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Slightly OT; Tuckerfan's Museum of Automotive Oddities

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  • Slightly OT; Tuckerfan's Museum of Automotive Oddities

    Plus a few other things. I was without net service a little while ago, so to keep myself occupied, I scanned some of the articles about strange automotive things that I've never been able to find much more about. (You don't think I'd actually spend my time cleaning house do you?)

    First up, is the car Hiram Maxim (yes, that Hiram Maxim) built, which is unique in that features a flip top box and sadly, no machine guns.

    Next is the Perkin Paris which had fenders that turned into a bridge. Why anybody would want such a thing is beyond me.

    Many people think that the Amphicar was the first car/boat combination, which is incorrect. The concept had been around since 1907, if not before.

    Lots of people hate SUVs because they're big, ugly, and use too much gas. Well, just be glad that Ford's concept (in 1911) of what a car in 1961 would look like never came to pass.

    Preston Tucker wasn't the only fellow in 1948 trying to capitalize on the post-war demand for cars, only Henry J. Kaiser managed to have any success. The other folks, did manage to build a car or two. However, I can't see anyone falling in love with this car, this one, or this one.

    Back in the early days of automobiles, people were looking at all kinds of different engines and possibilities for alternative fuel. This engine supposedly got better fuel economy running on acetylene than gas engines of the era, and (at least at that time) acetylene was cheaper than gas. I'm tempted to try and find the patents for that engine and see if it could be made to work.

    Look! It's a VW Beetle on steroids! Actually, the car predates the Beetle by a year or so. As does this lookalike and this one. Interestingly enough, the last two are both German cars, while the first one is American.

    And did you know that before he built computers, Steve Jobs was into cars? Well, who else would call their car an Apple?

    I don't know when the trend started, but shortly after the VW Beetle showed up after WW II, people began ripping them apart and replacing the body with a fiberglas one. One of the niftiest looking ones, I think, was the Ascort from the folks down under, who for reasons known only to themselves, tried to give us the Zeta as well. (IIRC, it had a washing machine motor.)

    Lest you think I've only got automotive things, I point you to this rather unusual motorcycle tire. It's a solid tire that had the center carved out and replaced with balls, to help the rider improve his cornering. Can't imagine it'd be fun to ride on anything but a dirt track.

    The next time your eco-friendly cow-irker goes on and how about how cutting edge their hybrid is show them the Briggs and Stratton hybrid car which was built in the 1980s. (I wish I could find the article on the hybrid truck which dates from the teens or 20s.)

    Here's an engine which supposedly ran off it's own CO. How it could possibly work, I've no idea. (According to the article the exhaust from the primary cylinders would be sent to larger secondary cylinders where it would be consumed.)

    An interesting variant on the rotary engine is this crankless engine. It had fewer moving parts, so I wonder why it never caught on.

    Now, this engine sounds like a diesel engine, but had some undefined difference that the neither the article nor the crappy photo makes clear.

    Given the latest fashions for drivers at the turn of the 1900s it's a wonder the automobile ever caught on at all.

    We've all heard the tale of the 100 MPG, but that's nothing compared to this engine which supposedly got 300 MPG.

    While this guy appears to be romantically involved with his gas pedal, it actually is a pretty good idea. When you pulled your foot off the gas pedal the brakes like would flash. Someone else came up the idea at about the same time (and I wish I could find the article) where the harder you pressed on the brakes, the brighter your tail lights would get.

    We've all had to struggle with flat tires in the past, well the folks who built the Gladiator car had an idea to help with that. They put an air pump in the wheel hub. All you had to do was hook the tire iron up to and pump till your arms fell off.

    Back before he was building cars, Preston Tucker learned everything he knew from famed Indy race car designer Harry A. Miller. One of Miller's cars was called the Golden Submarine. It was supposed to be the ultimate high performance and safety. The car above it, is an Auburn speedster which was built a number of years later and looks very similar, IMHO.

