Featured Photo: Hand-Cranked Car

Rockville Garage mechanic hand cranking old car

Lewis Reed hand cranking an old car. The license plate is MD 10307 dated 1913.

Today, we take the starting of automobiles for granted. Simply place the key in the ignition, turn, and VROOM, the engine starts.

However, this was not always the case. Cars in the early parts of the century had to be started by hand. This was accomplished by turning a crank, usually located in the front of the automobile. When the crank was turned, it moved the pistons in the automobile’s engine until enough momentum was built up to keep the engine going on its own. Hand cranking was also physically demanding making it very difficult for anyone with a small stature to start the engine.

By 1920, nearly all manufacturers were producing cars equipped with starters making it easy for anyone, regardless of physical abilities, to start a car by pressing a button mounted on the dash or floor. An ignition on and starter engage switch operated by a key was introduced by Chrysler in 1949.

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About Reed Brothers

I am a co-owner of the former Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland. Lewis Reed, the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge was my grandfather. We were a family-owned and operated car dealership in Rockville for almost a century. I served in the United States Air Force for 30 years before retiring in the top enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant in July 2006. In 2016, I received the Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development.

2 responses to “Featured Photo: Hand-Cranked Car”

  1. Jeff Blundell says :

    I am a producer with a Canadian production company. We produce a show called Mystery Cars. I would like to use your photo of the mechanic hand cranking the car in a show we are doing about Vincent Bendix. May we use this photo and how should we word the courtesy credit?

    • Reed Brothers says :

      Dear Mr Blundell,

      Thank you very much for contacting me regarding this photo. Yes, you may use it. I’m happy that you found the photo and enjoyed it enough to use it in your show. You may attribute credit as follows:

      Photo by: Lewis Reed, Founder, Reed Brothers Dodge (https://reedbrothersdodgehistory.wordpress.com)

      Best wishes for the holidays,
      Jeanne Gartner

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