Just signed papers for this, should get delivered late next week. Please reassure me that I'm not as stupid as I think I am.
Oppo doesn't need to hear this from me, but, still, cars were made to be driven, these aren't some crazy heavy pieces of furniture.
Just finished the first road trip of the season with this, 300 miles to central Pennsylvania and back, and it was completely uneventful, despite being directed into a parking lot Saturday night that was actually more of a mud bog. Drive what you've got, the worst thing you can do to a car is let it sit
So, not sure how everyone spent their weekend, but I spent mine driving from Delaware to Michigan and back, dragging this home with me:
It is a 1986 Westdan Roadster Two motorcycle camper, made by Westdan Manufacturing in Marmora, Ontario.
Westdan was in business between 1978 and at least 1986 and sold four models of lightweight popups - the Roadster One, which slept two and was intended for motorcycles, and also the bigger/wider Roadster CC56-2 two sleeper and CC56-4 four sleeper, intended for small cars. Mine is a Roadster Two, sort of the middle model, intended for either motorcycles or small cars, and nominally sleeps 4.
Westdan's thing was aerodynamics - the body tub is sunk between the chassis rails for a lower center of gravity, the front end is tapered to a point, the roof is curved like an arch, and the trailer is narrow enough to fit entirely within the tow car's slipstream.
Also, they threw a bunch of extra stuff in as standard that's usually extra cost options on this sort of camper - propane heater, dining table, camp kitchen table stand, electric cooler, and add-a-room awning tent attachment.
Supposedly, they sold a fair few of them, but I've never seen one before, and the only info you can find online are the Facebook Marketplace ad I bought this from and an archived classified ad from a local newspaper in Ontario from 1988 where somebody was selling a used one, that's it. Company seems to have disappeared without a trace
I had been looking for a lightweight camper for some time, mainly to take to music festivals and the like during the summer - save on hotel rooms, and just more convenient to stay on site vs 30-40 minutes away, and this fits the bill.
Was well within my budget
Only 350lbs, so I can easily move it around by hand and don't feel it at all behind the car (averaged 57.1mpg on the drive home, only 2-3mpg worse than I usually do on the Interstate)
Is narrow enough to fit into my backyard shed to comply with city rules on trailer storage
Slightly too long to get shed doors all the way closed, tongue sticks out a few inches, which I don't really like, might see if I can notch the edges of the doors to clear
The shop that made 3 attempts to install the wire harness on my car before pronouncing it fixed was evidently premature, did not get any power to the trailer, so had to run with remote control battery op lights & signals the whole way back. So, I need to go to a different, hopefully better, trailer store to get that issue sorted out before I can tow it through the state inspection lane to get it registered
Only literature it came with, besides title and bill of sale, is two copies of the original sales brochure and a couple pictures of it set up, no instructions or users manual, so it is going to be some experimentation to get it set up. I'm going to practice in the backyard a few times before actually taking it somewhere, but not today, because I'm exhausted.
Although the United States was the western terminus of the highly competitive transatlantic passenger trade, and Americans constituted the largest share of passengers heading back and forth, US-based shipping lines were traditionally minor players on the Atlantic. European-flagged ships were generally thought of by American passengers as offering higher quality standards of food and service, while Prohibition certainly didn't help matters during the 1920s and early '30s, as the ability to drink once outside US territorial waters was also a big attraction for traveling on a foreign line. Also not helping was that United States Lines, the flag carrier set up in the early 1920s to make use of the large amount of new transport vessels constructed for WWI and of the German ships taken in reparations, never had the right fleet to offer a regular weekly express service. The only large, fast ship under US registry was the ex-German Vaterland, which went for scrap in the 1930s.
Part of President Franklin Roosevelt's efforts to lift the country out of the Great Depression was a shipbuilding initiative under the US Maritime Commission, offering low interest loans, direct subsidies, and loan guarantees for companies ordering ships from US shipyards. Eager to replace the old Leviathan/Vaterland with an equally grand, but more modern and economical ship, United States Lines submitted their application for assistance, and received the first contract under the new program in 1936.
