The 1932 Helicron

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In the early part of the 20th century, France spent a lot of money on airplane development. The natural offshoot of this is the automobile. In the 1930s idea people with money built propeller driven cars. This is the story of one such vehicle.

In 1932, one propeller driven Helicron was built. It had a wooden frame, body, and even a wooden propeller. In the late 1930s the car was stored in a barn and forgotten until it was discovered in 2000.

When found the Helicron was missing its engine, but otherwise complete. The motor was replaced with a Citroen GS 4-cylinder motor from the 1980s. The car steers by the rear wheels.

When the wooden propeller is spinning at full speed and efficiently, this little 1,000-pound boat-tailed skiff can hit freeway speeds exceeding 75 mph. Since France has safety inspections for vehicles, this car was inspected in 2000 and was approved for use on their roads. This is the one and only Helicron in existence, owned by Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, TN.

For a really neat website on this car, with more pictures and information, go here.

Comments are always welcome.

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4 Responses to The 1932 Helicron

  1. Community service says:

    IT’S a rainy November Saturday in Yonkers, and all across town, high school students are engaged in the relentless pursuit of community service hours.

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    Alan Zale for The New York Times
    STUDENT AID Walter Koshel and Angelica Body-Lawson help refurbish a house in Yonkers.

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    G. Paul Burnett/The New York Times
    COMMUNITY SERVICE Students help load a City Harvest truck with produce from a farmers’ market in Manhattan.
    Five students from Horace Mann, a private school in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, are spackling and painting a half-gutted, partly bullet-riddled home on Porach Street so that a new family can move in. (Three hours.)

    On the other side of town, students from Lincoln High School, a public school in Yonkers, are raucously demolishing the basement of a thrift store on Riverdale Avenue, to create space for storage. (Four hours.)

    Meanwhile, on East 27th Street in Manhattan, a hostess at the upscale barbecue restaurant Blue Smoke is turning away the fifth person who showed up a day early looking to make crafts for underprivileged children. The restaurant’s Web site had the right date, she insists, but students these days seem pretty desperate to volunteer. (Come back tomorrow; two hours.)

    Through the holidays and beyond, high school students will be working feverishly to serve the needy — packing food baskets, ladling meals at soup kitchens, collecting toys for children in hospitals — all in the name of amassing the community service credits they need for graduation.

    Cynics call these programs a form of forced altruism. Proponents say that they widen students’ horizons while getting service work done. Either way, the backlash has begun: not only do college admissions officers roll their eyes at bogus-sounding claims, but high schools are scaling back the requirements, acknowledging that a lot of the so-called service is meaningless.

    When Lauren Swierczek took over last year as director of community service at Riverdale Country School, a private school in the Bronx whose students hail mainly from Manhattan (tuition: about $35,000 a year), she was troubled by the program she inherited. “What I was finding was that the fixation was more on hours than acts of service,” she said. Worse still, some students “weren’t actually doing it,” she said. “Documents were forged.”

    Students from wealthy families were “knocking out their service hours with one total trip,” like a three-week summer jaunt to Costa Rica or the Galápagos Islands, Ms. Swierczek said. These teen tours, which cost $4,000 or more, use as a selling point the ability to rack up as many as 80 hours of community service. When they are not cleaning debris from beaches or teaching English to local schoolchildren, the travelers enjoy heavy doses of kayaking and scuba lessons.

    So Ms. Swierczek abolished Riverdale’s requirement that students perform more than 100 hours of service before graduation. Instead, she decreed that all “naturally formed communities” at the school — sports teams, the school newspaper and adviser groups, to which all students belong — must tackle a community service project each year that is approved and supervised by her.

    The result, she said, is a renewed focus on the charitable experience itself. “The message we want to teach our children is to live in a world bigger than their own,” she said. “It’s provided real camaraderie within the school community.”

    At Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (tuition: about $33,000), Patti Schackett, also in her second year as community service coordinator, has slashed the required number of hours to 60 from 100. As a parent there, she had already seen the system up close.

    “We found that kids were getting credit for working at day camps” and other summer jobs, Mrs. Schackett said. By cutting back the requirement, “we were hoping that students would choose quality projects that do the most good, as opposed to projects that offer a lot of hours,” she added.

    So far, the reaction from parents at both schools has been favorable. “It’s been a phenomenal, phenomenal change,” said Donna Stern, a psychologist on the Upper East Side with three children at Riverdale.

  2. cruisin2 says:

    Community service,
    Looks like they got a handle on it. This is what the Promise should do.

  3. anonymous says:

    Davenport should adopt a policy that if a Councilman is absent that they should not be hooked up to a phone line during the meeting. This week Alderman Brown was evidently driving while on the phone to the Council Chambers, and multiple times you could hear other people, kids crying, and one time a horn blowing. It was disruptive to say the least. The mayor said at the beginning of his term that he was going to stop the carnival atmosphere, but most meetings he should be handing out Bozo noses to the participants.

  4. cruisin2 says:

    anonymous,
    I caught some of that meeting on TV over at my folk’s house on Thanksgiving. I thought it sounded very unprofessional. The meetings should be run without the phone link.

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