What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

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What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Rob » Fri Sep 13, 2019 8:55 am

That’s what Henry Ford said to Joe Galamb in 1909. Here’s the story, as recounted by Joeseph Galamb.

Note: Transcribed from the first taped interview of Joseph Galamb by Owen Bombard in 1952. Courtesy of Benson Library, The Henry Ford, all rights apply.

Joseph Galamb was born in Hungary in 1881. He was educated in Budapest as an engineer (draftsman), making his way via Germany to the U.S.. His reason for crossing the Atlantic? To attend the 1904 Word’s Fair held in St. Louis. Eventually, he worked his way across the eastern U.S., working for several companies including Westinghouse.

In late 1905, Mr. Galamb met with a Cadillac representative who offered him a job for $18 per week. That afternoon, he met C.H. Wills at Ford Motor Company, who also offered him a job, for $20 a week. Ford it was, and a few weeks later in December 1905, Galamb became a Ford employee. This was the same time Ford was completing their prototypes for 1906 models K and N. Below are excerpts from the Galamb interview:

Page 7 gives the description of what Galamb found at FMC in late 1905:
“I started at the Ford Motor Company December 11, 1905. Mr. Wills did the hiring for all of engineering and even some of the heads of the shop. They didn’t have any employment manager to do all the hiring. We had only three hundred men in the whole organization. There were three hundred shopmen, engineers (they didn’t call them engineers in those days, but draftsmen), and office workers.
They had just moved into Piquette when I came there. I’ll never forget it when I first entered. I had to go through the shop to go upstairs to the offices, and I saw the old Model A’s lined up and painted yellow. The frame and everything was striped. They were all standing up on the end right along the whole plant. There was very little machinery.”

Joe Galamb at FMC drafting table, circa 1943 (courtesy THF, all rights apply).
DA66D382-DCF1-4549-A56A-4E9411D9CEA7.jpeg
Next, designing the first Model T.


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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by DHort » Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:05 am

This was a teaser. Keep writing Rob.


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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by bud delong » Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:09 am

Great stuff Rob!! Have you listened to the voice tapes?? For all you do i say Thank You!! Bud.

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Atomic Amish » Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:41 am

Tease! LOL

I can't wait to hear 'the rest of the story'.
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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Rob » Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:54 pm

Thanks guys. Bud, yes, I’ve heard a bit of Mr. Galamb’s recording. One of his friends and peers was Charles Balough. Mr. Balough worked for Ford and moved on to eventually lead the Hercules company (if memory serves). Bruce Balough, who frequents this forum, is Charles’ grandson, and has provided much information about his grandfather and Joe Galamb. Hopefully he’ll see this thread and correct any mistakes I’ve made.

On with the story.............

Joseph Galamb worked primarily with development of Model N components, but did develop one significant part on the Model K, which both Model K i’ve owned possessed.

Page 14:
“After that job I started to make a smaller drawing of the Model K transmission housing. It was an open housing at that time with a planetary transmission. The opening housing was a low enclosure so that the grease and the oil went on the floor.
My job was on the Model K, to make a pan underneath the housing to protect the oil from going on the floor. That was my second job.”

Then, in 1907, Joe Galamb’s work contributed to an event that will probably last as long as written history, development of the Model T.

Page 15:
“Early in 1907, Mr. ford said to me, “Joe, I’ve got an idea to design a new car. Fix a place for yourself on the third floor way back, a special room. Get your board up in there and a blackboard, and we’ll start to work on a new model.” At that time we didn’t know that it was to be the Model T. It was just a new model.
He told me “you’re first job is going to be to design a new transmission. I’m not satisfied with the transmission that we have on there now. It is not practicial the way it is designed, and we’ve got to get a new one.”
I worked on that five or six months, designing a new transmission. Finally we got the design that was used for 15 million Ford jobs, 15 million Model T’s. That has never been changed. That was the planetary Model T transmission. I designed the whole thing all the way through from the bottom up.
I figured out the gears and everything. I even have downstairs the sketches I made originally during the designing. I made different sketches of different types to see what was going to be the best type of transmission.
Mr. Ford followed that design very closely. When we finished the drawing and decided on the design that we were going to use, the first thing he did was say, “now Joe, you get a small brass model made.” That model is right in his Museum yet.”

Following development and initial production of the Model T, Joe Galamb relayed on the recording that he went to the experimental department. I’ll cover that, and get to “the rest of the story” in the next portion of the story. Mr. Galamb’s Reminiscence, while unfortunately only in draft form, gives an in depth portrayal of Henry Ford, other FMC personalities and the experiences of life at FMC between 1905 through the 1940’s.

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Rob » Fri Sep 13, 2019 3:56 pm

While Joe Galamb had significant involvement in many important facets of Ford history, this one fascinates me the most.

