Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Background to "Boss" Kettering's Invention of the Self-Starter

A Hutchinson fracture of the radial styloid, also referred to as a “chauffer’s fracture” or “backfire fracture,” happened to individuals struck  by the hand crank when the engine suddenly backfired during starting.

In 1908, Byron Carter, founder of the Cartercar, came across a stalled motorist on Belle Isle in the middle of the Detroit River. He gallantly offered to crank the car for the stranded driver. When she forgot to retard the spark, the crank kicked back. Carter’s jaw wended up being broken. Complications developed and Carter later died of pneumonia. When Cadillac chief Henry Leland heard the news, he was distraught. Byron Carter was a friend; the car that kicked back was a Cadillac. “The Cadillac car will kill no more men if we can help it,” he told his staff. Leland’s engineers were able to build an electric self-starter but not one small enough to be practical. Antique Automobile, volume 78,January/February 2014, p.96.

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