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The Cyclecar & The

CYCLECARS THE ELEMENTS OF MANUFACTURE By Joseph A. Anglada (Member of the Society) At a meeting of the Federation Internationale des Clubs Moto Cycliste, held on December 14, 1912, it was formally decided that there should be an international classification of cyclecars, to hold good in England, Canada, United States, France, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Austria and Germany. It was also decided to divide the classification into large and small cyclecars as follows: Large Class: Maximum weight • 7841b. Maximum piston displacement n00c.c. "(67.1 cu. in.) Minimum tire size 60 mm. (2^ in. approx.) Small Class: Minimum weight 33 lb. Maximum weight 660 lb. Maximum piston displacement 750 c.c. (45-75 cu. in.) Minimum tire size 55 mm. (2 1/16 in.) All machines to have a clutch and change-speed gear. With regard to the last regulation, machines in which the clutch action is obtained by slipping the driving-belts might be excluded, but it is evident that such machines could be considered as complying with the regulations. From the above definition it is apparent that there is no distinction made between what is commonly understood in America as a cyclecar, and a miniature car. In England, where the so-called cyclecar has received most publicity, the purchaser is confronted with a bewildering number of makes and types to choose from. These can, however, be divided into two classes: those that are manufactured on the lines of a miniature car and those in which motorcycle practice predominates. As is to be expected, those of the miniature car type are very similar in design; that is, they conform to what is now conventional standard tread, four-cylinder water-cooled engines, steel frame, cone or disc clutch, sliding gear transmission, shaft drive, and worm or bevel gear unit in the rear axle. In the simpler class far more original lines are followed, ingenious expedients having been resorted to to minimize cost of production, weight and complication. The seating arrangement varies considerably, from single-passenger (monocar) to two-passenger tandem and side-by-side with the driver placed forward to allow more elbow room. In this country the trade papers have devoted considerable space during the last few months to announcement of the organization of many cyclecar manufacturing companies. From an inspection of the specifications of the cars described it seems that the following definition, which is more specific than the existing definitions, might apply to an American cyclecar, viz.: A three- or four-wheel car with accommodation for one or two passengers. * Track, less than 56 inches. Motorcycle tires, not larger than 3 inches. Motorcycle type motor, with a piston displacement of not more than 70 cubic inches, with one, two or four air-cooled cylinders. A transmission giving at least two speeds forward and one reverse. An engine declutching mechanism. Two sets of brakes. Weight, not over 750 pounds. the present conventional design of a low-priced American automobile comprises a pressed steel frame, a four- or six-cylinder motor, a friction clutch of the cone, disc or band type, a sliding gear transmission giving two, three or four forward speeds, bevel-gear- or worm-gear-driven rear axle, semi-elliptic front springs, I-beam front axle, three-quarter elliptic, platform or transverse rear spring. The selling price of cars designed along these conventional lines is somewhere in the neighborhood of one dollar per pound for a touring car and as low as fifty cents per pound for the later types of small runabouts. The car conforming to these specifications contains somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 detail parts, not including those of specialties such as motor starters, electric light equipment, windshield, top, etc., and small items such as nuts, bolts, studs, washers, and the like. Of this large number of parts there are some which are of duplicate design and material, such as pistons, connecting-rods, bearings, etc. Regarded in this way, the number is reduced to perhaps 400 dissimilar parts. To manufacture these parts from raw material requires bars of various sections and different grades, and numerous castings of iron, bronze, aluminum and brass, in addition to forged, pressed and stamped parts. The numbers of these different forms of material may be taken roughly as: castings 100, forgings 90, pressed and stamped parts 20, and the remainder in the form of bar stock, tubing and sheet metal. If it is desired to produce such a conventional car in miniature, the number of individual parts cannot be diminished to any great extent, the main difference being in the amount of material required for each part. A few years ago when a car to be sold for $500 was first talked of, it was impossible to build a good car to sell at this price, because manufacturers of parts such as axles, transmissions and engines were not prepared to furnish parts suitable for these small cars. Since that time, however, manufacturers have realized that there is a demand for a small car selling in the neighborhood of $500, and are now prepared to furnish from stock the important units entering into the construction of such a car, and for this reason we may reasonably expect that the number of runabouts selling for about the price indicated will increase. On the other hand, simplification of design, that is, the development of a small machine and the establishment of new conventions in design and specification (considering that the present $500 machine represents current convention), will make possible the economical manufacture and sale of small cars in accordance with the new conventions, and these small cars will probably be known as cyclecars. It is too early to decide what the specifications of these cyclecars will be, but I am inclined to believe that the cyclecar definition which I suggested hereinbefore will cover them broadly. Assuming that this will be the process of development, let us consider first the engine. In the $500 machine the four-cylinder engine has about 300 parts of various kind, of which about 150 are of dissimilar design. A single- or twin-cylinder engine obviously will reduce materially this number. Engine manufacturers are alive to the demand for engines o' this type as is indicated by the fact that it is now possible to purchase such motors from at least three reputable manufacturers. In the transmission units, including the clutch, the gear box and the rear axle, a very large number of detail parts may be eliminated by the employment of such systems as have found favor in the design of European cyclecars and some small American cars, as, for example, friction, belt or chain drive or some combination of these in which minimum complication is dependent upon the ingenuity of the designer. The total weight of the small car and of the cyclecar can be brought readily within the European cyclecar definition. The simpler design of the cyclecar will, however, result in less weight. Assuming equal weight in the initial purchase of materials, there is an important difference in the manufacturing cost of the two types of car. The number of patterns is reduced. The number of dies, jigs, special tools, etc., with their attendant cost, is reduced. The smaller number of parts of the cyclecar will be simpler and more rugged in construction, with resulting increase in bearing surface and a corresponding reduction in the cost of maintenance. Simplification of design is of vital importance to the owner; it lessens the amount of attention required to keep the car in first-class running condition and because of the greater ruggedness of the individual parts lessens the number of replacements. It is clear that a reduced number of detail parts of dissimilar design has a direct bearing on the economy of the manufacturing department. In the first place it lessens the expense of handling different materials and parts and the clerical work attendant upon their receipt and inspection. In the purchase of fewer varieties of raw material and its transit through the various processes of manufacture and inspection the cost is further reduced. The process of assembling the simpler cyclecar is also less expensive than that of the conventional small car. Likewise expenditures for final testing, locating faults and making adjustments are obviously reduced. The question naturally arises in this country, as it has abroad, where the cyclecar movement has attained considerable importance—why does not the low-priced miniature car of today meet the requirements of all buyers and consequently what is the necessity for the cyclecar movement? The necessity for the cyclecar movement originated with the purchaser who has a limited sum of money to invest in a car and a more limited amount of money to spend each year in its maintenance. This purchaser requires a vehicle of low operating cost that will make from 50 to 60 miles per gallon of gasoline, be very economical of tires and can be garaged for decidedly less money than the so-called small car. It is true that abroad the purchase price of a cyclecar exceeds in several instances that of a miniature car in this country, but the compensating advantages of distinctive appearance and less operating and maintenance cost have resulted in the use of cyclecars in considerable quantities in Europe. The same reasons exist in this country, with the important added fact that Americans endeavor to design cyclecars which can be manufactured in quantity and sold for less than the miniature automobile.

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