"If there was an easy way and a hard way to do something, Mr. Franklin would choose the hard way."
This was Bill's description of Herbert H. Franklin, the owner of the H.H. Franklin Manufacturing Company, which built the most successful American direct air-cooled cars from 1902 to 1934.
Turning onto Vine Avenue, I was greeted by this sign. I parked the truck and began walking toward (I assumed) the Museum.
After a two-block walk down the gravel road, I met a man and his dog. In answer to my question as to the Museum's whereabouts, the gentleman replied, "It's down there somewhere."
So I returned to my truck, drove past the "Do Not Enter" sign and "somewhere" down the road found the minimally-marked entrance to the Museum on the property of the former home of Tom Hubbard, the collector and restorer of several Franklin autos. Mr. Hubbard died in 1993, but the Franklin Foundation maintains the Museum.
When the tour began, I was the only visitor, but less than ten minutes after we began, we were joined by two gentlemen. These fellows not only were knowledgable about cars in general, but the Franklins in particular.
They had plenty of question, Bill had the opportunity to share his knowledge--and I could listen, learn, and take photos.
"John Wilkinson was the engineer who built the first Franklin car and whose design principles combining high quality with light weight gave Franklin their distinct reputation for dependability and long life.
"All Franklins utilized air-cooled engines and double elliptical springs on all four wheels. Their legacy has been one of successful innovations and, of course, the unusual vehicles that survived.
"The Franklin automobiles were cooled by direct air flow. A fan was attached to the crankshaft and the air was directed by metal housings to the tops of the cylinders and through copper fins. They proved to be superior to liquid-cooled engines, especially on long journeys at high speeds.
"Weight saving methods were implemented in the construction of Franklin automobiles. Franklin used high-grade, lightweight aluminum instead of the popular, cheaper, and proved cast-iron material. They became the largest consumer of aluminum.
"The full-elliptic springs and a flexible wood frame were used to create a soft ride for the occupants. Other features, well ahead of their time, used by Franklin by the 1920s included full-pressure lubrication, electric choke, and automatic spark control.
"In 1930 Franklin introduced new styling and power with their Series 145 and 147. In the front was a radiator, which was more a decoration than a functional piece of the automobile. It featured shutters which allowed air to come into the engine. The shutters were controlled automatically by a thermostat connected to the number-one cylinder. That cylinder, and the rest of the engine, continued Franklins tradition of air-cooled, six individually cast cylinders, and overhead valves.
"New for 1930 was the Pursuit, a dual-cowl phaeton that had a very smooth and graceful body that was void of door handles."
The second windshield would fold forward onto the metal piece, both would then lift forward, and then the door could be opened by reaching into the car.
The horn was in the center of the steering wheel. The lever just above the horn was the accelerator; the lever just below the horn controlled the lights.