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what is this mystery gauge?


Bill Noble
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This gauge came from deep in a drawer in a friend's basement - it is chrome plated brass, the gauge face says Robinson's Automotive Engine Service Los Angeles", the Gauge itself is a US Gauge Co vacuum gauge calibrated 0-30. There are two needle valves at the top, the upper one ports air in through a small hole in the back of the valve, the other one presumably controls flow from left to right. there is a sight glass on each side (one is missing) - the curved part on the bottom looks like it would fit on a steering column.

So, what the heck is this thing? I'd swear I've seen one of these, but as they say, memory is the second thing to go

This is probably older than any car I have - my oldest is 1936 - I'd sure like to know what it was used on and exactly what it was for - I'm sure someone here knows.

Note that there is an attached file, if you can think of other information that would help, let me know

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well, one thing that makes me think it isn't for oil pressure is that the gauge is a vacuum gauge - I tested this by sucking on the "outlet" and sure enough, the gauge shows increasing numbers as the vacuum increases. My speculation is that it's associated with a vacuum oiler of some kind but someone must know what it is really.

keep them guesses coming.

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Maybe this is the sort of device that you might want to check your aircleaner would pass enough gas, and you could get a vacuum figure while driving at revs under load. It would be cute to have such a gauge to use for flow-testing ports, because you might expect considerable fluctuation as one valve ran its cycles. Ivan Saxton

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No, the gauge is not marked in PSI, if I suck on it, the pointer moves to higher values, so it is measuring vacuum -- I suppose I was being carless when I said PSI - you are right that it must be In Hg. This really is a very odd thing, and I'd sure like for someone to recognize it.

maybe its something hugely valuable and rare and will make me rich - maybe it's just a cool old gauge but whatever it is, it originally had some specific purpose.

by the way, if it helps, the OD of the thread on teh remainign fitting is 0.375 inches. I removed the gauge to see if there were any markings behind it - all I found was a small scrap of wood with a dusty smell that was presumably used as a shim. there is a little blackening on the OD of the outlet copper tube where it was inside the fitting to the needle valve - oil? hard to tell - the tube I'm calling inlet (on the left) seems clean

Were there any old cars where it would make sense to let oil into the intake manifold? it could be for that purpose, I suppose

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  • 13 years later...
Posted (edited)

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well it's been 13 years and this thing is back in front of me - let's see if anyone can come up with a improved guess.....  what is apparent is that the curved base probably did sit on the steering column, the chrome sides with the threaded holes held brackets, you can see the outline, so the screws didn't hit the column, the bracket went around the column and was aligned by the "shelf" above the hole.  you can see that there was somethign screwed to the back and that it might have been round - or there was nothing there and something scratched it.  you can see the bleed hole for the center needle valve.  the picture at the top of this thread shows the object as a whole, these just show pices about which there is speculation.  I also have in the pictures what the gauge looks like removed from the chrome part, and how they used a piece of wood as a spacer (you can see the wood, and the outline of where it sat at the bottom of the assembly.  the whole thing just smells dusty, not oily or of gasoline.

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Edited by Bill Noble
add one more image (see edit history)
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well, I guess it's not impossible, but then how to expain the nomenclature on the gauge face?  I can see that such a thing might have a medical application but in the past the gauges have been marked accordingly.  and this gauge is quite old, it's of the right age to go with the rest of the unit.   

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I would love to be a fly on the wall when the factory folks open that email! The dumb look would be PRICELESS!😄

 

I spent nearly 40 years in power generation and I never saw a gauge like that. With that needle valve, looks like metering or bleeding off vacuum is part of the design.

 

Sometimes vacuum is measured in "H2O as well as "Hg.

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10 hours ago, Bill Noble said:

well, I guess it's not impossible, but then how to expain the nomenclature on the gauge face?  I can see that such a thing might have a medical application but in the past the gauges have been marked accordingly.  and this gauge is quite old, it's of the right age to go with the rest of the unit.   

 

Sorry , you are correct about the automotive service on the gauge. I think I had brain lock up.

