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OT What is the 'cut-out' on a 1920s car?

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  • OT What is the 'cut-out' on a 1920s car?

    When I want to unwind I sometimes go back and re-read The Saint books by Leslie Charteris - good rip-roaring hokum, beautifully written. Today I was reading 'The Man who Could Not Die' in a book first published in early 1931, and came across the following passage.
    The characters are Miles Hallin, the villain of the piece, and Nigel Perry, romantic lead and innocent unsuspecting dupe, who is about to get murdered unless The Saint can thwart Hallin's evil plan...

    It was Perry who led the way out of the cottage, and he had already started the car when Hallin climbed in behind the wheel.
    They moved off with a roar, and Perry leaned over and yelled in Hallin's ear.
    "They'll hear us coming!"
    Hallin nodded and kicked the cut-out over. The roar was silenced.
    "You're right," he said.
    They tore down the hill for a quarter of a mile, and skidded deliriously round a right-angle turn; then they went bucketing down a steep and narrow lane, with the big car brushing the hedge on either side.


    Can any of the old-car buffs tell me what the cut-out was and why it caused such a noise? There certainly wasn't one on my 1938 Morris 8!

    George

  • #2
    I believe the "Cut Out" was a cast valve fitted into the exhaust pipe, probably controlled by a lever or cable, (if the had cables back then.)-Similar to a cast pipe fitting with a Flapper in it.

    Cut outs where quite common throughout the 40-50-60's for young guys to install on their cars.

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    • #3
      Bypass the muffler to reduce backpressure in an attempt to maximize engine power. Time was you could get a kit from JC Whitney with a Y fitting for the exhaust pipe and the cable and lever to operate it from the drivers seat. I don't know if it was ever supplied by the manufacturer.
      .
      "People will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time they will pick themselves up and carry on" : Winston Churchill

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      • #4
        If I am not mistaken cutouts were butterfly valves that directed the exhaust either to the muffler or directly out of the head pipes. When put in the proper position the exhaust would be piped directly out of the head pipe, like open headers on a race car.
        I'm not old enough to know whether they were installed on any vehicle at the time of manufacture but they were installed as aftermarket items.

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        • #5
          From JC Whintey

          http://www.jcwhitney.com/exhaust-cut...?filterid=u0j1

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          • #6
            Basically the "cut out" cut the muffler out of the exhaust path. The exhaust went directly to the atmosphere, along with all of the engine noise. Like TG said above, it decreased the back pressure from the muffler and allow a bit more HP and speed. It also drew attention to the proud owner of the HOT rod. Male hormones were heavily involved here. The more and deeper the noise, the better. A "Mine is bigger than yours!" thing.

            Due to the noise, they were made illegal in every state and that is why, probably the only reason why, they are not seen in cars today.
            Paul A.

            Make it fit.
            You can't win and there is a penalty for trying!

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            • #7
              also made it easy at the drag srtip where it made it possible to have much less objectionable noise driving to & from the track where it was uncorked. Often a feature of "lake pipes" which were exhaust pipes routed along the rocker panels with the exit at the rear wheels. Cutouts usually before the drivers door.
              gvasale

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              • #8
                You can still buy them just saw them in car mag new ones are electric just flip a switch, o and you can open them half way to.
                Richard

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                • #9
                  They were a factory installed feature on at least Duesenbergs and I suspect Auburns and Cords as well as other similar high end perfomance autos of the thirties.

                  As a speed crazed teen ager in the fifties, I was guilty of using them as well as lakes pipes, gutted mufflers and Smitties. Glasspacks came along later.
                  Last edited by JCHannum; 03-01-2013, 09:22 PM.
                  Jim H.

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                  • #10
                    Back then,, (many years ago,) made my own , right off the manifold, and exiting out through the fenderwell.

                    Looked "COOL" at night, with a nice "Feather" of yellowish-blue flame shimmering !! Lol --At speed it would actually light up the road.

                    Aww,, the "Good Ole Days!"

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                    • #11
                      Thanks, I never came across that - moved in the wrong circles I guess. Now I have to ask what Smitties and glasspacks are!

                      George

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                      • #12
                        Well this thread brought back some fond memories.
                        Thanks
                        Byron Boucher
                        Burnet, TX

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                        • #13
                          I'm probably a member of a very small club now- not only did I build my own muffler, I put a cutout on it as well. It's cable operated with a lever under the drivers seat. Lake pipes- yup, got those also. Probably have the hottest sounding Astro van in town
                          I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by darryl View Post
                            I'm probably a member of a very small club now- not only did I build my own muffler, I put a cutout on it as well. It's cable operated with a lever under the drivers seat. Lake pipes- yup, got those also. Probably have the hottest sounding Astro van in town
                            Tell me it's not true! To a Astro van, that is just wrong!

                            I had cutouts on a car when I was in High School. My God the things we thought were cool back then.
                            How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!

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                            • #15
                              Is it too soon to introduce the discussion of "engines need back pressure"?

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