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Tail Lights: April 22, 2014

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

Volume 3, Issue 5
Russians and the Military

Bill Crittenden
April 22, 2014

Volkswagen EosA Volkswagen Eos with the top down.  The weather may dip back down to freezing in Woodstock this weekend, but good spring driving days are finally here!
It's not just the Ukraine, the Russians have invaded The Crittenden Automotive Library, too!  An excellent history of Russian cars is on the Reference Desk list and more than 50 articles have been added to begin the Russian language index...the TENTH content language in the Library.


I've posted most of the patents I picked out of the archives for November & December 1895 to the Publications section.

Starting with the Selden Patent in November 1895, I've been working my way forward.  I've included a bunch of patents that aren't specifically intended for automobile use to show the general technologies of the time that were incorporated into the earliest motor cars.

Automobiles, after all, aren't an invention from scratch, but a combination of existing technologies: wheels, gears, carriage building, and the internal combustion engine.

Also, some of the old technologies intended for horse-drawn vehicles are really interesting because they resemble modern technologies, including regenerative braking.  Back then, instead of a generator recovering energy for a hybrid gas-electric engine to use, stored by batteries in the interim, wagons would have a mechanism that would wind a clock spring, the resistance providing braking.  Then, when the heavy wagon needed to move again, the spring would be unwound and assist the horses in getting the wagon rolling.  It was even applied to bicycles!

Eventually as the years included in the Library advance these will fade away and give way to actual automobile technologies and designs, some of which are already online from 1925 and 2012-2013.

Dead Trees

The project of putting together the binders of clippings and advertisements is going along nicely.  In addition to this, the shop manual for the 1981 Mazda 626 and Veloce Publishing's Russian Motor Vehicles: The Czarist Period (1784-1917) are now on the Reference Desk list.  Yes, those are quite a pair of obscure topics, but that's the point of this Library: it's not just another bunch of pictures of 1969 Camaros and a biography of Dale Earnhardt.  We love the obscure topics here!

History Beyond the Fenders

This month's History Beyond the Fenders entry is the new Military subject page.  While there are other military history sites that cover military vehicles very comprehensively, and I'm limiting this to wheeled vehicles, there were still enough articles and documents to begin with a military subject page.

Although the fully-tracked tank gets so much credit as mechanization's greatest influence on the battlefield, they are just the hardened point of a transportation spear that includes trucks for fuel, personnel, ammunition, and support, without which tank brigades could not efficiently function.  It was British soldiers that gave Mack trucks their famous Bulldog image for their tenacity on the fronts of the first World War.  The period of German remilitarization between the first and second World Wars saw the inception and promotion of the Autobahn and the Volkswagen, and once war broke out again it made the Jeep into world-famous American icon.

Since then the Soviets created massive trucks that could launch intercontinental nuclear missiles, the HMMWV "Humvee" became GM's Hummer H1, the United States military has become one of NASCAR's biggest boosters (the National Guard-sponsored car of Dale Earnhardt Jr. won this year's Daytona 500), and even as "smart bombs" and the "drone" airplane take center stage in warfare the soliders on the ground are creating new generations of armored trucks to counter the tactic of Improvised Explosive Devices planted at the sides of roads in combat areas.

As it grows these important historical topics will be linked to from this subject section.


The archives of The New York Times have been picked through for automotive material and the articles from the months of December 1909 & April 1914 are online now.

Why the bouncing around?  Just because I get tired of doing the same thing all the time.  Also, by going with April 1914 you can now read through what happened exactly 100 years ago, at least until the end of April.

With these (and other) contributions, the Article Odometer has topped 19,100.  20,000 is well within reach!

Progress in 2014

As just mentioned, I've topped 19,000 in the Articles index, and caught up on some indexing that had been waiting to be done for some time.

About The Crittenden Automotive Library

The Crittenden Automotive Library @ CarsAndRacingStuff.com, based in Woodstock, Illinois, is an online collection of information relating to not only cars, trucks, and motorcycles, but also the roads they drive on, the races they compete in, cultural works based on them, government regulation of them, and the people who design, build, and drive them.  We are dedicated to the preservation and free distribution of information relating to all types of cars and road-going vehicles for those seeking the greater understanding of these very important elements of modern society, how automobiles have affected how people live around the world, or for the general study of automotive history and anthropology.  In addition to the historical knowledge, we preserve current events for future generations.

The Library currently consists of over 517,000 pages of books, periodicals, and documents, over 19,100 individual articles, more than a week of video and two weeks of audio, more than 22,000 photographs & other images, and a Reference Desk with more than 120 book volumes and thousands of advertising brochures & documents kept available for the information they contain but can't be copied into the online Library for sharing due to copyright.

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