On page 39 of his reminiscence, Joe Galamb stated:
From 1908 to 1914, I was in the Engineering Department carrying out experimental work. We were building racing cars. That was my biggest job.
When we built that big six-cylinder job, Kulick was hurt on the race track. He hurt his leg, and then was almost killed. Mr. Ford said “scrap her! There’ll be no more big racing cars.
””

The 1100 cubic inch racer was rebuilt, at Henry Ford’s direction, and was being prepared to race at the inaugural Indianapolis Speedway races in 1909. However, while the racer exists to this day off site at The Henry Ford, it did not race again.
9075C9A0-349F-46AE-87FF-02F54F7484BA.jpeg

On pg.39, Galamb continued:
The agents demanded, and Mr. Ford fell for it too, a small racing car.”

It seems Ford agents believed the brand would still be well served to compete nationally and wanted FMC to participate in racing again.

Now, imagine you are sitting in your office, or cubicle. You’ve just had a hand in creating a sales sensation that the company can’t build fast enough for the buying public. It looks as if the product, in this case the Model T, will be around for some time, and there are no design worries or projects on the horizon. Life is good.

Joe sets the stage in his reminiscence, describing the fastest racer in the world:
There was one big car. They called it the “Blitzen Benz.

Then, the “big guy” drops the bombshell:
Mr. Ford said, “Joe, you’ve got to build a little racing car that will beat that big “Blitzen Benz”.”

Galamb’s understated response?
I said, “Mr. Ford, that is an awful fast car.”

And Henry Ford, never to be deterred by simple facts, responded:
He [HF] said, “Well, you can built it. Build it light. Build aluminum cylinders and make it bigger, but give it the same chassis to look like a Model T.” He wanted to fool the public.

So there you have it. Maybe on a lazy Friday like today, the boss drops one on you. Never mind that Benz, Fiat, National and all the other big racing teams of the day have dedicated engineers, drivers and testing facilities. Never mind that the last race car you worked with is an outdated beast based on 1905 technology. Henry Ford says you are to build a racer to beat the fastest of the fast. So much for a lazy Friday resting on your laurels.

Next, the fire breathing monster that was, and is, the Blitzen Benz.

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Kaiser » Fri Sep 13, 2019 5:27 pm

Ah Rob, great story and well told ! Keep it coming, " i've got my ear glued to the radio" ;)
We have been waiting way too long for your racing Ford history diggings !
When in trouble, do not fear, blame the second engineer ! 8-)
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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by perry kete » Fri Sep 13, 2019 8:22 pm

Glad to see you posting this history again. I enjoy reading and learning about the early cars and the Model T and those involved in the development and construction.

I also enjoy your posts when you drive your early cars with videos. Please don't stop.
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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by wayne sheldon » Sat Sep 14, 2019 6:36 am

Rob, You KNOW I love this stuff! I am quite pleased to see others making similar comments. This is fascinating history. Just like the movie serials of old, I look forward to each new installment!


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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Banjoe » Sat Sep 14, 2019 10:01 am

I've haven't come across this part of the early Ford days before and it's fascinating stuff. Really appreciating your work, Rob, and your serial story feels like way I'm right back listening to The Lone Ranger on the radio. Can't wait for the next episode to see how Joe Galamb gets out of a sticky spot and beats the next challenge. Keep up the outstanding work ... Joe
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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by KeithG » Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:28 am

This is a first class Ford history lesson. We all know bits and pieces of Ford history, but this soon-to-be complete thread is a very good read. Keep up the good work, Rob!

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Rob » Sat Sep 14, 2019 12:15 pm

Thanks guys, now back to the story..........

The Blitzen Benz made it’s appearance in 1909. Hemery, a well known European driver (who Henry Ford had competed against in years past) set a world record of 126 mph. The Benz was sent to the U.S., where Barney Oldfield drove the “Lightening Benz” to a new world record in the mile, reaching over 130 mph in 1910:
0FC374C9-7B19-434F-8873-2D992051FDC3.jpeg
Oldfield at the wheel of the “Lightning Benz in 1910

When “bad boy” Oldfield was disqualified from racing for competing with world famous boxer Jack Johnson in 1910, Bob Burmann took over the reigns of the world famous racer. He and promoter Moross changed the name to “Blitzen Benz” and the 200 hp racer was readied to make new world records in 1911:
0FB403BE-8935-4BAC-B787-EA00771D0C46.jpeg
Then, in April of 1911, the Blitzen Benz, and King Burmann, teamed to become the fastest vehicle in the mile on the planet. They covered the mile and kilometer faster than any man, racer, locomotive or airplane had ever gone:
052087A9-9B29-42C9-8765-8C6BBAF52529.jpeg
This one mile world record Stood for years, finally being beaten in 1919.

Meanwhile, this wasn’t just a straightaway racer. In September 1911 Burmann again set world marks, this time the one and two mile circular track records:
FE87F153-366D-4E88-85F8-BE703B6ADD91.jpeg
This was the challenge Henry Ford issued to Joe Galamb and Ford engineers in 1910 and 1911. Beat the 1100 CID Benz.

Click on the link below to see the Blitzen Benz in action:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/wm7d8ihnf9mak ... 2.mp4?dl=0
12B66B88-40C7-478B-9F51-9EF3308C77AB.jpeg

Next, how could it be done? Joe Galamb explains some of the engineering that went into the 1910/11 Ford Special racers.

