Saturday, February 25, 2023

Chuck Conners, from Detroit, Michigan, was a race car driver, and spent time in Helena Montana with a Chevrolet on an endurance run (Billings Gazette, July 16, 1929)

It's cool to see hand painted lettering 

Hometown Hero of the day, is getting my standing ovation! Tony, from Cedarville, came to the mechanical rescue of my sister and brother in law, who had a very unexpexcted fuel line leak 6 hours away from home when traveling

my sister and her husband Kevin had traveled from the West side of the yoop to the far East end (seriously, there is nothing but Canada after past that) to purchase a tree trimming piece of equipment used in logging on Drummond Island.  On the return and just off the ferry from the island, they found that their pick up truck had a fuel leak

They made it to the nearest gas station, and had just lifted the hood, to find the source of the leak and problem when Tony wandered over and got right up in there to help. That's what Yoopers do, they help each other (and tourists) 

He said hang on, be right back, and quicker than you can say "Sisu Power", he was back with tools, solved the problem (Kevin and my sister didn't have tools in their truck, problem most of us have) and had them ready for the trip home quick. Note, it's 7 degrees below freezing, he's bare handed, no jacket.
Not all heroes wear capes! 

He paused for a selfie with my sister, as Kevin filled up Tony's gas tank in thanks! I can't do that from San Diego, but I can let all of you know what an awesome guy came to the rescue of travelers in need!

cars you don't see often

California based burger chain sponsoring a Torino raced in New England

full sized Ford convertibles

Cool display of sparkplugs, in a rare Champion crate

Among the people doing good things, like last weeks post of Chef Chad Houser, is SB Mowing (I've enjoyed several of his videos, very soul satisfying to watch)

the whereabouts and existance of the American Grand Prize and Fairmount trophy have been unknown for about 100 years.

 It was not a mystery to Louise Barrows; she knew right where the Fairmount trophy was. Safely nestled in her Birmingham, Mich., home, she’d been caring for her grandfather, Irving J. Morse’s treasured cup — along with other family heirlooms — until her death last November at age 90.

Artists at Bailey, Banks & Biddle (the Tiffany's of its day and place) were said to have worked round the clock creating the three foot, thirty-pound ornate sterling trophy, crowned with a figure of William Penn.

The Fairmount Park event was the first major race run strictly with only American vehicles, hosted in the birthplace of American Independence and won by a driver who weeks later would achieve hero-status — becoming the first American to win an international competition in an American automobile. 

Irving J. Morse won the coveted trophy on Oct. 8, 1908, when his Locomobile on Firestone tires — driven by the renowned racer George Robertson — took first place at the 200 mile Fairmount competition. 

Fairmount Park was home to America’s first zoo and the host of the nation’s first World’s Fair. Originally developed for its scenic views by Pennsylvania’s founder, William Penn, the race’s eight-mile course sped along a golf course and river, under bridges, over trolley tracks and past businesses onto brick-paved streets.

The hilly and winding course was considered so dangerous that over 25 surgeons and 1,500 policeman were hired. Still this shorter, scenic track infused more racing excitement for fans due to the higher frequency of cars constantly vying for position. From Lozier and Studebaker to an Apperson Jack Rabbit, the best of American automakers competed.

A pioneer in the automobile industry, Morse managed multiple branches of the Locomobile Co. of America, a firm that would originate with the steam car in 1899, but succumb to the Crash of 1929. At age 23, the dashing Robertson would win three major races in 1908 (all three in a Locomobile) and would again take first place honors at 1909’s Fairmount event. 

He later became director of Lincoln automobile and Ford airplane operations in the 1920s.

To celebrate my 54,000th post, I decided to have fun: There were very few steps from Thomas Jefferson to Eli Whitney to Cadillac's demonstration of perfect interchangeable parts, and it pivoted around American guns and the 2nd amendment, and Dewar whiskey

Cadillac’s precision-built automobiles were the result of a lifetime of experience on the part of Henry M. Leland. Known in Detroit as a master of precision, Leland became the primary connection between a series of nineteenth century attempts to make interchangeable parts and the large-scale use of precision parts in mass-production manufacturing during the twentieth century.

The first American use of truly interchangeable parts had occurred in the military, more than seventy-five years before the test at Brooklands. Thomas Jefferson had written from France about a demonstration of uniform parts for musket locks in 1785.

