Useless stuff (Part I of II)
One look at your car today, and the marvels of how this impressive piece of machinery works is just that … marveling. Cars are supercomputers, capable of some truly impressive things, but this was not always the case. Granted, they were always super machines, but back in the day (50 to 80 years ago), cars either featured some things that frankly accomplished nothing, or machinery that was rudimentary at best. Over this two-part series we’re going to look at some classic features that you will never find again. Thank goodness!
Modern cars occupy filters made of paper or some sort of fabric. Older cars however featured a “filter” that was comprised of a container filled with oil. Doesn’t sound like a filter, does it? It sure doesn’t, and this in turn resulted in oily air. These old units would pull in air towards the oil and then pulled it back up again with the goal of large particles getting trapped in the oil. The air would then go through a rudimentary filtering medium which was most frequently a wad of horsehair. The horsehair would trap the remaining sediment before the air hit the carburetor.
Every 1,600 kilometers or so this oil bath would need to be cleaned. The cleaning process was convoluted and messy, resulting in the extraction of a shallow pan of oil off the engine while trying not to spill it. Nasty!
In the olden days, acetylene gas or kerosene was burned to create illumination in headlamps. The illumination was rather minimal however and didn’t do much to help. Electric headlights of course worked much better, but a certain segment of folks opted for what were known as Woodlites. Created by William Woods in the late 1920s, Woodlites were small chambers where light would bounce about in the chamber creating a unique beam of light through the narrow lens of the chamber.
Now, these looked great! Aesthetically speaking they were a real win. But like the kerosene and acetylene gas example, they didn’t work so good. In fact, they worked like crap. Woodlites did not stick around for long, but today they are collector’s items and go for thousands of dollars. Go figure!
Part II has even more useless stuff, keep reading!
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