TOUR AMERICA, 2019: TUCSON, ARIZONA – THE GRAND CANYON STATE

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Places We Have Called Home In 2019

Home Is Where We Park It:   Casino del Sol RV Park

Nov 1, 2109

Temperature 78 degrees

Franklin Auto Museum

Never content to just sit around when there are so many neat places to visit, so many fascinating places to discover we were off and running today.

We visited two absolutely fascinating and amazing places today.  The first was the

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and on the way home we stopped at

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In the days to come we’ll share both of these amazing places with you but tonight we’re going to an absolutely favorite museum of mine.  This is one that we visited about a week ago.  It was a bit hard to find and interesting to get to since it was on a dirt road but it was definitely worth the effort to get there.  It is the

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The Franklin Automobile Company was a maker of automobiles between the years of 1902 and 1934.  Herbert H Franklin, usually referred to simply as HH, was the founder of the company.  He actually began his career in the metal die casting business before establishing his automobile enterprise. 

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About the H.H. Franklin Manufacturing Company and the H.H Franklin Automobile Company.

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All Franklin cars were air-cooled which the company considered simpler and more reliable than water cooling.  Franklin cars were the undisputed leaders in air-cooled cars at a time when virtually every other manufacturer had adopted water cooling as cheaper and easier to manufacture. Before the invention of antifreeze the air-cooled car had a huge advantage in cold weather, and Franklin’s were popular among people such as doctors, who needed an all-weather machine.

About that air cooling.  Here is how it worked.  On the front of each engine attached to the crankshaft was a cooling fan

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The large black cover on the front of this engine covers the fan in the picture above.

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The fan pushed air back along the engine through a driver’s side box (the green ducting in this picture)

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The air moved left to right across and around the exposed cylinder heads and exited on the passenger side.  I was told that even on the hottest days in Arizona a Franklin engine would never overheat.

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Regarding this particular Museum off of a little dirt road in Tucson

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Now for the wonderful collection of cars themselves.

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 A similar Franklin to this one made the trip from San Francisco to New York City in 1904, cutting in half the cross-country record set the previous year.

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Franklin also tried manufacturing a truck but it was soon discontinued.

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As you view the remaining cars it is worth noting that the bodies on everyone is made of aluminum, only the fenders are made of steel.  Lightweight aluminum was used in quantity, to the extent that Franklin was reckoned to be the largest user of aluminum in the world in the early years of the company.  As for the rest of the car, Franklin used a wooden frame constructed of three-ply laminated ash and full-elliptic leaf springs. This meant that the vehicle was lighter and was better able to absorb shocks, important in providing a smooth ride over unpaved roads.

The next car is remarkable in terms of its original miles

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This car was one of the last to use a crank to start it.  It was simply becoming too dangerous to crank an engine over by hand.  There were reports of broken wrists and arms and even one reported death.

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Jump forward to 1918 and we have one of the first Franklin automobiles with both an electric starter and a generator.

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This is the electric starter and the generator all in one.  Interesting to note, since there was no voltage regulator the operator needed to watch the voltage gauge on the dash and when the battery showed full charge there was a switch to turn off the output of the generator.

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Another interesting device to note, immediately behind the generator/starter was an air pump.  Flat tire?  No problem you had the means on-board to refill your tire when it was fixed.

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This next car has been un-restored.  The paint, hard to believe, is the original paint applied when the car was first manufactured.

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This was considered the hot rod of the Franklin line.

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Complete with custom wooden wheels

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Here is a car with an interesting setup for the back seat passengers.

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This is the passenger windscreen, note also the full window curtains.

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This, my guide told me, is the Museum’s bread and butter carthe one they typically take out for a spin around the neighborhood, to a parade, etc.  He stated that the car has 323,000 original miles and the engine has never been rebuilt.

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The paint is also original

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All original interior

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What do you do when you work for Milton Hershey and are getting married in Hershey, PA?  You have your car painted Hershey brown of course!

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This is one beautiful car with a two tone color that pops.

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Getting in the back seat was an interesting affair.  First, you folded the windscreen down, next you picked up the cowl that it was fastened to, then you reached inside for the door handle, and then you were in!

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 In 1932, in response to competition among luxury car makers, Franklin brought out a twelve-cylinder engine.  Air cooled with 398 cubic inches it developed 150 hp.  It was designed to be installed in a lightweight chassis, but the car became a 6000 pound behemoth when Franklin engineers were overruled by management sent in from banks to recover bad loans.

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Although attractive, the Twelve did not have the ride and handling characteristics of its forebears. Unfortunately, this was simply the wrong vehicle to be building after the crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed. The cars sold poorly and came nowhere near to recouping the company’s investment. The company declared bankruptcy in 1934.

Car production did not survive, but the name and assets were sold and production of air-cooled engines for commercial and aircraft use was continued by Aircooled Motors of Syracuse. This company was bought after World War II by Preston Tucker. The flat-six engines were fitted with water-cooling jackets and used in the short lived Tucker automobile.  The company was sold again after Tucker was disbanded.

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One final picture from this amazing Museum about an absolutely amazing automobile.

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If you are ever in the Tucson area, put this Museum on your bucket list of places you just must visit.  You will not regret it.

Almost forgot, lunch today.  A bit different to say the least.  We were told that you ever have a chance to eat an Indian Taco don’t pass up the opportunity.  Well, today we had that opportunity.  Here is the small native stand we visited and Barbara checking out the menu.

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The menu

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Hand made

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The Taco and yes it is really as good as it looks.  I folded it over and gobbled it down!

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There you have it just another wonderful day on The Road of Retirement.  We enjoyed our time in Tucson, the work, the new friends, and the amazing places we visited.  Life doesn’t get much better than this.  Thank you Lord.  Time now to call it a night, tomorrow is another travel day.  Phoenix here we come.

Thanks for joining us again today.  We always appreciate your company and your comments.  Catch you again tomorrow.

These are the voyages of  Graybeard and it’s two intrepid travelers.  Our continuing mission: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have never been before

See you on down the road!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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