A few years later, Eli Whitney attempted to make muskets for the American military by producing separate parts for assembly using specialized machines. He was never able to produce the precision necessary for truly interchangeable parts, but he promoted the idea intensely. 

It was in 1822 at the Harpers Ferry Armory in Virginia, and then a few years later at the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts, that the necessary accuracy in machining was finally achieved on a relatively large scale.

Leland began his career at the Springfield Armory in 1863, at the age of nineteen. He worked as a tool builder during the Civil War years and soon became an advocate of precision manufacturing.  Leland was an admirer of Eli Whitney, and an apprentice under Samuel Colt, both pioneers in the principles of precision engineering and the standardization & interchangeability of components. 

In 1890, he moved to Detroit, where he began a firm, Leland & Faulconer, who would become internationally known for precision machining. His company did well supplying parts to the bicycle industry and internal combustion engines and transmissions to early automobile makers. 

In 1899, Leland & Faulconer became the primary supplier of engines to the first of the major automobile producers, the Olds Motor Works. 

In 1902, the directors of another Detroit firm, the Henry Ford Company, found themselves in a desperate situation. Henry Ford, the company founder and chief engineer, had resigned after a disagreement with the firm’s key owner, William Murphy. 

Leland was asked to take over the reorganization of the company. Because it could no longer use Ford’s name, the business was renamed in memory of the French explorer who had founded Detroit two hundred years earlier, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac.

Leland was appointed president of the Cadillac Motor Car Company, which, under his influence, soon became known for its precision manufacturing.

Three Model K Cadillacs made a historic journey. The cars were first driven 25 miles from London to the Brooklands racetrack, where each one was taken apart inside a brick shed. Three piles of parts — some 720 parts per car — were jumbled together. Then they were reassembled from the resulting shuffle and driven another 500 miles.

As further proof of Cadillac’s superior engineering abilities, one of the three test cars used was kept by the R.A.C. and entered in the 1908 International Touring Car 2,000 Mile Trial held that July in England. The pieced-together Cadillac won the trial, beating a Swiss-made Zedel in an event that was very close to the final lap.

This was capped with awarding the Dewar Trophy to Cadillac... . Lord Dewar, of Scotch whiskey fame, endowed a Dewar Challenge Shield awarded in cycling -

and also - and underwrote the Dewar Trophy of England’s Royal Automobile Club. 

Previous winners were the Stanley brothers for their Stanley Steamer land speed record in 1906 and Rolls-Royce for its 40.50 hp model demonstrating 15,000-mile durability in 1907.

This was only possible because the Cadillacs were made from interchangeable parts — a first in the auto industry and an important step leading to the development of the modern assembly line.

The Society of Automobile Engineers, predecessor of today’s SAE International, was founded in 1905, a time when even basic hardware such as nuts and bolts differed from supplier to supplier. Automobiles of the era were handmade, their parts individually crafted to fit. Among the earliest efforts of S.A.E. was standardization of parts, and Henry M. Leland was one of its earliest members, to serve as president of the organization in 1912 – 1913.

Dewar created several Challenge Shields for various sports around the United Kingdom and abroad, as well as the Sheriff of London Charity Shield and the Dewar Cup in the United States for Association football. 
For cycling he donated the Dewar Challenge Shield in 1901, 
The Lord Dewar Challenge Cup was also presented to the Serpentine Swimming Club in Hyde Park in 1925. 
For shooting, Dewar presented a trophy for international Smallbore rifle competition

Leaving his brother in 1890s Scotland to run the business, Dewar set out to publicize their brand to the world. Visiting 26 countries over the course of 2 years, the Dewar's brand was put on the map as one of the premier Scotch whiskies available. Dewar kept a journal of his travels which were consolidated and published in the book titled, "Ramble Round the Globe," in 1894. Known as "whisky Tom" he's the longest-staying guest at the Savoy Hotel in London. Dewar was a justice of the peace for Kent and a Lieutenant of the City of London, Sheriff of London in 1897

This is one of the few times I've freestyled writing to enjoy the exercise of connections, something that 25 years ago was impressed on me by the fantastic TV series "Connections" by James Burke. Through the past 16 years of blogging Just A Car Guy, I've rarely had the motivation and time, and topic, that came together at the same time to show what a fun thing "Connections" are. Thank you James Burke

Popular Mechanics magazine has had some famous people contribute articles

Guglielmo Marconi,
Thomas Edison,
Jules Verne,
Barney Oldfield,
Knute Rockne,
Winston Churchill,
Charles Kettering,
Buzz Aldrin,
Teddy Roosevelt
and Ronald Reagan.