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by AndreFordT » Sat Sep 14, 2019 2:28 pm

here is the starting up of the Benz
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMa3_tT5mKA

Just enjoy
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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by wayne sheldon » Sat Sep 14, 2019 3:09 pm

Both of those videos were enjoyable to watch! That engine is mind-blowing in size. I was surprised at how easily he cranked it over to set a cylinder in "fire" position. Andre's Goodwood video was short, but incredible seeing the fellow trying to handle so much power-to-weight ratio. One must respect the likes of Barney Oldfield and "Wild Bob" Burmann for pushing such a beast of iron back in the still horse and buggy days.

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by AndreFordT » Sat Sep 14, 2019 4:20 pm

Here is an other one .
This time it is the first start up, after a total rebuild of the Fiat (the BEAST of TURIN), on the record list shown some posts before .
Watch the size of the engine and set the sound a little higher.
http://theoldmotor.com/?p=133946

Just to enjoy.

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Rob » Sat Sep 14, 2019 4:27 pm

Thanks Andre. Wayne, continuing on.............

On page 39 of his Reminiscences, Joe Galamb went into some of the engineering that went into the Ford Special motors.

Joe Golamb:
“I’ll never forget that. The cylinder was made out of aluminum, whole aluminum blocks. We put some steel sleeves in it, aluminum pistons, and even on the back of the cylinder blocks I had to put a long bar of flat steel about an inch and a quarter wide with some holes in it.

Below are three photos of our block. While he was mistaken about the aluminum cylinders, the crankcase, lower block, and hogshead were aluminum (same as the racer at THF). Also on the cylinder walls are the holes and blocks where the “long bar of flat steel about an inch and a quarter wide with some holes in it” described by Mr. Galamb:
41EDCE19-C2C7-4778-8F16-239FCC7C6BBC.jpeg
Joe Galamb goes on to describe how the slide worked:

“When he (Kulick) wanted to increase the speed it would slide so that the holes would come in contact with the air and give a freer exhaust. The slide would slide back. It was about 1/8 or 5/32 thick. It was about 1 and 1/4 inches wide. We put some guides on it so that it could slide back and forth very easily.”

Closeup of the cylinder holes and mounts where guides attach for the bar to slide across:
E9D77544-6A6F-492B-A78E-35DE26299E8A.png
These photos of one of the Ford Special racers in action show exhaust on the left side of the engine, indicating the slide is open. This particular racer was sent to France, and is photographed here competing in one of Europe’s most famous hill climbs, on Mont Ventnoux. The Ford Special placed second, beating many of Europe’s most famous drivers and racers in 1911:
C4F029B4-ADEC-4340-931A-3A5BCA6C2A04.png
4CCA6E98-C42F-4E5B-8098-C1CE16AB48B5.png
Speaking from experience, when you kick the slide open, the motor has a significant increase in rpm, and you have to richen the carburetor at the same time. The increase in power is quite noticeable! At some point I intend to put the racer on a dyno, and check with the slide open and closed, at the same throttle and spark setting.

By early 1911, Galamb and his team have completed several racers, and the latest and greatest is ready to compete. It’s the racer that remains at The Henry Ford museum, and had the largest motor of all the racers. Ford was ready to take on the fastest car in the world.

Next, David stalks Goliath.

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Rob » Sun Sep 15, 2019 1:02 am

Henry Ford had a chip on his shoulder. His Ford Special racer wasn’t allowed to compete in the inaugural Indy 500 in 1911. The minimum weight was 2300 lbs., almost twice what the new big Ford Special weighed. Henry Ford, Frank Kulick and many Ford Company representatives attended the race, but were not able to compete. I suspect Ford and Kulick were beside themselves, knowing they had the best horsepower to weight machine available, but were prohibited from competition.

This article sums it up. In early June, 1911, Ford and Kulick were going to Chicago’s Hawthorne track to square things with the Blitzen Benz and the other great racers of the day. Ray Haroun and his Marmon, winner of the first Indy 500 would be there, Burmann and the world record Blitzen Benz would be on hand, and Ford would compete with their “big racer.” The stage was set:
C2566445-E3B6-4C72-9010-C3F796AE6C23.jpeg
Henry Ford had set the trap. Joe Galamb and his designers had built the racer. Frank Kulick was ready. The press sensed that David was about to challenge Goliath. Jack was looking for the giant.


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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by wayne sheldon » Sun Sep 15, 2019 5:35 am

Can The Lone Ranger get to the fair maiden in time! Will Tonto stop the bushwhackers on the ridge? Is Joseph Galamb going to be successful beating the Blitzen Benz?
Tune in tomorrow for the next exciting installment!

Thank you Rob!