Could be a test device , possibly to bleed vacuum from the fuel delivery system to check flow , or something obscure

like that.

It's not a cheap instrument , that's why I thought it looked medical.

Doesn't look like it would be for a production car.

Looking forward to the correct answer.

 

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AD-2215 by US Gauge Company is a vacuum gauge. There is an AD-2215 gauge on ebay right now (just the gauge, not the specialized housing). Apparently US Gauge Co custom printed the faces, since the one in this thread is from Robinson's Automotive Service in Los Angeles. I'm guessing this is some sort of piece of test equipment, possibly for the vacuum tank on an early car?

 

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ha!  well that's most assuredly true - it definitely straps to something that is slightly smaller in diameter than a babyfood jar, that's why I think "steering column" - but it doesn't have to be that of course.  since all I smell is dust, that doesn't really help much.  You could be right that it was strapped to something else, perhaps a cannister of magic liquid of some kind - Marvel mystery oil, brake fluid, top oil, something like that.  Hydraulic brakes came in about the time this gauge would have been new - the late 20's and early to mid 30's.

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Joe - thanks, interestingly I have some other gauges with that "moon on the pointer" design - that could establish the age, but it won't establish what hte piece of equipment was for.  And also, note that the gauge on ebay has the vacuum inlet on the back of the gauge whereas this one has the outlet, (or is it an inlet - vacuum is soooo confusing) on the top of the gauge and that slotted screw I believe (but have not confirmed) is a valve to either slow down the gauge response or to have it hold a value.  That screw is well stuck and I have chosen not to mess with it.

 

maybe the thing it straps to is a hand operated suction pump? tht could make sense, and the needle valve on top admits bleed air?  so then it could be for looking for leaks in vacuum operated fuel systems.

 

there must be someone who can remember seeing such a thing in an old catalog or something

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10 minutes ago, sagefinds said:

I wonder if it might be a gauge to synchronize carbs on a dual carb system such as the V-12 and V-16 Cadillacs. I know there are gauges to do that because it needs to be done.

if it were that, what are the two glass sight tubes for?  I have a selsyn tool to balance the SU carbs on my morgan, the tool measures air flow with a little ball in a tube but I'm pretty sure that isn't what these things are - the tubing is way too small for even the idle air flow of a cadillac 12 or 16 (or 8).  I don't think those dual carb setups had test ports for connecting a gauge after the carb, right?

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On 8/15/2022 at 10:14 PM, rocketraider said:

I would love to be a fly on the wall when the factory folks open that email! The dumb look would be PRICELESS!

A number of years ago, I received some copies of correspondence from Studebaker of Canada printed on the original stationery.  One was able to still read "A.B. Dick 'Azograph'" in script in relief in the paper.  To verity its authenticity, I was able to photograph the script in the paper clearly enough holding it up to the light.  I did send an email to A.B. Dick and received a nice reply a few days later when that logo and script was used on their paper products, thereby confirming what I received was authentic.

 

Craig

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11 hours ago, Bill Noble said:

Joe - thanks, interestingly I have some other gauges with that "moon on the pointer" design - that could establish the age, but it won't establish what hte piece of equipment was for.  And also, note that the gauge on ebay has the vacuum inlet on the back of the gauge whereas this one has the outlet, (or is it an inlet - vacuum is soooo confusing) on the top of the gauge and that slotted screw I believe (but have not confirmed) is a valve to either slow down the gauge response or to have it hold a value.  That screw is well stuck and I have chosen not to mess with it.

 

Bill, I've found a couple of these AD-2215 gauges in photos on line and the location of the vacuum fitting appears to be optional depending on the application. Unfortunately none of those photos had any info on age or application.

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23 hours ago, joe_padavano said:

AD-2215 by US Gauge Company is a vacuum gauge. There is an AD-2215 gauge on ebay right now (just the gauge, not the specialized housing). Apparently US Gauge Co custom printed the faces, since the one in this thread is from Robinson's Automotive Service in Los Angeles. I'm guessing this is some sort of piece of test equipment, possibly for the vacuum tank on an early car?

