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Worm Drive: 1919

Worm Drive: 1919

Washington, D.C., circa 1919. "K & W Tire Co. Rainier truck." Our second look at this establishment on 14th Street N.W. National Photo Co. View full size.


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Baney Oldfield was a cycle racer until he met Henry Ford, whereupon he started to drive cars. Ford was already designing cars with steering wheels rather than tillers, however legend has it that Ford, because of Barney's cycling history, fitted the famous car '999' with handlebar steering.

He was the first in America to achieve 60 mph, however the Count Jenatzy had already done that (100 kph)in France in 1899 in a torpedo shaped electric car.

Barney Oldfield's racing successes in 1902 and 1903 publicized himself but also publicized the just formed (1903)Ford Motor Company.

Interestingly, the vehicle adorned with the tyre advertisement is a Ford T, but it is a van on a car chassis, not a 'TT' truck which also sported a worm drive differential.

K.-W. Tire Co.

Washington Post, Feb 16, 1919

K.-W. Co. Enters Tire Field

Under the name of the K.-W. Tire Company, William A. Ward and W. Killeen have opened a distributing agency in Washington for Pennsylvania vacuum cup tires and ton-tested tubes at 924 Fourteenth street northwest.

Both members of the firm are well known to the local trade, Ward having at different times been identified with several of the motor car firms of the city. He has been through the automobile business from the shop end to the sales department and thoroughly knows the business. "Bill" Killeen has been a government contractor, having charge of all of the big moving jobs of the government since the start of the war. Previous to that time he was transportation manager for one of the largest construction firms in the country. He still maintains his interest in one of the largest trucking firms in Washington.

America's Leader in Motor Trucks!

Rainier Worm Drive Delivery Trucks

The ¾-Ton Rainier
Truck, $1850

  • MOTOR — Continental Red Seal.
  • IGNITION — Simms of Bosch magneto.
  • CLUTCH — Brown-Lipe multiple-disc dry.
  • TRANSMISSION — Brown-Lipe Model 25
  • REAR AXLE — Timken worm and gear
  • SPRING CONSTRUCTION — Patented double safety shackle on front end of springs.
  • CARBURETOR — Zenith, with Stewart Vacuum System and Monarch Governor.
  • WHEELBASE — 125 inches.
  • LOADING SPACE — Ninety inches.

Wm. P. Killeen, Distributor

(click to enlarge)

Barney Oldfield

I too remember "Barney Oldfield" used as a joke when somebody was driving fast or had been driving a long distance. (this was in Tennessee--so I don't think it was exclusive to Indiana). My husband had heard it all his life too. I'm 49 and he's 58.

Worm performance

All low end and no top end.

Worm food for thought.

Rainier trucks were built at Flushing, Long Island from 1916 to 1927. John T. Rainier was the company founder.

National Photo Street View

After checking out Google Street View to see if any of these building survive (alas, no) I was startled returning to view this photo: the faces of the two men on the street are blurred out in a remarkably similar fashion to the digital methods employed by Google to obscure the faces captured by their roving cameras. Of course, in this case the blurring is not due to privacy concerns but rather movement of the men during plate exposure.

Previous articles on K.W. Tire and Rainier Trucks here.

How Many

Do they use a lot of small worms, or just a single big one?

One Stop Shopping

While the boys at K&W were slapping a new set of Oldfields on the jalopy, you could slide next door to the Inn for a couple of pops. When a couple turned to a few, you could stop by the ladies' shop to pick up something for the little woman at home.

Who do you think you are -- Barney Oldfield?

A phrase that seems to have predated "OK, buddy, where's the fire?"

Barney is known here in Indianapolis as one of the early "names" of the 500 mile race. He's also supposed to have been the first person to reach the breakneck speed of 60 MPH in a car.

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