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Homepage. This page: A vintage magazine from America, dealing with with automobile matters and motoring in general.
American Automobile Digest magazine cover

American Automobile Digest magazine, published 1918.

Definitely one of the earlier motoring magazines I've come across, the American Automobile Digest, formerly The American Chauffeur. This issue was printed in August 1918, and was issue No.8 of Volume 6, suggesting that the magazine had been in existence since 1913. How long it continued for I don't know, I've found references to other copies of the title, the latest being 1926, so whether it continued after that date, or perhaps was absorbed into another magazine, I'm not sure. The cover illustration shows a couple in their open-top car (curiously righthand drive and not a left-hooker), talking with and photographing some native Americans.

The rear cover features an advertisement for the Shaler 'bench type steam tube vulcaniser', heated by gas or gasoline. Designed for fixing punctures in car inner tubes, it could repair four tubes at once, handy as roadside punctures were an ever-present feature of motoring in the early days. It could cope with cuts upto two feet in length. Further details could be obtained from the C.A. Shaler Company, of Fourth Street, Waupun in Wisconsin, USA.

Maintenance and supply of pneumatic tyres and tubes.

Many of the advertisements in the American Automobile Digest refer to tyres ("tires"), including the supply of new covers, repair to old tyres, and gadgets designed to help tyres last for longer. The latter was especially important as many roads were little more than dirt tracks, and pneumatic tyres took a real hammering. Inside the front cover is an ad for the Haywood Tire & Equipment Co., of Indianapolis. Just like Shaler, Haywood could supply equipment to repair punctured tyres and tubes, although their approach was slightly different. Instead of just offering the equipment. Haywood operated a franchise (or co-operative) scheme, further details of which were available by application.
Various adverts for tyre manufacturers appear throughout the mag, all trying to convince the reader of their product's superior qualities. On Page 31 for instance is an ad for Brictson Tyres, which came with a 10,000 miles guarantee no less. Their claims were not immodest - Brictson Tyres were "puncture proof, blow-out proof, skid proof, rut proof, rim-cut proof, oil proof and gasoline proof". They had "wonderful resiliency and easy riding qualities", and could even be tested by motorists who accepted the firm's offer of a free trial of their tyres, fitted to the owner's own car.
Vintage tyre carrier by the New Era Spring & Specialty Co.
Page 33 and another tyre ad, this time for the Johnson's Hastee Patch, a product aimed at the motorist who wanted to repair their own tyre. The instructions read like those for a bicycle puncture repair kit, and indeed the Hastee Patch is recommended not just for motor-car tubes, but also for repairing rubber boots, gloves, footballs, hot water bottles and garden hose. A couple of pages further on is a small advert for the Armstrong Inner Tube, fitted with the Kahn Automatic Valve. The idea was that you'd set the valve to the required tyre pressure, then fire up a compressor to re-inflate the tube. The automatic valve would shut off once the desired pressure had been attained, ensuring that correct inflation had taken place. It sounds like a nifty idea, although there is no mention of price for this handy gadget. Further tyre companies advertising in the mag include the Reliable Tire & Rubber Co. of Michigan (for their Overland Vacuum Box Tires), Tip-Top of Akron (tyre vulcanising), Insyde Tires (for their inner tube protectors), the Kimball Tyre Case Co. (for their range of mud chains), The Greb Co.'s rim tool, the Fisher Manufacturing Co.'s "Rim Grip" sub-casing, and the New Era Spring & Specialty Co. tire carrier, suitable for both Fords and Chevrolets.

The Salt Lake Utah section of the Lincoln Highway.

The magazine leads with an article discussing the Lincoln Highway, which back in 1913 had been touted as a "continuous connected improved highway from the Atlantic to the Pacific". Work on a new section of highway had been started in Utah, running through the mountains and desert area to the West of this state, near Salt Lake, the aim being to streamline the journey between East and West. The new road section would cut up to 50 miles from the existing route that wended it's way across Utah, and also make transcontinental motoring and haulage a more viable proposition thanks to much improved road surfaces. The existing roads were described as follows:
".. deviously winding around various mountain ranges and through low-lying valleys of alkali and mud, volcanic ash and salt, and was frequently impassable. Tales of the difficulties encountered in crossing this section kept thousands from entering the great American playground of the vast West, and from enjoying the marvelous motor roads of the Pacific Coast. Freight transportation over this road was out of the question at most seasons of the year, uncertain at all times".
Of course this was at a time when enthusiasm for motoring was increasing rapidly, and areas hitherto inaccessible to motorists were being improved at a heady pace. Other news for August 1918 included the announcement that since permission had been granted to allow motor cars into the Yellowstone National Park, this was proving so popular that the Yellowstone Park Transportation Company had been created, to run a fleet of "large passenger cars" (perhaps char-a-bancs?) on tours throughout the park, shod with Goodyear cord tyres.
Stromberg carburettors

Maintenance Tips.

A Mr E.F. Pollock then follows on with an article on car maintenance, and how setting up a system of maintenance tasks will help to keep a car running in perfect fettle. This follows a journey he undertook with a fellow motorist who, after numerous roadside halts to attend to his motorcar's mechanical needs, found himself in a car ".. pulling through about seven inches of thick, sticky mud. Without any reason at all two tires blew out; his motor overheated and seized, a spring snapped and various and sundry other little mishaps occurred".

The "system" he created reads very similar the maintenance instructions that can be found in much later cars' handbooks, grouping various tasks by the frequency that they should be undertaken. For example, the Daily oiling tasks are as follows: water pump, track rod ends, spring shackles front & rear, and all brake linkages. This would be in addition to checking the level of water in the radiator, replenishing the gasoline tank, closely monitoring the oil pressure gauge for instantaneous readout on firing up the engine, and checking that tyres were properly inflated and devoid of cuts, pieces of glass and other undesirables.
There are many more articles to be found in the pages of the Digest, some relating to motor-car ownership and maintenance, others more general in nature, such as the science behind the burning of Kerosene in tractors, and why people might opt for joint car ownership, where prospective motorists who were not able to fund the purchase of an automobile single-handedly, would team up with others in their position, to buy a motor between them.

The Bush motor-car from Chicago.

The Bush car from Chicago
Perhaps these soon-to-be-motorists would have been interested in a car reviewed on Page 9 and 10 - namely the Chicago-built Bush automobile, which was available for $945. The car was equipped with a 34.7bhp (SAE) four cylinder Lycoming motor, and was capable of carrying upto five passengers. The engine had a two bearing crank, and detachable cylinder heads, the unit being coupled to a three speed gearbox and torque tube transmission. Cooling was by thermo-syphon, and carburetion courtesy of a Carter carburettor. The electrics were provided by a 6 volt battery, itself maintained in charge by a gear-driven dynamo built into the crankcase. American Automobile Digest described the styling as ".. emphatically of the stream line type with long sweeping curves and eye-pleasing contour. It has large doors, a double cowl, slanting seat frames, the hardware being entirely concealed". It seems that the Bush cars were only available in black, with a one-man mohair hood, and adjustable side screens.
Return to the car magazines section, where various older magazines from the UK and USA are featured (for example two issues of the Maryland Motorist from 1928 & 1930).

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