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Gearhead Heaven: 1926

Washington, D.C., circa 1926. "Standard Automotive Supply Co., 14th & S streets N.W." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

Washington, D.C., circa 1926. "Standard Automotive Supply Co., 14th & S streets N.W." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Been There, Done That

This reminds me of where I had my first real "paying" job. I am old enough (or the store was) that all this is so very familiar. Of course, I grew up in a "shop" or garage that used all this stuff. BTW, the #251 gasket fits an 8BA Ford flathead V8. Great pics.

UFO fixtures

Something I have noticed in many of these interior shots from the 20's is the light fixtures hanging from the ceiling share a common style. This parts store, the De Luxe Groceteria, and the Girls' Training table etc. I call them "UFO Fixtures" because there was a famous UFO hoax using this type of fixture double exposed on an outdoor shot.

Head Gasket No. 37

There were a number of manufacturers who made six cylinder engines with the cylinders cast in two groups of three each. This could have been for such an engine. Pontiac did this up into the 1930's but I'm sure there were many others.

All business

Looks like a very practical store with knowledgeable staff. I love the low-digit part numbers too. Also notice the lack of accessories and other "crap" that makes up 90% of a current Autozone store!


Good tool designs don't change much, but most of these look like they're finished to a level of quality that costs serious money these days. I'm fascinated by head gasket #37, it's for three cylinders of an expensive and exclusive T-head engine, that sort of thing wasn't especially common even then.


They are indeed hand-crank grinding wheels. I've got a small machine shop and can recognize these without any doubt. They have a big internal gear that drives a small gear which rotates the grinding wheel. The hand crank actuates the large gear. I wouldn't be surprised that if you cranked it at 60 rpm the grindstone would rotate about 600-1000 rpm, which is pretty good. There is also a support fitted to these, upon which the workman would rest whatever he is grinding. All of this clearly visible in your amazing image.

Jeff Booth
Ontario, Canada

Rotary Grinder

My granddad had one of those in his shop back in the 1950s. And even then, it was ancient. It had a flywheel and hand crank, or could be powered by an electric motor with a belt drive. Which may have been the case here, with the motor to the left of the grinders. This was back before electric motors were small or powerful enough to have the kind of direct-drive grinder you'd use today.


Can anyone explain the row of cranks behind the Rees Jack display? They each have a wheel with them and are different sizes. Could they be hand cranked grinding wheels possibly?

The oil can along the back wall.

See the oil can with the pivoting spout, along the back wall under the head gaskets at the right side of the photo? Those are still made. They haven't changed much, if at all.

Lots of other stuff scattered through the shop that also looks familiar. The forged screw eye on the floor rack, left side middle? You can still buy those, too. No changes in almost 100 years.

Gear pullers. Pitman arm pullers. Trouble lights. Some things never seem to change.

Blackhawk Wrenches

I little digging brought up a web page with the history of Blackhawk Manufacturing. The brand name is still in use by Stanley. One of the best photos in a long time. Thanks, Dave.

That Girl

I wish I could blow up the section of the photo with the display picturing a woman; it's right behind the column with the Blackhawk socket wrench display. The girl looks like Norma Shearer to least at this distance.

Stuff my grandfather had...

...and some of which I now have. Can you imagine the wonderful *smell* of this shop? Oiled metal and gaskets and... mmmmmmm. Come here fairly regularly from Jay Lake's daily LinkSalad blog posts -- you find the best stuff, Dave.

Era of Flats

In this and the previous car shop interior shot, jacks were a very prevalent item. That says a lot about the quality and technology of tires and roads of then vs. now. The only flat I've had in the past 20 years was when I was "gettin' on it" down a snowy street and slid a bit too hard into the curb with the rear end of my truck. Even then, I just called somebody to tow it and remount the tire.

In Stock

Can you imagine keeping track of inventory without a computer? It was all done with pen and paper.

Candy Store

Wow, I'm looking at everything like a kid in a candy store. I'm amazed at the selection. I agree with Lonestar, very good find Dave.

Quite a Selection...

...Of gaskets. When cars were built by hand and tuned by ear.

Excellent find, Dave.

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