a list of the most famous mechanics, probably, has to start with Chewbacca

Tony Stark
BA Baracus
Howard Hughes
Henry Leland
Latka Gravas
Kaylee Frye

Friday, February 24, 2023

what a cool collection of dragsters (thank you Terry F for sharing your advertising that goes with this Drag Team!!)

nice flourishes painted on by hand

interesting, looks like a very early splatter paint, that became popular for inside trunks about 20 years ago

drag racing Mavericks

that's one cool groovy paint design on the tailgate

1st Corvette sold to the public has been verified, and it was there all along... the VIN was in a box in the back. Because it wasn't simple to figure out without the VIN, it was set aside for years

Amgwert, along with other founders of the National Corvette Restorers Society, had already tracked down VIN 003 and sent it to Lloyd Miller's shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for a full restoration. That led another 1953 Corvette owner to send his car to Miller's shop about 20 years ago.

 It was #1, and no one knew it, and it's history between Chevrolet selling it, and it's arrival at Miller's shop is unknown.

Petersen and Amgwert examined the about 20 years ago, and couldn't reconcile what they saw with any production 1953 Corvette.

Because those alterations didn't make any sense at the time, Petersen figured the car was an anomaly, likely a later production car, and nearly forgot about it. Miller and the owner of the car nearly forgot about it because the owner lost interest and de-prioritized the Corvette's restoration. Miller pushed it to the back of his shop and the two lost touch.

With the work orders seemingly confirming that the car in Miller's shop was 3950 all along, however, Petersen arranged for another viewing, and reached out to the owner, initially just to help "get the car moving along," Petersen said. "The car deserves to be finished up, so let's get to work on it and see if we can prove what it is." His conversations with the owner eventually turned to buying the car and, with a title in hand, he retrieved the Corvette earlier this month.

While emptying out the parts stuffed in the Corvette's trunk, he happened to look under one of the flaps on the bottom of one of the cardboard boxes and found a door jamb VIN plate with a serial number ending in 001.

John Miller flew the first commercially available autogyro cross-country from the Hudson River in NY to San Diego, CA

Miller, by 1931 with a mechanical engineering education at Pratt Institute of Technology, Class of 1927, and seven years of flying experience, had become the first individual to purchase a PCA-2 for a cash price of the then sizable $15,000 plus "a little extra for an auxiliary fuel tanks and emergency flare racks for night flying."24 Upon ordering he had been informed that he would receive production model C/n B-12 in April 1931, by which it was anticipated the ATC would be granted (it was on April 2, 1931), a delivery date later postponed to May. At the time of his order, C/n 13 was in the production line, but no order had yet been received.25 Upon receiving confirmation of his PCA-2 order, Miller immediately began planning a transcontinental trip,26 a daring undertaking as no one had previously attempted such a long flight.27 It should be remembered that there were no established radio communication or navigation aides, neither established routes or traffic control and little available weather information other than often inadequate and infrequent advisories for a few frequent areas. That data which pilots now take for granted, weather fronts, air mass, wind conditions, route charts – all were in the future. Miller and other pilots flew with dated Rand McNally state maps and, if lucky, a few "strip" charts printed by the Army Air Service between their fields. And to top it off, Miller had to avoid rain as it would quickly imperil his life in cutting through the rotor blade fabric. This flight was to be in conjunction with a series of exhibition flights – and he kept sales and production officials, including Edwin T. Asplundh, fully informed of the flight plans.