Design work for the new ship was entrusted to the New York-based firm of Gibbs & Cox, lead by America's foremost naval architect, William Francis Gibbs (who, interestingly enough, was actually self taught in the profession). Gibbs was passionately interested in safety, above all else, believing it was not the job of an architect to merely give their clients what they asked for, but that he also had a moral obligation to do whatever he could to make his ships as safe as possible for the passengers and crew who would sail in them. The loss of Titanic in 1912 affected him greatly, and caused Gibbs to focus on the importance of structural redundancy and compartmentalization, but it was the loss of Morro Castle in 1934 that had an even greater impact. That American-flagged liner caught fire en route to Cuba, and the burning hulk drifted ashore, running aground on the beach of Asbury Park, New Jersey, with 135 souls dead in the inferno. The wreckage became something of a morbid tourist attraction,and Gibbs traveled down from New York to view it himself, and became even more conscious than ever of the dangers of fire at sea, as a far greater threat than collisions. For the remainder of his career, he would be known for his focus, really zealousness, to fire safety above all else. The new United States Lines liner was the first major new contract he received after the Morro Castle fire, and would be his first major chance to put his fire safety concepts into practice.
However, United States Lines was insistent that their new flagship should be a proper rival to European liners, which meant suitably lavish and luxurious Art Deco interiors, which meant some limits on what Gibbs could do, the ship had to be a viable commercial enterprise, after all. Interior design was handled by an all-female team from Smyth, Urquhart, & Marckwald – lead by Dorothy Marckwald and Anne Urquhart, who worked closely with Gibbs to ensure that they maintained a single, unified vision for the ship.
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt traveled to Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co in Newport News, Virginia to christen the new ship America in 1939, and fitting out was completed in 1940. America measured 26,454 gross tons and 723 ft long – only about 1/3 the size of the big British and French liners, but still fairly large for the era, and enough to make her the largest passenger ship under US flag at the time. She featured a set of 37,500hp steam turbines driving twin screws for a speed of 22.5 knots. As built, there were accommodations for 1,202 passengers – 543 in Cabin Class, 418 in Tourist Class, and 241 in Third.
As WWII in Europe was well underway by the time America was ready for service in August, 1940, the planned transatlantic service from New York-Bremerhaven via Le Havre and Southampton was not going to happen. Instead, United States Lines used her to open a novel New York-Los Angeles route via the Panama Canal. It at least brought in some revenue, but was obviously far slower than train, and, especially, the nascent airline industry, and was not terribly popular. Between 1940-1941, America was also used on frequent leisure cruises in the Caribbean, in between liner voyages. During 1941, several crew members were discovered to be part of a German spy ring – reporting on Allied and US ship movements in the Caribbean and Pacific and studying Panama Canal defenses. Also, her aft funnel (the only functional one) was found to be too short, resulting in too much soot accumulation on the upper decks, so both funnels were raised during the Fall of 1940.
Finally, as part of the ongoing US military buildup in preparation for direct involvement in the war, America was requisitioned by the US Navy in July, 1941, and renamed West Point for conversion into a troop transport vessel. Refitted to carry 7,678 troops at a time, West Point spent 1941-1946 in Naval service, carrying both American and Commonwealth forces to and from Africa, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Southeast Asia, steaming 550,000 miles and transporting over 500,000 troops.
West Point was handed back to United States Lines in 1946, after completing postwar repatriation voyages, and was renamed back to America and thoroughly restored to prewar configuration, finally entering transatlantic service to Bremerhaven in November, 1946. After 1952, she was partnered with the much larger, and significantly faster, United States on the route.
Airline competition from 1958 onward began siphoning off passengers, and United States Lines started deploying America on more and more frequent cruises to Bermuda and the Caribbean from 1960 onward, with frequent periods of lay-up. Finally, United States Lines pulled her from service in November, 1964, and offered her for sale.
The buyer was Chandris Lines of Greece, who renamed her Australis, and gave her an extensive refit – adding air conditioning throughout, an outdoor pool, and increasing passenger capacity to 2,258. After completion of the refit in 1965, Australis was remeasured at over 30,000 gross tons, and entered service on the Britain-Australia route, primarily carrying immigrants heading south from Europe, on one of the increasingly few routes where ocean liners could still operate profitably against airline competition. Between 1965-1977, Australis made 62 round trip voyages from Europe-Australia and carried over 300,000 new residents to the latter country. Eventually, airlines caught up on that route as well, and Chandris pulled Australis from service and laid her up in New Zealand until 1978, when she was sold to Venture Cruise Lines of New York.
Under Venture ownership, Australis was renamed back to America, registered in Panama, and refitted for Caribbean cruises from New York. The refit was a hasty, low budget job, and was not fully completed when America sailed on her first cruise for Venture – with leaking pipes, backed up toilets, and furniture and construction debris piled up in the halls. Passengers mutinied, and forced the captain to turn back to port. On her second cruise, America was scored 6/100 in her US Public Health Service inspection, and was arrested on arrival in Nova Scotia, due to creditor claims of $2.5 million.
