  Being as specific and detailed as possible, describe Hamper’s portrayal of management style and managers.  To what degree do you think that Hamper’s account is at all truthful, and what convinces you that he is on target, or not?  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Senior Citizens Driving

Hi folks -- When is it time to stop?  How do you keep your "right" to mobility despite deteriorating physical and mental skills? To surrender one's license is tantamount to giving up a part of your humanity. The decision to continue to drive is one of the most important dilemmas facing older Americans. All too often what results with the decision is increased isolation, a loss of social networks, and being a shut-in with a poor quality of life.

The alternative is to drive quite cautiously, much to the irritation of impatient drivers like myself, who chaff when getting behind a little old man or woman whose head is submerged below the front seat headrest. Or you find the Mr. or Ms.  Magoo who leaves a trail of accidents behind him or her as she perilously negotiates the street (Perish the thought of going on the Interstate!).

Thanks to Ed Garten for sending me the image.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dallas uninsured cars Uninsured Cars Off The Road

Subject: Dallas uninsured cars  Uninsured Cars Off The Road

Recently, the City of Dallas , Texas , passed an ordinance stating that if
a driver is pulled over by law enforcement and is not able to provide
proof of insurance, the car is towed.
To retrieve the car after being impounded, they must show proof of
insurance to have the car released. This has made it easy for the City of
Dallas to remove uninsured cars.
Shortly after the "No Insurance" ordinance was passed, the Dallas impound
lots began to fill up and were full after only nine days. 80 + % of the
impounded cars were driven by illegals.
Not only must they provide proof of insurance to have their car released,
they have to pay for the cost of the tow, a $350 fine, and $20 for every
day their car is kept in the lot.
Accident rates have gone down 47% and... Dallas ' solution gets uninsured
drivers off the road WITHOUT making them show proof of nationality.

Thanks to a forward from Peter Haigh!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Porsche 911 Brake Job Gone Wild! Calipers, a blocked brake hose, and now a new Master Cylinder

Hi folks -- what began as a replacement of two front calipers has snowballed!  What a deal on the calipers, though. $30 a piece, no core, rebuilt and loaded from Rockauto. Along with Cliff Brockman, I found out yesterday that the reason my car was pulling at high speed was due to a blocked hydraulic hose line. Getting the old line off is always a challenge -- fittings rusted in place, delicate flange nuts, etc.  Cliff used a little trick in which he put a vice grip on the flange wrench to keep it tight while he tried to turn it.  Use of plenty of PB Blaster as well.  That hose was replaced yesterday, but we could not bleed the brakes properly.  The pedal still kept going down no matter how hard we tried!  So it looks like now because we bottomed out the master cylinder, that I need to replace it as well.  A job for next weekend, unfortunately.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Slight Deviation from the Norm: B-25 Bombers Over Dayton, April 18, 2012!

Hi folks -- I took a break today and went over to the Museum of the Air Force to view the 20 some B-25s that did a fly over at 1 p.m. A sight to see, living history. I doubt there will be many more opportunities to view this many B-25s together again. Many were made at Willow Run, by Ford.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Report from the Society of Automotive Historians 9th Biennial Automobile History Conference, held in Philadelphia April 13-14, 2012.

Hi folks -- I just returned from the SAH History Conference and wanted to write down a few impressions. First, I must congratulate organizer Arthur Jones for putting together a first- rate program that featured speakers from Spain, Germany, South Africa, Britain, and of course the U.S. The quality of the papers was extremely high, ending with the invited presentation by Professor Mira Wilkins, author with Frank Hill of the the well-known monograph "Ford on Six Continents." I had a number of paper favorites, but one that sticks out was former GM designer Bill Porter's presentation on bio-morphism and contemporary automobile design. The idea that the newer edgy designs mimic fish, plants, and animals can be a departure for a very serious analysis, and Bill has suggested that avenue to further research.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Short History of Auto Racing during the 1990s

Auto racing (1990s)

As a consequence of new sponsors, personalities, race tracks, and television exposure, automobile racing – and in particular NASCAR – reached unprecedented heights of popularity during the 1990s. Indeed, NASCAR, with its cafes and memorabilia, became a “way of life” for many Americans.