Miller was understandably surprised when, in early May, he read in the New York Times of Beech-Nut’s intent to sponsor Amelia Earhart’s transcontinental flight! Flying to the Pitcairn Willow Grove field, he quickly discovered that the company had inserted Beech-Nut’s order ahead of his and that he was now to receive C/n B-13 (NC10781). This was clearly an attempt by the company to facilitate Earhart’s flight as the Beech-Nut order had been placed after Miller’s, and he later claimed that "the mechanics and the test pilots leaked the information to me that the sales manager had decided that he would rather have Earhart make the first transcontinental flight for better publicity coverage."28 Miller knew that he was merely regarded as an "unknown professional pilot without such publicity as Beech-Nut could provide" and also learned from the Pitcairn company pilots that Earhart’s final check ride was being delayed until her aircraft could be finished. Miller also later claimed that he spoke with Earhart several times while at the Pitcairn factory and that "she told them that she was not interested in all the aerodynamics and short landing procedures" but "she just wanted to fly it across the continent and then fly around the country for a Beech-Nut advertising campaign."29 So Miller resorted to subterfuge in the face of the company manipulation and announced that "if Amelia wants to make the flight she is welcome to it" but that he had to be in Omaha for the Air Races by May 17 or he would suffer a financial loss. He took a room at a local nearby tourist home and while waiting to take delivery of his Autogiro, received a check ride in the experimental PCA-1B, known as the "Black Maria" (X96N),30 by factory test pilot ‘Skip’ Lukens. Lukens took Miller on a single checkout ride, as he had previously done with Earhart, with five checkout practice landings – after that, Miller was given use of the Black Maria for practice during May 9 – 12, 1931 – he made 110 practice landings with a total of 5.5 hours of flying logged. This averaged out to flights of about 3 minutes along with practice in low cloud banks with the turn indicator. Finally, on May 14, 1931, he took delivery of his Autogiro, which he would name, presumably after the David Ingalls article31 in the March 31, 1931 issue of Fortune Magazine, the "Missing Link.". After five short test hops, Miller promptly left and headed west in PCA-2 NC10781.32

Miller was an experienced professional and aerobatic pilot and had gained extensive knowledge of the aerodynamics of the Autogiro from conversations with pilots Jim Ray, Skip Lukens, Jim Faulkner, and Pitcairn chief engineer Agnew Larsen. He would need all of his abilities for the trip west. While the normal cruising speed of the "Missing Link" was 100 mph, Miller flew at 90 mph to conserve fuel and break in the new engine. The Wright R-975-E, 330 hp, air-cooled radial engine consumed 18 gallons/hour, so Miller could only fly for three hours at which point he would only have 15 minutes of flying time on his fuel reserve. Navigation was by magnetic compass, following landmarks such as rivers or roads, and the pilot hoped that when a landing had to be made, there would be an airfield where the Rand McNally road maps showed one – it was not always the case. Miller discovered this at the end of the second day, during which he flew from Harrisburg to Chicago. He had flown seven hops, 11.3 hours over a route he had never flown before, aiming to land at Maywood Air Mail Field – but that airfield had been abandoned, and its replacement, later known as Midway Airport, was not yet finished or marked on the maps. Miller arrived at the site of the older field after dark and, after a perfect landing, located the new field, to which he immediately flew as he would have to refuel before continuing on. He napped on a workbench and, after refueling, left for Omaha at first light. He hadn’t even eaten. He then flew an additional seven hops, 7.2 hours flying and, after arriving at the site of the Omaha Air Races, flew an additional two hours and made 14 demonstration flights after arrival.

Miller remained in Omaha from May 16th until the 19th, and then left for San Diego. Headwinds kept him from reaching Clovis, NM on May 26th so he landed en route and installed extra fuel tanks on the front seat during the night. The next day he reached the NM town but encountered strong headwinds on the way to El Paso, which consumed extra fuel forcing him to land 18 miles short of his destination to add fuel. On May 28th he began the last leg of the journey from Lordsburg, NM before first light and, after flying 4 hops for 8.9 hours, landed at North Island Naval Air Station, San Diego, CA. The first Autogiro transcontinental flight had taken a total flying time of 43.8 hours and was without mechanical incident. The aircraft had performed flawlessly with the most difficult task for Miller seemingly to get used to the shadows of the blades passing over his head, and the severe sunburn he incurred.

AMERICA'S first commercial Autogiro, built by Pitcairn Aircraft, Inc., was flown to Detroit from Pitcairn Field at Willow Grove, Penna., on February 12 and delivered at that city to the Detroit News, its purchaser.

Excitement ran high when the Autogiro appeared in the sky, flying rapidly, and when in full view of the waiting thousands is came to a stop in mid-air and settled slowly straight down to earth. Before the amazed crowd had comprehended the full meaning of this unusual maneugver in a heavier-than-air machine

NC10780 was sold to George Palmer Putnam, husband of Amelia Earhart, of New York, NY in May 1931, he sold it to Beech-Nut Packing Company two months later, Earhart continued to fly it for company promotions, when they sponsored Earhart’s early flights

Among other products, the Beech-Nut company manufactured Beech-Nut chewing gum, which was supplied in bulk to Earhart for distribution to the crowds who gathered to witness her cross country landings. (Charter member of 99's)

 It was painted green (the cream panel remained), with “BEECH-NUT” painted large upon its flanks.

