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Automobile Topics of Interest

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Automobile Topics of Interest

The New York Times
May 31, 1903

Automobile Club of America Law Committee Will Test Constitutionality of Bailey Law–An Automobile for $375–American Motor Omnibus in London

According to Judge James C. Church of the Law Committee of the Automobile Club of America, action soon will be taken to test the constitutionality of the Bailey Highway bill.  The licensing clause, which is considered the most obnoxious feature of the measure, will be attacked first.  "This feature of the law," said Judge Church, "is the worst of all, though it has been criticized least.  Under its operation the most careful operator may be placed in the most embarrassing position.  Suppose a car going at high speed hurts some one.  A hasty glance at the number is caught and a mistake is made.  The wrong man is arrested, and he has to prove an alibi.  This does something that never has been done before in the history of criminal law–it puts the burden upon the defendant to prove his innocence.  In view of the fact that the club accepted the provision of the law for licensing, it has been decided that it would not be proper for it to contest it, but the provision will be tested by an individual volunteer.  The arrangements are now being made."

It was inferred from what Judge Church had said that he would be the individual to make the test case.  The question was put to Judge Church as to the legality of revoking a man's right to the use of the highway, and he said thta stood or fell with the question of licensing.

It has also been decided to make a test case to decide whether a vehicle or person may be passed only at the rate of eight miles an hour, or at a rate of speed eight miles in excess of that at which the person passed is traveling.

Judge Church was asked why the club did not do something about the singling out of automobilists by the police of New York and the enforcement of speed laws against them, and not against horse drivers.  He said:  "That matter has not been overlooked; it will not be slighted.  We are proceeding on the plan of 'Be sure you're right and then go ahead.'"

Judge Church said that the Law Committee of the club has sent a letter to Police Commissioner Greene of New York calling his attention to the fact that under the Bailey law speed cannot be restricted below fifteen miles an hour in the upper part of the city, where the houses are 100 feet apart or more, and asking him to have the police respect this in their enforcement of the speed laws.

Judge Church was asked about the evident falsity of the testimony of the Long Island constables, who swear to sixteen seconds as the time taken by every automobile to go an eighth of a mile.  He said the evidence of this should be collected used to set aside convictions, and that the constables might be proceeded against for perjury, if the evidence was plain that the machines were traveling on different speed gears.

***

A combination electric and gasoline omnibus built in Hoboken, N. J., for use in the streets of London, England, has arrived in that city, where it is attracting much attention.  It is the first of a number of similar vehicles now being built in Hoboken for use in the British capital, and it will be at once put into active service, the route being from the Angel, Islington, to Walham Green.  The 'bus has a capacity of thirty passengers, having seats on the top which are reached by a stairway from the platform at the back.  The engine and dynamo are in front, with the driver's seat above.  The average speed is twelve miles an hour.  The wheels have solid rubber tires.  The motor is of the vertical four-cylinder pattern, and develops about sixteen horse power at 475 revolutions.  The dynamo is coupled direct and has an output of nine kilowatts.  The rear wheels are driven by separate motors suspended in front of the back axle.  The battery consists of forty-eight chloride cells placed beneath the seats in the body.  They have a capacity of 125 ampere hours at a three-hour rate of discharge.  The electrical connections permit of the vehicle being run without the engine and of the engine being started from the cells.  Besides the ordinary electric brakes there are band brakes on each of the armature shafts of the motors and spoon brakes on the tires of the rear wheels.

***

A striking instance of the practical utility of the automobile is reported by a salesman for an Indiana brewing company.  His business takes him to many small country towns and villages, and the infrequency of railroad trains in some cases and the entire lack of railroad communication in others causes him to lose much valuable time, as well as to spend considerable money for carriage hire.

