"Got time to reline my brakes this
morning, Gus?" Kellogg called as he drove up to the Model Garage. "The
linings are nearly worn through."
thing!" Gus Wilson replied as he swung the doors open, "Run her inside over
near the bench."
was rated as a good customer at the Model Garage. He handled his car
carefully and intelligently, appreciated painstaking repair work, and, as
Joe Clark, Gus's partner, once remarked; "he pays his bills instead of
filing them in the waste basket!"
good job now, Gus," Kellogg instructed while the veteran auto mechanic laid
out his tools and placed the jacks, "I like to be able to stop quick and,
believe me, when the brakes are right on this bus she'll pretty near throw
you through the windshield. I'd like to see any four-wheel brake car stop
smiled, "Guess you don't think much of four-wheel brakes," he observed.
should say not!" Kellogg snapped. "They're just a talking point to help 'em
sell the junk they call automobiles these days. If you want to see a real
automobile, take a look at this boat. No fool fancy business. Just plain
had five years of fine service out of it," Gus admitted. "Taking care of it
the way you do, you ought to get thousands of miles more before it's really
worn out. By the way," he suggested, "would you like to look over the
catalogues of some of the new cars while you're waiting? Joe has a few on
his desk. Hey! Joe!" he called to his partner, "bring out that batch of
catalogues I saw you looking at this morning."
popped out of his tiny office with a handful of gaily-colored literature.
"Thinking of buying a new boat, Mr. Kellogg?" he grinned.
Kellogg snorted disdainfully, "I don't think any of the cars they make now
are as good as the one I've got. I'm satisfied with it."
don't wonder," said Gus as he measured a piece of brake lining and cut it to
the proper length, "that you think four-wheel brakes don't amount to much.
Lots of cars are running on the road with four brakes in such rotten shape
they won't stop the car as quick as two brakes that work right. But if you
ever happen to get behind some bird who has good brakes and he gets into a
tight place and he has to jam 'em on, you're going to slam into him sure as
so," Kellogg admitted, "But how about these four-speed transmissions?"
Seems like a lot of bunk to me. What's the good of four speeds if you drive
in high nearly all the time anyway?"
isn't the four speeds that count so much as the fact that you get what
amounts to two high speeds," Gus explained. "Lots of times when you're
boiling along a fine road at a good clip you kind of wish the motor wasn't
turning over so fast it sounded like a bumblebee. Then when you get stuck
in a lot of traffic or you have to push over steep hills and through lots of
mud, you wish that high wasn't quite as high and second wasn't quite as low
and noisy. The right kind of four-speed transmission takes care of both
cases. In high, at high speed, the motor is as quiet as a mouse. In third
you can crawl through traffic or plough up muddy, steep hills as easy as
rolling off a log - and do it without any gear noises either. On long trips
the higher gearing saves gas, too,"
four-speed transmission will do that," said Kellogg, "I'm all for it. What
about this front wheel-drive idea?"
like hot stuff in some ways," Gus observed. "Of course it's so new that you
can't tell how it will work out for a while yet." "There's no doubt driving
through the front wheels makes it possible to get the body down close to the
ground. The car ought to ride easier. Taking weight off the rear axle
should help. I can remember years ago how smooth riding the old chain drive
cars were. They had a light rear axle, too. But as far as that goes,
there's nothing to stop 'em from getting the same light rear axle with the
ordinary rear drive by fastening the differential gear case onto the frame
and driving the wheels through universal jointed shafts as they do with the
new front drives.
"Skidding should be less with the front drive and it is great for climbing
out of ruts. Then there's no long propeller shaft to cause vibration if it
doesn't happen to be balanced right."
don't seem to be over-enthusiastic about the front drive," said Kellogg. "I
said it looks good in a lot of ways," Gus replied. "But what looks good
doesn't always work out in practice. Nobody can say for sure until a couple
of thousand cars have seen a few years on the road in the hands of all sorts
of drivers. Of course the idea isn't really new. Twenty-five years or more
ago there used to be some electric hansom cabs running around the city
streets that drove with the front wheels and steered with the back ones.
Seems to me the ideal way to drive would be through all four of the wheels.
Kellogg silently thumbed through the catalogues for a while and then he
popped another question. "What is a down-draft carburetor, Gus?" he asked.
the latest, "Gus replied. "The air flows down through the carburetor into
the cylinders, instead of uphill. The air doesn't have to lift the gas
particles uphill and the air velocity can be a lot lower. That allows a
larger opening through the carburetor, which means more power at high speed
and still the mixture is right when the throttle is nearly closed. If they
put the same big air passage to the ordinary carburetor to get the same top
speed, the air would go through so slow when the engine was throttled that
it wouldn't carry up enough gas. It's a swell idea. I wonder why somebody
didn't think of it before?"
"Humph!" grunted Kellogg, "Maybe the new cars have more power, but what have
they done to make 'em last longer? I'll bet a new car wouldn't give me the
service I've gotten out of this boat."
let's see, "Gus rambusted, "First off, they're doing a better job of making
cylinder castings now than they used to. The new nickel-iron always wear
better than the old gray iron castings. Also, they know more about how to
design a cylinder bock so the cylinder walls won't warp out of round as bad
as they sometimes did in the old days. Then there's the crank shafts -
they're grinding 'em more accurately and balancing 'em a lot better.
Pistons are lighter; so are connecting rods. All that means less vibration,
and less vibration means less wear.
the good cars now have thermostats to control the water temperature. The
motor heats up quicker and even a careless driver can't run 'em much too
cold in winter. There's less crank case dilution to spoil the oil's
lubricating qualities and the oil filters they're fitting keep the oil
clean. Air cleaners keep dust out of the cylinders, and that cuts down the
carbon quite a bit. Higher compression means better economy.
looks, the modern lacquer finishes stand up three times as long as the old
paint finish, and the chromium plating on the bright parts stays bright
Kellogg exclaimed, "I thought all that stuff was just talking points. But
even if it is free, how about the bodies they're painting on the cars these
days?" They look pretty light and tinny to me. The body on my car is better
right now than most of the bodies on the new cars."
isn't a fair comparison," Gus objected, "I think the bodies they're fitting
now are remarkable considering the price. You can't expect a fine
hand-built coach job for a hundred dollars or so. It costs that much for
the good upholstered chair from a furniture store. If you want to pay the
price you can get as fine a body as you ever could in the past. Your car
cost a lot of jack. You can get as good a body for less today."
the brakes had been fixed and adjusted to Kellogg's satisfaction, he smiled
rather sheepishly. "Mind if I keep these catalogues for a day or two?" he
said. "I've kind of a notion I'll go the rounds with this old war horse and
see what they'll allow me on a trade in."