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Posted By: Dick Johnson
Posted On: Thursday January 16, 2020 at 8:36 AM
A trip back in the time machine, enjoy,

It is a bit hard to determine the mileage Frances Birtles did all told but his total in Fords. (maybe more than one car) could have easily been the 37000 miles. Roads were non existent and often the best way was not direct.

In 1913 Birtles drove from Burketown in the Gulf of Carpentaria to Melbourne for the NSW Ford distributors for a publicity drive promoting the Ford. The distance was 3500 miles.

Several other trips followed, including circumnavigating the continent, one Birdsville via Innamincka and Sturts Stony desert, a trip only previously done by Horses, camels and bullock trains. On this trip he nearly died when he became bogged in sand and ran out of water trying to seek help.

The Ford is RHD and is loaded with gear including gas as normally where he was going there was no place to purchase it. As you can see the Ford is basically a touring with roof only for the front seat behind it is just everything stored.

Birtles must have been one tough person, besides traveling by himself only with a dog for company, he suffered from malaria and was once rescued by Aborigines when struck down by it in the desert on one of his Ford adventures.

He also suffered extensive burns when on a trip the car struck a tree stump and the fuel on board exploded. He was rescued but spent several months recovering in an inland mission hospital.

His life reads like an adventure novel, I often wonder why his story has not made it as a film, as he eventually found a gold mine and retired a wealthy man who lived to an old age.

Here is a picture of Birtles on a trip to pick up the groceries.

One of the topics we have been exploring this month is how education has played a role in the development and continuation of the automotive industry. One thing we wanted to know is where and when it began, in our research we found that while engineering has been weaved throughout history, auto mechanic schooling is something that hadn't really emerged until the introduction of the automobile. One of the first auto schools to emerge was Boston's Auto School, hosted by the Young Men's Christian Association, which had noticed the surge in automobile sales and took the opportunity to educate individuals on the special skills needed to care for an automobile.

The entire lecture series that was offered was open to men and women, but the hands-on classes were restricted to men. This was the first in many different examples of automotive education throughout history. While this was just the beginning of the auto industry, which at the time was viewed still as something scary and possibly a risk, it helped educate and influence the industry in the years to come.
(Photo credit to: Northeastern University Library,

A line of "horse drawn school buses" with enclosed wood stoves to keep the kids warm, turn of the century in Caribou, Maine.

Los Angeles flood 1938

The Snack Shack in Roseburg, Oregon in the 40's and 50's, I went there a lot.

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Message thread:

A trip back in the time machine, enjoy, by Dick Johnson #46280
WonderfulExcellentStuff.....:D:D (EOM) by John Barry #46280.1

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