What do you think about on a long distance drive? Turbulent times are soothed by old sayings, poetry and wise words. With the recent American elections, Brexit in UK, competing world powers and climate change, it is refreshing to take time off and enjoy words of wisdom from ages past. Humans haven’t changed much as we read philosopher Aristotle who said over 2000 years ago:
‘For if liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost‘ (Politics bk. 4 1296a 1-3). Spoiler alert; this post is more esoteric rather than practical advice and hints for road trips but is still motoring related.
So this month as you plan or enjoy your road trip, muse upon the following thoughts related to long distance driving and cars. But before we go back to the past, have you noticed how many motoring terms are used in today’s vocabulary?
‘We have to crank up the economy.’
‘The campaign is now running at full speed ahead.’
‘He sure drives a hard bargain.’ ‘
‘The renovations are driving me around the bend.’
‘These interruptions are driving me up the wall.’ ‘
‘Do you want to take this programme for a test drive?’
‘The final report will be a long way down the road.’ ‘
‘OK everyone, let’s get this show on the road.’
The idiom: ‘the squeaky wheel gets the oil.’
With the first example. Do you know what a crank handle is? How it’s used? Let’s look at Ernest Hemingway who had won the Nobel Prize for Literature and was reported to have said to The Atlantic, US in 1954, everyone should have a “built-in automatic crap detector. It should also have a manual drill and a crank handle in case the machine breaks down.”
Before I discuss automotive crank handles, let’s change direction. We all know our car is more than just a machine on wheels transporting us from A to B. Have you thought about your precious vehicle this way? The American novelist Sinclair Lewis ( 1885 – 1951) wrote: “To George F. Babbitt, as to most prosperous citizens of Zenith, his motor car was poetry and tragedy, love and heroism. The office was his pirate ship but the car his perilous excursion ashore” (Babbitt, 1922 ch. 3).
How many of us enjoy tinkering with our car, fine tuning the engine or polishing the chrome? It is relaxing, mind absorbing and pleasurable. British poet Louis MacNeice ( 1907 – 63) lived in Ireland and wrote: “Down the road someone is practicing scales, The notes like little fishes vanish with a wink of tails, Man’s heart expands to tinker with his car For this is Sunday morning, Fate’s great bazaar.” ( Sunday morning 1935)
Enough of poetry, now return to the crank handle which is fast becoming an antique and part of motoring memorabilia. Before the introduction of electric motors, automobiles in the early 20th century with internal combustion engines needed a crank handle ( ‘starting handle’ in UK). Today you can see them on oldtimers or vintage vehicles at the front of the vehicle, above the bumper bar and held in place with a leather strap. It took much muscle power to rotate this handle around then ‘crank’ it up when moving the engine’s pistons in position for the engine to ‘fire’. Many a person’s wrist or thumb has been broken with the handle snapping back. Check out these instructions and thank your lucky stars you have a starter motor in your car.
The 1918 Reo owner’s manual describes how to hand crank the automobile:
- First: Make sure the gear shifting lever is in neutral position.
- Second: The clutch pedal is unlatched and the clutch engaged. The brake pedal is pushed forward as far as possible setting brakes on the rear wheel.
- Third: See that spark control lever, which is the short lever located on top of the steering wheel on the right side, is back as far as possible toward the driver and the long lever, on top of the steering column controlling the carburetor, is pushed forward about one inch from its retarded position.
- Fourth: Turn ignition switch to point marked “B” or “M”
- Fifth: Set the carburetor control on the steering column to the point marked “START.” Be sure there is gasoline in the carburetor. Test for this by pressing down on the small pin projecting from the front of the bowl until the carburetor floods. If it fails to flood it shows that the fuel is not being delivered to the carburetor properly and the motor cannot be expected to start. See instructions on page 56 for filling the vacuum tank.
- Sixth: When it is certain the carburetor has a supply of fuel, grasp the handle of starting crank, push in endwise to engage ratchet with crank shaft pin and turn over the motor by giving a quick upward pull. Never push down, because if for any reason the motor should kick back, it would endanger the operator. ( Wikipedia)
Until next month, crank up your own road trip for the end of year and holiday season ahead.
And safe driving.