    The government is requiring all cars to have tire pressure monitoring systems, and many companies are looking at something other than pneumatic tires. Perhaps they should try this idea.

    One of the dumbest ideas I've seen is this one for a brake pedal that was wired up to the driver's eye brows. You blink, and it slams on the brakes. Does anyone see a problem here? Can you imagine what would happen if the driver had a sneezing fit?

    I don't have anything for this one other than it's a blow up clutch, and I'm sure we all think of the same thing when we read "blow up."

    How many of you have invented an alternative fuel over breakfast? Well, this young girl did and we've never heard any more about it.

    Everybody laughed when we saw Wayne driving an AMC Pacer in Wayne's World, however, did you know that AMC actually considered trying to make the Pacer hip? Yeah, it doesn't work for me either, and I like Pacers.

    Well, it's upside down, but this is an article about a license plate that would snitch on you if you broke the speed limit. Glad that idea didn't catch on.

    If showing your irritating cow-irker the hybrid from the 80s doesn't shut them up, then show them this British built car from the 1950s which got 100 MPG, of course it only seats one.

    Let's see what else I've got here.

    I'm guessing that this photo was taken during WW I, but I've never heard of gas rationing going on.

    I saw a piece, some time back, that I can't find, about Michelin's work on making airless tires, which I really regret, because these designs pre-date Michelin's tire by a good number of years.

    Of course, they really can't compare to the US Army's square wheel idea. I can see how it'd work in mud, it's pavement that I can't picture them driving on.

    Everyone thinks that DeLorean built the first stainless steel car. That's not true at all, Ford built a couple in 1935. They also built a couple of Lincoln's in the Sixties that were stainless steel.

    No, it's not a woodie BMW Isetta, in fact it predates the Isetta, IIRC, sure does look like one, though.

    In the 1930's, one enterprising fellow built himself a steam powered motor home. Got lousy gas mileage, but then again, gas was cheap back then, so nobody really cared.

    Here's a homebuilt steam motorcycle that originally started out as a Harley Davidson. It ran on propane and the builder claimed it was cheaper to operate than a gas powered bike. About the only problem I can see with it, is that it lacks a condenser, so you have to top up the water periodically.

    This steam motorcycle dates from the 1930s and the guy who owned it lived in the same small town as my father. When I first saw the pic, I sent it to my dad and asked him if he happened to know the guy, but he'd never heard of him.

    As far as I know, this is the only steam powered airplane ever built. I've got a book from the 1920s which has plans on how to build a model plane that runs on steam, but I've never seen another steam plane capable of carrying people. One of the nifty things about it, is that on landing, the pilot could reverse the engine and slow the plane down rapidly. Apparently, they made one demonstration flight with the plane and then yanked the engine out.

    I think that this is the first record of what were later to be called "knee action" shocks. Certainly, the description in the article sounds similar to them.

    In the 1960s, one of the steel companies built a prototype taxi, which was supposed to be the ultimate in luxury. They showed it to the Big Three, but apparently not Checker (who was the cab maker at the time), or AMC (which built cars that looked similar).

    I'm not sure why anyone thought that using mud flaps for an emergency brake in semis was a good idea, but they did. This is another idea I'm glad didn't catch on.

    This has to be the ultimate dirt bike. Instead of a rear tire, it's got a caterpillar tread system.

    Here's a hydraulic transmission set up, which pre-dates that of Tucker's. No clue if this is where Tucker got his idea or not.

    Instead of gears, this tranny used an oscillating weight. Can't imagine that the car got very good gas mileage.

    I don't know about the engine, but this tranny's a hemi!

    If you've ever been four wheeling and gotten stuck, then you probably wish you had this set up for your vehicle. At the push of a button, studs would protrude from the inner part of the wheel and, in theory, give you better traction. I can't tell from the illustration exactly how this would work. (The drawing seems to show a full-time and not an on demand system.)

