How the Auto beat the Horse
When fire razed their factory the confident McLaughlins built it again and their horse carriages went full tilt with a gross of a niillion dollars a year. Then over the horizon in a cloud of dust came a strange new colitraption called the automobile
MY EIGHTY YEARS ON WHEELS
IN 1892 when I turned twenty-one my father repaid me the $2.50 a week he had taken from my $3 salary for room and hoard during my three-year apprenticeship with the McLaughlin Carriage Company. He repaid me with generous interest, I should say, since he made me a partner, along with my older brother George.
The business was still growing slowly. Our capital was quite small. I am sure the Governor would have had no difficulty in finding a silent partner who would have brought considerable capital into the business, but he was more interested in work than in money. He had started with nothing but his hands, in a little shop in a forest clearing at Tyrone, in the Durham County of Ontario, and built the first McLaughlin vehicle, a cutter, in 1867 which makes us exactly the same age as Canada. The Governor wanted working partners certainly George and I brought nothing into the business hut willingness to work and such skills as we had acquired in the carriage shop. In the same year he also took in William Parks, who became foreman of the blacksmith shop. He remained in that position until his death, when his estate was wound up and paid off by the partnership.
Bank credit, essential for operating an expanding business like ours, was very difficult to secure in those days. It was fortunate that my fat her’s reputation as a reliable and devout man, an elder of the church, made it possible for us to get a reasonable line of credit from the Dominion Bank, then the town’s leading hank.
Then some local men in Oshawa formed the Western Bank and offered the Governor expanded credit if he would change his account to the new bank. It was a tempting offer, and my father accepted it. Later when the Standard Bank bought out the* Western we resumed our former contacts and divided
our business between the Dominion and Standard banks.
Now that our working capital problem was eased we were ready for the expansion necessary to meet increasing orders for McLaughlin carriages. But there remained a major bottleneck: our plant was a considerable distance from the Oshawa railway freight yards. We had to load all carriages at the factory on flat wagons, with bodies on gears and wheels and shafts neatly stowed away, then team them down to the railway, unload them, and reload them on the railway cars. The streets were unpaved, deep in mud in wet weather, heavy with dust in dry weather.
The boxcars used by the railways in those days were dinky things, too small for the economical shipment of carriages. So we loaded our carriages twenty-five at a time on fiat cars, which were much longer than boxcars, and we kept a crew of men building “houses” right over the carriages, closing them in solidly. It was a costly, time-wasting way of getting our products from factory to purchaser.
Then came Oshawa’s great street-railroad issue. The Rathburn Company of Deseronto wanted to build a railway through Oshawa for the benefit of the town’s industries. There was strong opposition, speeches for and against, friends quarrelling with lifelong friends over the issue. Finally it was put to a vote
and the railway won. I was all in favor of the railway, of course, but I feel that the town was pretty generous in allowing the railway to use so many streets. It was being done in many other towns, however, as the only answer to the transport problem when a town grew up around an industry or group of industries, as so often happened. I don’t suppose the problem will ever arise again, with industries becoming more and more decentralized and truck transport supplementing railways to a large extent.
5'The breaking of this shipping bottleneck soon led to one even more serious. The McLaughlin Carriage Company finally reached the point where it could not add another foot of badly
needed work space to the crowded
Continued on page 36
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 23
buildings on the half-lot my father had bought twenty years before. We either had to move or hold down production.
Looking for new quarters, we considered a much bigger factory which had been built by the Hon. T. N. Gibbs to manufacture furniture. That business failed and the building had been taken over by the Heaps Manufacturing Company, another furniture concern, which also failed, leaving the building empty. We made an unusual deal for that building, trading in our old plant on it. We were warned by some people that the building was “jinxed,” and by others that we were biting off more than we could chew.
“You will be lost in that big building,” people told us. “You’ll have to rent out some of it.” But in two years we were up to our usual tricks: we were busy building extensions.
