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Los Angeles Flapper Cuts a Rug with Martin Shock Absorbers

George Cushing Martin of Los Angeles, CA, filed for and was granted a dozen patents in the years between 1909 and 1923. The great majority of them were for shock absorbers, but he was also awarded a patent for a machine tool and a concrete pipe making machine.

At some point he formed the Martin Shock Absorber Co., and the earliest reference found in 1909 listed the outfits location only as Los Angeles. A later Chilton Auto Directory from 1917 shows the Martin Shock Absorber Corp. as being located at 1301-1401 East Slauson Avenues in LA.

  • The lead photo dated 1925 shows a model doing a “knee action” move with one of the Martin Shocks.

Martin Shock Absorber 3

  •    This view shows the construction details of the multi-disc shock compressed by a center coil spring.

Martin Shock Absorber5

  •       “The Automobile” February 12, 1914, illustrated one of the earlier shocks with three brake shoes.

The earlier models of the patented shock absorption devices seen here utilized three separate brake shoes. When the lever that actuates the unit is moved by a link connected to the suspension, spring-loaded internal bars move and force the brake shoes outward. The larger the movement the more the unit damps the motion of the axle.

The application drawing for the September 24, 1912 patent of the brake shoe and drum shock can be seen at the bottom of the post and shows all of the details.

Martin Shock Absorber 4

  • “Motor Age” January 21, 1915 contained this image (upside down) of  the shocks mounting and link.  

Later on, but exactly when is not known, Martin came out with a new design with a multi-disc friction element much like that used on car and motorcycle clutches. A single center mounted coil spring visible in the images, compressed by a nut and washer (backed off for the photos) provided for an adjustment. The images are courtesy of USC Libraries.

Martin Shock Absorber 2

  •             The model with a plated and polished shock – The September 24, 1912 patent (below).

martin Shock absorber patent

7 responses to “Los Angeles Flapper Cuts a Rug with Martin Shock Absorbers

  1. These appear to be a single action damper in that I don’t see a way it can actuate in the upward stroke. Perhaps that’s why we don’t see Martin shocks on later model cars.

    The flapper’s sexy moves does prove that George Martin knew how to sell them for all they were worth however.

    Great post, I learn something here every day.

  2. Hubba Hubba! Hotcha Hotcha! She’s the Bee’s Knees! 😀
    Aside from that, the shock apparently worked for its time . . . as I did . . .

  3. Martin’s earlier shock absorber or: “Snubber” MAY have worked well, (or well enough) — in Southern California, (born there),— but MUD, SNOW, & ICE territories, such as West Virginia (now here, for retirement), would make short work of his earlier Patent. The multiple friction disc setup that he later used — is common to many other similar (useable for a longer duration of road abuse). Yes, friction shocks WERE used on Motorcycles for many Years, until later hydraulic improvements occured, first on the front forks and then later, on rear “swing arm” frames. This same friction disc with adjustable compression was ALSO used for steering damping for Motorcycle Sidecar use, to reduce low speed handlebar Wiggle-WAGGLE.
    This same device was also on 1932 Ford CARS, as an engine SNUBBER.
    Edwin – 30 –

    • ” MUD, SNOW, & ICE territories, such as West Virginia, would make short work of his earlier Patent.”

      Not necessarily, according to the period articles found covering the shocks the units were adjustable by the center bolt as are Hartford type friction shocks.

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