Re: 1924 Sport 136

Posted by Karl On 2024/3/1 11:07:58
My 1924 Sport has the "Westinghouse Airsprings" and it appears to be the only "Sport" in existence that has this special "extra". Unlike some other members in the Packard community here in PI and AACA, I do not agree with the views that these 4 tubes damage the view/image of the automobile. I consider these air springs to be a truly special technical design by a brilliant designer. At a time when most roads outside the cities in the USA were only moderately paved, this “air suspension” must have been a real improvement in driving behavior. Only the considerable price in relation to the price of the automobile itself probably had in the 1920s... (with the global economic crisis and other problems)… slowed down success. The hydraulic shock absorbers developed shortly afterwards were the final end for these air springs. In any case, I like these eye-catching components on my Sport that were obviously installed in the frame very early, if not when it was new, because there is nothing to suggest that they were installed later/subsequently.
The air springs were in the same lousy condition state as most of the other technical components on this automobile. However, I was able to read that most of the air springs that still exist and are on vehicles are no longer in function. I learned this from an article published in the “Horseless Carriage Club” magazine. Jonathan Reeve responded to a query from me in the AACA Forum and pointed me to this article. In this article I learned more and more about these air springs for the first time. He also gave excellent tips on restoring these components and what tools you need to build to get to the inner workings of the air springs in order to replace the important wear parts. The Westinghouse Corporation had not intended that these air springs could/should be repaired by third-party companies. Access can only be via the cap/hat and there is no way to use a conventional tool to remove it. In addition, this cap/hat... which was screwed onto the cylinder with a fine thread... was glued in the area of the thread. Anyone who is interested can find extensive documentation with lots of historical and technical information in the AACA “Locomobile” forum.

Two years ago, an owner of a Locomobil 1917 wrote to me who also had these air springs on his vehicle. He has carried out extensive research and compiled many interesting details on the subject of “Westinghouse Airsprings”. These can be found in this link shown above.
In the pictures you can see which tool I had to build to open the cap. In the picture ……. 559 is still missing the welded lever to turn this construction. In the article by Jonathan Reeves it was described that they needed a 10 (?) foot long extension. In the pictures you can see what tool I had to build to open the cap. Build up enough torque to remove the cap from the cylinder. I didn't want to build up that pressure because I was afraid of damaging the cap. I carefully heated the cap with the open flame of a torch. This meant that the cap could be turned off with considerably less force, even with a 3-foot-long pipe. What emerged after removing the cap can be seen in the pictures. The cylinders were cleaned and then honed. They were in very good condition afterwards.
A few more tools were needed to press the leather seals, which were reproduced here in Germany, into shape under my 15t hydraulic press for 24 hours each. The replica leather parts were only very imprecise in shape and therefore could not be installed. In addition, a two-part installation aid had to be produced, which made it possible to remove the leather seal built into the valve part... Similar to the piston rings when they are installed in the cylinders... to be pressed together so that they can be pressed into the cylinder together with the valve part/entire piston.

I made the missing small covers/hats for the air valves directly on top of the cylinders from brass myself on my lathe, as well as the missing small oilers which are made from simple brass parts that you can find at any plumbing shop on the corner.
A final problem was the missing badges on the lower part of the cylinders. I've been trying to find these for a year. Here at PI and also in the AACA forum. Actually, I knew it was pretty hopeless. So I looked for a company here in Germany that was able to make these badges. I then found a company that told me a waiting period of at least 8 months. And since this work was graphically very complex, there was no real commitment. I should ask again after 6 months. I called after 6 months and then about another 10 times every 2-4 weeks. At some point after more than a year the call came that the badges were ready. The work was really very good and the badges are indistinguishable from the original. I'd better keep quiet about how much the whole thing cost. But without this little “extra” something would really have been missing from the overall appearance of these air springs.
After filling with oil and compressed air, there have been no signs of any leaks after around 2 years. My 1924 Sport now has one of the few completely and functionally restored sets of air springs.

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