The eighth annual automobile show under the aus pices of the Association of Licensed Automobile Manu facturers was held last week in Madison Square Gar den. In this, the second big show to be held this fall in New York, most of the older makers of automobiles, as well as a few new ones, were represented. Among the latter should be mentioned the inventor under whose patent covering the application of a clutch to a gasoline machine the members of the association are licensed. The new Selden car is of the standard 4-cylinder type, with shaft drive, and without any start ling innovations. On the other hand, the company which purchased the Selden patent and subsequently formed the association, has still further improved its car with electric transmission (which it first brought out this year) and for 1908 a powerful 60-horse-power model will be produced. The electric transmission makes the machine as easily controlled as an electric automobile or a trolley car, and does away with trans mission troubles such as the stripping of gears and the like. Three of the most interesting of the com mercial vehicles in the basement consisted of a power wagon and two trailers, all of which were propelled by electricity produced by a dynamo direct-connected to a 50-horse-power 4-cylinder engine in the forward one. These vehicles all had six wheels, of which the large middle pair were the drivers, they being revolved by electric motors and chains. The wheels were fitted with broad steel tires, and the trucks looked amply able to carry the load of 7 tons claimed as the capacity of the train. The exhibit of electric vehicles was very complete and showed some improvement in the way of mileage per charge, there being several machines for which a mileage of over 100 was claimed and a maximum speed, for spurts, of over 30 miles an hour. There were sev eral additions to the high-speed, gasoline-type, electric runabout which was first exhibited last January. Many of the makers also showed removable bodies and of fered excellent combinations in this line. Some of the electric machines were fitted with a foot-operated con troller, and the wheel seems to be replacing the lever for steering. The gasoline cars exhibited were practically all fitted with engines of the multi-cylinder vertical type. About 25 per cent of them had 6-cylinder engines, while most of the remainder had engines of the 4-cylinder type. A two-cycle car was shown in 3 and 4-cylinder models, while a well-known horizontal single-cylinder machine was shown in a number of different models. The cheapest car at the show was one formerly built as a buckboard, but now remodeled and fitted with a false bonnet. This little runabout now sells for $400. It is fitted with a single-cylinder air-cooled motor and friction disk transmission. The most interesting low-priced runabout on exhibition was fitted with a 4-cylin der motor, shaft drive, and planetary gear transmission. It had a rumble seat and was a perfect copy in minia ture of the popular high-powered runabouts. The two pioneer makers of air-cooled cars, as well as one other concern, exhibited 4-cylinder models, while one of the former also showed a 6-cylinder. Two of these companies now make water-cooled engines as well, however, so that the purchaser can have his choice. One of the first of American makers has pinned his faith to the 6-cylinder engine so completely that his firm will construct no other type. The gen eral tendency, however, is to regard the 6-cylinder engine largely as a fad to which the manufacturer must cater in order not to lose trade. The constant torque and lessened vibration of this type of engine are nevertheless indisputable advantages. A large percentage of all the engines had high-tension magneto ignition in addition to that with accumulators and coils. Two separate sets of spark plugs are generally fitted. Make-and-break ignition was shown on but a few cars. Two or three makers also showed engines with ball bearing crankshafts. The use of ball or roller bear ings in the transmission, rear axle, and wheels is also quite general. Improvements in the chassis of 1908 cars consist chiefly in longer springs and better brakes. The brake drums are now made larger and wider, giving much more surface and making it possible to stop a car with greater certainty and in a shorter distance in case the emergency arises. As for the bodies, these are more luxurious than ever, some of them being finished with hand-buffed leather, silver-plated door handles, etc. The runabout with rumble seat has been developed, in some cases, into a 4-passenger roadster having two small seats behind; and one enterprising manufacturer showed a tonneau with a chauffeur's seat hung over the running board about on a level with the floor and on the opposite side to the driver's seat, which was placed slightly in advance of the one beside it. Among the limousines a novelty was a stage-coach type of body with a phaeton hood and glass front over and in advance of the driver's seat. The sole representative of the steam machine was that well-known make with flash boiler, condenser, and compound engine, which had as its chief improvement a thermometer gage on the footboard to show the tem perature of the steam. This exhibit of standard 1908 cars, although show ing no radical changes over the cars of the present year, has nevertheless demonstrated a steady advance along rational lines and has shown that the older manufacturers are continually improving their pro duct and bringing it nearer to that perfection which all wish to attain. M. B. Sziland makes a communication to the Aca d mie des Sciences upon the supposed discovery of a new radio-active salt. A French experimenter, M. Lancien, stated that he had prepared a molybdate of uranyl whose radio-activity was much greater than that of nitrate uranyl. According to him, the activity of the molybdate is comparable to that of a radiferous barium salt of an activity equal to forty times that of metallic uranium. On the other hand, the previous work of scientists has shown that the activity of uranium salts is always in proportion to the amount of uranium which they contain. This is especially brought out by Madame Curie. We are able, by means of certain chemical operations, to deprive temporarily a uranium compound of the greater part of its activ ity, and to concentrate this in a small residue of the treatment, but this modification is not permanent. After a certain time, the residue has lost its activity and the uranium salt gradually recovers its original activity. Therefore in the state of equilibrium, the salts of uranium have a radio-activity which is less than that of uranium. As the result announced by M. Lancien was in contradiction with this fact, it seemed necessary to confirm it. Accordingly the experimenter prepared the molybdate of uranyl following M. Lan-cien's process, which consists in precipitating a solu tion of uranyl nitrate by molybdate of ammonia. He prepared two samples, one of which was obtained in the presence of an excess of uranium salt and the other with an excess of molybdate. Using the speci mens in the form of dry powder, he measured their activity during a period of twenty-five days, and found that the value for the two specimens was the same, as might be expected, and was below that of uranyl nitrate. It is represented by the fraction 0.3 of the activity of metallic uranium. By the photographic ef fect of the compounds the molybdate of uranyl shows the normal value. These results show that contrary to what has been announced, the molybdate of uranyl has no special advantage as concerns the radio-active quality.
This article was originally published with the title "The Eighth National Automobile Show in Madison Square Garden" in Scientific American 97, 20, 354 (November 1907)