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Another mystery car from Slovenia

Another mystery car from Slovenia
Peter Skofic sent us this photo, which was taken by photographer Peter Lampic in 1910 and shows an unknown car on its journey from Ljubljana to Kamnik (some 25 km). The owner of the car who seats on the rear seat was certain Mr Smid. Could anybody recognize this car?
Thursday, 26 January 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail
   

PWC Workshop: preparing a real cyclecar for Festival of Slowth

PWC Workshop: preparing a real cyclecar for Festival of Slowth
Being known for breathing life back into rusty, neglected, and under-powered modes of ancient transport, in the spring of last year I had an interesting contraption delivered to the Gunn & Co workshop for resuscitation. This particular vehicle was a Velocar from the factory of Charles Mochet et Cie of Puteaux, France. The ‘Famile’ model, it was obviously built at a time when health and safety would have been laughed out the door of any Parisian Café! According to the Mochet advert of the time, it was designed as “family transport”, and was able to carry two adults who pedalled, with two small children in the back. 
Most ancient machines have, during their lives, been through the many hands of carers, bodgers, tinkerers and modifiers. All of these seem to have played a part in the life of this particular Mochet. Interestingly, the modifier had decided that pedal power and the three factory fitted gears were insufficient and had decided to add a little 50cc two stroke engine with clutch. This must have enabled the driver and passengers to travel at least to the next village without having to call for an ambulance because of exhaustion; thus turning it into a true ‘Cyclecar’.  
Ever keen to have a go and wanting to ascertain what was wrong with the car, a quick road test was needed. Under pedal power, I discovered that only two out of the three gears worked, but at least the brakes did offer some degree of retardation. Five levers are mounted on the steering wheel; two brake levers, one for each of the rear brakes, a hand throttle lever, a clutch lever and a decompressor lever. There is also a gear lever under the driver’s seat, giving the driver far too much to think about, on top of having to steer and pedal at the same time.
Now, what about the engine? Would it run? The tank was fuelled, the carburettor primed and tickled. In anticipation, we pushed the Mochet out on the road for a second (powered) test drive. While holding in the clutch and decompressor lever, I pedalled like fury to get up to a speed at which I thought the engine might start. I released both levers and a faint splutter from the engine behind me, brought a gleeful smile to my face! Sadly, it was short lived and quickly turned to disappointment as the engine died. I gathered my breath, re-tickled the carb, opened the choke, re-adjusted the throttle lever and had another go. This time, the little Mochet fired into life and I looked behind me to see the owner’s smile through the trail of blue smoke. Pulling well, the whole car rattled along the road at what felt like 50 miles an hour, which I suspect was more like 10. Before I knew it, I had to turn-around and attempt the return run back to the workshop. I ran through the same starting process and away she went again, this time at what must have been at least 12 miles an hour!  
Later, over lunch in the local pub, a plan was hatched. I had a rough idea of what needed to be done; it was pretty apparent that it required taking apart, the rolling chassis and engine overhauling, repairs made to the bodywork, and re-assembling in a sympathetic way. The deadline was the French Festival of Slowth in late June. 
After removing the body, I discovered why I could only find two of the three gears: in order to make the engine fit, the modifier had removed the 3rd gear chain, as it was in the way of the engine drive. One of the engine mounting tubes was also fractured and fell onto two pieces when I removed the engine from the chassis. I subsequently had to sleeve, pin and braze the tube before the engine could be fitted back into the chassis.
All the bearings in the hubs, crank assemblies and counter shafts were dry of any lubrication and were also ill-adjusted. These were all dismantled, cleaned, greased, and adjusted; resulting in a free running rolling chassis. The engine, carburettor, and clutch were also dismantled, cleaned, and re-assembled. Missing spokes on the rear wheels were replaced and all the wheels made as true as could be achieved. Brakes were cleaned, new cables run to all the levers and the bodywork was braced, repaired, and refitted. 
The Mochet Velocar has a very simple tubular chassis incorporating the front and rear axles, these are bolted to the chassis via nice ornate bronze castings. The gearing offers a nod of the hat to GN with a similar sliding dog system, which makes you wonder if the designs of Ron Godfrey and Archie Frazer Nash had an influence on Mochet as it does resemble a GN or Frazer Nash in miniature.  
With the Mochet fit to go again, it participated at the French Festival of Slowth in June 2016. It is currently waiting for the arrival of Spring in a secret location, ready to give its next passengers a blistering 12 mile an hour experience! It may not be quick, but that really isn’t the point. Being slow, underpowered and amusing to drive is what makes cyclecars, and vehicles like this so endearing to own and drive in today’s modern fast world. 
Text by Tim Gunn – Photographs by Robin Batchelor
   
