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USL Starter/generator


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Hi Todd, The USL system was used on a number of cars during the early to mid-teens. Amoung them, that I have encountered, were Mercer, Rambler, Jeffery, Simplex, and of course your Overland. The Overland cars that were factory equipped with the USL system were noted by an 'E' added to their model designation (i.e. 69-TE versus 69-T for the Touring Car). Overland only offered the USL system for one year, 1913. I am only aware of 2 examples of them in existance, one is in the AACA museum, and the 2nd was once part of the Harrah collection, but I don't know what ever happened to it. You might want to expand your search through the other makes that used the system, as there are some interchangable items that might help. The carbon pile regulators and "Touring" switches should mostly be interchangeable. I would say that the most difficult item would be the main "flywheel" commutator, as all of the other ones that I've looked at were somewhat larger that the one used on the Overland. Good luck!

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Ralph Buckley told me that the safe rpm of the early L-head Mercers with USL was very strictly limited, lest you end up with a tangled, fragmented mess. That is why 22-70, 22-72, and 22-73 Mercer Raceabouts had no starter. (22-74 or Series 4 in 1918 had a more conventional two unit Westighouse system. Certainly the Mercer would rev much more enthusiastically than you would expect of the Rutenber of an Overland.

It is curious that a pioneer precurser of the USL system was a feature of a pioneer automobile built in USA in the mid 1890's. This is decribed in a 1920's book which I have but cannot lay my hand on at this moment. The author is Rankin Kennedy, and it is one of a set "Automobile Engineering". It is described as a horizontally opposed twin cylinder, and it had not only electric starting, but lights also; and automatic spark advance (before James Ward Packard invented his)! It came (again from memory) from Chicago; and no inventer is named. I understand that Charles Greuter of Stutz in the 1920's built a car that may correspond with this description in most respects. I shall post the reference or a scan of the section as soon as I am able.

Ivan Saxton

postscript: I trascribed the reference on a thread "Packard Firsts" #345637 on 09/23/06. This was in General Discussion section. IES

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