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

Thursday, July 03, 2014

"Rollin' Coal" With The Poles

I want to assure everyone; there is no "Polack joke" forthcoming. We'll get to the countrymen of Copernicus, Joseph Conrad and others soon enough.
Homegrown stupidity is the first order of the day.
"Rolling coal" is the most recent iteration of the testosterone tantrum of the toddler demographic that feel it needs a 3/4 ton, short-bed, lifted pickup... with a boss diesel!
Their need is real.
Their masculinity is under such threat during the daily run from Mom's house to their shit-job, busting tires at the truck stop...
That... every now and then, ya just gotta roll coal on some dumbass, Prius pussy.
There are some of these morons in my world
Check it.
Oh, and enjoy the spelling.

Stupidity break concluded. We will be revisiting the fuel issue though.
My brainwave: Hemp-oil fueled, diesel-electrics.

Come in... see.
Chevy had to work hard peddling trucks in the '30's. The economy was in the toilet and most of GM's big-truck business was being hogged by Chevy's in-house competitor and older brother in the truck game, GMC.
Not to worry, General Motors had fingers in a lot of pies. In the late thirties they made a deal with Lilpop, Rau and Loewnstein, a long-established, Warsaw manufacturer of rail-cars, to produce - under license - both Chevy trucks and the very upscale Buick 90, in Poland.
Then bad things happened. Adolf and Joe, charter-members of the Silly Moustache Club, decided that they could haggle over which part of Poland they would each receive during the upcoming readjustment of Europe's borders and, whatever the result, the Poles would just have to... handle it.
And handle it they did. Even though Poland was overrun in the very opening of WW2, the people of Poland operated the largest underground resistance movement in occupied Europe - from day-one right up to the end of the war - which is where Kubus came in.
Late summer 1944; the Soviet army was nearing the outskirts of Warsaw so the Polish Home Army thought to help the situation along - make it easier for Joe Stalin's boys when they arrived - and to lay some prior claim on their city before the Russians started measuring for new drapes.
This effort manifested itself in the two-month-long, ultimately futile bloodbath known as the Warsaw Uprising; not to be confused with the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising which took place the year before.
Then, after the PHA was fully committed, the Russians decided to sit on their hands rather than enter the city. Meanwhile Roosevelt bailed on providing support despite Churchill's pleading.
The 20,000 to 40,000 strong Home Army slugged it out with the German occupiers for 63 days before finally calling it quits. I realize I've painted the uprising in very broad strokes. That's because this is about the hardware, one specific piece in particular.
Kubus was banged together in thirteen days in the auto-repair shop of one Stanisław Kwiatkowski.
The starting point comprised a ton-and-a-half Chevy 157 (The wheelbase in inches) which had been converted to wood gas. Armor, in the form of chunks taken off captured German vehicles or just what was around, rounded her out.
You can read about the ad-hoc armored-car here and well you should.


At this point, all I can add to the saga of Kubus, apart from my admiration at the sheer audacity of it, is that they maintained the Chevy grill look.
See, if all they wanted was airflow through the radiator, any sort of opening would have done.
I'd have cut dragon's teeth into the grill. That would look badass.
Those classy Poles instead gave tribute to the donor vehicle and gave Kubus a '38 Chevy grill.
Gotta love them.

Which brings me to the final bit - and the title.
Kubus, the little-metal-shop-project-who-could was powered by wood.
Probably charcoal in the case of Kubus. Charcoal = less efficient use of fuel but a smaller gas generator on-board.
This is how depression-era/wartime Europe along with most of the third-world dealt with "fuel uncertainty". The third world is still doing it.
I've thought the wood-gas concept was cool since the first time I heard about it.
Now I've come to think that: as a fall-back position for a society suddenly cut-off from the petro-tit, it is easy and cheap and altogether the shit but... slightly underpowered.
Seems that wood-gas - bitchin' as it is - only packs about 85 % of the energy punch provided by good old gasoline.
Still, wood grows out of the ground while the  petro-chems; not really.
For the record, Kubus was only one of hundreds, if not thousands of vehicles that motored on through various fuel vagaries with this butt-simple scheme on-board.
Okay, waxing eco-maniacal.
Closing with this art work I recently acquired courtesy of our old friend George Hill.
We see: Saint Reagan driving a lifted (I assume 4X4. The photo is indistinct) Ford Mustang with a Pabst Blue Ribbon paint-job, superchargers upon superchargers and the only vanity plate one would expect on such a patriot-mobile.
What's more, the front-end must be tight on this rig.
Check it out.
Ron's using his right hand to fire at the evildoers (Through a hole in the windshield; likely caused by some hippy throwing a concrete-filled condom. They (I) totally do that.) while his left is just hangin' on the window ledge like...
ain't no thang.
That's a president.

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