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Tail Lights: January 3, 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 1
Books, Text, and A Lot More Text

Bill Crittenden
January 3, 2014

Mercedes-Benz Grand 600SLA Mercedes-Benz "Grand" 600SL outside of the 2013 Mecum Chicago Auction.  That looks like a more modern roofline with older style body panels, perhaps from the "neoclassical" modified car era of the 1980's.  More pictures from the auction at 2013 Mecum Chicago Auction.
Who knew that after Christmas would be busier than the lead up to the holiday?  Family birthdays, cleaning up after Christmas, the "day job," and the 40th wedding anniversary of John and Shelly Walczak.  John's an all-around car guy who's had probably 40 different jobs or titles in the world of cars and car hobbies.

In any case, my head start was spent elsewhere while 2014 has gotten off to a bit of a slow start.  It seems like a ton has been done by the looks of this issue of Tail Lights, but it's still not up to the pace I had hoped for.

Dead Trees

Thanks to having a prestigious private school educator and internationally respected lecturer on English literature in the family, I was introduced to the wonders of Half Price Books some years ago and periodically receive gift cards for holiday presents.

This year's haul included 5 books that are Reference Desk-worthy, an issue of Antique Automobile that is in the public domain due to incomplete copyright notice (the first articles of which are already on line in the new 1972 articles index!), and a handful of older automotive books out of the vintage section.

Reference Desk

As I mentioned in Dead Trees, I picked up 5 new books for the Reference Desk.  They are:

1973-1976 Datsun 620 Haynes Manual 1992 Ford Ranger/Aerostar/Explorer Shop Manual 1993 Ford Thunderbird/Mercury Cougar Shop Manual 1995 Nissan Stanza Altima Shop Manual 2005 Lexus LX470 Shop Manual (volume 1)

History Beyond the Fenders

Oh, how I wish I had enough time to transcribe all the scanned images of articles, books, and magazines into copy & paste ready searchable plain text.  I can't, but I've been using some spare time lately to at least type in a few pieces that fill in the huge chasm between the end of public domain in 1922 and the beginning of the internet age in the 1990's, where only a few years have even one article.

This week's "History Beyond the Fenders" entry is the text to match the images from the 1970 issue of Florida Automotive Journal.  I really can't remember how I ever got my hands on this rather obscure publication, but it is without copyright notice and so into the online Library it went.

The magazine covers the automotive industry in Florida, briefly mentioning the cars and the national automotive industry but spending most of the time reporting on the trade groups and people of the Florida industry, service stations of the era, the difficulties of dealership ownership & service in 1970, and new tools and body work techniques of the time.

Just another great example of how The Crittenden Automotive Library's coverage of the history of the automobile goes far beyond the technical details of the vehicles themselves!

News Articles

Speaking of transcribing articles, the technology that automatically translates image to text is Optical Character Recognition (OCR), but it's not perfect.  Not only does old smudgy newsprint obscure the character edges in many cases, but the computers lack the context (and knowledge of the automotive industry to add to that context) to fill in where the scans sometimes are barely readable by human eyes.

Here's an example of OCR text from a 1922 copy of the Washington Times-Herald:

? Studeliaker ordern have be?? run
ning considerably In excess uf pro
duction. The company made 110.
,{000 cars this year hut Ihe output
fell short of the demand. To keep
pace with the increasing call for
cars S'udel'.'iki r will erect two new
units ? DetroM With the now
units completed the DetroM plant
??ill have a capacity of 2T."> cars a
With the relui n irf ?'apt. K. V
Rickenbau'ker from a Nietn*?? trip
to the ''ii'ific rtaast. the Rlrken
hacker Mo*or Company has step
ped up ils production schedule from
ihe proposed 10,00'? ui IS,?**) cars
to be mad?? next year. K\ve thous
and Rickenhackers have already
been sold.
llnds"n and Kssea had the most
successful v?ais ?? their reaneitlve
histories. Hudson soles for ih??
year totaled M. 271. BsSeS f. gin es
rame I" 30K2.
Dodge Brothers factories arc run
ning at capacity, turning out ?2.?
cars ? day. Maxwell now In full
control of Chalmers, is goinj ahead
w th a schedule which will show

And here's the version in The Crittenden Automotive Library:


Studebaker orders have been running considerably in excess of production. The company made 110,000 cars this year but the output fell short of the demand. To keep pace with the increasing call for cars Studebaker will erect two new units in Detroit. With the new units completed the Detroit plant will have a capacity of 275 cars a day.

With the return of Capt. E. V. Rickenbacker from a business trip to the Pacific coast, the Rickenbacker Motor Company has stepped up its production schedule from the proposed 10,000 to 15,000 cars to be made next year. Five thousand Rickenbackers have already been sold.

Hudson and Essex had the most successful years in their respective histories. Hudson soles for the year totaled 26,271. Essex figures came to 34,962.

Dodge Brothers factories are running at capacity, turning out 625 cars a day. Maxwell now in full control of Chalmers, is going ahead with a schedule which will show some advance over 1922 on both Maxwell and Chalmers.

I wish it didn't require so much work, but I believe that until such a time as OCR is perfected, the results are worth the effort, and it has been a popular "service" to the automotive history community since I began publicizing it and putting more time into it.

Progress in 2014

Just a handful of days into 2014, I'm up to article number 17,991.

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 498,000 pages of books, periodicals, and documents, over 17,900 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 over 85 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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