    Another variant on the "puncture resistant" tire is this one which divided the tire into chambers so that if one part of the tire was punctured the tire would stay inflated. This is apparently the only production use of the idea, and it's for a bicycle.

    Instead of a donut spare, how about a wooden disk? I can't imagine it'd be a safe ride at highway speeds.

    About a decade or so after Tucker tried to get his hydraulic transmission working Triumph gave it a shot. Nary a clue as to what happened to it.

    Back in the 1930s or so, the US gov't spent several thousand dollars on a car which was supposed to be able float and fly as well as drive on the road. No one ever found out if it worked or not, as when the inventor started it up for the first time it burst into flames. The inventor was pulled from the flaming wreck by news photographers.

    A few years ago, on the TV show Invent This! they featured a monocycle, and I had to laugh, because the idea's been around for decades. In fact, someone even designed a tank version between the World Wars.

    Here's two engines which were supposed to be better than the Otto cycle engne. Neither of them caught on, as far as I can tell.

    Many of us have a dream car, which has never been built. One man built his and all I can say is, "Why?"

    If you think a Mini Cooper's too big, then this car's for you. It could probably fit inside a Mini Cooper.

    We've all seen the wild concept cars that Detroit came up with during the 1950s, and with the Cold War raging, the Soviets were not allow the capitalist American pig dogs to out do them, so they came up with the Zis. Not exactly a pretty car, but it looks like it could go through a brick wall and not even slow down.

    That's about all I have (somewhere I've got other nifty articles, but I can't find them in all the kipple), except for one item, which caused me nearly to crap myself when I saw it. I'd literally had this article for years, never read it, and never even paid any attention to it, until recently. As I was flipping through my collection, I noticed that it was about a hydraulic drive car, and I said, "Meh, Tucker had the same idea." Then I noticed who wrote the article and the date which it was published. It was written by Charles T. Pearson, who's the author of the official Tucker biography and it was published in 1946, and it's about an engineer who had built a prototype hydraulic drive car for Ford. Pearson would have been working (at least part time) for Tucker when the article was written and strangely enough, the figures he cites in the article are identical to those claimed by Tucker for his system. Even more puzzling, there's no mention by Pearson of this article, or Ford's work, in his bio of Tucker. It has me wondering.

  • #2
    "Lots of people hate SUVs because they're big, ugly, and use too much gas. Well, just be glad that Ford's concept (in 1911) of what a car in 1961 would look like never came to pass. "

    Oh? They were just off by a few years...
    Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


    • #3
      "I don't have anything for this one other than it's a blow up clutch, and I'm sure we all think of the same thing when we read "blow up."
      Well actually that one did make it,Chicago Dries and Crumple used those clutches in several mechanical press brakes,the whole trick was having a 3/4" id tire stem so the air could inflate the clutch quickly.

      I just need one more tool,just one!


      • #4
        I want one of these



        • #5
          Found the bit about the Michelin airless tire, it's called a "tweel."


          • #6
            I wish I had a picture of the first car I drove. I made it myself with wood, nails, and screws. The front end consisted of a 2x4 with one wheel screwed on each end and a hole in the middle that let the 2x4 pivot. I had rope attached to the 2x4 for steering. I remember I built it with parts I found in the garbage on the way home from grade school. The wheels came off a small baby stroller (4" wheels I think).



            • #7

              Some interesting articles there!

              The Zeta car was indeed built by a washing machine manufacturer, Harold Lightburn, but had a Villiers engine similar to those used in several minicars of the late 40s/early 50s. See:
              My brother is at present restoring a three wheeler two seater Scootacar with a similar power plant which he bought second hand in England in the early fifties.

              The emergency disk wheel looks like a later version of the Stepney wheel. In the days of beaded edge tyres and non-detachable wheels, these were an English accessory spare wheel which clamped onto the spokes of a wheel with a flat tire to get the motorist home without having to repair the flat on the road.

