Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Stooges Scootabout

The Three Stooges on the 1941 American-made, Scootabout. Surprised Moe let Curly be in the driver's seat. The engine was manufactured by Lawson and had 2.3 h.p. air cooled by blower, and a flywheel magneto ignition.

Crocker Motorcycles was known for their custom built racing motorcycles, but also made and sold small scooters. With collaboration from the renowned Floyd Clymer of Clymer Motors, Albert Crocker came up with the "Scootabout" around 1939. The "Scootabout" was considered a forerunner at the time it was released. Scooters of the time were very plain, no nonsense fun machines, Crocker gave them style with a streamlined design including two-toned paint jobs and skirted fenders even before Indian made that look famous. Crocker furthered scooter design by adding a crude suspension to the front end in 1941. The machine differed in many respects from conventional type scooters in that it had knee action spring frame and large balloon tires for easy riding, co-pilot steering and a low center of engine location which gave a new easy balance.

Simplicity of operation was obtained thru the use of an automatic clutch which engaged as the foot throttle was depressed. Removing the foot from the throttle quickly, disengaged the clutch. The operation is said to be somewhat similar to fluid drive such as used on some makes of 1941 cars. A foot lever operated an internal expanding brake band on which was mounted Ferodo lining. Choke and compression release are combined in one lever on the right handlebar. Standard color was black with red panels.A Tow-Back attachment was available for use in attaching the unit to car bumpers.

The "Scootabout" sold for $139.00 in 1941. Unfortunately with the war underway the supply of the Lawson air cooled engines dried up and the project was abandoned. It is thought that less than 100 of these little scooters were ever produced. Floyd Clymer put out a "Crocker Scootabout" sales brochure, sales poster, and a "Crocker Scootabout Bulletin" in Oct.-Nov. 1940 ready to sell dealerships across the U.S.A.. Around the same time he also retagged the Crocker V-Twin brochure (From 1939) with his company name, "Clymer Motors" (1941) and appeared to be ready to take over sales of that venerable classic, too bad World War II intervened.

A telegraph cable delivery man uses the Scootabout in the 1942 film, Talk of the Town.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cold War Skooter Love

Early '60's East German motorskooter, Simson Schwalbe and German couple feelin' the love, even during the cold war.
Look for my feature article on the Simson skooter brand in a future Bumpstart issue.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bumpstart, my Heart!

What better way to show your love by taking out a valentine gram in the next issue of Bumpstart. For just $1, you can let the scooter world know who/what gets your engine running. Scooter boys and girls, celebrate your love tonight in my scooter 'zine.

Valentine grams and Paypal payment can be emailed to: bumpstart@me.com

Te amo, je t'aime, te quiero, kocham was

P.S. Thanks to Chris and Jess for use of your cute and awesome scooter valentine find!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Hrog and Me

I met him at my second drafting job in the Winter of 1987. I was going to college at the time and was one of Ford Motor Company's new co-op students/drafters in Dearborn, MI. My drafting table was located in the Engine and Electrical Engineering Building, aka the "EEE". Hrog "Roger" Kabodian was my checker.

Roger was of Armenian descent, had bushy grey eyebrows, the physique and temperament of a cuddly teddy bear. He had worked at Ford for thirty-plus years and experienced the highs and lows of the automotive design industry. During lunch, he and the other old school board jockeys would hold court at their "Table of Brutality" playing cards and verbally abusing each other in the company lunchroom. Roger was 62 and starting to develop glaucoma - the guys loved calling him "Blinky". Roger could hold his own though and would give as good as he got. On occasion he would forego the table though and take me out to lunch instead.

I was only 19 and relatively green to the wonderful world of automotive design. Having Roger as my first real checker was worth more than all my years of high school and college drafting put together. Besides giving me drawing tips and teaching me the ins and outs of the biz, he encouraged other interests in my life, specifically photography, writing, and travel. He was always giving me advice and supportive of all my creative aspirations. He was protective of me and called me angel. Roger was my drafting dad and mentor.
Once he even got me a company car to drive for a week when I needed school transportation. I'll never forget pulling out of the Ford parking lot in a brand spanking new 1988 Lincoln Town Car, trying to see over the steering wheel. As I glanced in my rear view mirror, I remember seeing Roger shake his head, laugh and do the sign of the cross.

Christmas at Ford was always a big deal with tons of decorations in the lobby and poinsettias being delivered to the secretaries. Roger surmised that you could tell how well the company was doing by the size of the poinsettia plants. He also liked to say that "Designers know all the angles". One of my favorite Rogerisms.

After graduation, I always kept in touch with Roger. Every new city I worked in meant a postcard and phone call to him. I remember going to his retirement party and videotaping the roast portion of it. When it was Roger's turn to speak, he launched into the bosses and ripped them a new one and they still loved him. He also spoke about the new generation of designers and what a sharp bunch we were.
Last week I found that videotape and after viewing it, I thought I'd contact Roger. I wanted to catch up and tell him about Bumpstart and how I was still writing. When I moved to Portland, I had lost touch with him and couldn't find his phone number. After a quick search on Google, sadly his obituary came up instead. He would have been 84 years old now. In my mind he never aged, or rather I didn't want him to age. He was such an important person in my life and creative development. I miss him and wonder what he would have thought of scooters, 'zines, and Portland.