America was repurchased by Chandris for $1 million, renamed Italis, and plans were announced for a major rebuilding and modernization, however, the only major change made was removal of the corroded forward dummy funnel. Italis ran a few Mediterranean cruises for Chandris from 1978-1979, and, following a charter as a hotel ship for an Organization of African Unity conference, was laid up in Greece.
Italis was sold to the Intercommerce Corporation in 1980 and renamed Noga, for rebuilding as a private prison ship to be moored in Beirut, under contract to the Lebanese government, but funding never materialized.
Intercommerce ultimately sold her to Saudi Arabian-based Silver Moon Ferries in 1984, who renamed her Alferdoss, with plans on reactivating her to carry religious pilgrims for the Haj, but, again, nothing was done, the ship continued to sit rusting and decaying in Piraeus. In 1988, Alferdoss was sold to a scrap metal company for $2 million, who proceeded to demolish the lifeboats and davits, before defaulting on half their payments. Finally, in 1992, Alferdoss was purchased by an investment consortium from Thailand, with plans to convert her into a luxury hotel moored in Phuket. The ship was drydocked, and discovered to be in excellent structural condition, despite over a decade with basically zero maintenance. The hull was cleaned and painted, the funnel spruced up, and the now renamed American Star left under tow for Thailand in December, 1993.
For reasons that are still unclear, the decision was made to sail via Gibraltar instead of Suez. On January 17th, 1994, American Star broke her tow rope in a gale off the coast of the Canary Islands and washed up on Playa de Garcey, on Fuerteventura. The ship sat beached for nearly 6 months while her owners, insurance company, and towing company bickered over a salvage plan, until on July 6, 1994, when the pounding wave action finally caused her to crack in two just aft of the funnel, causing American Star to be declared a total loss.
The 344ft stern section took the brunt of the weather, and collapsed into the sea in 1996, but the bow remained intact and upright, until deterioration began accelerating during 2005, leading to a complete collapse in 2007. During her time as a beached wreck, American Star was heavily looted by islanders, almost all salvageable furniture, artwork, and fittings were gradually removed from the bow, and there is apparently a bar near the beach decorated almost entirely with items salvaged from the ship.
@dr-zoidberg Step One: knock out all interior partition walls and paint everything remaining grey, Step Two: cover up all real hardwood floors with vinyl plank, Step Three: put ship lap on something, Step Four: profit.
So, my company uses a 3rd party car allowance/mileage reimbursement service called Motus. It pays a flat/fixed monthly allowance + 15 cents a mile When I started 8 months ago, it was explained as an optional benefit that we can use if we want, and I opted not to, so I've been getting just regular paper checks from our accounting department for 55 cents a mile, no fixed allowance.
As it turns out, Motus isn't as optional as I thought - I've been the only one in the company getting paid out that way, and my boss was getting pressure from upper management, since they want everyone on the same program.
Unfortunately, the restrictions are 1) must have 4 doors, 2) must seat at least 4 people, 3) must be no more than 4 years old, and 4) must cost at least $24,000.
That means buying used is kind of pointless, since even a 1 year old car would be 25% through its allowed lifespan under this, and it means every car I genuinely wanted is out of the question - Challenger, 400Z, Toyobaru, etc, due to either too few doors, too few seats, or both.
So, since I was being forced to buy a new car, and can't buy anything I wanted anyway, I decided to just go for fuel economy this time.
I bought a 2022 Hyundai Ioniq, picked it up last night, the dealer doesn't really keep them in inventory, but it was a special order that came in Wednesday and the original customer cancelled. Drove it 300 miles today up into central Pennsylvania and back, and seem to be averaging about 57mpg in a mix of 75mph highway and lots of stop and go congestion, which is more than double my old Camaro. So, it may not be exciting, or stylish, or fun at all, but at least it should be very cheap to run.
The US merchant shipping and shipbuilding industries have long been dependent on the largess of the federal government for survival, and it was no different in the 1920s. In 1928, President Herbert Hoover's administration pushed through a $250 million ($3.9 billion today) package to provide low interest, long-term financing to American shipping companies ordering vessels from US yards, with full government guarantees backstopping the debt. The idea at the time was to encourage the renewal of the US merchant fleet, which, at the time, had one of the oldest average ages in the world, and was still powered mostly by inefficient, smoke belching coal boilers, as the rest of the world was transitioning to mostly cleaner, thriftier oil.
One of the companies taking advantage of the loan program was the New York & Cuba Mail Steamship Company (doing business as the Ward Line), which, since 1841, had been the largest carrier of passengers, cargo, and mail between the United States and Cuba (which itself was a protectorate of the United States from the Spanish-American War until achieving full sovereignty in 1934).
