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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm trying to put together an history of mechanical rally equipment. Gathering info on these devices is like finding hen's teeth; here is what I have found so far, with some help from Haldaman and Belmog.

I would appreciate your help to complete the following chronology, also input on any devices that I might have missed. Eventually I may need photos for some of them.

1933: Heuer introduces the Autavia range of dash-mount chronometers.
1948: Curta mechanical calculator. It is a compact version of earlier mechanical calculators (Ohdner, 1874) and was not designed specifically for rallying. It however lent itself beautifully to the calculation of constant speed time factors.
1952?, maybe earlier: Blackwell circular slide rule for average speed calculation. Inspired several similar products.
195?: Early TSD rallyists use Stewart Warner special Police speedometers for its calibration potential and trip meter. Unit shown from the 1930's.

1956: Halda Speedpilot Sports Special (4 knobs) odometer/average speed calculator. Used during 1956 Monte Carlo rally (Sunbeam Team). Marketed in US starting Sept. 1956 (R&T ad by Nisonger Corp.)
1956: Curta mechanical calculator introduced on US market
1957: Foreign Cars Speedometers from Los Angeles advertises a dual counter electro-mechanical rally odometer. (R&T, April 1957)
1957: Nisonger advertises the Speedpilot Competition version (3 knobs) as a budget ($85) alternative to the Sports Special version ($125) (R&T, July); several other versions of the Speedpilot appeared over the next 10-15 years.
1957: Tibbetts Corp. introduces an "electronic" average speed calculator (R&T Sept. 1957). An "improved" version was marketed up to 1959 ($100).
1957: After advertising Speedpilots and slide rules for a few months, Robert Stevens (Stevens Rally Equipment, Los Angeles) introduces his own version of the electro-mechanical odometer. This was on the market until at least the late 1970's, eventually with outside wheel drive as an option.
1957?: Halda introduces the Tripmeter, a resettable odometer primarily intended for commercial travelers- its digits were too small for rallying. Used by BMC rally team during 1959 Monte Carlo rally. Apparently never marketed in US.
1958: Saab 93 750GT introduced with Speedpilot as standard equipement. Seems to be the only case of serial production of a vehicle with rally equipment.
1958: Heuer introduces the "Rallymaster" 12 hr clock/chronometer combo.
1958: Kearfott Corp. (now a major defense company) introduces its electro-mechanical average speed calculator ($250); in spite of appearances this is not an odometer. An electric motor advances a mileage display at the set average speed; this is checked against the car's odo to verify adhesion to average speed.
ca.1960: Introduction of Hemo Tripteller, a device similar in function to the Tripmeter but with a dial and two pointers.

195?: Introduction of early Aifab meter (round body).

195?: Introduction of the Avion mechanical odometer (designed by Stewart Blodgett - ad in R&T 1959) (details needed)
196?: Introduction of the Langwell rally odometer by Canadian rallyists Paul Langdon and Lloyd Howell: a modified Halda Tripmeter with larger digits.

196?: Introduction of the Tommy Box, an electro mechanical average speed calculator; later versions of the Tommy Box incorporated electronic circuits.
196?: Introduction of Halda Tripmaster and Twinmaster - first advertised in R&T Oct. 1964
196?: Introduction of Aifab range of single-double-triple (Gemini) odometers
1966: In an interview with Track And Traffic magazine, paternity of outside wheel drive attributed to Lloyd Howell. This device is basically a VDO speedo drive from a BMW motorcycle with an adapter to drive it from a hubcap.
ca.1970 Introduction of Yazaki trip meter - a very basic odometer.
ca.1970: Introduction of a range of mechanical odometers Kanto Seiki: single or dual counter. May have been used in the Nissan factory team Datsun 240Z rally cars. Kanto Seiki is linked to Nissan and is now part of Calsonic. Some Kanto Seiki were sold in North America, maybe by J.C. Whitney. (I have one).
1972: Introduction of Omori odomter. Seems to be a clone of the Twinmaster. The Omori was a commercial failure as electronic instruments started appearing shortly after its introduction.

