A Nation of Wheels What needed to be present?
What secures a new technology? Early oil used a batch process, slow, mostly for Kerosene. Continuous Process Petroleum Refining -1912 (heat method) William Merriam Burton Burton’s thermal cracking process, patented in 1913, used high temperatures at high pressures to “crack,” or break down, heavier hydrocarbons into lighter molecules. By transforming many of the less-volatile components of crude oil into fractions suitable for blending into gasoline, the thermal cracking method was able to double the yield of that fuel. Although other techniques have since been developed, the Burton process is still widely used in petroleum refining.
How has the car impacted American society. Combination of events created the potential of automobile industry in early 20th century. The movement from the early gasoline cracking work of William Burton around 1910 to the continuous catalyzed plants of the 1950s. To explain the one without the other is to not understand the developed technology. Further, in explaining industrial technology by model one must also explain the by-products of production, since no process in a 100% conversion, and the effects that scaling had for pollution production. Created the installment payment plan. 1. Morris Plan--banks began financing auto sales in 1910. Studebaker accepted notes in 1911. 2. Ford had originally thought to reduce the price of his cars once the market was saturated, now his dealers were demanding installment plans as an alternative. 3. The used market for cars develops in the 1920s. In 1927 replacement demand for cars first exceeded the first time car buyers. a. The market of used cars among the lower classes was seen as early as 1924 as the solution to the "used car problem." Initially a regional phenomenon, cars sales became more evenly distributed in the late 1920s. Still in 1929, California had a car for every 2.1 persons, while Alabama was low with 9 persons for every car. Of all the taxes that Americans pay, fewer grumbles are heard over gasoline taxes, as applied to highway maintenance and construction. Gasoline tax was initially applied when the federal government creating matching requirements for road construction monies. Grumbling is heard when traffic delays result from too many automobiles. The proposed solutions, however, are usually build more roads, bigger roads, faster roads--rather than allow fewer cars. Like garbage Americans are less willing to change personal habits [front end] and seek technological solutions rather to what is in reality a social problem.
The car is a technology- automobility is a social phenomena The development of the car has taken place at the level of technology, social and economic institutions within American culture. Many products of technology are used without thought or emotion, but the automobile is part of the romantic image of America. The car replaces earlier images of personal mobility. At the end of the 19th century trains filled the imagination of Americans. Cars are marketed, and accepted as lifestyles. This is not to say that people don't understand that automobility created problems--pollution, deaths and injuries, and in the 1930s beginning of the understanding of atmospheric pollution. Yet, these were seen by a majority of people as acceptable risks in order to have what autos gave--personal mobility. Personal safety is recognized as a problem as early as 1924 when over 23,600 people died as a result of traffic accidents. Cars are a unifying force in a diverse American society. Every group, every socio-economic status could participate. Moreover, it gave individuals opportunities, rather than communities. The car stressed personal standards over community mores. "upon what the individual wants to do, rather than what community does not want her to do." Initially the auto had brought families together, for drives and outings. At least by 1929 the car was also increasingly the scene of illicit and un-family activity. The car becomes the site for lust and sex, replacing the parlor as a place for visiting. Cars quickly become a tool in reducing parental restraint for young adults. Backyard automotive training gives boys a sense of power--knowing how things work. Auto become extremely important within the high school/ early working age group to perfect knowledge and skill in repair of automobiles. Part of the maturing process. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maitenance. Engines as metaphors for living.
The car as folk art So powerfully do cars enter into the consciousness of Americans, that for some subcultures they are the principal object of elaboration. The car as folk art. The consideration of the car as art involves. Principally utilitarian Elaboration is surface treatment, does not eliminate the utility of the object. Involves ritual behaviors, elaborated language to discuss. Low-riders, customized vans. Chopped and channelled. Chrome is the elaboration of differentiation. Surfing culture. Becomes associated in the minds of participants and syncopants with the car culture of southern California. Vans--you can take it all with you. Off-road vehicles. Is there automobile life after roads. Starts with army surplus, then mushrooms. Does not use the obvious track based systems--because it is intra-technologic development, not systems engineering. It is not a question of moving across a rugged terrain in any manner possible, the question is to move across any terrain in your car.
Paving E. Political actions bring government support and encourage cooperative expansion of knowledge. 1. 1880 League of American Wheelmen (LAW) lobby for better roads. 2. Office of Road Inquiry (ORI) in the Department of Agriculture. 3. December 1900, Logan W. Page, Harvard geologist heads the new (OPR) Laboratory. Page relied on a cooperative approach, using resolutions by such groups as the American Society of Automotive Engineers to secure wide acceptance of the standards by voluntary consensus. He urged the American Society for Testing Materials to establish standards for evaluating road materials.
Asphalt What insights emerge from the experiences of asphalt? Complex products often are “discovered” as naturally occurring resources and then made “manageable” by developing process infrastructures and scientific investigation leading to artificially created substitutions. Asphalt paving industry reached maturity at World War I. 1. A major indication of this maturity was the drive to reduce the number of specifications as to what constituted an acceptable product. 2. The formation of the Asphalt Association in 1919 to disseminate information on the uses of asphalt. One of the first moves taken by the Asphalt Association was to establish a research and testing division. Shared understanding of scientific literature including the ability to replace naturally occuringbitumin with mass-produced. The need for specialized machinery to exploit a useful though intractable material. 1. 1896 the appearance of portable asphalt plants (mixing ingredients) 2. Steamrollers. (application equipment) 3. Railroad Tank cars. (transportation of materials)
Automobile tourism Tourism is a pre-existing condition, but it benefits from actions taken for other purposes. The creation of special vehicles (trailers) and road standards would bring automobile tourism into financial windfall. The lifestyle created the demand, not the reverse.