Wednesday, 25 January 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail
   

A pioneer in Hybrid-technology

A pioneer in Hybrid-technology
   

The Hague, end of December: While many Dutchmen were stacking europallets for the big NYE-bonfire at the Scheveningen-beach, we used the chance to escape the drizzling rain and made a short trip to the Louwman-Collection. Walking through the museum, you can realize, that the number of steam- or electric-powered cars is surprisingly high. But between the Stanley, Baker or Detroit-Electric, displayed next to a modern Prius cutaway, a lovely car hit my eye. With its open bonnet, showing a 4-cylindre gasoline engine, I at first had no clue, where to find the link to the cars around it and so I had to learn some astounding information about the one hundred years old "WOODS DUAL POWER". This pretty car, with its friendly looks and big windows is a pioneer in hybrid-technology. It is fitted with a 12hp four-cylindre gasoline-, as well, as with an electric-engine. Even if the hybrid-car was not new at this time (LaCuadra and Lohner for example built their hybrids nearly 20 years before this Woods was delivered), the milestone realised with the Dual Power is, that this car is a full-hybrid. Up to 30km/h, the car is driven electrical and for higher speeds up to 56km/h, the power of the petrol-engine is added via a magnetic clutch. The gasoline engine can also be used as a range extender as it´s charging the batteries while running. And as if this was not enough, the Woods used a technology, first invented for electric rack railways some years before: the regenerative brakes. By that, the battery was charged via level ground or downhill braking/ coasting. The braking efficiency of the engine was suitable for speeds over 10km/h (we remember, it was 1917 and not every driver would break for a chicken those days), so the conventional brake system with rear drums had only to be used at around walking speed or emergency brakes.

Such a modern car, built a hundert years ago. But why was this technique rejected by automobile companies for such a long time? I can´t remember even one hybrid production car between 1918, when Woods stopped production, and the 1997 Prius!? Woods wanted to combine the advantages of electric and gasoline powered cars. Gasoline engines for example were rough, loud and had to be cranked. But they had more power than the elctrical engines, that were silent and smoothly, easy to start, but had a short range. A perfect combination, with the additional advantage, that no gearbox was needed (with the disadvantage, that driving backwards was only possible in electric mode) but also a very expensive and complex one. For a price of more than $2.500 in 1917, a customer expected a car that was at least faster than a Tin-Lizzy, sold for $345. And the handycaps of gasoline engines minimized during those years. Electric starters for example got common, gasoline engines were refined, their reliability increased, nobody cared about exhaust gases or petrol-prices and last but not least, the service for such a complex technique as the hybrid-system was very expensive. So the Woods Motor Vehicle Company closed its doors in 1918. Only two (or three?) of the fabulous Dual Power seem to have survived: The one displayed in the Louwman-Collection and one is shown in the Ford-Museum at Dearborn.
 

Words and photos by Hubertus Hansmann

Tuesday, 24 January 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail
   

Ex-chief is looking for his old fire truck

search for fire truck

Karl W. Riesterer Jr. sent us the picture shown above. He is the ex-chief with the West Hempstead Fire Department on Long Island, New York and they are looking for their first fire engine. It was a 1927 Seagrave “6AT” 600-gallon pump T hose cart, serial number 49540. It had a 15-H 6-cylinder engine, serial number 3-15H605, and pump serial # 6826 Manister 4 stage.
'We took delivery on August 16, 1927 and it served us well until 1946. We then sold it to our brother department in upstate, Yulan, New York. There it again served well till the early 1960s. They then sold it to the Mill Rift Fire Department in eastern Pennsylvania. They kept it several years and have no record of who they sold it to. Senior members of their department say it may have gone down south.
It is unique because it was in an accident in 1936 and new “modern” rolled edge fenders, windshield, electric siren and relocation of the bell and warning fights was done, as shown in the picture of it competing in a firematic tournament in the late 1930s.
Any information or even a possible lead from any of the area fire companies would be greatly appreciated. Perhaps someone has seen it in a local parade or maybe in a field or behind a barn. Anything would be helpful in this chapter of our departments’ history that several members before me have been unable to solve. I would appreciate your help as we approach our 100 th anniversary in 2019.
We have found and restored our other Seagrave in the firehouse photo, our 1931 Seagrave City Service Ladder Truck.'

      
Monday, 23 January 2017 Attention: open in a new window. Print E-mail
   

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