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Houdaille shock-absorber history


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#1 m9a3r5i7o2n

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Posted 08 November 2006 - 23:35

For anyone that is interested in old Houdaille Hydraulic Double Action shocks, here is a new to me addition to these 1908 shocks.
The only thing he seems to have missed is just how many cars made in Europe used these shocks and just what years.
http://www.tocmp.com.....le 40_jpg.htm

http://www.geocities...ud/comshock.jpg

http://www.geocities.../1205/hdis.html

http://www.geocities.../1205/hreb.html

For some reason it seems to only work when using "Open Hyperlink'?

M.L. ANDERSON :)

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#2 Lotus23

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 15:58

Brings back memories: all the quick late-forties midgets ran what we then called "hoo-doo" shocks. I didn't know they went back to 1908.

The stuff you learn here.....

#3 David Beard

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 17:04

Originally posted by Lotus23
Brings back memories: all the quick late-forties midgets ran what we then called "hoo-doo" shocks. I didn't know they went back to 1908.


I surprised they even had suspension!  ;)

Don't some current F1 cars have rotary dampers?

(glad someone got this thread off zero)

#4 m9a3r5i7o2n

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 21:19

This all started when I was trying to find out just why the 1930 Oakland Indy race car had Gabriel Rotary Shocks instead of Houdaille Rotary Shocks and I ran across this as a real plus information package. Then some nuts on the Packard Club started to claim things that just aren’t justified on being first at Packard.

If one reads very carefully one finds very quickly just why they were called “Hoo-doo” shocks in trying to rebuilding them. Trying to build this type of shocks without modern self-energizing design and modern materials for the seals would be just the result described in the 13 pages of dialogue. The man :clap: who wrote this must have had the patience of Job! The spending of a week apiece on each shock just appalls me! I was going to write him but couldn’t find a place to address it to.
M.L. Anderson :)

#5 m9a3r5i7o2n

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 21:32

I didn't remember to add this answer to the above!
Edit; I understand some of the F-1 cars do have rotary shocks systems, but then again they don’t have much actual wheel travel and they can be made very small and enclosed easily within the bodywork.
ML. Anderson :D

#6 A E Anderson

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 12:11

Originally posted by m9a3r5i7o2n
This all started when I was trying to find out just why the 1930 Oakland Indy race car had Gabriel Rotary Shocks instead of Houdaille Rotary Shocks and I ran across this as a real plus information package. Then some nuts on the Packard Club started to claim things that just aren’t justified on being first at Packard.

If one reads very carefully one finds very quickly just why they were called “Hoo-doo” shocks in trying to rebuilding them. Trying to build this type of shocks without modern self-energizing design and modern materials for the seals would be just the result described in the 13 pages of dialogue. The man :clap: who wrote this must have had the patience of Job! The spending of a week apiece on each shock just appalls me! I was going to write him but couldn’t find a place to address it to.
M.L. Anderson :)



Marion,

Actually, Ford-Houdailles were absolutely rebuildable! When I was restoring a couple of Model A Fords back in the late 1960's, Bob Rice, father of USAC Midget Star and 1978 Co-Rookie of the Year (Indianapolis) Larry Rice, aided me in rebuilding both sets of shocks for my Model A's by coming up with new ball valves, and pointing me to another old Midget mechanic who knew how to do them (that man's name escapes me now). Key to restorable Houdailles back then was having shocks that were frozen in place with just enough rust to keep the rotor shaft from turning--made it fairly easy to press out the rotor, replace all bushings and seals. With modern neoprene O-rings to seal them at the shaft and between body and backing plate, and modern hydraulic fluid, they worked perfectly (the original Ford shocks used a water/glycerine/alcohol mix)

As for the Packard fanatics on the Packard Club forums you and I like to visit--some of those guys ARE nuts indeed!

Art Anderson

#7 m9a3r5i7o2n

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 16:49

To Art Anderson:
Speaking of the glycerin the person who wrote a lot of the rebuilding of the shocks reminded me of the fact about glycerin being ½ of the word nitro-glycerin a fact I knew of but sometimes forgot. One place I read of even placed the shocks in a fire??? I guess that was exciting enough.

About the Packard fanatics, their claims of so many firsts for Packard are really tenuous at best as their attitude is that they make a claim and then it is up to other people to prove them wrong. That is the place I found them completely wrong on their claim about Packard being the first on using hydraulic shocks. And then after proving them wrong they refuse to take it off of the “Firsts” list. :down: It seems that in the U.S.A. that Mercer in 1915 was the real “First”. Of the larger cars on page 2 of the History section he states that Lincoln was first in that category.

