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Category Archives: Garages and Dealerships

The Cycletow – Streamlining Automotive Service in Hollywood, California

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  • A 1932 Packard Convertible Coupe and a Harley-Davidson Single with a Cycletow conversion ready for the trip to a service facility

We all know how time consuming it is to get routine maintenance or repairs done on a car and to arrange the details to drop one off and pick it up afterwards. Albert L. Hess knew that if he could come up with an economical way for one man to pick up and deliver a car, it would be feasible for dealerships and garages to contract for its use to save their customers time.

The photos in this post, all date to 1932 and were used for promoting the Cycletow for picking up and delivering cars by Cycletow Service Ltd. in the exclusive Hollywood, California area. Some car dealers and garages may have bought and operated their own units as it appears that did Ziegler Oldsmobile did.

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  • “Cycle and Automotive Trade Journal” February, 1931

Hess filed the first of three patent applications for a Towable Cycle on December 11, 1929, which was granted on August 25, 1931. It used a split and hinged beam axle and wheel and suspension assemblies that folded up and back on an angle. Either forgings or castings were used for the axle halves and the coil sprung wheel spindles. This design would have been quite expensive to manufacture and may have been abandoned for that reason.

On February 10, 1930, Hess filed a second patent application for an Auxiliary wheel attachment for cycles. In this new design a fold-down lower A-arm was used on each side along with a single upper link and the wheel assembly. A second lockable and angled folding link served to locate the assembly on either side when lowered for use. This version was easier to fabricate out of mostly standard dimensional steel shapes.

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The photos above and below clearly show the construction of the second version of the Cycletow. The pick up points for the lower A-arm can be seen above in the photo with the wheels in the retracted position. The left-hand photo below shows the attachment folded down, and the machine hitched up to a 1932 Chevrolet Sedan. The right-hand photo below shows a unit at a Ford and Lincoln agency in the Los Angeles area behind a Model “A” Ford Sedan.

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The center photo above shows an article that appeared in the Cycle and Automotive Trade Journal, July 1931 issue showing the Cycletow along with its competitors: Indian had come out with its Dispatch-Tow unit, a trike with a covered box; Harley-Davidson had also added the Servi-Car to its product lineup late in 1931; the American Austin was also being used at the time for the same purpose.

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The patent drawings above are for the Towable motorcycle, the third and final patent filed for on September 1, 1932, by Albert L. Hess, it was granted on August 38, 1933. An example of it can be seen below outside of a Packard agency.

This version could be used in two different configurations. The center drawing above shows it in the position used when it was being towed with the drive wheel off of the ground. The left-hand drawing above and the photo below show it in the riding mode also including an added toolbox.

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Unable to find any other details about the Cycletow or Cycletow Corp Ltd. other than what is seen here, we would tend to think that the enterprise may have been short-lived. Both H-D and Indian had also entered this same market, at about the same time with the Servi-Car and the Dispatch-Tow.

The motorcycle companies may have captured this market with machines that did the same thing and more, and at a cost that might have been about the same as Albert L. Hess’s invention. Let us know if you can add anything more to the story. The photos are courtesy of the USC Libraries.

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Posted in Auto photos 1921 - 1942, Garages and Dealerships, Motorcycle photos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Oldsmobile Get’s a Straight Eight in 1932 – The Cycletow Conversion

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  • 1932 Oldsmobile, Series L Eight, Deluxe Convertible Roadster and a Harley-Davidson single equipped with a Cycletow conversion kit

The Paul A. Ziegler Oldsmobile Agency was located at 4515 South Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles when this promotional photo was taken for the car dealer in 1932. Shown in the photo is an Oldsmobile Series L Eight, Deluxe Convertible Roadster and a Harley-Davidson single-cylinder motorcycle equipped with a Cycletow conversion kit.

1932 was the first year that Oldsmobile offered its new straight-eight along with the six, which had been the standard fare for quite some time. Even with the addition of the new power plant in one of the most trying years of the Great Depression, Oldsmobile’s sales dropped from forty-eight thousand in 1931 to a low point of only seventeen thousand for the year.

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  • Full 1932 Oldsmobile details, “Automotive Industries”,  January 2, 1932

In addition to the new 82-hp. 240-c.i. eight-cylinder engine, Oldsmobile featured the following new innovations: the Stromberg downdraft carburetor featured an automatic choke; a decarbonizer operated by dash-mounted plunger, injected a chemical into the intake manifold, which then entered into the cylinders when used just before engine shutdown; two other new features were free-wheeling and a Harrison oil cooler.

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  • Chassis details and a Deluxe Convertible Roadster illustration

No further information was found about the Ziegler Oldsmobile dealership, but full details did come-to-light about the Cycletow attachment seen here mounted on a single-cylinder Harley-Davidson. Look a full report with more great photos and the patent drawings of the Albert L. Hess designed motorcycle-towing arrangement tomorrow. The images are courtesy of the USC Libraries. The illustrations above are courtesy of the Old Car Manual Project and Alden Jewell.

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  • Albert L. Hess designed Cycletow motorcycle-towing arrangement

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Posted in Auto photos 1921 - 1942, Garages and Dealerships, Motorcycle photos | Tagged , , , , , |

The Reed Brothers – Selling Dodge’s for Ninety-Four Years, Part II

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  • The forth update to the showroom and gas station, during the mid-thirties

In Part I of the Reed Brothers Dodge story, we covered the changes the Rockville, Maryland dealer had gone through from its start in 1915 to 1930. To bring things up-to-date with the manufacturer, the Dodge Brothers name was changed in 1930 to Dodge, and the company started offering both six and eight cylinder cars for the first time.

Even though times were tough during the Great Depression, the Reeds were doing well enough to finance yet another face lift and renovation; the front of the gas station and the canopy was remodeled as shown above during the mid-thirties. You can take look at the earlier photos in Part I here for a comparison.

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  • A new Parts and Service Department facility was built in the mid-thirties

After years of hard work that also helped to establish an excellent reputation, once again the Reed’s needed to expand. At about the same time as the gas station was remodeled, the car dealer split up the sales and parts and service operations by constructing a new building; it was located nearby at the intersection of Dodge Road and the Rockville Pike.

At this point, eight new cars and trucks were being sold each month, along with a number of used car sales. Many purchases at the time, as had been the custom for years in the automobile business, were still initiated at a prospect’s home or job site; as many of the customers were farmers, the Reed’s had an active team of salesman in place who called on prospects right on their property.

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  • 1953 demolition of the gasoline station and showroom

After the war when new car production started back up, and the firm once again had new cars and trucks to sell, it continued to grow. By 1953 both more modern facilites and more room were needed once again. The photo above shows the demolition of the old service station and car salesroom to make room for a new free standing Gulf Service Station and a new showroom.

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  • Lewis Reed and James Gartner, Salesman, 1961

The photo above, and the left and center photos below show the new buildings that were constructed during 1953. The parts and service department seen below right, was also enlarged in the post-war years. Lewis Reed still going strong in 1961 can be seen above in front of the new car showroom. At this point, we are going to end the story here on The Old Motor as it continues on into the modern era beyond the time frame that we cover here.

You can pick up the rest of the story with Reed Brothers Dodge celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 1965 and continuing on to its end of selling Dodges in 2009, ninety-four years after it first started in 1915, at Reed Brothers Dodge History.

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Posted in Auto photos 1921 - 1942, Auto photos 1946 - 1965, Garages and Dealerships, Gasoline stations | Tagged , , , , , , |