The Kansas native with a penchant for “first-time things” and a love of “shining adventure,” as she called it, flew an autogiro across the country in June 1931, stopping at Cheyenne, Laramie, Parco (present Sinclair), Rock Springs and Le Roy, Wyo., west of Fort Bridger.

 Earhart wanted to set a transcontinental record in the awkward-looking craft, which resembled a fixed-wing propeller plane with an engine on the front, but was equipped also with four long rotor blades that spun at 100 revolutions per minute –much slower than the 400 revolutions per minute of modern light helicopters—above the open cockpit. 

The 52-gallon fuel capacity of the rotorcraft, dubbed the “flying windmill” by the press, made frequent stops necessary. Amelia made time to visit with local dignitaries and give flight demonstrations. She charmed the crowds who greeted her on the ground.

On the tour, she stopped in 76 towns during about three weeks of traveling. She flew an average speed of 80 mph, about five hours daily, often landing 10 times in a day. She became the first pilot to fly an autogiro round-trip across the United States.

She bought a canary-colored Kissel Kar automobile, which she named Yellow Peril, and made a 7,000-mile cross-country trek with her mother, Amy Otis Earhart, visiting several national parks en route.

in 1932 Capt. Lewis Yancey piloted a Pitcairn Autogiro, christened Miss Champion for the spark plug company, from Miami to Havana at the start of a Yucatan archeological expedition.

The year before, he flew it all over America

Champion Spark Plugs bought it to advertise the spark plug company, like a flying billboard, across 21 states, flying 6500 miles, visiting 38 cities with the 1931 Ford National Air Tour

During January 1932, having flown south to avoid the northern winters, Captain Yancey took “Miss Champion” from Miami to Havana, Cuba, where it arrived amidst fanfare and the usual press interest. From there, he flew onward to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula where he used the unique slow flight characteristics of the autogyro to participate in an archaeological exploration of the Mayan pyramids and ruins.

 It proved very effective in this role, spanning many miles of jungle and finding sites that would have been missed by ground search teams. It was a dream opportunity for the Champion Spark Plug Company, which garnered wide attention from its sponsorship of the archaeological research and came away with some absolutely stunning publicity photos.

After the Yucatan expedition, it was retired

It's one of 2 PCA-2 Pitcairn's that survive today in museums

Yancey had earned fame on a South America circumnavigation publicity tour of "Pilot Radio" in 1930, when Pilot Radio Company of Brooklyn sent their experimental aircraft radio plane, a “flying laboratory,” on a “good will flight” through Latin America, primarily to publicize their products.

Their subsequent marathon journey around the perimeter of most of the South American continent would be filled with challenges for the radio equipment, the plane, and, most of all, for the men. Traversing oceans, mountains, desert, and jungles, they would set new records for long-distance air-to-ground communications, broadcast to the people of Buenos Aires from the air, meet with U.S. ambassadors, heads of state, and indigenous Amazon natives; they would be briefly imprisoned, search for a lost flier, and visit exotic and unique places. 

Along with Yancey, was Zeh Bouck, who visited the White House in 1930 and met with President Hoover, and used this expedition to represent the Hoover administration, acting as an unofficial U.S. ambassador to South and Central American nations.

He was one of the first radio columnists, writing for the New York Sun by 1922, and a newsmaker himself. He wrote hundreds of articles for magazines ranging from Boys’ Life to Radio News to Cosmopolitan.

They staked their lives on a plane that developed mechanical problems and could not land on water on a route with few landing areas. How they survived the journey and the true story of what happened during the flight are told for the first time staring on page 95 of

It was the first successful aircraft flight to Bermuda from the United States, and in April, 1930. The plane was a Stinson SM-1FS "Detroiter", Pilot Radio. It ended up crashed and left there.

Why is the flight significant to Bermuda?

The twenties and thirties had great competition for records to be broken in every venue (flagpole sitting for example). One record that had been pursued but failed with cost of lives was the first Great American Journey, a dream of flight to Bermuda from the North American mainland. 

It was long before the capabilities of sending a radio beacon beam to an aircraft to utilize safe navigation. The Bermuda Trade Development Board earlier offered a 25 thousand dollar prize for the first flight to Bermuda. No airport existed in Bermuda, thus a float plane would be necessary.