The only thing that I found wrong with the Houdaille cars using these shocks is just who in Europe used them on a production car. Also why did it take so long for race cars to use an obviously superior shocks to the Hartford’s and the only answer I can think of is the price and availability. They must have been very expensive in the first few years being built in the fashion that it took at that time.

Yours, Marion L. Anderson

#8 A E Anderson

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 23:11

Originally posted by m9a3r5i7o2n
To Art Anderson:
Speaking of the glycerin the person who wrote a lot of the rebuilding of the shocks reminded me of the fact about glycerin being ½ of the word nitro-glycerin a fact I knew of but sometimes forgot. One place I read of even placed the shocks in a fire??? I guess that was exciting enough.

About the Packard fanatics, their claims of so many firsts for Packard are really tenuous at best as their attitude is that they make a claim and then it is up to other people to prove them wrong. That is the place I found them completely wrong on their claim about Packard being the first on using hydraulic shocks. And then after proving them wrong they refuse to take it off of the “Firsts” list. :down: It seems that in the U.S.A. that Mercer in 1915 was the real “First”. Of the larger cars on page 2 of the History section he states that Lincoln was first in that category.

The only thing that I found wrong with the Houdaille cars using these shocks is just who in Europe used them on a production car. Also why did it take so long for race cars to use an obviously superior shocks to the Hartford’s and the only answer I can think of is the price and availability. They must have been very expensive in the first few years being built in the fashion that it took at that time.

Yours, Marion L. Anderson


Marion,

Glycerin is an animal byproduct, also a component of hand and bath soaps--being water soluble, and almost always in solution with water, I doubt it's very explosive.

I suspect that Houdaille's weren't all that good in race cars, certainly for say, Indianapolis, due to the length of the event--I recall reading someplace, some time ago, that Houdaille shocks, as with the lever-action dual piston shocks used at GM, Hudson, etc., could actually get hot, to the boiling point of their fluid (whatever that happened to be) during long runs at high speeds on rough pavement (and, Indianapolis, in the days of its being exposed brick, had to be as hard on a car as any brick street or highway--I still remember going into downstate Illinois, and riding for 65-70 miles on the bricks of State Road 1!). Of course, for those early midgets, with their fairly short heats, and even a feature that really wasn't that long in number of laps, Houdaille's were the shock of choice for a fair number of years, until smaller aircraft-style tubular shocks became available.

Hartford, etc. "friction shocks" on the other hand, while of course using a disc under pressure, between two spring steel plates under tension, were subject to severe wear--but at least they were quickly tightened up in a pit stop, and their friction plates were easily replaced between races. Of course, in the day and age of rail frames built up from channel steel (or oak-filled aluminum in the case of many Duesenberg race cars) with only rudimentary crossmembers, suspension tuning as we think of it today was pretty much beyond the envelope--those old rail frames were pretty flexible. About the best that could be hoped was to control "wheel hop" to a manageable level.

Art Anderson

#9 A E Anderson

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Posted 13 November 2006 - 23:19

Marion, an addendum here:

My old stash of Model A/early Ford V8 references is packed away at the moment, but I have some factory parts catalogs from that era (reprints). Houdaille shocks for 28-31 Model A Fords (and the same shock carried over into the '32 Ford Model B/Model 18 BTW) sold over the parts counter at Ford dealers for something like $4 apiece (fluid was extra). That doesn't seem like a lot of money, but yet, in the context of those days, they were expensive, at a time when most automobiles were equipped with nothing more than "snubbers", which controlled only the "jounce" or rebound, of the suspension, not the "bounce" or compression of springs on rough roads (which BTW, abounded back then).

Addtionally, it's wise to remember that even tubular shock absorbers weren't all that reliable for a good many years. Accounts of say, Indianapolis, as late as 1960 still contained tidbits regarding the failure of those then-high-tech shock absorbers, due mostly to the horrendous vibration caused by running down the front stretch at 180mph or so, on the exposed brick surface, that wasn't asphalted until the summer of 1961.

Art Anderson

#10 antonvrs

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 16:56

Re European manufacturers using Houdailles- Ferrari used them on 250 GTs as late as 1959/60.
Anton in LA

#11 m9a3r5i7o2n

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 17:03

Nitro-glycerin- A heavy oily explosive poisonous liquid C3H5(NO3), used chiefly in making dynamite and in medicine as a vasodilator.

Quote from Art-
Glycerin is an animal byproduct, also a component of hand and bath soaps--being water soluble, and almost always in solution with water, I doubt it's very explosive.