              On the subject of puncture-proof bike tires, in the Australian War Museum shortly after WW2 there was a German bike from late WW1 which had steel tires and a paper saddle. Apparently rubber and leather were getting scarce at the time, and were needed for the war effort. The bike wheels had two rims, one inside the other, with numerous springs about the size of valve springs between them to give some cushion effect. It must have been an interesting ride on a cobblestone road surface. Last time I was at the museum several years ago, the bike was no longer on display, and much of the WW1 stuff had been replaced by WW2 items.



              • #8
                Re: the hydraulic drive and article (and maybe you know this already).
                Tucker was involved in several projects with Miller, perhaps as early as the Ford effort at Indy ('35). Obviously Miller had backing from Ford at various times.
                So I wouldn't be surprised if some of his (Tucker's) efforts had some Ford backing at one time or another.
                Whether they were actual "Ford" efforts is open to interpretation.
                Ron LaDow


                • #9
                  <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Ron LaDow:
                  Re: the hydraulic drive and article (and maybe you know this already).
                  Tucker was involved in several projects with Miller, perhaps as early as the Ford effort at Indy ('35). Obviously Miller had backing from Ford at various times.
                  So I wouldn't be surprised if some of his (Tucker's) efforts had some Ford backing at one time or another.
                  Whether they were actual "Ford" efforts is open to interpretation.
                  Ron LaDow
                  Tucker's partnership with Ford ended well before he started working on his car. Tucker and Harry Miller lost one too many races for Henry as I recall, and he killed Ford's entire racing program.

                  Oh, and I just found out what's probably the first fuel cell car prototype. It dates from 1959 (and like fusion power, has been "just around the corner" for ages).


                  • #10
                    So fascinating, all the innovations that fell by the wayside over the years and were forgotten...except by a few.

                    So many have tried to get rid of crankshafts and connecting rods, but there is a sort of survival of the fittest going on in the technical world, also.

                    I'm reading "the Lives of a Bengal Lancer" by Francis Yeats-Brown. The authur had been serving in India since 1905 until his return to England in 1914. He states,

                    "Lord's, all the fashions and frivolities of 1914! When I had first left England, bicycling had only recently gone out of fashion. Now had arrived the era of motors which often ran for hundreds of miles without breakdown; and aeroplanes which looped the loop."
                    Geez, I wish I had a car like that!


                    • #11
                      And then there's the 58 Vet.

                      I still get a firm-on when I see one.
                      - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                      Thank you to our families of soldiers, many of whom have given so much more then the rest of us for the Freedom we enjoy.

                      It is true, there is nothing free about freedom, don't be so quick to give it away.


                      • #12
                        '59 or '63 T Top..... Don't get any better... Gave GM my endorsement this morning - '05 Suburban.



                        • #13
                          '59 or '63 T Top..... Don't get any better... Gave GM my endorsement this morning - '05 Suburban.



                          • #14
                            Tucker, I'm looking for info on a car sold by Sears & Roebuck, I believe in the mid 1920's. It came shipped in a crate that could be used as a garage. From the one pic I've seen it seems to be smaller than the Bantam.

                            The stainless ford is a 1936 model. It was a promotion for the steel company.

                            The golden submarine was driven in races by Barney Oldfield.

                            I do like the Pacer Pickup. Did it also have the passenger side door longer than the driver's side?



                            • #15
                              PolskiFran, I've seen pics of one of the Sears cars, but I don't have any. According to the book I have (The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Automobiles by David Burgess Wise), they were built from 1908-1912, and weren't very popular (they lost $80,000 on the cars, big, big money back then). In the early 50s, they sold Henry J's rebadged as "Allstate" (I've also seen mention of the original car being called an "Allstate" don't know if that's true or not.

                              I image that the Pacer pick up did have one door wider than the other, since it was a production model Pacer that the company carved up to make the pick up.