1975: Introduction of Halda electronic rally meter and taximeters.
197?: end of production of Halda Speedpilot (was this earlier?), Tripmaster and Twinmaster
1984: Halda taximeter division sold, tooling for mechanical equipment scrapped
ca. 1990: Introduction of Belmog Twin, a modern version of the Twinmaster for vintage rallying. Pretty soon it will have been in production longer than any of the other ones above!

A 1959 US survey on rally equipment shows (http://www.tsdroadrally.com/newsarticlesearch_detail.cfm?ID=202) one more name, on which no data has been found so far: Sullivan.
 

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your other left, you idiot
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Kanto Seiki odo

Yes, the Kanto Seiki was sold by JC Whitney. I bought one back in the day. Those of us who couldn't afford the Halda Tripmaster bought them.

The downside - they didn't use correction gears like the Halda - they were a fixed correction factor. So we ended up buying an in line correction box from Gene Henderson at Competition Limited. This negated some of original $ savings, but did allow a finer correction than the Halda gears did.

press on,
 

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Left seat and not British!
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No mention of the RoBo? The homebrew rally computer by Roger Bohl that grew up (circa 1968-72)? I think eventually sold to Heuer?
 

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I'm not sure if Stewart-Warner made any rally specific gear. They did make speedometers/odometers with tripmeters which were supposed to be more accurate than an OE type. Some of the early economy cars didn't have 10's reading odometers- so one had to add a different unit. My '66 SAAB 96 was that way.
S-W also made correction boxes similar to the one Jimmy mentioned . The S-W units were designed to change the gears once and were then sealed. Original application was likely to calibrate police speedometers. The unit Jimmy describes came with several gears and was held together with pins so the correction factor could be changed to suit the event.
S-W also made right angle drives that were adapted to hubcaps. Hubcaps?- now I'm really dating myself.
 

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your other left, you idiot
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How fast you wanna go Steve?

How period correct do you wanna be?

Now, you want to talk about Curtas?

The website that was listed above sells a Halda Twinmaster with Cable and adapter for about $4,000.
Is that accurate?

Steve
press on,
 

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1957?: Halda introduces the Tripmeter, a resettable odometer primarily intended for commercial travelers- its digits were too small for rallying. Used by BMC rally team during 1959 Monte Carlo rally. Apparently never marketed in US.

196?: Introduction of the Langwell rally odometer by Canadian rallyists Paul Langdon and Lloyd Howell: a modified Halda Tripmeter with larger digits and provision for easy calibration.
The Halda Tripmeter was definitely sold in Canada. Not sure about the US.

The Langwell odometer was simply a Halda Tripmeter with the addition of a module attached to the Tripmeter which had very large digits. The provision for easy calibration was not an addition to the Tripmeter but was already part of the Tripmeter. All one had to do to calibrate the device was to rotate the calibaration knob left or right. This was a big advantage over the Halda Tripmaster and Twinmaster (which I also used as a second odometer) which required changing gears to perform calibrations.

I used the Langwell odometer throughout my rally career and consider it to be the best mechanical rally odometer ever produced.
 

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When did the Stevens Rally Indicator (wheel) come into play?

Jeffy
- You can have my Twinmaster when you pry it from my cold dead hands.
 

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Two items re old time rally equipment:

In the late 60s and into the 70s in the So. Cal. TSD world there was a computer called "AutoNav". Don't have any memory as to if it was strictly mechanical or electro/mechanical. Also have no idea as to the manufacturer.

Item 2: The Sullivan name referenced in the article may well have been Paul C. Sullivan who ran a speedometer shop in Hollywood, Cal. and was much involved in the early days of precision instrumentation. I believe the shop disappeared many years ago.

