Date: Sat, 5 Oct 1996 14:27:48 EDT

From: Charles & Mary Boewe boewes[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]JUNO.COM

Subject: Headlamps

Allen Maberry's grandfather probably remembered cars that were

hand-cranked to start, got their ignition spark from a magneto rather

than a storage battery, and illuminated the roadway ahead by means of

gas-powered headlamps.

Most lighting devices that burn hydrocarbons have been called lamps.

Whale oil lamps, kerosene lamps, gas lamps. Early automobiles--when they

had lights at all, for headlamps at first were an add-on

accessory--burned acetylene in their large, brass headlamps.

This colorless gas (which has a foul odor) was generated in the lamps

themselves, by water dripping on a lump of calcium carbide. It was a

process not without hazards; harmless but loud 4th-of-July canons

generate acetylene by the same process, then cause it to explode.

Some notion of how effective acetylene lamps could be comes from

remembering that welding torches still burn acetylene (though under

pressure and in the presence of pressurized oxygen).

Early cars (especially closed ones) sometimes also had small oil-burning

lamps on each side. These, of course, descended from the carriage lamps

formerly affixed to the sides of horse-drawn carriages, where they served

no other purpose than to make known the presence of the carriage,

somewhat as running lights do ships (or, for that matter, airplanes).

They did not illuminate the road. This form comes down to us as

"carriage lamps" mounted beside the door of a house.

Charles Boewe