Tag Archives: Harley-Davidson

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 , , , , , |

Easter Sunday Entertainment – Sherlock Jr. 1924 – The Driverless Motorcycle Scene

Sherlock, Jr., the perfect entertainment for an Easter Sunday was filmed during 1924. It appears to have been the third feature-length film Buster Keaton made. The movie is a non-stop collection of stunts and is filled with plenty of action. This video contains the short driverless motorcycle scene in the movie, along with plenty of cars, trucks and even a steam locomotive to enjoy while viewing it.

You can learn more about the rest of the production here at Turner Classic Movies, and see the rest of the forty-four minute film Sherlock Jr. here.

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