There are many types of glycerin, these days it’s probably all synthetic we don’t know which type they used in the shocks but it may have been natural. However if one has cooked with ordinary butter and had a fire one knows animal/vegetable fat burns and explodes under the wrong circumstances. This may explain just one of the reasons that it took so long for Houdaille shocks to become fairly reliable. That is why I am very interested in just who and when they were first used on cars and especially on production cars. Also just why it took so long for them to be accepted on race cars?

M.L. Anderson :)

#12 gwk

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 18:09

Don't lets beat up on glycerine. There is really only one kind (and glycerol is exactly the same thing): CH2OHCHOHCH2OH, which can be obtained from natural or synthetic sources. Glycerol is not a fat - it is a polyalcohol and, hence, soluble in water. It is relatively benign - irritating to skin and eyes in pure form but on the GRAS (generally regarded as safe) list of the FDA for addition to food and drugs in the States. It is a natural (and desirable) component of good wine. Glycerine is flammable and like any flammable substrance can be induced to explode if you work at it. It is much less hazardous in that regard than ordinary hydraulic fluid, and nothing at all like nitroglycerine. As far as use in shocks goes, it boils at about 290 C (Mineral oil boils around 210), but freezes at about 17 C, making it problematic as a working fluid in most automotive applications. Preumably, that's why Houdaille shocks used a glycerine/water/alcohol mix. (Now alcohol - THAT's explosive.....). I'm guessing that it died out in shock absorbers as petroleum derivatives with better characteristics were developed, and maybe because it rots....

#13 m9a3r5i7o2n

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 23:36

Well that takes care of glycerine. But it doesn't explain just why the Double Action Hydraulic shock wasn't accepted sooner. Altho making a shock without a proper seal explains a lot. After all from 1908 to1930 is 22 years of inaction. This is about the time Delco Lovejoy started to make both single and double action Hydraulic shocks. Direct action shocks didn’t come into their own until 1937 when Chrysler used them all the way from Plymouth to Imperial.
M.L. Anderson :)

#14 A E Anderson

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 17:29

Originally posted by gwk
Don't lets beat up on glycerine. There is really only one kind (and glycerol is exactly the same thing): CH2OHCHOHCH2OH, which can be obtained from natural or synthetic sources. Glycerol is not a fat - it is a polyalcohol and, hence, soluble in water. It is relatively benign - irritating to skin and eyes in pure form but on the GRAS (generally regarded as safe) list of the FDA for addition to food and drugs in the States. It is a natural (and desirable) component of good wine. Glycerine is flammable and like any flammable substrance can be induced to explode if you work at it. It is much less hazardous in that regard than ordinary hydraulic fluid, and nothing at all like nitroglycerine. As far as use in shocks goes, it boils at about 290 C (Mineral oil boils around 210), but freezes at about 17 C, making it problematic as a working fluid in most automotive applications. Preumably, that's why Houdaille shocks used a glycerine/water/alcohol mix. (Now alcohol - THAT's explosive.....). I'm guessing that it died out in shock absorbers as petroleum derivatives with better characteristics were developed, and maybe because it rots....


Geez,

Good thing my mother died 7 years ago! She used glycerine as a hand cream for most of her life, and she lived to be 95 years old! Of course, in shock absorbers, such as Houdailles, in winter, it was to be mixed with methyl alcohol (wood alcohol) to prevent freezing--at least according to my Model A Ford service manuals! And, if you know anything at all about the upper midwestern United States, it can get colder than a well-digger's belt buckle here in winter! Subzero temperatures (Fahrenheit) are not unheard of!

Art Anderson

#15 A E Anderson

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 17:31

Originally posted by m9a3r5i7o2n
Nitro-glycerin- A heavy oily explosive poisonous liquid C3H5(NO3), used chiefly in making dynamite and in medicine as a vasodilator.

Quote from Art-
Glycerin is an animal byproduct, also a component of hand and bath soaps--being water soluble, and almost always in solution with water, I doubt it's very explosive.

There are many types of glycerin, these days it’s probably all synthetic we don’t know which type they used in the shocks but it may have been natural. However if one has cooked with ordinary butter and had a fire one knows animal/vegetable fat burns and explodes under the wrong circumstances. This may explain just one of the reasons that it took so long for Houdaille shocks to become fairly reliable. That is why I am very interested in just who and when they were first used on cars and especially on production cars. Also just why it took so long for them to be accepted on race cars?

M.L. Anderson :)


Houdaille shocks were used on Lincolns, starting, I believe, about 1925 or so. Lincoln, being owned by Ford Motor Company from 1922 onward, was in many ways, the "technology leader" for that company, particularly in the Model T era.

