Big Bertha

Big Bertha
Circa 1940, on the streets of Rochester New York, Bertha does her work.
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quad-ro-mania






















We haven't had a truck post in a while so ...
You'll recall the British affection for the FWD, Model B during the Great War, well the American forces, who used the FWD as well, were also enamored of the Nash Quad.
This unit, along with its sister-ship the FWD, hail from the great state of Wisconsin which, although its politicians seem to be sub-human, had/has heavy manufacturing down cold.
FWD in Clintonville, Nash in Kenosha.
We mentioned Nash in passing back here when we were discussing the giant hash that corporate-think George Romney (Little Milton's Dad) made of some of the makers of America's truly great vehicles.
To begin, who with a pulse can resist the Nash Metro?

Bitchin' fuel economy - before it was fashionable, a uni-body construction and body styling with input from Pininfarina of Italy.
Gone the way of the albatross. Tell your Dad 'thanks' Mittens.
The overwhelming mediocrity of AM General is far more profitable than actual, quality products albeit lacking a guaranteed buyer.
Back to Nash - or Nash Kelvinator as they came to be known: Nash Motors came into being in 1917. In so doing the firm inherited quite another product from the cars that the company seemed to be poised to produce.
That would be the Jeffery Quad, product of the The Thomas B. Jeffrey Company.
They manufactured a number of very popular bicycles and branched in automobiles soon after the turn of the century.
One of their bicycle lines - as well as some of their autos - were called "Ramblers".
Sound familiar?

1958 Rambler sedan. Sweet.
Anyway, between these two points, bicycles and archaic 4X4's and that sweet white-over-pink Rambler, there was also Nash-Kelvinator's contribution to the war effort in WW2 to consider.

A bit of a stretch because the copy never really says "made by Nash-Kelvinator" and, as I recall, it was Sperry Corporation that built the actual ball-turrets.
But, N-K was in there battin', not sitting on their corporate asses but - that was true of all manufacturing at the time 'cause... that's how you fight a war. You don't just "Go shopping".
I digress; what we're discussing is the Nash Quad or - the Jeffery Quad.
In 1913 the U.S.Army was looking for something to replace mules. Something that wouldn't kick or bite and still need feeding even when not being used.
At the time, in general, the military made a poor customer; slow to make up its mind and stingy when it came to paying the bill.
But, even though the Quad came with a price tag north of two-grand while a conventional 3-ton truck could be had for $900, the Army was smitten.
The Army ordered Quads and Jeffrey, unable to keep up with demand, sold out to Nash.
By wars end some 30-40 thousand Quads had been produced by Jeffrey and Nash - 11,000 in 1918 alone.
During the course of the war, the Nash Company produced more trucks than cars and by the close of hostilities was the largest truck producer in the world.
Alas, Nash was never really in the truck business so Nash automobiles became the focus while FWD solidified its position in the off-road, truck market.
But, the Quad was way cool. First of all, four-wheel-drive (duh) but also four-wheel brakes and four-wheel steering.
That last, cool though it may be, since the turning radius is around twenty-eight feet, is probably not a big issue.

But, coolness must take pride of place. Behold, the left-front wheel and axle of a Nash Quad.
Notice, the axle is solid - as is the rear axle. The differential, of an early, limited-slip variety, was bolted to the top of same while two half-axles carry the power to the wheels.
Before I go on, take note of the cooling fins on the oil-pan.
Okay, these half-shafts transmitted their power to the hub where, after a series of universal joints get them around the corners, a spur gear engaged an internal ring-gear mounted on the inboard of the hub - visible as the deep brake-drum in the pic above.
This kept all the delicate bits, the differential and universal joints up, either out of harm's way or shielded.
Now, my concern would be that ring-gear and its mating spur - down there in the mud...
These guys don't seem to be sweating it.

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