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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Sixth Wheel: 1919

Sixth Wheel: 1919

        "We always carry a spare, just in case."

San Francisco circa 1919. "Mercer touring car at Chain of Lakes, Golden Gate Park." 5x7 glass negative by Christopher Helin. View full size.

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Another reason for no front brakes

Most cars of the time had worm and sector steering, which was essentially just a threaded rod that engaged a section of a gear. It worked and was very reliable, but made for a very 'heavy' feel to the steering. It's the reason for the huge steering wheels on older cars. A low tire, or any sort of added drag from braking etc would really make steering difficult.

My old 46 Willys had worm and sector, when I had to turn around I made sure I had room to roll while turning the wheel. (Or ask my passenger to lend a hand!) This later evolved into recirculating ball steering which was almost as much of an improvement as going from manual to power steering, It was used until the rack and pinion system made it to mainstream production.

No front brakes

Braking on the front wheels was thought to interfere with steering. The mechinism would have to apply the brakes evenly from side to side while the wheels moved up and down and left to right. By the late 20's it had been figured out. Ford stuck with a mechanical system until nearly WWll. Everyone else had gone hydraulic.


That raked windshield and the lacy wheels, along with the step plates make this car stunning, a least to my eyes. The lack of running boards may make splashes worse, because I don't see much hope of sealing the lower edges of curtain on the rolled upper edge. Billy B got that one right. The small door openings are not a plus, either.

Oops no brakes

I find it interesting how so many cars of this period had no front brakes, this one included. It seems that no-one considered them important, whereas these days, the front brakes are far more important than the rear.

No Running Boards

It seems the extra long fenders would preclude road debris or spray to reach window level especially since the roads of the time would have made high-speed driving difficult at best.

That's different

I don't think I've ever seen this style of car without running boards. Just a step by each door. Would the lack of running boards allow more road spray to come in the open windows?

Also the driver looks really "up on the wheel" (in racing lingo). Looks almost uncomfortable to drive. I don't think a much bigger man would fit behind the wheel.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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