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by AndreFordT » Sun Sep 15, 2019 7:21 am

This story is better than a F1 race. Me too I am looking out for what was the next in this story.
Thanks Rob

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by John Warren » Sun Sep 15, 2019 9:58 am

Just laughing, wow what a story...... Love it Rob, Thanks
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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Drkbp » Sun Sep 15, 2019 10:46 am

Pleaseee!
Cut to the chase!! Can't wait... :lol:

Great story Rob!
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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Rob » Sun Sep 15, 2019 11:37 am

The day of the Chicago races arrives. Many of the greatest drivers and cars are there, practicing for the events, chasing records and trophies:
17A624E4-2760-4C7A-8F6E-BFA5263190AE.jpeg

While not a headliner in the story, Kulick and his Ford racers are mentioned frequently in the article:
1779AF56-8415-49C0-B9F4-F193C4F4FD66.jpeg
Kulick is mentioned due to having just won one of the two hills at Algonquin Hill Climb, losing the overall title to Hearne in a 120 hp Benz by a fraction of a second. Ford has two racers entered, the large racer in the free for all and match races with Burman’s Benz and the other greats, and one entered in the 161 to 230 cubic inch class.
2DED2B43-C0DD-497B-9B50-E9E233CF8E93.jpeg

The “Detroit Free Press” sums it up. “Kulick will race at Chicago:”

B43D94F6-D5F0-4B2F-8D47-29AF7121518B.jpeg

Finally, the big Ford Special and the Blitzen Benz will meet.

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Atomic Amish » Sun Sep 15, 2019 7:49 pm

The irony of Marty Robbins "Big Iron" coming on as I started to read this is not lost on me...
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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Rob » Sun Sep 15, 2019 10:56 pm

A quick finish for tonight (but not the end of the story).

The Hawthorne track meet began with Frank Kulick winning the first race, driving the 228 cu. in. Ford Special in the 161-230 c.i. class. As it turns out, one turn on the track was unsafe, and a driver was killed during the first race. Then, in the second race, another car left the track on the same curve, and the meet was called off. Several companies including Ford pulled their racers from the event rescheduled for the following day. Ford had two cars entered, the smaller one that one the first race, and the big Ford Special, that was scheduled to meet the Benz along with the other large class racers.
6B9CE260-7721-48C4-B6A2-18705586014E.jpeg
9B0AE6CA-A6EA-4030-973A-A668124B9F8B.jpeg

The big match was off. As it turns out, the meeting of David and Goliath will occur, and more appropriately, in Detroit.


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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by wayne sheldon » Mon Sep 16, 2019 5:59 am

I see in one of the articles that Joe Jagersburger also went through the same fence! Rajo Joe almost wasn't! History is loaded with close calls.
Thanks again Rob.

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Rob » Mon Sep 16, 2019 11:39 pm

The summer of 1911 progresses, and Bob Burman and the Blitzen Benz tear across the U.S., making track and world records:
ECB5B268-C38B-4BB7-96D6-124DFC147911.jpeg
D5AF6636-9B06-47CB-B92A-4EB8CCA182DF.jpeg
The records keep coming:
9E5D804C-D1B4-49C3-A0B6-7BCE3B76FF11.jpeg

In Scranton, Burman demonstrates the quickness of the big Blitzen Benz, setting records on 1/2 mile tracks for the mile:
43C45C9C-017D-4B47-B348-A85E6E4A38E3.jpeg
As he races across the U.S. and Canada, the records keep falling:
175125D5-ED80-46F8-B72E-AB8C39887DA9.jpeg
Meanwhile, Henry Ford, Frank Kulick, Joe Galamb and fate await


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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by wayne sheldon » Tue Sep 17, 2019 12:56 am

Me, still reading.

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Kaiser » Tue Sep 17, 2019 5:02 am

That speed king crown is one heck of a trophy ! does it still exist somewhere ? :shock:
When in trouble, do not fear, blame the second engineer ! 8-)
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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by AndreFordT » Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:35 am

I am still reading and looking out for what will come next.

thanks Rob for all the research.

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Kaiser » Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:44 am

Found another photo of that magnificent 'Speed King crown'
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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Rob » Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:43 am

Thanks guys. Leo, I wondered the same (does the crown still exist). Bob Burman was killed racing a Peugeot in 1916. His world record 141 mph made with the Blitzen Benz in 1911 outlived him.

“Wild Bob” Burman and the “Blitzen Benz” are making their way toward Detroit. At Grand Rapids he sets the track record with a 50 1-5 second mile:

9614E35B-D9BA-42E7-B668-C7C51E87B25D.jpeg

Meanwhile, excitement is building for the upcoming races at the Michigan State Fairgrounds. The two main headliners are Bob Burman with his Blitzen Benz and the first Indy Five Hundred winner, Ray Harroun and his Marmon Wasp. No mention of Frank Kulick and the Ford Special:

22ABAB18-0398-436D-9512-2BA8E186ABEE.jpeg

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Rob » Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:19 pm

September 25th arrives, the beginning of the two days of racing at the Michigan State Fairgrounds. Rain and a wet track caused postponement of the morning races, and the meet was extended to the 26th and 27t. Meanwhile, Burman, Harroun and Fitzpatrick drove exhibition races during the afternoon. Even Barney Oldfield made a cameo appearance. Oldfield, who had the previous world speed record of 131 mph, made in 1910 with the same Blitzen Benz Burman is driving, broke onto the track and interfered with one of Burman’s exhibitions. Oldfield was in the middle of a one year ban from racing, and was quickly escorted away by race officials:

79EE2666-DD41-4171-9331-125DDD8D4EFB.jpeg

In the meantime, Burman and the Blitzen Benz picked up where they had been going all summer, setting a 20 mile world and 5 mile track record.

