Jap Clockspring Car Runs 40 mi a Winding (Dec, 1933)

Jap Clockspring Car Runs 40 mi a Winding

THE Japanese have never gained any notable degree of fame for their mechanical capabilities, but undoubtedly their reputations along this line will get vigorous boost by their invention of an automobile that runs by clockwork.

Very little mechanical data is available on the construction of the new car, but it is said to have British car dealers doing business in Japan somewhat worried. This would indicate that the machine is more than just a freak that originated in the mind of a visionary inventor.

Reports state that the car will run 40 miles at one winding. Further developments may see the invention of an eight-day machine. A Modern Mechanix and Inventions artist has caricatured the contraption above.

  1. Al Bear says: July 19, 20084:46 pm

    *Sigh* terrible! funny thing that the Japs are killing us left and right.

  2. Torgo says: July 19, 20085:13 pm

    Har-har! Those silly Orientals!

  3. nlpnt says: July 19, 20085:21 pm

    How come my new Toyota still needs gas 75 years later, then?

    I’ll be in the kitchen fixing up a test batch of that frozen honey, so yell if you come up with an answer.

  4. Anne says: July 19, 20087:12 pm

    I want a giant wind-up car!

  5. Eliyahu says: July 19, 20087:53 pm

    “The Japanese have never gained any notable degree of fame for their mechanical capabilities” ???
    This is what comes from thinking in stereotypes, especially when the stereotypes are couched in profound ignorance.

  6. nlpnt says: July 20, 20087:17 am

    BTW, the frozen honey is delicious!

  7. jayessell says: July 20, 200811:38 am

    Can someone with ‘math’ work out the power density of a steel spring?
    Watt hours per kilogram as compared to a Lithium Ion battery?
    Would an air engine car with a spring loaded plunger in a cylinder producing highly compressed air be practical?

  8. K!P says: July 20, 20081:16 pm

    while i cant do the math, i do have common sense: for enough hand cranked engergy be put in by the key to drive 40 mi, you will be turning that key for a LONG time.

  9. LightningRose says: July 20, 20083:51 pm

    It took until 1933 for someone to figure out it’s possible to put wheels on a golf bag?

  10. sweavo says: July 21, 20081:34 am

    Who said it’s hand cranked? You could “fill up” with potential energy at stations having gas, steam, or stirling engines with splined drive connectors on little dollies; or in rural areas, a couple of donkeys and a treadmill.

    Reading the Midwich Cuckoos ATM and one of the characters in there refers to the “feckless ingenuity of the Nipponese” when describing a puzzle box. “Though why someone should want to trouble himself to create such a thing…”

  11. Toronto says: July 21, 200810:42 am

    There actually ARE compressed air cars. All that I know of are in the prototype stage, but there’s a French one with a range of 50 km or something. Of course, you could extend that with a good bicycle pump…

  12. Richard C says: July 21, 200811:13 am

    Compressed air cars have been around for a very long time, but they never make it past the prototype of technology demonstrator phase, because compressed air is a lousy energy storage mechanism, due to the thermodynamics. When you initially compress the air, you raise its temperature. If you don’t expand the air right away, then the compressed air will reach thermal equilibrium with its surroundings, and you will have permanently lost that energy used to heat the air. As you expand the air to drive the wheels, it will cool. You’ve inadvertently created an air conditioner.

    A spring isn’t necessarily inherently as bad as compressed air, because you can theoretically get most of the energy back that you initially put in. But the spring can only drive the mechanism at whatever torque the spring wants to give, based on Hooke’s law. If you want less torque, you’ve got to either waste some energy by using some sort of escapement or brake, or you’d need a rather complex transmission.

    In addition to efficiency problems, there are energy density issues and safety issues. The biggest spring commonly encountered around homes is a garage door spring, which stores roughly enough energy to lift a door 7 feet; a very tiny fraction of what would be useful for a car. It can easily kill if allowed to release its energy all at once. If you scaled it up to be big enough to drive a car a few miles, you’d have to have an enormous heavy case to contain it in case the car crashed.

  13. kip says: July 21, 20084:14 pm

    Just like ai flywheel car, energy can je stored…only crashes are a big problem.

  14. jayessell says: July 22, 20088:19 am

    I don’t see many proposals for cars
    that don’t carry their fuel.
    How about an electric car with a small battery
    (only good for 15 miles or so)
    but with the ability to draw power from
    special roadways like a gigantic slot car?

    Bonus: Self steering!

  15. ratpack7 says: July 22, 20084:37 pm

    To jayesell
    The cost to implement those types of cars would be astronomical. All the interstates would have to be torn up and re-done. Also where would the power come from to run it? This is the problem with electric cars or air powered cars. They just change the emissions source not the amounts. (You have to burn more fuel at the power plant to charge the car) Not to mention the safety hazards of having exposed high voltage “rails”

  16. jayessell says: July 22, 20086:17 pm

    I didn’t say it would be free or cheap, but it would have some advantages.
    The electricity could come from wind, solar or nuclear power.
    (Each of which is unsuitable for individual automobiles!)
    The roadway could be a sort of ‘High Occupancy Vehicle” lane,
    joining residential and urban areas.
    You’d need special lanes for auto-autos anyway, so why no electrify it?
    A two-way EZ-Pass would keep track of the power consumed by each vehicle
    and bill the user accordingly.

    Charlie, there’s a Popular Science from the 1960s with this.

  17. K!P says: July 23, 20085:30 am

    must say the idea of an electrified track can be done like they did with trolley busses in europe, just a a high power line above, just like trains use. the current battery problems would be gone.

  18. Gregly says: July 23, 200810:25 am

    ratpack7 says: “The cost to implement those types of cars would be astronomical. All the interstates would have to be torn up and re-done.”

    Given that we seem to be doing this every four or five years in the Midwest anyway, we might as well throw some electric rails in there while we’re at it…

  19. desertmikey says: July 28, 200810:19 am

    Great, where do I get one? its 36 miles to town roundtrip for me…dm

  20. Roger says: August 21, 200811:43 am

    As to the cars that draw power from roads, and steer themselves. Here in Portland, we call that light rail, and it hauls thousands of people a day.

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