Friday, October 28, 2016
  First proper study of streamlining

Looking for 1910-ish electrical appliances for my graphics projects, I found a volume of Engineering Reports by K-State from the '20s. The book gave me the appliance I wanted, and also included a pioneering piece of aerodynamics research. [p 440 in PDF]

In 1927 the idea of streamlining was just starting to dawn on automakers. Nobody had even run wind tunnel tests on real full-size cars. K-State decided to break new wind.

They Built A Ram Shackle Wind Tunnel,

built and calibrated their own pressure and velocity instruments, and tested 22 vehicles. None of the vehicles were new; most likely they belonged to faculty and students.

The results were counterintuitive.

One custom-built "racer"

beat everyone else. The "racer" doesn't look streamlined; it's just LOW.

Note the sloped front and V-shaped windshield on the air-cooled Franklin.

Should have helped? Didn't.

Touring cars were uniformly awful:



Not counting the custom "racer", Fords came out on top among cars.



They tested three trucks.

This IH stake truck looks "hollow" enough that it should let air through:

Nope.

The slipperiest vehicle of all, again excluding the racer, was a T roadster converted into a pickup.

Pretty much the standard Okie farm truck. When Grandpa was struggling to hold one of these machines together long enough to get his chickens to market, I'll bet he was comforted by the thought that his truck was aerodynamically superior to Buicks.

Conclusion: Shape didn't matter AT ALL. Intuition was no help. Vertical dimension was an important variable, but most of the difference came from fine details that couldn't be measured neatly.

= = = = =

Sidenote: I'm trying to identify the backgrounds. Some pics show cornfields, one shows a building that looks like a low-class hotel. None look familiar to me. All have standard Manhattan City Curbs, so they're not out in the country. Guess: Southeast part of town around Pott and Juliette? Or east side around 2nd and Moro? Both locations have been completely redone since 1970, so Googlestreet won't help. 2nd no longer exists, and Pottawatomie has moved.

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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