FA5E342C-EEBF-448B-9C01-FAE7867BCB1E.jpeg

Now everyone hoped for a dry track so “Wild Bob” could clean up the next day.


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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by DHort » Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:37 pm

Unfortunately the fairgrounds are no more. Would have been neat to take a car out there.


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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by wayne sheldon » Tue Sep 17, 2019 4:40 pm

I find that imposition by Barney Oldfield interesting. I know that he became much more a "showman" than a true racing driver. I cannot help but wonder if his appearance was more of a planned stunt for publicity purposes than an actual imposition?

As I recall, Barney Oldfield in his youth had become quite the bicycle racer (I think during the 1890s). As such, he had made quite a name for himself and his near reckless need for speed. Barney was very competitive, doing all he could to win races and break records.
Meanwhile, Henry Ford is trying to make a name for himself and gain investors for the beginning automobile industry. While Henry was himself quite the racing driver, and more than capable of effectively driving racing cars at full speed, Henry had many other things he needed to tend to. Design work, managing his then still small shop, dealing with the day-to-day running of the business of building experimental parts of cars. Henry needed someone else to drive his racing cars to demonstrate Ford's ability to built fast and reliable machines! Barney Oldfield, a man used to speed, and willing to push himself to his limits and beyond, was a good choice.

As years passed, Barney showed that he was more showman than racer. Seeking the limelight, he was not so willing to be a company man available to do whatever the boss wanted. So Barney went off on his own search for greater speeds, and notoriety.

Enter Spider Huff and Frank Kulick. The perfect company men, and racing drivers!

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Kaiser » Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:52 am

About the early racing drivers; I read the book 'The fast times of Albert Champion' by Peter Joffre Nye, it is a great story about his rather 'eventfull' life but also gives a good insight in the very early days around the turn of the century of bicycle racing and motorcycle and car racing, and the chenanigans between the budding motorcar industrialists, i enjoyed every minute of it and learned a lot about the early days, i consider it a 'must read' for anyone interested in the early days of racing and the motor industry.
By the way not only was Albert Champion the founder of Champion spark plugs but after some business problems also of AC (Albert Champion, get it?) and he was a world famous bicycle racer in his own right around the 1880's.
Okay Rob, back to you, sorry about the hijack ;)
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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Rob » Wed Sep 18, 2019 8:26 am

Leo, looks like a great read.
Wayne, Barney Oldfield and Henry Ford are forever linked in early racing history, and I believe some “history” about the two and their relationship is poorly documented. Tom Cooper contracted with Henry Ford to build two racers in 1901. Ford built the racers, later named 999 and Arrow, and they were record setting world beaters. Cooper hired Oldfield to drive the first of the two that were completed, and Cooper drove the other. Both were former bicycle racers, as were many early auto racing drivers. In fact, I believe Frank Kulick was a local bicycle racer at the turn of the last century.

Cooper occasionally had other drivers for the two Ford built racers, including Ed Huff. Ed Huff was driving one racer when another driver, Frank Day, wrecked one of the Fords at the Wisconsin State Fair races in late 1903. Day died in the accident, and the Ford racer was wrecked. It was shipped back to Ford in Detroit, who proceeded to rebuild the racer in the winter of 1903-04. This rebuilt racer (with steering wheel replacing the two handled tiller) was the one used by Henry Ford to set the world mile speed record in early 1904 on a frozen lake. Little known is the fact Henry Ford didn’t own the racer he used (his creation and rebuild) to make the record. Cooper considered contesting the record because Ford wasn’t the owner nor authorized to make the attempt. However, he decided the publicity was better letting HF own the record as opposed to contesting the attempt.

I believe Oldfield provided the impetus for Henry Ford to begin building the six cylinder racer. As the excerpt from an article below shows, Oldfield reports he has contracted Henry Ford to build him an European style racer that he will take to Europe to challenge the greatest racers on the continent. By early 1904 Ford has embarked on building his six cylinder racer.

5127F338-469D-4AB5-AEAD-502C603D3F95.jpeg
Now back to our regular programing. :D

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Rob » Wed Sep 18, 2019 8:45 am

Finally (an end to this thread?), we’ve reached race day. Henry Ford and Frank Kulick have probably their best racing day and event ever. Ford had many victories over an eleven year period, beginning with Sweepstakes in 1901 and ending with Algonquin Hill Climb in 1912. Possibly better than the 999 world record, and the 24 hour world record in 1907 with stock Model K, this meet would result in several Ford first place and second place finishes against some of the best cars and drivers in the world. I think I’ll let the “Detroit Free Press” describe the day, and spectacular performance by Frank Kulick, driving Joe Galamb’s creations. First the newspaper copy. It’s not very readable so a typed transcript follows. If you drop down to “Takes Turns Gracefully” line, a good description of the match race between Ford, Hotchkiss and the Blitzen Benz was written by the reporter. This was the day David took down Goliath:

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Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan) - 27 Sep 1911
KULICK IS
THE STAR

Driving a Ford Car He Circles State Fair Track in Fifty Seconds Flat, a New Record for the Course.