While automobile racing has its origins at the turn of the 20th century with the beginnings of the industry, at certain levels the sport was radically transformed during the 1990s. First, and particularly as a result of the spectacular success of NASCAR ( National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing), automobile racing brought in enormous amounts of money. Secondly, it was no longer the automobile manufacturers that made the key decisions related to auto racing, but rather those controlling business aspects and the organization of the sport.

The influx of money was not true across the board, however. At the second level, beneath NASCAR and Formula 1 (primarily a European-based activity), stood races organized by CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) and the IRL (Indy Racing League). Conflict between these two organizations diluted fan interest and profits.

At a third level were those engaged in sports car road racing, governed by the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) and IMSA (International Motor Sports Association). Finally, grass-roots level racing, either at the club level, or at oval dirt and asphalt tracks located in rural America, thrived, but more a labor of love than a way to make money for those involved.


During the 1990s, NASCAR exploded on the American scene. Once confined to the Southeastern United States, NASCAR became a national sport, with high paid drivers, a large and increasingly diverse fan base, extravagant sponsors and broad media coverage. And money was everywhere.

For example, during the decade of the 1990s, sponsorship contributions rose seven percent annually. By 1998 more than fifty companies invested more than $10 million each year. Top sponsors included Phillip Morris, Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, General Motors, PepsiCo, AT&T, RJR Nabisco, and McDonalds. New sponsors in sectors with little direct connection to the automobile business – fast food, home supplies, detergents -- became commonplace.

Consequently top drivers like Dale Earnhart and Jeff Gordon earned more than $10 million a year, and successful crew chiefs $300,000 to $500,000. Ultimately the money was due to the fact that NASCAR was highly adaptable to TV, and thus it was media executives rather than the auto industry that was now calling the shots in this business.

The 1990s also witnessed the rise of a new generation of NASCAR drivers. Heroes from the 1960s and 1970s, including Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, and Buddy Baker gave way to Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, Ernie Ervin, Mark Martin, Bobby Labonte, and Jeff and Ward Burton, Ricky Craven, Johnny Benson, and Jeremy Mayfield. Symbolically, Richard Petty’s 1992 “Fan Appreciation Tour” ended winless. Petty’s last race in Atlanta found him running his final laps at half speed, the consequence of an earlier crash.

New owners were also a part of the NASCAR scene during the 1990s. Included were stars from other sports, including NFL coach Joe Gibbs, and the NBA’s Julius Erving and Brad Daugherty. With new tracks located near Fort Worth Texas and Fontana, California, NASCAR was seemingly being transformed in virtually every possible way.

Perhaps the most dramatic event of the 1990s was NASCAR’s coming to the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1995. With NASCAR founder Bill France and longtime Indy track owner Tony Hulman now dead, their successors could bury long-term differences and realize the potential of such an event in terms of media coverage and fan enthusiasm. Thus, on August 6, 1995 Jeff Gordon won the inaugural 160 lap event in front of 300,000 fans.


Despite the great success of the Brickyard 400, during the 1990s controversy swirled around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and its owner, Tony George. During the 1980s CART and USAC had been the two sanctioning bodies that governed racing at Indianapolis, and these two groups had an uneasy relationship. In 1994 George announced that the Indianapolis 500 would leave the CART series and become the centerpiece for George’s own IRL series. Whether the decision was motivated by ego, a concern over the increased presence of foreign drivers, or a perception that Indy was dropping in status as a race is unclear. The upshot of all of this, however, was that in 1996 a group of unknown drivers raced at Indianapolis, while CART organized its own race, the U.S 500, held in Michigan on the same day. The split greatly affected this level of racing, as it led to decreased television revenues and waning fan interest. In the end, the Indianapolis 500 prevailed, and after shifting the race date of the U.S. 500 to July, in 1999 CART canceled the race altogether.