In 1896 we spread further by opening our first branch office in Saint John, N.B., where our carriages had become popular. My brother George went down there for several months to open this, our first branch away from home, and he did a splendid job of organizing our business in the lower provinces. Later we established similar branches in Montreal, London, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary and other cities.
As 1 look back on those last years of the 19th century I think Í can honestly say that I was the busiest young man in North America. After I returned from “testing my apprenticeship” in the U. S. I became foreman of the upholstery shop for a year or two. Then I went into the office and, in addition to handling my share of the business end, I became the designer for all McLaughlin carriages. It was to be one of my jobs—and my real labor of love—for the next twenty-five years, on all our early automobiles as well as the carriages.
Years before I had wanted, among other things, to become a draftsman, and had taken a correspondence course in it. But when I wanted to go off and learn the profession seriously the Governor put his foot down. “If I want a draftsman,” he said, “I can get a draftsman. I want you to stay here and learn the business.”
Now I think he was glad that he had someone with some training in design in the family, the way the carriage business was developing. Today a motor manufacturer who puts out half
a dozen different basic body des feels he is offering a full line, and he is. But at the turn of the century, to keep abreast and ahead of the stiff competition, McLaughlin’s was offering no fewer than 143 separate body designs of carriages and sleighs, with new models in many types every year.
Every part of the country had its own ideas about the carriages it wanted. Quebec wanted Concord bodies, for example, but Ontario preferred square boxlike bodies. The Northwest and other frontier areas must have their buckboards and democrats. Then there was the city stuff, phaetons, stanhopes and fringe-top surreys. The Maritimes insisted on the fanciest designs of all. We were developing an export business too; Australia was buying our carriages. Road carts, the simplest type of conveyance then in existence, two-wheeled and low in price, were in great demand not only locally but in South America as well. Once we shipped five hundred road carts on one vessel bound for South America, then received a message from the buyer: “Ship lost with all carts; please repeat the order immediately.”
Rules to Keep a Buggy
It was quite a job to keep up with the plant’s demand for all those different designs. Often I would work until well after midnight, trying out new ideas in design and throwing a dozen or more into the wastebasket until I got just the lines that suited me. Then next day at the plant I would draw the new designs and all the components of the carriage on a big blackboard. The foremen of the various departments would work from those blackboard drawings to make prototypes of the new models and then the whole plant would be geared to put them into production.
The automobile generation, which recognizes the buggy in sweet oldfashioned songs, may think of it as the simplest form of machinery; but to us and to our customers it was a complex mechanism requiring considerable maintenance. Here, for example, are the first two of a dozen “Rules for the care and preservation of wagons and carriages” we issued in 1896:
Carriages should be kept in an airy, dry coach house. There should be a moderate amount of light, otherwise the colors will be affected. The windows should be curtained to avoid having direct sunlight strike upon the carriage.
There should be no communication between the stable and the coach house. The manure pYt should be
located as far away from the coach house as possible. Ammonia fumes crack and destroy varnish, and fade the colors of both painting and lining. Also avoid having a carriage stand near a brick wall, as the dampness from the wall will fade the colors and destroy the varnish.
Owners of new carriages were advised that “it is better for it to stand for a few days, and to he frequently washed and dried off before being used. Frequent washings with cold water and exposure to fresh air will help to harden and brighten the finish.”
Mechanical maintenance of a carriage was not, of course, anything like that of cars. But the carriage owner had problems the motorist never heard of: moths in the upholstery, for
«ample. We recommended turpentine and camphor if the woolen linings became infested. Carriage drivers never had to worry about punctures, but tire troubles were possible, and our inst ructions said :
Should the tires of the wheels get at all slack, so that the joints of the fellows become visible, have them immediately contracted or the
wheels may be permanently injured.
‘A stitch in time saves nine!’
The instructions we gave carriage buyers about lubrication shows how comparatively recent is the world which runs on petroleum. In 1896 we instructed: “Keep the axles well oiled . . . pure sperm oil is considered best for lubricating purposes. Castor oil will answer, hut never use sweet oil, as it will gum up.”