 

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I would guess a vacuum gauge for an air conditioning set of gauges.

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1 hour ago, Larry Schramm said:

 

I would guess a vacuum gauge for an air conditioning set of gauges.

I thought about that. Robinson made ac equipment. Don't know if it's the same company.

I've done AC work , I don't know why you need a bleed valve. Unless you want to bleed and recheck?

Gauge has a 1940's-50's look to it.

Maybe an old dealership tool?

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AC gauges are generally pressure, whether the coolant is freon, amonia, or some other substance, and the valving isn't right

 

I figured out the two needle valves... the short one goes in the top and meters air from the small opening that faces the back of the unit (second photo), hte longer needle valve closes or opens flow into the port to the right side of the valve from either the air or the left side hose/tube.

 

I still don't know what it does but maybe that helps

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I wonder if this is a similar device that’s explaining testing oil-vac gasoline fuel feed. The photo I’ve attached looks different but because it describes it “should be mounted on the inside of the dash above the level of the carburetor” (steering column?) it makes me think it’s possible yours may have been used for the same or similar purpose in theory.
 

Because of the visible tube section it must be for something fluid related as one would not be able to see air movement. Vacuum yes, but what kind of fluid was it drawing and from where and for what purpose. I think it’s for troubleshooting as described.
 

The description at the end of this page may also explain the convenience of the two adjustable threaded valve screws IF it’s true that this tool is a substitute for this method. I’m horrible at this sort of thing but it’s the closest thing I’ve ever found that seems similar. From a 1931 Dykes 16th edition fwiw…

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Posted (edited)

I guess I could see this gauge being in the line between A and S in figure 1 but if that were the case, what would it be strapped to?  diagnosing fuel flow problems in this system might well be something that would be aided by a special tool like this.... what's the aproximate year for cars with one of these systems, pre '20's?  maybe if we can guess a year range then I can look for diagnostic equipment in that range of years.  this article is great though, thanks

 

I found a video explaining the system .... but no diagnostic equipment (yet)  

 

Edited by Bill Noble (see edit history)
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Actually I think there is a good chance that this apparatus is not auto related.  I suspect that the side entry gauge is not original and has been put in to replace whatever was there originally as I cannot see it being made  with a piece of wood packing out the gauge so it doesn't foul on the two screws on the back of the gauge.  Also there are two grooves in the housing which no doubt are there for a purpose but are not necessary for the US Gauge Co gauge and it looks ill fitting for the housing.  If I had to guess without that gauge referring to "Robinsons Auto Service" I would say it has the looks of something from a hospital/medical.

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you could be right, but those grooves in the housing line up exactly with the screws on the side of the gauge that hold the bezel in place, and they are plated inside so they weren't made after the fact (see photo).  I looked for about an hour in the library of congress phone book collection, it only goes back to 1932 but between '32 and '48 I found no "Robinson's Automotive Repair" although there are a plethora of people named Robinson in the white pages.  I couldn't find anything going back to the 20's but it may be out there.  I think this thing, except for the missing pieces and stuff, is not modified, and is as sold.

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On 8/18/2022 at 5:09 PM, Bill Noble said:

I guess I could see this gauge being in the line between A and S in figure 1 but if that were the case, what would it be strapped to?  diagnosing fuel flow problems in this system might well be something that would be aided by a special tool like this.... what's the aproximate year for cars with one of these systems, pre '20's?  maybe if we can guess a year range then I can look for diagnostic equipment in that range of years.  this article is great though, thanks

 

I found a video explaining the system .... but no diagnostic equipment (yet)  

 

as Popeye would say [well blow me down]

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interesting, it appears (without a schematic of the 1910 White) that the valving on my mystery device is similar or maybe even identical to what is on the White.... what is so odd is that I can't find any reference at all to this device if that is what it is.  I suppose this could be the only one in existance but Robinsons Automotive Service must have sold them or installed them or they would not have ordered gauges with their information on the face, no?

 

thoughts?

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