The end of tobacco company sponsorship of racing

Since the early 1970s, tobacco companies had played a critical role in automobile racing through its sponsorship of teams and events. No longer able to advertise in print or on television, it could advertise on the side of cars, however, and it did so freely. This investment came to an end in 1998, however, when after litigation involving the companies and the states’ attorney generals an agreement was reached that eliminated cigarette companies from automobile racing. After 28 years the NASCAR’s Winston Cup ended, but racing continued, now known as the NEXTEL series.

Despite America’s wavering love affair with the automobile, auto racing remains one of the nation’s most popular sports, on the level with football, baseball and basketball. A huge and vibrant business, its fan base draws from virtually every class segment in society.

Further Reading

Assael, Shaun. Wide Open: Days and Nights on the NASCAR Tour. New York: Ballantine Books, 1998. An account of the 1996 NASCAR racing season.

Fleischman, Bill and Al Pearce. Inside Sports NASCAR Racing. Detroit, MI: Visible Ink, 1998. A most useful compendium on NASCAR that contains many important facts about racing events and personalities during the 1990s.

Hagstrom, Robert G. The NASCAR Way: The Business that Drives the Sport. New York: John Wiley, 1998. A business perspective to a $2 billion sport.

Levine, Leo. “The Business of Racing.” Road & Track 51, no.4 (April, 1999):146-149. A very perceptive analysis of automobile racing as a business. Sponsors, advertising, and the role of the media, especially TV, are discussed.

Poole, David and Jim McLaurin. NASCAR Essential. Chicago,Il: Triumph Books, 2007. A fun read that contains many statistics as well as interesting stories.

John Heitmann

Monday, April 9, 2012

An Early History of Ethanol as a Fuel for Motor Vehicles, to 1941 in the U.S.

For the past century, specifically during agricultural surpluses and/or fuel shortages, the United States of America has investigated the use of pure alcohol or alcohol-gasoline mixtures as an alternative to traditional crude oil based gasoline. Ethanol fuel, also known as pure alcohol, is created by the fermentation of plant materials, most commonly corn, wheat, and sugarcane. It represents not only an escape from limited supplies of crude oil, but also a potential to create American independence from nations that have an abundance of crude oil, mostly based in the Middle East. As the discussion of $5.00/gallon of gasoline approaches, these efforts to find an alternative are increased yet again. Due to many potential advantages, ethanol has been investigated since the introduction of the automobile as a potential alternative to the use of petroleum as a fuel source, but has failed on a large scale many times due to a number of significant drawbacks.

The potential for ethanol as a fuel source first arose during World War I, as incredible fuel shortages ensued; it was at this time that Henry Ford began researching the production of alcohol from grain; this was part of Ford’s lifelong interest to join agriculture to industry. However, no official testing was able to be conducted until the post-war era brought a concern that worldwide petroleum supplies would soon be depleted. The post-war era also brought about the end of the Progressive reform and Prohibition. Due to ethanol’s use in beverage alcohol, alcohol distillers during Prohibition latched on to it as an alternative fuel in attempt to save their dying businesses. They would provide a number of arguments to promote their product’s use as a straight fuel or blended with traditional gasoline to create gasohol (a mixture of conventional gasoline with any type of alcohol, generally portioned at 10-25% alcohol). The most important of these advantages involved countering the growing problem of engine knock, increased power, and very similar fuel mileage data to that of conventional gasoline.

The first major attempt to market gasohol occurred in 1922 when the Standard Oil Company tested a 25% blend in the Baltimore, MD area. This was sponsored most significantly due to low-priced industrial alcohol left over from World War I and rising gasoline prices (Giebelhaus 175). Unfortunately, this program would only be short lived due to the fact that fuel lines and carburetors would easily become clogged, caused by unexpected separation of gasoline and alcohol from even the slightest presence of water (American 3). This effort was also thwarted by increased technology both in crude oil mining and gasoline production. Thanks to advances in thermal-cracking technology, drillers were now able to mine deeper and yield much more oil per barrel. Coupled with the introduction of the now infamous tetraethyl lead, a relatively cheap way to decrease engine knock, made the advantages of alcohol unnecessary and expensive when compared to the new blend of petroleum based gasoline. Ultimately, the alcohol fuel movement was essentially killed due to difficulty expanding distilleries in the Prohibition era and the now unneeded advantages.