Ward Line received loans for two new sister ships, and placed orders with the famous Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company in Virginia in late 1928, with construction beginning in January 1929. The two ships were delivered a few months apart in 1930 – Morro Castle (named for the fortress in Havana harbor) in March, and Oriente (named after the Oriente Province in Cuba) in May. Both were largely identical in design. In the case of Morro Castle, she measured 11,520 gross tons and 508 ft. long, and featured a 14,000hp General Electric steam turboelectric powerplant driving twin screws for a speed of 20 knots.
Although tiny by the standards of the hotly competitive transatlantic trade, for the less densely trafficked US-Cuba route, the ships were considered impressively large, and the luxury of their passenger accommodations easily rivaled the best on the Atlantic, bringing a new standard of comfort and service to the Cuban route. Morro Castle carried just 489 passengers – 394 in First Class, plus 95 in budget-oriented Tourist Class, plus a crew of 240. She featured richly paneled public rooms, with finely carved woods, with gold leaf detailing, expensive rugs and tapestries, and elegant furniture.
The spacious First Class Main Lounge and Dining Room were both two decks in height, encircled by elegant balconies, and the Smoking Room featured dark walnut paneling with a vaulted ceiling covered in frescoes depicting the Age of Sail. The ship also featured what was thought to be the latest in modern safety features – with electronic heat sensors, an automatic fire alarm system, and electrically operated fire doors.
From 1930-1934, Morro Castle worked the New York-Havana run, taking about 2 days, 10 hours to complete the 1100 mile trip. Despite the ongoing Great Depression, she and her sister were highly popular and profitable, sailing at or near capacity on nearly every voyage throughout the year.
But, that all came to an end at 2:50am on September 8th, 1934. While sailing off the coast of Long Beach Island, New Jersey, inbound from Havana, fire was discovered in a storage locker connected to the First Class Writing Room. Despite the ship's apparent safety measures, it spread rapidly, feeding off the heavily varnished wood furnishings and paneling, and spreading through the gaps in-between decks and bulkheads. To make matters worse, the captain had died of a heart attack at dinner several hours earlier, leaving the First Officer in charge, and, as events would prove, he wasn't totally ready for the job.
The automatic fire alarms sounded as they were supposed to, but were too quiet – most of the sleeping passengers didn't hear them, and many of those who did assumed the noise was for something else, since a proper alarm would be louder. By 3:10am, the fire had burned through the ship's main electrical cables and hydraulic lines, rendering Morro Castle completely powerless and un-navigable, with no communications capability. Due to the way in which the fire spread, crew members, whose quarters were mainly toward the bow, clustered forward, cut off from the rest of the ship by the flames, while passengers, whose quarters were in the midships and stern sections, gathered aft. The separation of the ship and the speed of the flames made an orderly evacuation difficult, only 6 of 12 lifeboats were launched successfully, and with only 85 total people aboard, despite seats for 408 (and most of those were crew members).
As the ship's structure absorbed the heat from the flames, the decks even in unburned areas became too hot to stand on, and passengers began leaping over the side, with or without life jackets – the latter case, inadequate instructions during the voyage lead to a considerable number of deaths, when people's necks snapped on hitting the water.
Fortunately, the fire did occur in heavily traveled sea lanes on the approach to New York, so, after some delay, four other merchant vessels did eventually respond for help, followed later by two Coast Guard cutters, with the Governor of New Jersey taking to the air in his private plane to follow the burning ship's course and alert rescue vessels to the locations of bodies and survivors in the water. By the time it was all over, 135 passengers and crew, out of the 549 on board, had died.
Later that morning, the now totally abandoned hulk of Morro Castle washed up on the beach of Asbury Park, New Jersey, coming close enough to the Convention Hall for those standing on the boardwalk to reach out and touch the blistered hull. The ruins of the ship smoldered for two more days, before the fire completely died out on September 10th. For the next 6 months, the wreck of Morro Castle sat as a macabre tourist attraction on the beach of Asbury Park, with crowds coming to town to view the beached liner, and boardwalk vendors selling Morro Castle-themed souvenirs.
One of those who made the trip down from New York was William Francis Gibbs, America's foremost naval architect and co-founder of the firm of Gibbs & Cox. Gibbs had always been obsessed with safety, but, until then, had focused mainly on structural redundancy against flooding or collision damage, but the sight of Morro Castle caused him to reevaluate priorities in favor of a recognition of the much greater danger of fire on board ship. For the rest of his career, fire safety became his preoccupation, culminating in his masterpiece, the almost ridiculously strong, heavily overbuilt and fastidiously fireproofed SS United States of 1952.