We promised carriage buyers that the care we outlined would result in long life. How long, we did not know at
the time. One of the rewards of • life has been for me to see for ir,y!^ how well our promise has been kep-. For many of those stoutly built McLaughlin vehicles survive to this day and give good service forty and fifty years after they were made.
In 1897, when I was twenty-six, I got the idea I would like to try politics. The Governor had been mayor of Oshawa and I suppose I wanted to try my hand at civic affairs too. In that year I campaigned for a seat on the council and was fortunate enough to be elected at the head of the poll.
That was the beginning and end of my political career. I was, as I have said, working extremely long hours; I really wasn’t interested in politics, municipal or any other kind, and 1 was never much of a speaker. To those of my friends who will raise an eyebrow at this last statement, I will point out that I said speaker—not talker.
But the chief reason 1 abandoned politics so quickly was a young lady named Miss Adelaide Louise Mowbray. In 1898, twenty-seven years old and a confirmed bachelor, I bicycled out to Tyrone one Sunday to visit my uncle on the old homestead. 1 should have remembered that Tyrone was a dangerous place for my family—my brother
George had married a Tyrone girl. But 1 had no inkling of my fate when my uncle asked me to go to church with hi.«.family.
T^e only person I really saw in the chure.^, Aat day was a vision of beauty in the cows* Iput the strange part of it was that having'"«own her previously. She had vis carriage. ime—she and my youngerpould be no cone to model school togethbe stable lad never paid any attention* manure Somehow that morning, as n.^ .-„„le’s pew was well forward in the church, I could get a ringside view of her. So absorbed was I that my uncle had to nudge my elbow when they passed the collection plate.
After the service I was waiting at the side door through which the choir entered. I wanted her to come out for a walk that afternoon but she had to teach the Bible class. I made a date for the next Sunday when I drove out with my horse and buggy.
I believe I made some progress, for I asked for another date the next Sunday and on that day I proposed to her. In those days I sported a big sandycolored mustache and a Vandyke beard. Although Miss Adelaide had not said anything against them I reluctantly decided they must go for I had made up my mind that my bachelor days, with such a beautiful girl available, should come to an end and nothing should interfere with my chances.
I was accepted in October and we were married the next February. I made a happy choice that day as my
w and I have enjoyed more than fifty-six years of married life. She has been a wonderful helpmate always And possesses great charm, not only for me but for all who know her.
A little less than a year after my marriage the biggest disaster in our history struck. On Dec. 7, 1899, the McLaughlin Carriage Company buildings burned to the ground. We were helpless; we could only stand and watch our life’s work go up in flames, not only we McLaughlins, but the six hundred men who depended for a living on the carriage works.
The only water we ever saw at that dre wouldn’t even reach the first floor, because it had to be pumped all the way from the city hall by a dinky little dre engine. The building was crammed full with raw material, carriages in all stages of completion, and a large number of carriages ready to ship. All our tools and equipment, including the special gauges and jigs we had designed to make our product« just a little better than others. All our designs—my designs—went up in the flames. Insurance covered part of the loss, but couldn’t begin to meet the disaster of a going concern employing hundreds of men suddenly becoming a heap of blackened wreckage.
If we were dismayed, the Governor, George and I, we didn’t stay that way long. For the ruins of the McLaughlin Carriage Company were still smoldering when a telephone call came through from Belleville. The city was ready to float a bond issue, we were told, to provide us with a big cash bonus if we would rebuild our factory in Belleville. In quick succession, by telegram, telephone and letter, similar offers came from fifteen other Ontario cities and towns. How could we remain discouraged in the face of that kind of confidence in our ability to re-establish our business?
But we wanted to stay in Oshawa. We felt a loyalty to the town in which we had now been established for nearly a quarter of a century, a loyalty which amounted to the feeling that Oshawa owned the business as much as the McLaughlins did. And we soon had heartening evidence that Oshawa reciprocated that feeling. The town offered us a loan of $50,000, to be repaid “as convenient.”
