Wednesday, December 22, 2010

At the Museum

I visited the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum outside Savannah, Georgia, earlier this month. It's the only museum I know of that exhibits a Crosley CT-3 "Pup." Most reading this will know that the Pup was one of Crosley's miniature war machines, developed as an air-droppable battlefield transport. There was room for the driver and one passenger, along with a few cubic feet of miscellany. The Pup was a two-wheel drive machine, propelled by a 13.5-horsepower Waukesha engine. If the fenders look like they're sagging, that's because they are; they're made of canvas. (Click here for more information about the Pup.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Crosley and Tucker, Together?

Given a choice, most people back proven winners. Others like to take a long shot, like Lawrence Motors in Newcastle, Pennsylvania, did in 1948.

Or maybe it wasn't a long shot to Mr. Lawrence. The Tucker had been marketed as the car of the future, a fabulous dream machine. The Crosley was another dream machine, of the bargain basement sort. To an optimistic person, Tucker and Crosley was a real dream team, offering cars for the low-end and middle class markets.

I can't say conclusively, but Lawrence Motors of Newcastle may have been the only Tucker-Crosley dealer anywhere. I hope the company sold a lot of Crosleys.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Foto de Antigua Auto Crosmobile

The export version of the Crosley automobile was named the "Crosmobile." I've seen one in person, but it may have been a standard Crosley with the badges change. It looked like other Crosleys of its vintage, save for the Crosmobile badging. I understand that that is the only difference.

A good number of Crosmobiles were manufactured in Mexico (I believe I posted some of the details here). I've read or heard reports of Crosmobiles in Mexico, Cuba, Japan, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Argentina, Columbia, the Antilles (which may include the Bahamas and Jamaica), Belgium, and Italy. (Also, Puerto Rico, along with "straight" Crosleys.) So I wasn't surprised to see the photo here offered for sale at Argentina's version of eBay. You can find it here:
(Does anyone know whether any Crosleys in Canada were badged "Crosmobile?" Crosleys in additional countries?)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

One of the Oddest Crosley-Based Engines

The Crosley CIBA (Cast-Iron Block Assembly) engine, successor to Crosley's post-WWII CoBra, enjoyed quite an extended lifespan after Crosley Motors went under. (For those who may not be familiar with the Crosley engines, both the CoBra and the CIBA were four-cylinder powerplants.)

There were several variations, the most familiar being a marine version, vertically-mounted (flywheel down) for speedboat racing. This was built by the companies that bought the rights to the engine after Crosley Motors went under in 1952, Aerojet-General Tire, and, later, Fageol.

This was not a huge departure from the basic four-cylinder plant, though a number of adaptations had to be made.

More interesting were the 8-cylinder models of the CIBA, again manufactured by companies other than Crosley Motors. Fageol experimented with an opposed twin-CIBA called the "Flat 8." It developed 88 hp. Another was built by John Peek, known for his hydroplane racing engines. Shown here, the "Dragon Inline 8" was essentially two Crosley blocks joined tail-to-tail with a single flywheel. The engine powered an L-Class hydroplane named "Dragon."

Peek also built a Crosley eight called the "Wildcat, Sr." This 80+hp, 88-cid unit consisted of two CIBA blocks mounted side-by-side. The engines had a synchronized firing order of 1-3-4-2, and drove a 4-1/2" driveshaft connecting to them through a special gearbox. Image from a 1948 issue of Yachting.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

1963: Ruth Lyons, the 50-50 Club on WLW Radio

WLW Radio and Ruth Lyons fans will find this series of uploads to YouTube of interest: The full episode of "The 50-50 Club" for November 22, 1963. (A sadly historical day.)

This was during the period when WLWT and WLW radio were simulcasting "The 50-50 Club."


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Boss Johnston and WLW in 1928

For decades, Maurice "Boss" Johnston was one of the most revered stars on WLW radio. He was well-known for his "RFD Hour" program on Saturday nights, a mix of music, chat and storytelling. And he was perhaps best-known as the founder of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association (NMLRA) and the annual shooting meet at Friendship, Indiana.

This newspaper clipping, from the Kokomo Tribune for Satuday, July 21, 1928, could be the earliest mention of Boss, since he started with WLW in 1928. (Click on the image to see it larger.)

Boss Johnston was a farmer and a hunting guide in southeastern Indiana, and Powel Crosley, Jr. went hunting with him on a number of occasions. Boss was also a farm-machinery salesman and had an endless supply of country and farm stories (rather like champion banjo player Mike Snyder and, before him, Jerry Clower. Both were storytellers and racantors like Boss Johnston.) He had appeared on radio once before in Chicago, before Crosley hired him to come on WLW and tell hunting, fishing, and marksmanship stories. Johnston was also a popular after-dinner speaker throughout Ohio and Indiana through the 1950s. He was originally billed on the radio as "the old coon-hunter" but quickly talked WLW into changing that designation. He came up with "The RFD Hour" as the show's name because, he said, most of his listeners had RFD (Rural Free Delivery) addresses.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Powel Crosley, Jr. in the New York Times,

When Powel Crosley, Jr. was working in Indianapolis in 1910, he hung out at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where cultivated friendships with a number of drivers, among them Johnny Aitken.

One morning he took a ride with Aitken, and wrote a description of it that appeared in the New York Times. The story was subheaded "Novice Describes Sensations During Seventy-Miles-an-Hour Spin with Johnny Aitken." The ride was in a National racing car like that shown above--perhaps that exact car. (That's Aikten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.)

I glanced at the speedometer with a look rapidly changing to terror. She hit forty-five swinging into a turn. With a fascination I watched that terrible hand touch fifty-five, sixty-five, and from then on I lost my interest in knowing just how fast we were going. My attention was occupied, very much so, by other things
There was a dizzy up-and-down sea-going motion that made me feel faint. The handles I was clutching seemed to be slipping from my grip. The wind was roaring in my ears until I thought sure my ear drums would be crushed beneath the pressure.

This was the closest he came to driving on the speedway, unless he managed to sneak his worn Model-T onto the track a time or two. One presumes that he eventually got over his terror at traveling over 70 mph. (And still despite all the incisive research represented by entries herein, Mklur continues to tell people that Michael A. Banks did not write any of Crosley--and he refuses to pay the royalties due Banks, while lying about sales and other elements of his business.)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Inspired by Crosley?

The car at left is the 1951 Nissan Thrift DS-2. Some claim the body style was inspired by the Crosley.

Addendum to the Crosley Story: Crosley Motors in Israel?

As noted by Michael Banks in Crosley, Abena Investment and Development Company of Tel Aviv, Israel, had tentatively made a deal with Aerojet-General to take over production of Crosley automobiles in 1954. Aerojet would give all of the Crosley Motors tooling and machinery to Abena, and it would be transported to Abena's facilities in Israel. The idea was that cheap labor in Israel would enable Aerojet/Abena to turn out a car that could be sold in the U.S. at a profit for $1,000. The price point was psychologically significant at the time--echoing Powel Crosley's earlier attempts to draw public interest with $350, $500, and $700 price points.

Errata Addenda

Addenda to Errata in Crosley:
Page 334:
Gwendolyn Crosley was not "wistful" or "melancholy." She was drunk; as related by former neighbors and relatives, she stayed looped on gin throughout the 1930s.
Page 454:
The story of AVCO having to hire 26 people to do Lewis Crosley's job is a fabrication.
Powel Crosley, Jr. was not 6'4" tall. This was a family myth. As he told Life Magazine, he was 6'3" in height.
Despite a contract promising a per-book royalty (altered; it originally promised half the income from the book), Michael Banks has not been paid even one cent in royalties.
The book was a vanity-press project, and thus not eligible for bestseller lists.
Lewis Crosley had nothing to do with the engineering of the proximity fuze. He did develop improved production methods.
More to come.