The hulk of Morro Castle, obviously damaged beyond repair, was eventually refloated and towed away for scrap in March of 1935.
The official inquiry, released in 1937, faulted the acting captain, First Officer Warms, for not leaving the bridge to personally investigate the severity of the fire, maintaining full speed ahead for some time after the fire was known, for taking too long to call for assistance, and not making any effort to activate the emergency lighting systems, or move himself and his officers to the emergency steering station, even as systems failed throughout the ship. The crew in general were faulted for not organizing any significant firefighting efforts, not manually closing fire-doors as the automatic servo mechanisms failed, and not making any coordinated effort to evacuate passengers.
The design of the ship was also noted for worsening the crisis, only 6 out of 42 firefighting stations could be used at a time, due to inadequate water pressure to run all of them, some had been taken out of use due to some nuisance vandalism by passengers on an earlier voyage, and a 6-inch gap above the finished overheads and behind wood paneling allowed fire to bypass the fire doors and spread throughout the ship. In addition, the modern, electronic heat sensors were only installed in passenger cabins and crew spaces, not in the public rooms, such as the Writing Room where this fire broke out. The cause of the fire remains unknown, as the damage at the origin point was too extensive to make a determination. Theories range from an electrical fault, to spontaneous combustion of used shop rags, to arson by a disgruntled crew member.
The loss of Morro Castle was the worst tragedy to befall Ward Line, which had had a mostly sterling safety reputation over the previous 93 years in business, and was only the start of a series of difficulties for them – it was followed over the next few months by another of their liners grounding in Havana harbor, and then by the ship chartered to replace Morro Castle sinking on its maiden voyage. The negative publicity caused the company to rebrand as Cuba Mail Line in 1935, and ultimately ceased operations in 1942, when its entire fleet was requisitioned by the US Navy and not returned after the war. Postwar, the famous Ward Line trademark was revived twice by two separate sets of investors, with the last incarnation, Cuban-based Ward-Garcia Line, shutting down in 1959.
Morro Castle's identical sister ship, Oriente, remained in service until requisitioned to become the troop transport vessel Thomas H. Barry in 1941, and was used throughout US involvement in World War II and for several years after, until being decommissioned and placed in the reserve fleet in 1949, ultimately being sold for scrap as surplus property in 1957.
@e90m3 they can't, but they do it anyway. My time as a bank manager showed me that a large percentage of the population is completely horrible with personal finances. I'd often have people come up, both making six figure salaries, million dollar house, wanting a small business loan or a home equity, they'd cheerfully hand over their personal financial statement, and it would show $100,000+ credit card debt, $100k in loans on two new vehicles, no retirement savings, $2k in the bank, a $950,000 mortgage, then they'd get all upset when I'd tell them their $30,000 business loan was declined or that they can't borrow more on their house because there isn't enough equity and want to bitch and whine that it was my fault.
There were cases like that all the freaking time.
@dogisbadob That one appears to be either a Zap Xebra or a Snyder ST600, both rebadged versions of the Jindalu FL650ZK, fitted with a 3rd headlight in the center to comply with some states' motorcycle regulations. Difference is the Xebra was converted to electric, while the Snyder version kept the original ICE drivetrain.
@tophercrowder I believe the Detroit/Hamtramck plant was another of Roger Smith's brain farts. He had a master plan to replace basically every GM factory with an entirely new, clean-sheet facility by the end of the 1980s, and envisioned some of them as "lights out" plants, run entirely by robots with only a handful of human technicians to supervise.
Unfortunately, the new, modern plants he built were massively overscaled and contained inefficient and impractically large electrical power plants (most of which were shut down in favor of grid power after a pretty short period) and oversized air handling and exhaust systems, intended to avoid the need to switch to acrylic enamel paints for environmental reasons, which ended up happening anyway. And the robots that were trialed in places tended to weld car doors shut and spray paint on each other instead of the cars, so full automation plans were scaled back significantly. Many of the vast new plants built under Smith's tenure ended up having very short lives. The enormous cost of rebuilding and replacing the entire company's manufacturing infrastructure was a contributor to GM's near bankruptcy in the early 1990s, and the lingering financial effects continued to drag on the company until their eventual demise in 2009.
And they don't have easy cross-border access to a non-shithole country where they can just spend a few years hanging around in coffee shops with beatniks, smoking jazz cigarettes, until it all blows over, since Finland and the Baltics basically closed their borders. I mean, they're still leaving, but they're leaving for Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, which, is like, OK, I guess that's a little better, but not by a whole lot.