Recently he invested in a light gasoline runabout, and making Kankakee his headquarters, he made a run of 100 miles in a day, visiting five towns and making better time than was possible any other way.  He left Kankakee at 10:30 in the morning and drove to Reddick, Dwight, Odell, Cabery, and Herscher, calling on ten customers and treating each of them to a trip about town in the automobile.  About 75 cents' worth of gasoline and lubricating oil was used, which comprised the entire expense.  Had the trip been taken in the usual way it would have cost $1.30 for railroad fare, $4.50 for carriage hire, and 50 cents for the driver's dinner or a total of $6.30.

***

According to United States Consul Alfred K. Moe, at Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, Central America, the right to establish a service of passenger and freight automobiles over an eighty-mile route from the capital to San Lorenzo, on the Bay of Fonseca, the most important harbor on the Pacific Coast of that country, has been granted by the national Congress to an American named Daniel Fortin.  The concession is for twelve years, and fixes the rate at a maximum of 2.8 cents per kilometer for passengers and .6 cent per quintal (220.4 pounds) per kilometer for freight, and allows each passengers to carry free 50 pounds of baggage.  The concessionaure is permitted to import foreign laborers except Chinese to construct the necessary wagon road, and must open the automobile service within one year after the road is finished.  It is provided that the Government may buy and operate the line after six years.

***

An excellent method of repairing a leak in pipes or joints in the water-cooling system of a gasoline motor is to bind around the leaking part a length of string which has been previously soaked in oil.  The string should first be soaked in oil-boiled linseed, if this can be obtained, or, failing this, thick lubricating oil–and then would around the joint, keeping the coils as close together as possible.  The start and finish of the coild should be some little distance on each side of the point at which the leak occurs.  The winding should consist of two or three layers of string, if enough is at hand.  In the case of a leak occuring in the tank, if the fracture is sufficiently large, some tow can be made by picking a piece of string, soaking it in oil, and packing it into the joint by means of a chisel or a strong blade of a penknife.  White lead, of course, is at all times preferable to oil, where procurable, and if a piece of tape can be used in conjunction with this a satisfactory and permanent repair can be effected.

***

While going through Manchester, Conn., about a week ago President M. J. Budlong of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers passed a horse standing hitched to a buggy.  The horse took fright and ran away, wrecking the carriage, whereupon the owner of the vehicle procured a warrant and had it served on Budlong and the Fish and Game Preserve Club, six miles beyond Manchester, and the latter was held under $700 bail to appear and answer the charge of illegal speeding.

It is the intention of Mr. Budlong to fight the case.  He says he was going at a speed of not more than seven or eight miles an hour, and, noticing that the horse was restless, slowed and pulled over to one side of the street.  It was not until he had passed that the horse started to run, and he was not aware that is had done so until the owner of the rig appeared at the clubhouse and demanded to be compensated for the damage.

***

At the annual election of the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Automobile Club the election of officers resulted as follows:  Presidnt, Charles B. Judd; Vice President, Dr. Perry Schurtz; Secretary, L. W. Welch; Treasurer, N. Fred Avery.  The Directors are Charles B. Judd, Dr. Perry Schurtz; N. F. Avery, L. W. Welch, L. H. Withey, Walter S. Austin, George W. Hart, and A. F. Walker.

President Judd has appointed the Standing Committees as follows:  Membership Committee–L. W. Welch, Dr. Perry Schurtz, and J. W. Fitzgerald.  Law and Ordinance Committee–W. S. Austin, George W. Hart, and C. W. Matheson.  Auditing Committee–L. P. Cody, Dr. J. H. Palin, and W. S. Daniels.

***

When remaking a joint where it is necessary to use an asbestos washer to secure a perfect joint, a good plan is to have a selection of washers which have been previously cut to correct sizes soaked for some six or eight hours in olive oil, and this then allowed to drain off the washer, some, of course, drying uon it to a certain extent.  After remaining for some hours for draining and drying purposes, these washers should have a quantity of fine black lead rubbed well into their surfaces, when they will be ready for use.  The advantage of so treating asbestos is that when it is necessary to break the jointing the washer comes away from the surfaces perfectly clean, thus doing away with the necessity for scraping off the fragments remaining, and is fit for use over and over again, so that the treatment facilitates the remaking of a joint, and at the same time is economical.

