“a century of Vehicular D. I. Y.” D. I. Y. = Do it yourself

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A Century of Vehicular D.I.Y.”


Home-Built Tractor: April 1920

While this homemade tractor might resemble something from a dieselpunk magazine, we can assure you that it's a real vehicle. A Pennsylvanian farmer known only as Mr. Geissinger built his tractor out of spare parts in a scrap pile. He started with a 15 year-old, one-cylinder stationary gasoline engine, which in those days, was used for running power tools, circular saws, pumps and hay elevators. Soon enough, he assembled enough parts to give his tractor all the functions of a conventional one. It could work as quickly, had all the controls, and could turn in any direction. We reported that Geissinger successfully used it for threshing and plowing, as three plows could be attached at its rear. In total, his tractor cost $265.

Motorized Ark: March 1924

Today, we have trailers. In the 1920s, inventor W.K. Kellogg has his "touring Ark," a 27-foot truck equipped with everything you'd need to survive on the road: a refrigerator and ice machine, a washstand and sink, an oil stove, a fireless cooker, a toilet, cupboards, folded dining sets, a shower, a bunk, and radio set. It also held camping equipment, like a 15-foot folding motorboat. Pretty amazing for 1924, right? More so considering the abundance of luxuries in proportion to the size of his car.

Kellogg, a food manufacturer, built the Ark to indulge his lone hobby, motor touring. Not being one to rough it out in the open country or to stay in hotels, Kellogg built his car as a means of self-sufficiency. He started construction by attaching a special body and a 45-horsepower motor to a 27-foot truck chassis. Four armchairs mounted on swivels became seats, which could easily be converted into twin beds. The toilet came with running water from a pressure tank, while a small heater could make showering and travel more comfortable during winter. In total, the car weighed 11,000 pounds and could run between 30 and 35 miles per hour. Kellogg wrote this article while on the road with his wife, who accompanied him on cross-country trips taking upward of 18 months.

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