1920 Dodge Sedan Tackles the Mud: Do We Really Need 4WD?


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With our interest in traction and all things 4x4, you'll find this video both interesting and entertaining.  It reminds us that "Cadillac Hill" on the Rubicon Trail was originally about touring cars and not lifted 4x4s with 37" tires:

 

http://www.youtube.com/embed/nq2jY1trxqg?rel=0

 

Moses

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Luckily it wasn't top-heavy...   

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At one point in the video, the vehicle is being rolled over by hand and onto its wheels—like a big pedal car!  So, what's the formula for amazing traction in deep mud?  Perhaps the light weight of the car (2245 pounds for the open touring car Model 30, perhaps heftier as a 4-door sedan) plus the small contact patch for the tires?  There are many pounds-per-square inch on the tiny tread contact patch...Also, these wheels/tires are large diameter.  They collect a lot of mud in the spokes, too!

 

Here are the specs on a 1914-21 Dodge Model 30 (touring car, the 4-door sedan is likely heavier):

 

http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/default.aspx?carID=17245&i=2

 

Any other ideas?  This is actually worth a closer look, as the key to traction may lie in our distant automotive past!

 

Moses

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There has to be something fairly solid at the bottom of that mud for those pizza cutters to be bearing on, even in that bouncing out-of-control way.   Very interesting.  Definately a brave driver in a few areas. 

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I guess there is something to be said for slow, old, vehicles with rubber band tires. Maybe we should try that on a truck and see what happens.

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Did anyone notice it only has 35HP?

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What are we missing?  Let's reverse engineer a 1920 Dodge sedan!

 

Glad you found the video/story interesting...

 

Moses

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Moses, i showed this video to my uncle, who had an original mid 30's dodge sedan, and also lived on a one lane, muddy, rutted, dirt road, and he said that the trick was to get it moving, and don't let it slow down, or it would get stuck. He said he thinks that the reason the old cars like the one in the vehicle performed so well in mud, and even snow, was partly due to the skinny tires, and the fact that it didn't have a lot of power to make it spin as much in those conditions. He said he remembers his rarely ever spinning the tires, unless he really got on it hard, whereas newer vehicles have enough power to just sit and spin, and that most people start to feel there vehicle get a little stuck, and they step on the gas more, which just tends to make the situation that much worse.

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Awhile back, one of the enthusiast magazines had a write up and photos of a bunch of fellas taking restored military vehicles on the same route that a transcontinental military convoy used, if I remember correctly, sometime around the end of WWI.  Probably in the mid twenties.  The 'lead' vehicle was a 1926 Dodge Touring car, which was the same as the original convoy would've used. 

 

Most roads 'back then' were still not more than wagon trails, and when the weather got nasty, they still made it through, though not without some backbreaking work.  Very revealing is watching the old movies of the WWI vehicles negotiating mud, snow, and roadless terrain!

 

There was also a much publicized safari of sorts into Mongolia by the fellow that inspired Indiana Jones (his name escapes me at the moment), who used camels, horses, AND a fleet of early motorized transport in search of new species and fossils.

 

My Dad and Grandfather both used Model A's and T's to access the mountains and the high desert here in Idaho.  I've had pretty good success using fairly narrow, tall tires in snow, though it seems that on the heavier vehicles I drive, the traction depends a  great deal more on tread design and ability to clean itself.  My Mother's Dad talked often of a trip they took from Blackfoot, Idaho to Yellowstone Nat'l Park and back, in a mid-twenty's Buick, and how they had to stop every so often and adjust the wooden spokes, as the 'roads' were in such terrible condition! 

 

If you've never had the opportunity to see it for yourself, you ought to seek out a video of one of those old Fords with the transverse mounted springs articulate!  Truly impressive, and I've wondered why the "planar" design (isn't that what Willys called the transverse spring arrangement on the Jeepsters ?) hasn't been used more on a 4X4 vehicle.

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A family album story for generations now has been the 1924 Willys Knight that took my Grandma Lena, Uncle Dave, Aunt Millie and my father, Leonard, across the entire country in 1927. They camped at the early National Park system spots, too, which provided talking points at many family dinners and gatherings.

The Willys Knight stories largely centered around mud and the Lincoln Highway, also the flat tires. Everyone could change a tire before that trip was over; my father, fourteen or fifteen at the time, surely did his share.

These cars and the early trucks got the job done...Again, it was often big touring cars, like the legendary Cadillac of "Cadillac Hill" fame on the Rubicon Trail, that negotiated the roughest roads. I enjoyed the University of Oregon's Pacific Northwest archival photos with images of the early logging trucks: chain drive with narrow, spoked wheels. Imagine a Ford Model TT or Model AA powertrain compared to today's one-ton rated trucks! We have made some progress here...

Moses

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My Wife's Grandfather and Great Uncle were both drafted into the US Army after our entry into WWI. Her Grand Dad went to Europe, her Great Uncle went to the Pacific Northwest in the "Spruce Production Division" that was formed after strikes halted the harvest and production of spruce that was vital to aircraft and maritime production. Pretty much a "union busting" operation by the federal government, but effective, as it didn't take long for the loggers and mills to get back online when the Doughboys showed up and looked like they were going to take their jobs. Anyhow, there's quite a few photos of the incredible timber that those guys cut and moved with vehicles available in those days. As you mentioned, the TT and AA Fords were quite capable in their day, as were the Chevy's, Macks, Diamond Reo's, and a slew that I can't recall at the moment. If you're interested, here's a link to some of the photos that the Pacific County Historical Society and Museum has accumulated. Good read, as well.

http://www.pacificcohistory.org/spruce.htm

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Looked at the photos...These very hefty Federal trucks had rear axles with differentials, not chain drive, very "modern"!  Note the 3-1/2 ton rating on the log loaded truck.  Fascinating...Quite a bit of history here, Rocket Doctor!

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I wonder if the rear axles in cars had a differential or if they were locked?

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They had differentials, what we would call "open".  The differential with spider or pinion gears pre-dates the Ford Model T.  It would not have been feasible to turn a vehicle on asphalt without a differential.  There were chain drive systems early on, some lasted on trucks into the WWI era...Would be interesting to see the patent date on the open diff assembly...

 

Moses

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Moses, you wondered about the patent date on the first "open" or "modern" diff, and in researching something else for someone, i happened to find a little interesting tidbit about it on wikipedia. This is what they, and brittanica online, which was where i got the link to the wikipedia article from, said, "1827: modern automotive differential patented by watchmaker Onésiphore Pecqueur (1792–1852) of the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers in France for use on a steam cart. (Sources: Britannica Online and Wikipedia), so, it would seem the diff actually predates even the earliest know automobile, the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, at least according to most sources, and what i was originally researching.

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Fascinating, Biggman100, and it's amazing how much early automotive technology and design survives to this day.  Nothing new under the sun?  Well, maybe electronics, eh?

 

Moses

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