***

Officers to serve for the ensuing year were elected by the Toledo, (Ohio) Automobile Club at its recent annual meeting as follows:  President—Dr. L. A. Liffring; Vice President—Peter Gendron; Secretary and Treasurer—George A. Palmer, Jr.; Trustees—Frank Hake, George R. Ford, C. M. Hall, H. C. Tillotson, W. D. McNaul, J. M. Goutz, and George Troutt.  The following committees were also appointed:  Membership Committee—Dr. C. P. Wagar, Ezra Kirk, and J. M. Bick; Tours and Contests Committee—D. R. Gamble, Harry Fisher, and Louis Lichtie; Grievance Committee—C. M. Hall, Frank Hake, and Ezra Kirk; Entertainment Committee—George R. Ford, George Troutt, and George Palmer, Jr.

***

A syndicate of St. Louis business men is contemplating the establishment of an automobile line for the transportation of the visitors to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904 from the stations and hotels to the fair grounds.  According to the plans several hundred electric omnibuses will be employed, and the company will have a capitalization of $1,000,000.  The promoters estimate that from 8,000 to 10,000 persons an hour could be handled in the automobiles, thus relieving the regular transportation lines to that extent.

***

An excellent clutch dressing is to be made up by mixing castor oil and commercial glycerine in equal proportions.  This requires to be thoroughly well mixed by placing the ingredients in a large stoppered bottle and shaking well from time to time.  It should be applied to the leather as thinly and as evenly as possible.  It appears to keep the leather soft and to prevent it from creaming when the clutch slips, and at the same time it retains the full gripping power necessary to drive the car.  With this dressing it is perfectly safe to slip the clutch to admit of the engine picking up a little when climbing grades, thus enabling the car to overcome them without the necessity of changing down to a lower gear, the latter being necessary only when ascending more than ordinary hills.

***

The Automobile Club of Indiana, whose head-quarters are at Indianapolis, has elected officers for the present year, as follows:  President—Fred Ayers; Vice President—H. O. Smith; Secretary and Treasurer—J. A. McKim; Directors—Dr. Henry Jameson, Carl Fisher, George W. Pangborn, and A. G. Baldwin.

***

Mayor Bookwalter of Indianapolis, Ind., has signed an automobile speed ordninance which prohibits motor vehicles from going faster than eight miles an hour within the square mile bounded by North, South, East, and West Streets.  The speed limit is fixed at twelve miles an hour outside of that district.  The ordinance provides that the owner shall place his initials on the rear of his vehicle in letters not less than three inches high and requires all automobile owners to register with the City Controller.  It also provides that all machines shall carry bells or horns, and lamps to be lighted half an hour after sundown.  Another clause requires motorists to slow up when rounding corners in down town districts.

***

The automobilist who has wire connections of any kind to his accelerating apparatus should always carry a spare length or two, particularly if the wire is of the stranded steel description found on many French cars.  This is often most treacherous stuff, and breaks when least expected.  The best thing to do is to remove it altogether and replace it with a length of ordinary wire.

***

Members of the Hampden County (Mass.) Golf Club have put in operation an automobile line between Chicopee Falls, Mass., and the club grounds in West Springfield.  A fifteen-minute schedule is maintained from 1 P. M. until dark.

***

The Board of Public Service of Toledo, Ohio, is considering the purchase of an automobile to be used in inspecting the progress of work on public improvements.  The need of some means of rapid transit was made evident recently during a twenty-five-mile trip through the outskirts of the city for the purpose of viewing proposed water main extensions.

***

An electric street sprinkler that will lay the dust on ten miles of street an hour is said to have been invented by a leading Parisian engineer.  This automobile machine, which costs only $3,000, will be able to sprinkle the Champs Elysees and the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne in fifteen minutes.  If it proves successful a large number of similar sprinklers will be ordered by the City of Paris.

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