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"Careful Car Clinic"

"Careful Car Clinic"

Speed Demons #5
February 1957

Edith Masson was watching her boy friend, John Cranwell, as he was adjusting his tie. It was evident something was on his mind.

"You washed your hands twice and forgot to remove that little grease spot from your nose," she chided him. "I'll do it for you. What's worrying you, John? You have that absent-minded look on your face as though you are a million miles away from here. It can't be about your Dad because you know definitely he is recovering and will be back at work in a week."

The president of the Hampton Hot Rod Club laughed and it was evident it couldn't have been something serious. He glanced at his wrist watch.

"We don't want to be late for the meeting. Come on, darling. We'll say goodbye to Dad."

Robert Cranwell was resting on an easy chair that had been taken out and placed on the porch of his home. He had been injured when the fire engine of Company C had collided with a truck. For the past twenty years he had been a member of the Hampton Fire Department, serving in various capacities.

"Hello, Dad," greeted the voice of his son. "Edith and I are going over to the meeting."

"That's a good idea of yours, to hold a Car Clinic," complimented the father. "Now if you could figure out some way in which to help reduce the accidents that injure firemen, it would be a very good thing."

"Maybe it can be done," John replied. "Who knows what's inside that mind of mine? We expect a crowd at the meeting. Jim Davis gave the meeting a lot of publicity in the paper."

The small auditorium was crowded to full capacity. On the stage were several automobile engines and an old car. But Simpson was pointing to the car on the stage and talking.

"The year was 1921. President Harding was inaugurated. Caruso died, and anyone shopping for a two-seater sports car could spend $6300.00 for a McFarlan Six, $5500.00 for a Meteor — a three-seater Pierce-Arrow cost $8000.00 — or he could more conservatively pay $2885.00 for a Templar touring-roadster, sports model class, shown on the stage. No worry about accessories. This roadster came equipped with six wire wheels, two of which were stored in a rear deck well. It also had a rim-wind keyless auto clock, a clinometer which is really a grade indicator, spot light, power tire pump, inspection lamp and cord, compass and folding kodak. A compartment for the latter two is located in the side of the full hammered aluminum body which was available in gray, cream, wine or bronze. You will notice an aluminum step to facilitate entrance and exit which is located on the side of the body below the Maltese Cross insignia used by Templar. The roadster has no doors. Templar Motor Corporation was organized in 1916 and produced its first automobile two years later. Interference by World War I and financial difficulties made its life a short one. Its plant and equipment were auctioned off in 1925. I see our president is here. So you can begin your questions. Raise your hand please."

A young man in his early twenties arose and was recognized. "Will you please tell me about the Braking Distance Test."

"The best device for making brake tests is the AAA-type solenoid detonator," explained John Cranwell. "Standard procedure is as follows: Using the corrected speedometer, the best stopping distances are determined at speeds of 30, 45, and 60 mph. These must be steady speeds, with the car neither accelerating nor slowing down at the time the test emergency stop is made. The brakes are kept on hard until the car has come to a standstill. The driver and observor get out and with a lumber crayon make a mark on the pavement immediately under the detonator. Then they measure the distance with a tape. This much I can definitely say. In my driving, I have never experienced any particular difficulty or danger in making emergency stops at 30 or 45 mph. At 60 mph., however, slamming the binders on hard can get you into trouble. Some cars come to a true, straight line stop from any speed. Then there are some that pull violently to one side and others with ultra-soft rear springs that perform a wild risky rear-axle hop when the brakes are put on hard at high speed. It's easy to get into a bad high speed spin under such conditions. So it's best to feel your way, starting with mild brake applications and working up to the hardier ones. Out here our police department has set aside a special area in which you can make this test. Next question?"

A man in his early thirties arose and faced the president.

"I have the chance to purchase a '56 Mercury engine to replace the stock V8 engine in my '54 Ford with synchromesh transmission. What I want to know consists of really five or six questions. First, are any alterations required to mount this engine in the Ford chassis? Second, is an adaptor necessary to couple the engine to the Ford transmission? Third, can the '56 Merc transmission be substituted for that of the Ford without any alterations? Fourth, is the Merc engine compatible with the Ford engine compartment with regard to length? Fifth, how does the weight of the '56 Merc engine compare with the weight of the Ford and would the handling of the Ford be impaired by the weight increase? Sixth, are there any additional recommendations you can give me?"

"That's a lot of questions at one time," smiled John Cranwell. "Now let's see how I would answer them. The '56 Merc engine will fit in the '54 Ford chassis as it is because the external dimensions of both Ford and Merc engines are identical. That means no engine-to-transmission adaptor is necessary, other than either the Ford or Merc bell housing. However, if you use the '56 Merc pressure plate assembly, then you must use a 10¼ inch outside diameter Ford truck clutch disc because the splined hub of the Merc disc is larger in diameter. In this way, the Ford transmission can be used although the Merc box is preferable because it is more rugged and the ratios are 2.49 in low and 1.59 in second as compared to the Ford ratios of 2.78 in low and 1.61 in second. The Merc gearbox will interchange as it is with the Ford box. The difference in weight is only about twenty pounds. As far as I can see, about the only necessary change will be to install the '56 Ford four-throat carburetor linkage from the carburetor to the existing throttle bar on the firewall. If any other problems arise, you can let me know."

Questions and answers continued for the balance of the evening. When it was over, John Cranwell came over to Jim Davis.

"Thanks a lot for the publicity you gave us. We probably will have one of these meetings a month from now on."

"How's that brainstorm in your head coming?" asked the reporter.

"Nix, nix," hushed John Cranwell.

"I think somebody is keeping a secret from me," protested Edith Masson in mock anger. "Either I get an in on it, or things will be made uncomfortable for a certain young man in this vicinity."

"All my fault," admitted the reporter. "But a secret is a secret. Next Wednesday there will be a party over at the firehouse. Fire Commissioner Cavanner has something to say. So just be patient, and the world will know the secret."

Edith Masson had enough sense not to press the matter any further. The group went out for soft drinks and hamburgers, and then John took her home. After he kissed her goodnight he did say one thing. "Big possibility that you may get that engagement ring sooner than you thought."

There was a certain air of mystery in the firehouse of Company C. Officially, they were giving a party for Robert Cranwell to celebrate his recovery. Edith and John were holding hands when Fire Commissioner Cavanner arose and started to speak.

"Starting today we are going to use fire safety belts for our men. I consider it the most comprehensive safety step ever taken by the department. I'll show you a sample. It is the first one made. It is made of nylon and rayon and equipped with a quick-release buckle. We expect these belts to cut down injuries to firemen on their way to fires. They are similar to the belts worn by drivers in Hot Rods. With that clue, need I tell you that the inventor is none other than John Cranwell. Within a year, these belts will become standard equipment throughout the country. Rise, John, and take a bow."

But somehow those words were falling on deaf ears, for John was slipping an engagement ring onto Edith's finger. It had been bought with his first royalty check for the safety belt. Robert Cranwell arose to the occasion.

"I guess this is also a sort of unofficial engagement party. So let's give three cheers for the couple."


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