The potential for alcohol based fuel sources arose again during the early 1930s, as agriculture took an intense dive, bringing corn prices down to ten cents per bushel. Grasping for any hope of saving their farms, agricultural leaders threw incredible amounts of support at promoting and advancing technology in ethanol fuel. This actually led to the creation of the “Motor Fuel Alcohol Committee,” which consisted of a number of Midwestern alcohol supporters. This committee would investigate the potential for nationwide use of corn to produce ethanol, and would ultimately conclude that if the United States were to support corn based ethanol, a need for more than 100 million bushels annually would be created (Motor 1). Given the possibility to create ethanol from wheat, corn, oats, barley, and even root crops like sweet potatoes, the committee’s investigation also proved that corn based ethanol would be a much smarter choice for the United States due to its large amounts of carbohydrates, large scale production already in place and its relatively inexpensive nature. This movement grew in popularity among major corn production states in the Midwest, also known as the Corn Belt; Iowa introduced a bill that, if passed, would require all fuel sold in the state to contain ten percent farm alcohol (Giebelhaus 176). It was believed that this mixture would allow greatly improved performance and would also aid the state’s dying agricultural industry. However, given the added costs necessary to create ethanol fuel, it was estimated that if farmers wanted to break even, they would need to sell their corn at 75 cents per bushel (Giebelhaus 177). Skeptics also argued that benefits simply do not outweigh the increased production cost, and that using a ten percent alcohol blend would increase Iowa’s corn production by only three percent, which wouldn’t provide a large enough effect to recover the dying market. These results, coupled with an aggressive campaign sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute aimed at terminating national tax incentives for power alcohol, left the use ethanol as a fuel source, yet again, as an experiment and a hopeful dream.

Agriculture’s use in industry would seemingly die until 1935 when the ever persistent Henry Ford, in unison with Dr. William J Hale, Mr. Francis Patrick Garvan, and Dr. Charles Holmes Herty, brought industrial and agricultural leaders together to promote the potential of combining science, industry and agriculture. The First Dearborn Conference, May 7-8 1935, attempted “to offer an alternative to the domestic-allotment, acreage restriction agriculture programs of the New Deal and Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace” (Giebelhaus 179). This conference brought members to Henry Ford’s replica of Independence Hall in Greenfield Village Museum to sign a “Declaration of Dependence Upon the Soil and the Right of Self-Maintenance.” To further the sentiment, it has been reported that also in the hall, rested Thomas Jefferson’s desk and a replica of the inkstand used to sign the famous “Declaration of Independence” in Philadelphia, PA on July 4, 1776. It was later determined at this conference that the main reason why power alcohol had failed in the past lied most specifically with a lack of anhydrous alcohol, which is needed for the conversion of grain to alcohol. Hale projected that within the following three years, anhydrous alcohol would be available as low as fifteen cents per gallon.

This led to the construction of the first major ethanol refinery in Atchison, Kansas; Atchison Agrol Company opened this plant for operation on October 1, 1936. However, the first six months were faced with nothing but legal difficulty and a shortage of raw materials. Despite setbacks, the Atchison plant began full scale production of three separate blends: Agrol 5, which compared very similarly to normal gasoline, Agrol 10 and Agrol 15, which were closely related to premium anti-knock fuels (Farm 75). These blends were test marketed in Midwestern states at similar costs to straight gasoline. Unfortunately, this price could not last for long as the Atchison plant began to realize just how expensive it was to convert grain to alcohol. The closest anyone would come to Hale’s previous prediction of fifteen cents per gallon was twenty-five cents. This represented nearly five times the cost of raw materials needed to convert crude oil to petroleum based fuel.