We appreciated that and accepted. But what were we and our workers to do while the plant was being rebuilt? And what about our markets? Would buyers who needed a new carriage wait six months or a year up^a'we got into production? Scxr. .rfeWAU’e had to start making carria^ch., hadediately and in quantity. usines.1
I started scouting around for temporary quarters. At Gananoque, one hundred and fifty miles east of Oshawa, I came across an empty two-story factory that we could rent, and grabbed it. I suppose the next six months were the most hectic of my life. Remember, we were going back into the carriage business with nothing except what we had in our heads. While machinery was being hastily installed in the Gananoque factory — anything we could lay hands on that would make carriage parts-—I set about re-creating the designs we needed to make the prototype models.
By the time the new century had dawned we were ready to get into production again. Of course, we couldn’t hope to produce, in that makeshift factory, all the scores of models we had been making. But we could produce enough to keep the McLaughlin Carriage Company a going concern. I took as many of our Oshawa workmen as I could use along to Gananoque, and we found billets in boarding houses and private homes. The town took quite
an interest in our “inva '—oldtimers of Gananoque still tell me they remember vividly “the time McLaughlin’s moved in.”
By keeping that double-decked plant running two shifts every 24 hours we really rolled those carriages out, and they were every bit as good as the ones we had been making at a more leisurely pace in Oshawa; the Governor wouldn’t have permitted anything else.
By the middle of July 1900—starting from scratch without a design or a pattern or a tool—we turned out 3,000 carriages. That was enough to supply
our most urgent orders portant, to establish bey. that the McLaughlins vVe. business. The Gananoqut confirmed my belief that conscientious worker is the of any business.
We all returned to Oshawa in midsummer after winding up the Gananoque business, and pitched in to help finish the new plant . . . and we were making carriages in Oshawa again before the roof was on.
The new plant was on such an ambitious scale that it was not until 1911,
aen we were deep in automobile roduction in addition to carriages, vhat we needed to acquire our “No. 2 £’ of forty acres on what was then ¿kirt« of Oshawa. So well built plant that it is still part
-`ogned by M. J. Is(_ `urfl4)aflV, and built LJ~~ many of the MeLau~_ out of vork by the. 0 large main buildings. _________ eet Iw (1 fvet . I la other 274 fe rt~CoIkrI ion of the fIre of h
flames had ripped through the thin floors as though they were not there, of how the walls had collapsed—influenced the specifications of the new buildings. They had five-inch-thick floors with castings on the main posts so that the walls would remain upright in the event of iFire. We put in a big underground winter tank with a powerful pump and a six-inch pipe outlet— it waflgfnotfftKil 1905 that Oshawa instailed,«á%'4»rworks. We put in a gener^pp^^'Make our own electric
All jn all, th$ new plant was the last woed in mod^Mity. There was even an officejjBection designed as part of the plant, instead-of a corner grudgingly loppç| feoin space devoted to the allliness of making carigdflBii$Piere were telephones. Oliynhere Rad been an intereomUcation system in the old plant, but it^Wasffjot one that Alexander Crrshatu Bell had made or invented. It Consisted of $ metal pipe running up through the three floors. Anyone on jmy flothv could call anyone on any fbthfer floor by opening a flap and whist I mg through the tube, then asking lot f|í^¿ira0Ti wanted. It was our own jcjea and wepwere very proud of it. It supposed to be a great timesaver, riBf: it was—for others. But
,s the message which rough the tubular tele am, you're wanted in the
a small sensation in ing a stenographer, prob in the town, certainly the McLaughlin Carriage Ve took on a few more ap of big business, notably an assistant, William came to me from high rge couldn't stand that so he took on Jack Beaton as That was the office staff, man who was the real th to the Governor and )liver Hezzlewood. Mr. was an Oshawa school d kept the books straight
" faPtne McLaughlins, who were more interested in designing and building carriages. For four or five years he drodffed in after school to do his work, until the Governor decided we needed him full time.
In/ilPOl, as we were getting into stride after the fire, we changed the setup of the company; the partners became shareholders and the company became the McLaughlin Carriage Company, Ltd. ,
Those were wonderful years for the carriage business. Everybody in Canada seemed to want a McLaughlin carriage or cutter. Our volume rocketed to the 25,000-a-year mark, our sales passed the million-dollar volume.
There was only one small cloud on the horizon; a cloud caused by the appearance on Ontario’s dusty roads of a strange contraption called the automobile.
1 don’t remember the first time I saw an automobile. It might have been the one that was the pride and joy of Oliver Hezzlewood. Certainly Hezzlewood’s was the finst car I had any
personal contact with, the first I ever worked on. I don’t even remember its make. I think it ran on one cylinder and was chain-driven. I know it had no doors, top or windshield. I know for this reason: One day Hezzlewood complained to me that his car, in spite of its many virtues, was a little inconvenient in inclement weather. What he meant was that when it rained he and his passengers got soaked to the skin.
“Can’t you do anything about that?” he asked me. I talked with one of the foremen and we devised a top. It wasn’t really a top, but a rubberized sheet that fitted over the body, with four holes cut in it for the heads of the driver and his three passengers. It was the darndest-looking contraption you ever saw, but, used in conjunction with sou’wester hats worn by the occupants, it did keep them dry. And Hezzlewood was immensely pleased with it. He had me drive his car—and from then on I had a new kind of wheels in my head: motor-driven wheels.
By 1905 there were a couple of dozen cars in Toronto. The nearest one to us was in Whitby. They were still much of a curiosity, a sporting proposition for adventurous people.
A Merry Time for Autos
In the U. S. 1905 was the year in which the automobile could claim to have emerged from the “horseless carriage” stage and become an industry. The Ford Motor Company was two years old. The Buick Motor Company, also two years old, had just been taken over by a carriage builder named William C. Durant and in this year would produce 750 cars. Cadillac, three years old, was offering a onecylinder car with the motor under the front seat. Among other cars for sale were the Locomobile, Mobile, Winton, deDion, Columbia and Gasmobile. But the real titan was R. E. Olds, whose curved-da?*“ one-cylinder Oldsmobile outnumbereYm>4Jnther cars on America’s dirt road!10 ™^*5-*ted gravel highways. Up tc manui Aids—who was later to give hi —-ahe to another car, the Reo—had produced nearly 12,000 cars. In that year he was to make a record 6,500 runabouts, and G us Edwards was to write that priceless piece of publicity—the song, In My Merry Oldsmobile.
Yes, 1905 was a good year for a Canadian carriage maker to start taking an interest in automobiles. And I was interested in them both for their own sake and as potential competition.
I started a campaign to persuade my brother George that automobiles had a place in the world, and pretty well convinced him. We never did convince the Governor, though. He honestly believed that the automobile would never replace the horse-drawn carriage; certainly not for many years; certainly not in his time.
In keeping an eye on this intriguing new idea in transportation I had to move warily. I had to wait until my holidays before 1 could visit the U S. and learn more about what was being done in the automobile field. I can imagine what the Governor’s reaction
would have been if I had said: “I want to take time off to learn how to go about replacing carriages with automobiles in the McLaughlin plant.”
So when my vacation came I went to Buffalo, where Richard Pierce was making a car that was beginning to be heard about. Mr. Pierce took me to lunch at his club and afterward showed me around his plant where the PierceArrow was being manufactured, painstakingly by hand operation, piece by piece, part by part. This stately courteous gentleman of the old school then made a startling statement in a quiet matter-of-fact voice:
“Cars like this have no future, Mr. McLaughlin. I would advise you against trying to make them.”
He explained that it was his belief that large cars would never find a considerable market; that McLaughlin’s should use its experience in mass production of carriages to enter the lowpriced car field. And, when I considered the $2,000 to $3,000 price of the Pierce-Arrow in comparison with our own price range for carriages—from $50 for our low-priced models to $165 wholesale for the largest and most elaborate carriages—I was inclined to agree with him.