THEN IS PRESENTED
WITH A $1,000 BILL

Henry Ford, Maker of the Car, Gives His Employee That Much Wealth in Appreciation of His Performance.

There is no doubt that “Bob” Burman is the world’s greatest speed king in the auto, and that his honors were awarded him only after a string of triumphs over the best men the sport ever produced, but many who viewed the thundering cars in the various events at the state fair track yesterday insist that Frank Kulick, the youthful driver of the Ford cars, must be placed in the front rank with the daring pilot of the famous Blitzen Benz.
If one were to judge on the work of the men yesterday, the honors would be conceded to Kulick without a word of protest. For today Frank has the honor of holding the state fair record for a mile, and he made it against Bob Burman under exactly the same conditions. Taking his little Ford “Special” Kulick circled the course in 50 seconds, the fastest ever recorded on that track, and what doubtless will stand as a record for some time to come.

Gives Him $1,000.

When the boy finished and the time announced for both Burman and Kulick, Henry Ford president of the Ford Motor Col grasped the hand of the clever Kulick and pressed a brand new bill of $1,000 denomination into it, and at the same time expressed the wish that Kulick would not comptet with the car for teh rest of the afternoon. Later it was reported that Kulick would give up the game of racing for good and all, but the rumor is groundless.
All that Mr. Ford asked of Kulick was for Frank to take the car with which he established the record off the track, as he believed that a car which developed the speed that one did on the track with Burman’s and other fast ones the risk was too great. Kulick complied with the wishes of his employer and the car was put in temporary idleness.
Kulick made his great run in the fourth event of the day, when he, Burman and Kilpatrick made the attempt. Kilpatrick, in his big 200 horsepower Hotchkiss, was sent away first and the watches caught him in :55 flat. There was a smile on Kulick’s face when he was told to start, the task of besting Kilpatrick’s performance looked so easy. Once around the track for warming up purposes and Kulick gave the signal that he was ready. Alex Sloan, with the red starting flag, sent him on his way and it seemed that the little Ford fairly devoured space.

Took Turns Gracefully.
With the engine working perfectly and the pilot low in his seat, the car, under a steady hand, took the turn like a thing of life. Round to the back stretch it sped, faster and faster, it seemed, until the last turn was reached. Only an accident now could prevent Kulick beating Kilpatrick’s time. But there were no mishaps. The second turn was taken as well as the first and the car straightened out for the run to the stand. It seemed to those in the stands like the car had wings. On it came and it fairly thundered past the timers.
When the time was announced and it was realized that Kulick had circled the track in less time than it ever had been done before, the boy was given a hand that he ought to remember as long as he lives. Later when Burman made his attempt and his time, one and one-fifth seconds slower than Kulick’s, the crowd broke lose again. Then Mr. Ford stepped briskly forward and graciously presented Kulick with $1,000 in token of his appreciation of what Kulick had done.
Burman, the last of the trio to go against time, did so under the same conditions as the first two and the performance of Kulick’s is all the more noteworthy. On the stretches Burman made as good speed as Kulick, but it was taking the turns were the pilot of the Blitzen Benz lost considerable valuable time.
Somehow, and it was remarked by men who have followed the auto racing game for years, Burman doesn’t appear to know how to take the turns on a circular track nearly as well as Kulick does or anywhere near as good as Barney Oldfield used to when he was churning up the soil near the fence that flanks the infield.
On both of his Turns in the race against time Burman shut off the engine and there was a noticeable slacking of speed in his car for practically the whole of the curve. Naturally whatever chance Burman had of eclipsing Kulick’s record was lost on that account. His time was given out as :51 2-5.
Ideal weather brought out an immense crowd and it was estimated
Continued On Page Twelve.

KULICK IS THE STAR


Continued From Page Eleven

that fully 6,000 people were in the stand when the starters in the first event were brought to the starting line. The track was in splendid condition after the rain of yesterday and there was no vestige of the sticky mud that presented any serious attempt at speeding on opening day.
There were 11 events run off, including an exhibition of five miles and a tire change by Ray Harroun in his Marmon Wasp, winner o fthe International race at the Indianapolis speedway last Memorial day.
One of the features of the program was the Australian pursuit race. Five cars took part, Burman and McNay in Benz, Jaerggeersberger and Heineman in case creations and Kilpatrick in a Hotchkiss. It was a handicap affair and as soon as one car was overhauled it was eliminated. Burman won the race, doing the 10 miles in 9:04 4-5.
The final event, free-for-all handicap race at 10 miles, brought out practically every make at the track with the exception of the speeders under the direction of Burman. All of the interest was centered in teh contest between the case cars, driven by Jaeggersberger and Heineman, and Kulick in his little Ford that is classed with those of from 230 to 300 cubic inches piston displacement. These three fought it out for 10 miles, Jaerggersberger winning by less than half a lenght over the Ford. Time, 9:47 2-5


I’ll have a few more thoughts, and post race reaction later.

