Carbide Generator Update: Well, at least it looks good… March 12th, 2019

Well, after last year’s long journey just to acquire a proper carbide generator for our truck, we managed to get it out for thorough inspection and restoration. Alas, she will not be lighting the truck with carbide gas due to some holes in areas essential to its safe function. I am a bit saddened by this as I was hoping to be the first person to use carbide light on a Liberty in God knows how long- however, we still managed to get the generator cleaned and painted to match the truck. Tom over at Firebrand LLC managed to help us clean up a few features on our older Solar model generator to include removing the mounting brackets cast into the body rim, and one of the two feed nozzles to better match the 1012-B model intended for the truck and allow it to mount into the firewall bracket. The older 712 model we have was designed to be mounted to a car’s firewall or side using brackets cast directly into its bronze body- a feature which keep it from mounting to the liberty as intended. It was meant to also power two headlamps, while the Liberty only has one search light needing one gas nozzle. These two features had to be modified in order to mount to the Liberty accurately (I apologize to all the brass-era restorers out there who are sobbing while reading this). If you missed our first post when we initially acquired the generator take a look here!

Solar Brand early model Generator on FDM truck COMPLETE
The ‘Solar’ brand Model 712 Carbide generator cleaned, painted and mounted on the First Division Museum’s second-series Class-B standardized ‘Liberty’ truck. Though an older model, it is nearly identical in dimensions and features to the 1012-B model intended for the truck.

Since taking this photo I have touched up the paint we scratched up in the process of mounting the generator (whoops) but she sure does look good! Though non-functioning, the presence of the generator on the truck will help us at the museum to better interpret the history of the truck and automotive design to the public as an illustration of what types of lighting used to exist before electricity became the standard. We also received our custom fabricated horn mount we’ve been dying to get which was the last piece of the puzzle. Once I find our Klaxon horn in the chaos of our most recent garage move, our truck will finally be complete.

Be sure to check out our post about the second-series Liberty Truck gas and oil lighting system for more info on the lighting system in its entirety.

2 thoughts on “Carbide Generator Update: Well, at least it looks good… March 12th, 2019

  1. Love trucks! Love the blog!

    Researching 5 great granduncles who served in WW I. So, I’ve seen photos of the incredible variety of trucks used.

    I have a question about night movement. I have often read about moving troops and equipment at night to avoid being spotted by airplanes. I have read of Blackout marker light, blackout guide lights being used as early as WW II to assist with night movement. But nothing on the Grrat War.

    Have you heard or read anything about Blackout marker light, blackout guide lights being used in WW I?

    One reason I ask is a friend found a photo in the National Archives of the 90th Division in the St Mihiel region (Aug 1918 to 10 OCT 1918) that features a truck that has toppled over on its side. The photo shows the underneath of the truck. And when I zoom in I looks like a lantern of some sort was hung under the truck bed. Probably 3 feet from the back of the truck, So that if it was lit at night, someone behind the truck could see it. But, difficult to detect from an airplane.

    I’ll reply with the photo / national archives info, etc. if you like.



    • Hi John!

      You are absolutely correct- the lamp you’re seeing is the ‘rear tail lamp’ used on the Liberty. It was a simple oil-wick red lens lamp which was purposely dim (only about 2-5 candle light power according to the manual) which was intended to be dim enough so as not to arouse notice, but bright enough to be seen in the dark by trailing trucks. This lends itself to the tactics of night movement in the Great War-keeping yourself dim enough not to be seen by the air, but bright enough to actually help. While I have yet to dig up some actual doctrine on night movement, the design of the truck, contemporary articles and reading its manuals points to this being the practice. The use of the head lamps (21 Candle power) or central dash lamp would’ve been far too bright for tactical use at night.

      The first type truck had two electric head lamps, a single tail lamp, and two side lamps located just above and behind the front wheels and mounted to the frame, directed at the ground. These side lamps allowed the driver to peer over and see in the dark what kind of terrain the wheels were navigating. They also remained dim enough (I think around 7 candle power each mentioned in the manual) and directed at the ground so as not to be see form too far away but still help the driver. These lamps were removed form the Second-type truck. The red-lens tail lamp remained however. The tail lamp was mounted to the left side of the frame behind the left right wheel and could just barely be seen if you were trailing behind, but only just. The tail lamp is also, funnily enough, the same lamp design used for artillery spotting with 75mm and American 3-inch guns of the time.


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