I n a sense, Mr. Pierce was forecasting the fate of his own products. He continued to make his fine cars for many years, and they acquired great prestige. But they never sold in sufficient quantities to enable the company to survive adversity, and in the Thirties PierceArrow went out of business.
I thanked Mr. Pierce for his kindness and went over to the R. R. Thomas Company, also in Buffalo, for a look at the Thomas Flyer. Mr. Thomas couldn’t talk business with me, he said, because he already had commitments with the Canada Cycle and Motor Company in Toronto. This fact made me all the more interested in getting a line on some arrangement to make cars in Canada, before competitors got the jump on us in our own country.
I also visited the Peerless Company in Cleveland, the Reo works and the Thomas Detroit factory, without coming to any conclusion about making cars in Canada. Back in Oshawa, I told my father what I had seen on my trip. He did not approve of my interest in cars, but he did not forbid it either. 1 think he considered it a youthful enthusiasm which I would outgrow much as I had outgrown bicycle racing.
Not. long afterward we had a visit from a great friend of my father’s, a Mr. Matthews, of Gananoque. He told us that a man he knew, Charles Lewis, of Jackson, Mich., had been in the spring and axle business and was now
making automobiles. He suggested thAt we talk to him.
So I took the train to Jackson with Oliver Hezzlewood, who was now an executive of the company. We called on Mr. Lewis. He was a fine old gentleman, genial and courteous, and ready to do anything in the world for us. He was enthusiastic over the possibilities of our manufacturing cars in Oshawa, and outlined how it could be done. We could manufacture the engines and many of the parts, he would supply us with an engineer and certain parts. He proposed an arrangement whereby we would pay him a certain amount in cash for the benefits we would derive from our connection with him. He was confident that the Jackson car was for us, and pointed out that one of his cars, driven by the great Bob Burman, had recently won the hundred-mile Vanderbilt Cup race on Long Island.
All in all, the proposition sounded good. I went home feeling that we were probably in the automobile manufacturing business at last—provided, | of course, we could persuade the Governor to let us try it. Fortunately,
I made one reservation before comj mitting ourselves: I ordered two cars from Mr. Lewis for testing, one a chain drive, the other shaft driven. As soon as they arrived, Mr. Hezzlewood took the wheel of the former and 1 climbed into the latter. Ofï' we went down the macadam highway . . .
How Durant Bought a Car
I will draw a curtain over the events of the next hour. Suffice to say that as automobiles they were a poor job of plumbing. We broke down several times. If we had not been optimists we would have gone contentedly back to carriage making. Certainly if the Governor had been along on either of those rides we would have been out of the automobile business before we j entered it.
But there was still one bright spot. | While we had been eating breakfast in Jackson before going to the Lewis works, William Durant and his factory manager had walked into the dining room.
“Sam, what on earth are you doing here?” Durant asked. I told him. He thought for a moment, then said: “Charlie Lewis is a dear friend of mine. You get his story, then if you’re not satisfied, come and see me.”
I had known Durant for ten yearn, having met him at conventions of carriage manufacturers. He and his partner, Dallas Dort, had built a fiftydollar stake into Durant-Dort, then one of the biggest carriage and wagon companies in the U. S., with a production up to 150,000 units a year. Like my father, Durant wanted no part of the automobile business, which was I then blossoming in his home town of j Flint and nearby Michigan cities. Yet j just about the time I started to get j interested and concerned about j cars, Durant had been persuaded to buy the Buick company.
This is how it came about: David j Buick, Walter Marr, who made the j first Buick two-cylinder engine, William Patterson, a Canadian-born carriage manufacturer who had invested in Buick, and other backers were anxious to get their money out of a venture which seemed to have little hope of success. They decided that Durant would be a good prospect. At any rate, he had the money to buy Buick if he could he talked into it.