The late 1930s allowed supporters the opportunity to reflect on their experiments and test markets of the previous years. They, along with such organizations as the Farm Chemurgic Council and the USDA, concluded that alcohol would never reach a cost low enough to prove any benefit as even a five or ten percent blend in straight gasoline. While the agricultural industry was seeing a great amount of benefit from these programs, without tax incentives, they simply wouldn’t be able to supply ethanol at an affordable cost. However, the one major positive pulled from the 1920s and 30s showed the United States that as a long-term alternative fuel source, that ethanol could potentially support the nation’s need for motor fuel. Ultimately, the Roosevelt and New Deal era focused very little on the use of alcohol for fuel, which was heavily dependent on government support and aid.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Cruise-In Season Begins -- Modestly, at Beavercreek, Ohio, Friday, April 5, 2012 -- a Daytona, a 426, and two enthusiasts in a truck

What a work of art! A 426, laid out perfectly with those two big 4 barrels!

It was a rather cold night and this event is no longer publicized in the Dayton Daily News. A wide variety of cars showed up despite the lower car count, including an MGB-GT, a 1969 VW Beetle, several 60s MoPars, and a very nice 1939 Chevy.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Highway to Hell -- I-75 -- a Contribution from Dr. Ed Garten

Why do we who love automobiles often find that road trips today can be both hazardous and disconcerting, certainly not like the carefree road trips we often enjoyed as youth? This weekend my wife and I set off for what we thought would be a lovely weekend (indeed, our 41st wedding anniversary) in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee.
Leaving the Dayton area around 4:00 pm on Friday afternoon we thought we'd be in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and our hotel within five hours or by 9:00 pm. However, when we got to Tellico Mountain (the mountain that divides Kentucky and Tennessee and always a treacherous stretch of Interstate highway at any time of the year) we quickly discovered that part of the roadway had caved in a few days earlier and that three lanes of traffic were down to a very slow one lane for about a five mile stretch.
You can image Spring Break traffic from Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and other points headed down I-75. Not surprisingly but still extremely frustrating, we found ourselves in stop and go and mostly stopped traffic for a full 15 miles. As a result a normally five hour trip took 11 hours and we rolled into our hotel bed at 3:30 am on Saturday.
Saturday, groggy and bone tired we half-heartedly enjoyed a few hours touring through the Smokies and then a few hours at God's gift to entertainment -- Dollywood -- before turning in early for the evening. Ah, thinking that the trip home starting at noon on Sunday would be a piece of cake, just south of Livington, Kentucky, we encountered a totally stopped stream of traffic that we later learned had backed up for over 12 miles. We stayed in that back-up for nearly three hours before finding a place to cut across to the south-bound lanes and then taking back roads to Lexington and then onto Dayton where we rolled into our own beds at nearly 1:00 am on Monday morning. Again, a typical five hour trip took 13 hours.
We could say: "So much for travel today, live with it or stay home." On the other hand upon return home and checking newspaper accounts of the delay on the return home we were given pause to think: "There but for a few minutes and the grace of God, this could have been us." A gentleman from our very neighborhood was killed in the major pileup that caused our delay. If we had started out only a few minutes earlier we too might have been involved in this horrific accident. Is there a lesson to be learned from this story? Perhaps, perhaps not, but the simple thought comes to mind: "You too can leave home in your car and not return home alive." Stay alert, stay safe, and always drive defensively...........especially in bad weather conditions.
MOUNT VERNON, KY. (AP) - Interstate 75 has been reopened northbound in Rockcastle County after a multiple-vehicle fatal crash during heavy rain.
A statement from Kentucky State Police said three tractor-trailer trucks and four passenger cars were involved in the crash, which occurred near 4 p.m. Sunday at mile marker 61.
The Kentucky State Policy said an Ohio man was killed and three people were airlifted to University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington.
Police identified the man killed as 55-year-old Keith E. Holbrook of Beavercreek, Ohio.
Heavy rain and the wet highway were listed as contributing factors in the collision.
I-75 northbound was closed for five hours during the investigation and removal of damaged vehicles.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.


Edward D. Garten, PhD
Coordinator for Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) Specializations in:
Higher Education Leadership
Adult Education
College Teaching & Learning
The Richard W. Riley College of Education & Leadership
Walden University
155 Fifth Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota