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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE NAVY NEEDS YOU IN THE WAVES

Steuart's Garage: 1920

Steuart's Garage: 1920

Washington circa 1920. "Steuart's Garage, 12th Street N.E., exterior." Last week we saw the interior. National Photo Company glass negative. View full size.

 

BYOB: Bring Your Own Body

Interesting insight into the evolution and birth of the coach-built era of automotive history, where you bought the running gear from a supplier of your choice, and sent it to a coach-builder, who created a body for it, based on your specifications.

Cars now worth millions (such as Deusenbergs) were often built that way. But you don't think of the lowly Model T in the same thought bubble as a Talbot-Lago.

Some kinds of cars were still created that way such as ambulances out of station wagon running gear, until recently. And trucks are still sold as cab and rails with a second supplier adding the box or crane or whatever it gets. But short of an aberrant Brabus, this kind of auto-making seems to be a lost art. Suspect those two T's were getting wooden bodies after they sold.

Wonder if you could buy a current Ford car (not truck) minus the body, and coach-build it? Bet the folks who do crash tests nixed that option for people today.

Lamps

Those are the cowl lamps sitting on top of the frame. The base model Fords of that era had kerosene cowl and taillamps, nondemountable rims and no electrical system. They were crank start only, no battery. The headlights ran directly off of the magneto. Dim at idle and prone to burn out at high (for a T) speeds.

Cowl-chassis trucks

A couple of cowl-chassis trucks are parked out front, waiting for commercial bodies to be fitted. It looks like the factory-supplied taillights are temporarily attached to the top of the frame rail, similar to what Ford still does today, on their Super Duty cab-chassis trucks. Also, the building across the street, reflected in the front windows is still there (swing the Google Street View around, to see the telltale five windows above the front doors).

Running on empty

What a nice-looking shop! I'll bet these simple Model Ts were a cinch to work on compared to the overcrowded engine compartments of today.

As for that gas tank; I had an old friend that owned a "T" in the 1930s. He said that when the fuel got low, the engine would customarily quit when going up a hill. He would then roll the car back down the hill, turn it around and drive backwards up the hill because the gas tank pickup tube was towards the front of the tank. Backing up the hill would allow him to scrounge the last bit of fuel to make it home.

Store Across the Street...

Looks like the reflection in the large plate glass window shows that Leonard P. Steuart (Got the name from the earlier interior photo) had a similar building across the street. This reflection is probably the 141 address shown on the parked truck.

The address on the parked truck advertises 141 12th Street which would make sense if the even numbered 142 Google map image address shown is correct.
The 141 address and "151 Office" reflection would then be on the camera side of the street.

I am still having a bit of trouble visualizing the "151 Office" reflection though. The camera must have been located farther back into the store across the street and was shooting through a closed glass door with the number on it.

["151 Office" is not a reflection. See note below. - Dave]

The name is still there...

Gas tank seat

We've come a long way in auto safety. Imagine sitting over the gas tank.

Reversal of print

Hey Dave, any idea why the printing on the office door glass is reversed?

[We are looking through a window at the back of one of two central (open) double glass doors. - Dave]

Ice cream parlor

What a pretty building. It looks more like an ice cream parlor than a garage!

I don't understand why the lettering on the office door is backward. Anyone?

151 - Office

Very cool picture.

I'm curious why the "151" and "Office" that appear to be on the door between the two cars is reversed ...

 
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