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Rob » Wed Sep 18, 2019 3:13 pm

Finishing this marathon of a thread, a few more excerpts and followup.

In the article below, another version of “the story.”

D43D6B82-66AC-417C-8A8E-DB7A92070BDF.jpeg

The second paragraph should bring a smile to any Ford enthusiast. A reminder, the Blitzen Benz the Ford had just beaten held the one mile circular track world record at the time:

F00A47E6-79FF-4FA7-96EF-D226101453F6.jpeg

This also provided Joe Galamb and Henry Ford the chance to demonstrate to the world the abilities of their smaller racers, the 300 cubic inch and 230 cubic inch Ford Specials, that also won five mile races that afternoon, all driven by Frank Kulick:

5E8F943D-1833-4A94-B8C1-32DEFAD3BB15.jpeg

One of my hopes is to someday see one of the two remaining Blitzen Benz (6 total were made) side by side with the Ford Special. Probably won’t happen, but as Henry Ford, Frank Kulick and Joe Galamb apparently believed, never say never. 8-)

D343985C-4AB7-4D34-BEAE-BDEC8800C462.jpeg
DFD6D4FE-9E61-4519-8111-91C40D0764A6.jpeg


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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by bud delong » Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:24 pm

Thank you Rob! One thing about the later Ford racers is at a distance they looked like just a model T like so many thousands of them on the road.Bud.


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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Drkbp » Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:52 pm

The real highlight of the day is the "50 second track record" for our guy against "Wild" Bob Burman with the V radiator Ford Special racer pictured above! :) And the $1,000 bill... :D

But there was another couple of great races easier to see in another news clip of the days events. ;)
(Red dots on another news clip below)

We see Frank Kulick raced "head to head" two times with the Case Team in the Light Car Division.
Frank Kulick races them with the small block Ford Special No. 6 car.

Joe Jagersberger drives the Case "White Streak" and Lou Heineman drives the Case "Giant". Both are formidable race car drivers and machines.

The first race is 5 miles (Kulick wins) and the second race is 10 miles (Jagersberger just nips Kulick). Incredibly close times for both races, 61.4 mph +/- a tenth.

One write-up said Frank Kulick had a "bad start" in the ten mile or he would have won them both, just seconds apart!
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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by wayne sheldon » Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:00 pm

Thank you Rob ! More wonderful stuff! And thank you for the additional on Barney Oldfield.
I knew more than a couple "Blitzen Benz" cars were built, and believed that two survive. But I don't think I realized that six such cars were built! I don't recall the timeline, but as I recall there was quite some difference between the first and last ones. I read a good article about them more than thirty years ago. I am not sure which of the survivors was in the videos shared earlier.
Such a wonderful time in history.

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Rob » Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:45 pm

Thanks guys.
Bud, yes, several marquees “disguised” their racers to look similar to their production cars. Buick and Case were good examples.
Ken, the 300 cu. in. version is our motor. What I’ve learned is Joe Galamb and Ford used the lower cylinder holes to let the engine exhaust (breath) better. It makes a hell of a difference (and hell of a mess) when you kick the slide open.

This was essentially Frank Kulick and Henry Ford’s swan song. Kulick would participate in one more road race (1911 Vanderbilt cup in Savannah) and win the Algonquin hill climb in 1912. He did not race again on a circular track. Interestingly, he was almost killed on this same Michigan track, when he went through the fence with the 1100 cubic inch Ford six cylinder racer in 1907. He also set the world 24 hour record driving two Model K in 1907 on this track.

Although Kulick and Ford didn’t race year around during 1911, and only had one primary driver, FMC still finished 5th in overall victories in 1911, beating several makes including Benz, Fiat and Mercedes.
25ACEDD7-C6EB-4A4B-BB10-2973708D121E.jpeg

Frank Kulick, while performing his day to day tasks at FMC, still came in 8th in total victories in 1911.

B2DF0149-68FB-4A29-A874-7E7FCB53B151.jpeg

And then Henry Ford and Frank Kulick were finished with racing.

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by John Warren » Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:45 pm

Thanks Rob, I loved it all ! Great comments and additional information.

Did you get the bugs worked out of your race car?
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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Rob » Sat Sep 21, 2019 12:15 pm

Thanks John. No, we have to pull the head and see why #4 is fouling the plugs. Maybe scoring (borescope), so we’ll see. Meanwhile, I had the correct intake manifold fabricated and it’s coming along well:

0110CCC7-B6CA-4D42-A712-C29E49F9BDAB.jpeg

Intake/exhaust of the Ford Special at THF:

FC2101F9-0699-4E1F-891F-E416FF0B0B4F.jpeg
Stan Howe is rebuilding the correct 5 ball carb similar to the one at THF. Hopefully if only honing is needed, we’ll be up and running in no time............


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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by DHort » Sat Sep 21, 2019 12:34 pm

Bruce has the magneto up to snuff as well?

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by CudaMan » Sat Sep 21, 2019 1:13 pm

The whole car is neat, but those manifold clamps are works of industrial art, IMO. :)
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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by wayne sheldon » Sat Sep 21, 2019 4:40 pm

That intake manifold also is a work of art! Beautiful!
Thanks Rob!

