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The Miami Laundry Delivery Fleet – A Model T Ford Saleman’s Roadster and an Edison Home Lighting Plant

Someone has to do the dirty laundry, and this Miami operation (above), apparently located in the large southeastern Florida city did just that. The facility had a large pickup and delivery fleet, and its drivers posed with their vehicles to take this publicity photo out in front of the operation on August 6, 1939.

Left-to-right in the image are three vehicles we can identify that include an American Bantam Boulevard Delivery, a Willys Model 77 and a Dodge with the latter two relegated to diaper services. If you can tell us more about any of these vehicles, the other delivery vans or the Miami Laundry, please send us a comment.

Moving on, Thomas Alva Edison not only invented the light bulb, but an advertisement (below) tells us he also invented the alkaline storage battery. After that electrical storage device became practical to manufacture, it soon became a simple matter to recharge these batteries with a generator driven by a small gasoline engine and Edison marketed it as a Home Lighting Plant. One of these devices is seen (below) with a salesman from the West Coast Specialty Co. of Portland, OR in 1916.

Edison Home Lighting Plant setup mounted on and powered by a Model "T" Ford

  •                   An Edison Home Lighting Plant setup mounted on and powered by a Model “T” Ford.

A Model “T” Ford Roadster (above) can be seen outfitted with a salesman’s Edison demonstrating unit that consists of: a bank of batteries, a control board, over a dozen light bulbs and a generator mounted just in front of it. That unit, in this case appears to be driven by a flat belt and pulley that is powered by another shaft below it. The second shaft appears to be moveable by a lever on the right-hand-side of the Plant. By moving the shaft backward, it could be driven by the tire and pulley that can be seen just in front of the rear wheel.

Many Model “T” Ford cars were started in high gear during cold weather by jacking up one of the rear wheels and then chocking the others so it could not move. The jacked up rear wheel then turned into a flywheel of sorts, which helped one to spin the engine fast enough so the flywheel magneto could put out a hot enough spark so the engine would start. The generating part of the plant could have been demonstrated in this way to a potential prospect – it is also possible the batteries could be recharged while driving the car between demonstrations. The photos above are courtesy of the AACA Library & Research Center.

Delco Lighting Plant

An illustration from a 1918 issue of the Farm Boys and Girls Leader shows a complete unit (above) made by an unknown competitor of Edisons. J.S. Goolsby of Oxford, Mississippi is seen with his engine powered lighting plant that shut down automatically after the batteries were recharged.

The advertisement (below) was in a Tractor and Gas Engine Review dated 1918. It tells us how on the farm one could use an existing stationary engine to charge the batteries for practically nothing with an Edison Home Lighting Plant.

Edison alkaline storage battery and Lighting Plant

14 responses to “The Miami Laundry Delivery Fleet – A Model T Ford Saleman’s Roadster and an Edison Home Lighting Plant

  1. I was told another reason for raising the rear wheel on the model t was that in cold weather the oil was so thick that the high clutchs caused a lot of drag. It was then easier to crank and start. Just a story I heard from my dad.

  2. The Edison Alkaline Battery can be found on google on opensource. In recharging the battery it would not degrade and had a long life. However it was expensive to manufacture and could not compete against a lead acid battery.

  3. Miami Diaper Service was one of several operators of Bantam Boulevard Delivery trucks. Its automobile horn sounded the opening bars of “Rock-a-By-Baby”, which prompted a newspaper columnist in 1940 to quip, “No doubt this may be followed on horns that will play ‘How Dry I Am’, or better still, just give a good hearty belch!” Twice each week, the service made the rounds picking up soiled diapers and dropping off “surgically sterile, fluffy white diapers, Eveready Nursers (the best formula bottles ever), a deodorizing, porcelain storage hamper, and a free subscription to Baby Talk magazine.” Subscribers to the service could even invite Mr. Stork himself — a life size stork — to baby showers, free of charge. Brainchild of Bantam Car Company president Roy S. Evans, the Boulevard Delivery was a cleverly designed roadster panel truck with 35 cubic feet of cargo capacity. A hansom-styled panel body was mounted behind an open driver’s compartment to combine the quiet dignity of the Victorian era with he modern lines of the Bantam roadster. In standard form, its body gleamed with polished black paint and its panel sides were adorned with one chromium carriage lamp on each side. Of course, the Miami outfit painted their truck white, to match its fleet of larger trucks. Upholstering and trim were in red vinyl or leather, and a narrow vermillion stripe highlighted the cove across the door. Access to the package compartment was provided by a locking door behind the seat that enabled the driver to secure packages without leaving the truck. Targeted markets for the Boulevard Delivery were Fifth Avenue shops, including jewelers, furriers, milliners and smart department stores. It was attractive, practical mobile advertising with flair. It was also affordable, with a price that fluctuated around the $550 mark. Although the Boulevard Delivery was cataloged in sales literature, it was generally built to order. Minor variations in detail were common. In all, only 70 of the little trucks were built over a 12-month period before being discontinued. An even more novel soda-pop delivery truck was briefly considered to take its place, but civilian vehicle production ended in the summer of 1940 before a final decision could be made.

  4. Do my eyes deceive me, or is the second truck in the laundry line-up, a Willys 77 sedan delivery ?

    • Never mind… it plainly states “Willys 77” in the article, now that I’m done looking at the pictures and going back to read the text.

  5. I understand that Edison perfected the electric light bulb. His work made the bulb a practical and long lasting item.

  6. WELL, HERE WE GO AGAIN with what Thomas Edison “invented” YES, Edison DID “invent”, — BUT it’s AS IF he invented everything that came out of His Menlo Park Laboratory. Mr, Edison’s BEST “invention” was his being highly skilled as an Entreprenour (sp?) and PROVIDING an excellent LABORATORY for those TECHNICIANS who would provide Mr. Edison with many of the inventions that he, himself took credit for, — and became famous for, so in the public’s mind HE invented ALL of it! Edison was making an exhaustive effort to create a vacuum and a filament that were BOTH good enough to provide a sellable light bulb product. He hired a Technician from Canada that had a much more efficient method for making a high enough vacuum (good enough) and a filament good enough to eventually market it, plus taking credit for it! A careful reading of his actual ways about “INVENTIONS “reveals his entreprenurial success of manipulating others. One person who was tricked by Edison and who quit working for Edison, — was Nikola Tesla. Tesla’s Patent #1,209,309 was the Automotive “magnetic cup” SPEEDOMETER, (found throughout the world, today) Nikola Tesla’s Alternating Current system powers the world today. Edison’s DC system was doomed to failure, because of a BAD entreprenurial decision against Tesla. Edison TOOK the light bulb and he TOOK the Iron Alkaline battery Cell. Like so many discoveries of Menlo Park —someone ELSE invented them. Edwin – 30 –

  7. 10 Cents to park. My how things have changed. Garage near me charges 28.00 to get in the door. Stay 4 hrs or 8 hrs it’s still 28.00

  8. Aloha Old Motor Readers & Fans:
    Can’t tell you anything about Miami Laundry – other than their Purchasing Agent had great taste & an eye for value!!! The “Diaper Delivery” Willys is a 1936 Model! Identified by the “fixed” windshield; disc wheels; outside spare tire mount under the rear door & dashboard etc. Fairly rare & not many survivors left now. Proper designation was “Panel Delivery” even though it had only one rear door like a Sedan Delivery! Give me the Willys!!!!!

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