Art Anderson

#16 Ray Bell

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Posted 18 November 2006 - 01:31

There's always fascinating stuff in Marion's threads...

I see again the Oakland connection too, which I think I started for you, didn't I Marion?

With my particular interest in damping, I'm awaiting further developments of this thread. When you mention 'direct action,' Marion, do you mean as in tubular dampers bolted onto the axles? I'd have thought they'd have been around before 1937.

Also, as to unreliability into the late fifties, I guess this is why Ferrari stuck with Koni with their archaic but unbeatable sealing system?

#17 Allan Lupton

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Posted 18 November 2006 - 09:14

Originally posted by Ray Bell
When you mention 'direct action,' Marion, do you mean as in tubular dampers bolted onto the axles? I'd have thought they'd have been around before 1937.
[/B]


e.g. on the Singer Junior introduced in 1927 which certainly had such dampers by 1928 if not from the beginning.

#18 m9a3r5i7o2n

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 00:04

C.L. Horock designs the “telescope” shock absorber, using piston and cylinder fitted inside a metal sleeve, with a one way valve built into the piston. As air or oil moves through the valve into the cylinder, the piston moves freely in one direction but is resisted in the other direction by the air or oil. The result is a smoother ride and less bounce. The telescope shock is still used today.

Just where he lived and the year he did this I have to try to find the source again! (1901?)

M.L. Anderson

#19 m9a3r5i7o2n

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Posted 09 December 2006 - 23:15

LOUIS WILLIAM GREVE
1882-1942
Probably not the first inventor of the Tubular shock
but seems to be a big contributor to it. This was the first oleo-pneumatic shock absorbing struts for aircraft in 1927 plus other stuff. A very interesting person if not very famous for all his inventions.

http://www.earlyavia....com/egreve.htm

I have sent a message to his daughter but at this time she has not answered but then again she may well be either busy or not as active as I thought.
M. L. Anderson. :)

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#20 m9a3r5i7o2n

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Posted 09 December 2006 - 23:27

http://www.earlyavia....com/egreve.htm

#21 Ray Bell

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 20:58

What year was Horock's development, Marion?

And could you please return to you 90° crankshaft thread in the Tech forum?

#22 m9a3r5i7o2n

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 15:50

Ray; I have been in contact on the direct action tubular shock question with one person and hoping to get an answer from the granddaughter but I believe it is going to take some time as I also believe she is as old as I.
As to the 90 degree crank I also have written so much on it I don’t believe that I have anymore to add that hasn’t been said a half dozen times. Altho I will go back and read some of it!

I am now heavily into the sparkplug situation on old antique cars such as the Mercer “T” head engine owned by Ivan Sexton in Australia as no one seems to have any information on the exact type of original sparkplug in this car altho Ivan thinks it is a 1.050” reach, a very odd reach number even in those days. I believe it is an old Champion or AC #17 which is a 7/8”-18 by 1.250” reach that Donald McKinsey calls extra extra long. I have also contacted D. McKinsey to see if he can find a #17 sparkplug so I may be able to make a sketch of it and determine whether it is 1.250” reach or whether if is .625” reach with a very long skirt of some .625”. (625” + .625” = 1.250”)

This endeavor is an out-growth on the “G” series 18mm AC sparkplug situation on the Oakland which started me on the investigation of just why and when the “Heat Range” system started when I found an old “AC Heat Range” chart in an old Audels book. Except for the Ford 1/2” N.P.T. sparkplug most American cars had 7/8”-18 threaded sparkplugs before 1930.
M.L. Anderson

#23 Ray Bell

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 20:24

The reason I asked you to return to the 90 degree thread, Marion, is because I know nothing of the Lafayette engine and I thought that would be an appropriate place to mention it...

#24 Loren Lundberg

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 01:47

It should also be noted that the 1956 SR-2 Corvettes and the 4 1956 Corvettes that ran Sebring also were equipped wtih Houdailles in the rear.

#25 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 01:55

Originally posted by Loren Lundberg
It should also be noted that the 1956 SR-2 Corvettes and the 4 1956 Corvettes that ran Sebring also were equipped wtih Houdailles in the rear.


Thanks for dropping in that information, Loren...

I guess you were involved? Maybe just a keen bystander?

A post in the 'Introductions' thread at the top of the page would be excellent...

#26 Loren Lundberg

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Posted 09 January 2007 - 19:16

I have a copy of the Engineering work order that fashioned the bracket for installation; they were IN ADDITION to the tubular shocks on the rear.