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Rob » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:14 am

Thanks guys. A couple of young guys are doing the fabrication. It’s good to know there are incredible young craftsmen coming up in the world today. Now to get them interested in early cars...........

Dave, I think the mag is working ok. It’s a different animal, two spark. Without a battery side and dual ignition it’s a little tough crank starting, as you know.

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by kmatt » Mon Sep 23, 2019 12:04 am

Rob: I only see one set of spark plugs, what good is the two spark mag ? Years ago I had a BB Rajo with a two spark mag and two plugs per cylinder, after the starter broke on a tour the only way to start it was with two or three people pushing it, hand cranking fast enough to start was impossible. I noticed that the Blitzen Benz had some sort of pressurized gas to help start it.

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Duey_C » Mon Sep 23, 2019 12:41 am

Thank you for your digging, commentary, introductions to the diggin's you find, the dream, living it and re-waking
Henry's, Frank's, Joe's and Ed's dreams/work on fast Fords as you dream/live it now and bringing us along the ride.
CudaMan Mark, I was thinking the same thing, what a beautiful manifold clamp! A manifold clamp, sheesh... ;)
Funny bit, I read Clyde Barrow's letter to Henry Ford (Bonnie's hand likely) whilst still drooling over the 999 right there on the museum floor many years ago.
Thanks Rob! We play our parts in the worlds in which our mind's find interest! :)
Waiting for the next installment.
Since I lost my mind mind, I feel more liberated

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Rob » Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:34 am

Thanks Duey. I have become a Frank Kulick fan over the years. What an understated, over achieving man, who was in the right place at the right time to help Ford achieve greatness on the track.

Kevin, I don’t have all the plugs and wires on in the last photo. There are two sets of plugs, one on each side of the combustion chamber. The Bosch dual spark delivers spark to both plugs at exactly the same moment. I’ve noticed several other racers of the day used the same system.

Below is a photo show both plug holes in the head:

033F1B91-514C-417D-AE88-249BC20BD021.jpeg


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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by bud delong » Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:40 am

It would really to see and hear it running at the OCF someday!!!! I have very fond thoughts of seeing Old 16 as it roared through the Village!! Bud. :D


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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by bud delong » Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:47 am

Rob,What are the two mounting studs for just below the lifter cover? In the past i have seen T engines modified for a plunger oil pump that ran off the camshaft.Bud :D


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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Chaffins » Mon Sep 23, 2019 12:28 pm

Bob Burman was killed in the 1916 Corona Road Race. That ended racing for Corona. Glover Ruckstell drove in the 1914 Corona race and was third until he suffered mechanical problems in his Mercer.
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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by kmatt » Mon Sep 23, 2019 4:18 pm

Rob: Thanks for the up date on the two spark plugs per cylinder head and two spark mag. I liked the two plug BB Rajo with the two spark mag that I had.

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Rob
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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Rob » Tue Sep 24, 2019 7:44 am

Kevin,
I’m thinking of putting it on the shelf, and using a modern two spark that uses a battery. This Bosch works great, but is temperamental and starting on mag is a chore, considering it’s a higher compression 300 cubic inch motor. Thanks for your post,
Rob


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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by LSIGWORTH1 » Tue Sep 24, 2019 9:54 am

Is your magneto equipped with an impulse? Engines equipped with a Bosch magneto with no battery assist are very difficult to start without an impulse. Also, has the safety gap been widened to compensate for the higher compression ratio? The safety gap can be adjusted on most D and Z series mags by machining an aluminum ring about 1/16 inch thick that fits under the white porcelain cap that holds the top part of the safety gap point.


Larry Sigworth


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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by bud delong » Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:59 am

Is there a gear reduction in that type of mag that lets the mag spin twice as fast as the points and roter? :D Bud.

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by Rob » Sat Sep 28, 2019 12:13 pm

Larry,
I don’t think there is room for an impulse. I had one on a 1913 Buick and it worked great. I had no battery to be concerned with and the impulse mag made starting easy.

Bud, the two spark mag is quite interesting, and evidently was well thought of “in the day,” as many race cars of the period used them.

Thanks guys,
Rob

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Re: What do you do when the boss says “I want you to build a car that will beat the fastest racer in the world?”

Post by kmatt » Sun Sep 29, 2019 9:57 pm

Rob: My BB Rajo, with 8:1 compression, that had the Bosch 2 spark mag was mounted on a cross drive mag bracket. There was no room for a impulse with this bracket. I had the mag rewound and rebuilt by one of the few people who would work on them at the time, this was around 1979. This person was aircraft certified and worked on many WW1 to WW2 aircraft mags. I don't know, maybe it was the Miller barrel valve carburetor I had on it, but two people could push it at 1 or 2 mph and it would fire right off, but it would take Superman to hand crank it fast enough with the stock Model T hand crank. Maybe someone from Fiat and Mercedes hid some Criptonight in you car to take out Superman. I have enjoyed your posts and pictures of this 300 CID Ford racer rebuild, your car is truly special.

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