Carter Carburetor – An Automotive Icon

Carter carburetors were a constant in the car business for over six decades and millions of units were produced. Anyone who worked in the car business a few decades ago knew them well however, the relentless march of progress came in the form of fuel injection and wiped the company out long ago. The old Carter Carburetor factory is now a vacant St. Louis landmark and, sadly, a superfund site. Here’s the story about the rise and fall of a major automotive institution.

William Carter was a bike mechanic who experimented owned a successful bicycle shop in the early 1900s. Like many such shops, he also repaired some motorized vehicles. He discovered a weakness in many of them, their carburetors, and set out to make his own replacements. His carburetors were made of cast brass and due to his precision machining techniques were considered the best of the time. The automotive industry quickly took notice and soon many automobile manufacturers were knocking at the door for Carter-built carburetors.

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The Wackiest Ways Of Car Fixing

I have seen all kinds of wacky ways of fixing old cars. There was a guy who used chewing gum to plug leaking radiators. There was another guy who used a red raincoat to cover up a badly done paint job on his red mustang. Guy had totaled it by driving into a moving semi on the national highway. The raincoat was taped to the body of the car, and it worked pretty well, except when the wind was stronger than usual. Then he used tapes he got from the FedEx office – where he worked – to tape things up. The job was on the hood, so he taped up the thing so it looked just like a new grill. It looked great, wacky or not.

The wackiest thing I have seen people do when they cannot afford used car parts; they use wood. I have seen people do all kind of repair jobs with wood. We have a car in the neighborhood that has borrowed windows from its owner’s barn. What happened was that the guy broke up one of the windows when he drove into the hanging branch of a tree. The car mechanic asked more for the window than the whole car was worth. So the guy – he was something of a wizard with his hands – got one of his barn windows and fit it into the car. Then he broke the other 3 windows – he thought a single wooden window looked wacky – and fitted them with more barn windows. That was good inspiration for the other car nuts in town, and soon there were quite a few of these barmy barn window cars going around looking wackier than ever.

The craziest thing I have seen, though, is a car with a wooden tire. This was from a man who lived in a ranch which used to be mucky from all the “manure” his cattle passed. He had an old range rover, and it was simply too much for that vehicle to tackle that muck. Nothing but a tank could have gotten across that place in the rainy season. Somebody told him his tires needed more friction. So he carefully made a set of wooden wheels, which had stripes like radial tires have, and fit them to his car. Guess what, it worked perfectly, and the clunker lived on for many years.

  

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