INSPECTOR TOURS WATER PIPE IN TINY ELECTRIC CAR (Jul, 1937)

INSPECTOR TOURS WATER PIPE IN TINY ELECTRIC CAR

KNOWN as a “pipe perambulator,” a curious vehicle devised by a Los Angeles, Calif., draftsman turns the city’s new thirty-six-inch water-supply pipes into miniature subways for inspection men before the aqueducts are placed in service. Storage batteries and an electric motor propel the three-wheeled vehicle along the interior of a metal conduit while the operator looks for defects. A circular steel brush at the front of the machine, charged with electricity, throws off sparks wherever the inner wall of the pipe lacks a proper protective coating of enamel. The spot may be marked for later attention, or a painter towed on a diminutive trailer may remedy the trouble at once.

When the pipe opening shrinks to twenty-inch diameter, at valves spaced along the water system, the “perambulator” may be partially collapsed and pushed through the aperture ahead of the operator. A powerful searchlight illuminates the interior of the pipe for a considerable distance ahead, and a steering wheel enables the operator to guide the vehicle along the bottom of the pipe. In case one of the three pneumatic tires is punctured, the steering wheel can be used as a spare.

9 comments
  1. Hirudinea says: May 27, 201110:27 am

    Well I’m not riding in the damn thing!

  2. rick s. says: May 27, 201110:58 am

    Not for the claustrophobic, that’s for sure!

    Rick

  3. Tim says: May 27, 201111:37 am

    At least it’s for the water SUPPLY pipes, not to poo pipes…

  4. Toronto says: May 27, 20111:43 pm

    “In case of the three pneumatic tires is punctured, the steering wheel can be used as a spare.”

    I’d like to see a film of someone doing that inside a 36″ pipe. Especially the front one that’s between the 200 lb battery and the sparking wheel. Chances are, it’s the most likely one to puncture, too.

  5. Eamonn says: May 29, 20115:32 pm

    Wasn’t James Bond nearly killed by one of these?

  6. John says: May 29, 20116:40 pm

    Eamonn: You’re talking about Diamonds Are Forever and the answer is no, that was an automatic welder.

  7. rob S says: May 30, 201111:00 am

    Ralph Kramden would have loved this >big smile<

  8. John says: May 30, 201111:05 am

    rob S: You mean Ed Norton. Ralph drove a bus (but you knew that).
    “big smile” indeed. You must crack yourself up.

  9. Davo says: November 2, 20112:40 pm

    ‘a steering wheel enables the operator to guide the vehicle along the bottom of the pipe’

    um… why does this thing need a steering wheel, surely it will go where the pipe goes….

    Also, any sparking in the lower third of the pipe is not going to be seen by the operator, as the battery and his feet will be in the way!!!

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