Marr drove a Buick to the Durant carriage factory in Flint and invited Durant to go for a ride. Durant wouldn’t even come out to look at the car. But Dallas Dort, more impressionable, climbed in. During the ride
Marr stopped the car and invited Dort to drive. With a few instructions, Dort found lie could operate the car. He returned to the factory, rushed into Durant’s office and said excitedly: “Come on out, it’s great! They taught mo to drive; I’ve been driving a car!”
Durant wasn’t impressed. “I want nothing to do with it,” he said.
Marr didn’t give up. That evening he drove the Buick back and forth in front of Durant’s home. Next morning he was hack again. Durant was impressed, not so much by the car as by Marr’s persistence. He agreed to go for a ride. It was then that he learned that Marr was not trying to sell him a Buic k car —but the Buick company.
Characteristically, having put one foot into something, Durant plunged all the way in. What happened next is related in The Turning Wheel, the official history of General Motors:
With no technical experience of his own to guide him, Mr. Durant applied the only test he could make ... He drove that two-cylinder Buick back and forth over a wide range of territory devoid of good roads save for a few gravel turnpikes built by toll companies. He put it through swamps, mud and sand and pitchholes for almost two months, bringing it in for repairs and consultations and then taking it out for another strenuous cross-country run.
Before accepting Durant’s invitation to “come and see me,” and without knowing at that time the story of how he had come to buy Buick, I did very much what he had done. I went to Toronto and bought a Model F twocylinder Buick for $1,650 from the Buick agents, Dominion Automobile and Supply Company. But I didn’t have to put it through Durant’s stiff tests. Before I was halfway to Oshawa I knew it was the car we wanted to make in Canada. I wired Durant and went to see him.
Durant greeted me with: “Well,
there’s no doubt this is the car for you.” I agreed with him. He turned me loose with his factory manager and accountants, and for two and a half days we went over every detail of the Buick operation. We worked out a tentative plan we thought would be fair to both sides. Then Durant and I got together, sharpened our pencils, agreed on most points—and then reached an impasse. We just couldn’t agree on final details of the financial arrangement. We weren’t far apart, but we just couldn’t get together. I guess we were both stubborn.
We parted the best of friends. “I’m sorry we couldn’t work it out,” I said. He answered: “So am I, Sam; this is the car for you.”
I went home to Oshawa and told the
Governor and Geotge about my failure. I half-expected my father to say, "All right, that's over: now let's get. busy making carriages." Hut he didn't. He listened while George afl(I I worked out our alternative plan to make our own car. All the Governor said was, "If you think you can make a go of it., go ahead."
We needed a first-class engineer to supervise the manufacturing and assembly processes, and of the many I interviewed my choice was Arthur Milbrath, who was with the A. O. Smith Company, of Milwaukee, makers of auto and engine parts. We brought him to Oshawa and installed him in one of our buildings, on the west side of Mary Street, which had been set aside as the automobile shop. We equipped it with automatic lathes and other machine tools, planers and shapers— dozens of machines. From a Cleveland firm we ordered cylinders, pistons and crankshafts to our own specifications, and engine castings to be worked in our own shop. I put all I had into designing the most beautiful car I could dream of —the bodies, of course, would be made by the same artisans who had been making our carriages for years. The car was to be more powerful than the Buick.
We had everything we needed for our first hundred cars, and had the first car all laid out and practically ready for assembly, down to the beautiful brass McLaughlin radiator on which I had spent many hours, when disaster struck. Arthur Milbrath became severely ill with pleurisy.
Without an engineer we were helpless. The automobile shop, so nearly ready to produce its harvest, lay idle . . . dead. In this plight I thought of William Durant and his goodwill toward the McLaughlins. I wired him, explaining what had happened and asking him if he could lend us an engineer. His answer came back promptly:
“Will you be home tomorrow? I’m coming over.” ★
THE MEN CARS MADE FAMOUS
R. S. McLaughlin concludes his story, My Eighty Years On Wheels, with an album of fascinating. intimate pen-pictures of the giants of the auto age.
Next Issue On Sale Oct. 6