Ron M:cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for the input. So far the only mystery that remains is the "Avion" odometer. I have two references on it:
- A R&T classified ad late 1959, no photo;
- Bill Jonesi's glossary http://www.therallyeclub.org/pdfs/glossary.pdf

I'll update the list later on, I'll be away for a week - no time now.

Doug, I've just bought a Langwell and it pretty much sparked my effort to understand the various devices that rallyists used to play with.

Jeffy, the Stevens original slide rule was first advertised late 1956; a larger version appeared around 1959. These things sold for $7.50, lots of money at the time; a Speedpilot was a fortune at $125.
 

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Steve its more like $1500 on ebay - to $3000 for one of dons all refurbed with kit.
There have been three sold in the last 2 months or so. A beat-up unit was least expensive at just over $1000. The T-Gears sold seperately for $180 or so. Most expensive had T-gears, correction gears and was very nice-$2500. The third was a plastic case for $1500.
Metal cases sell for more than plastic ones. Two Tripmasters sold in different auctions for about $500. each.
 

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There are some really nice pictures of Curta calculators here:
http://www.hpmuseum.org/ffcurta.htm
At the bottom of the referenced page, there's a link to the Friden calculator. They were also used in TSD events. I heard a story about Jumbo Jon Davis using one in the back seat of a SAAB 96. The right front seat was removed for better access.
 

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Really? Was it one of their manual models, or was he powering a motor-driven one somehow? (Dynamotor, maybe?)
 

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Really? Was it one of their manual models, or was he powering a motor-driven one somehow? (Dynamotor, maybe?)
Your question to Bruce Beauvais about the Friden brings back memories of some of my early TSD adventures. For a time, I used a Monroe (mentioned on the Friden page). I couldn't afford a Curta and we found the Monroe at a good price (Nixie tubes were the new rage and that mechanical stuff was so old-fashioned!) It was the electric model and we used a power converter (good ol' Heathkit!) in the back seat to supply the 120V. The converter had to have some sort of a constant load (when the calculater wasn't running), so we had a small bulb plugged into the second socket. Obviously, I wasn't using this on night rallies.

The Monroe looked very much like the Friden and it sat on the floor between my legs. 3-point harnesses with inertia locks allowed me to access it as long as we weren't on a bumpy road. Once the correction factor was calculated, I would just input it accross the 12 or 15-column keys--I don't remember exactly and couldn't find it quickly, but I know it's in the 'back room'.

One of the funniest moments (in retrospect, not at the time) was at the end of an odo check after I had just finished all of my calculations and had the correction factor entered and was ready to go. We still had a little time and when an acquaintence approached, I went to step out of the car to talk with him (nobody knew that I was running this and I wanted to keep it under wraps). Just as I did this, my foot brushed accross the 'divide' button and it when into auto-calculate mode, running the counters, moving the carriage accross in the process, and making all those beautiful mechanical noises. At the same time that I was silently cursing myself for messing up the calculations, my friends mouth dropped, his eyes bugged out and he started yelling to a couple others "Wow! Look what this guys running!"

As I said, the Monroe's in the 'back room' somewhere, and as the saying goes, "It ran when I parked it there!"
 

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Really? Was it one of their manual models, or was he powering a motor-driven one somehow? (Dynamotor, maybe?)
I don't have the answer to that. Both of the parties involved have passed the final checkpoint so we can't ask them. As Gary points out, a power convertor could have been involved. The story dates from the mid-Sixties so we have to see what might have been available. I did see one of the Friden units in the basement of a steel company I worked for. I still can't imagine trying to run a rally with that huge machine on my lap.
 

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rally instruments

Back in the old So Cal TSD days there was a team that used the big calculator. The navigator sat in the back seat. They had a frame over the passenger seatback and the calculator sat on a shelf so the navigator could access it. It was a novel approach, but I don't remember them doing very well.


Ron M
:cool:
 
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