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Cities Service Power Prover Vehicle Inspection Team

Today’s photo looks back to March of 1935 in Knoxville, Tennessee. There the Cities Service “Power Prover” Team traveling around the country stopped to set up shop for a promotion in support of a local Cities Service filling station.

Visible in the photos is the Team’s 1932 or ’33 Reo Flying Cloud Coupe, towing a fifth wheel Cities Service Curtis Aero Car. Behind it is a small tag along trailer with a carbon monoxide gas (CO) tester and a four wheel brake tester.

First the brakes on a car were checked on the tester set up down the street and visible in the second enlargeable image below. Vehicles then moved forward to the small CO testing trailer that gave a reading of the exhaust gases.

A period newspaper ad for the Cities Service “Power Prover” states that the Team gave recommendations on how to reduce CO in the exhaust and at the same time improve gasoline mileage.

Tell us what you find of interest in the photos courtesy of the Knox County Public Library.

14 responses to “Cities Service Power Prover Vehicle Inspection Team

  1. Be enough to make me nervous. I wonder if they handed out tickets for “out of service” violations. And what is a gas pump doing in the middle of the road? I think the 1st pic is just the information trailer, and looks like it was parked down the street from the 2nd pic, Blue Moon Hamburgers, (5 cents), in the background, and the smaller trailer had the equipment and did the actual testing. If they did that in Wisconsin today, half the vehicles would fail, trust me.

  2. Looks like a 1933 REO coupe to me. Change the hood and grille, put in a six cylinder air cooled engine, and you’d have a 1933 Olympic coupe.

  3. Bike has a fire extinguisher mounted on the handlebars, toolbox behind the horn, and metal fairing lowers. They really help a lot. A red light and maybe a flashing white light are also mounted. I miss anything?

  4. Thanks for posting this very neat photo.The Aerocars were the most luxurious trailers made in the 1930’s.They were all custom built to the customers exact specifications and could easily cost as much as a top of the line luxury car of that era. The basic construction was basically wooden uprights in the sidewalls held steady with crisscrossing steel aircraft cables tensioned wih turnbuckles. The exteriors including the roofs were covered with fabric or leatherette and painted for weather protection. This one seems color matched to the tow vehicle.
    As a result of this lightweight and obviously fragile construction very few exist today outside of restored examples in museums or private collections.

  5. The “white” lamp may be: An early-on handlebar mounted 21 or 32 candlepower Spot -Light , handlebar mounted, — with flex cable & swivel. The early Carbon Monoxide Detectors were typically: Thermocouple or a Thermopile Instrument, with meter, which responded to temperature: A: “too rich carburetor mixture” — has a lower temperature at the tailpipe. a too lean mixture is typically warmer. also, a fouled cylinder spark plug or poor ignition system, or low compression, in one or more cylinders, will also increase Carbon Monoxide. today’s instruments are more sophisticated and the “readouts ” are more accurate, if properly calibrated . Today’s engines are also sophisticated . Even so, many have risked cheating, including manufacturers! I get the impression that the inspection is voluntary, but maybe: Tennessee was: “Ahead of its time” (???) (YIKES!) My Old Car vehicles are well within manufacturer’s specifications. , or better. Edwin W. Former Class A Smog Mechanic.

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