Monday, July 28, 2014

Midget Autopia Inspiration?

This undated article entitled M.V. PLANT KEEPS KIDS HAPPY features a photograph of Arrow employees John Jackson, Dick Ellsworth and Karl Bacon assembling what looks like Midget Autopia cars, until you read the caption, which states that Arrow has built 56 of them for Kaiser-Darren Jr. midget cars of Oakland, some of which had already been shipped to Hawaii.

The Kaiser-Darren 161 was a limited production sports car, built in 1954 by Kaiser Motors to compete with European sports cars like the Triumph TR-2 being introduced to the US after World War II. Designed by Howard "Dutch" Darrin, a revamp of Kaiser's Henry J compact, the Kaiser-Darrin was noted for being the first American car with a fiberglass body and doors on tracks which slid into the front fender wells. Only six prototypes and 435 production cars were ever built.

A brief trip to the web (Flickr) turned up this photo of a Kaiser-Darrin kiddie car at a Southern California auto show. 

Now, compare all three photos; the Midget Autopia car at the Disney Hometown Museum in Marceline, MO, the kiddie Kaiser-Darren and and a restored Kaiser-Darrin in Arizona.

Midget Autopia Car at Disney Hometown Museum

1954 Kaiser-Darrin

Perhaps we now we know the inspiration for the body style of the Midget Autopia cars.

I recently came across Wade Sampson's interview where Bob Gurr commented on Arrow Development and the Midget Autopia Attraction.

WS: Marceline is in the process of rebuilding the Midget Autopia.

BG: I had nothing to do with that attraction when it was at Disneyland. It was a stock Arrow Development ride.

WS: Ed Morgan and Karl Bacon of Arrow don’t always get credit for their contributions to Disneyland.

BG: Ed and Karl were guys I really liked to work with. They were so practical and willing to tackle anything for Walt. Joe Fowler was the main liaison between Disney and Arrow. Roger Broggie, Fowler, Ed and Karl all operated as a single force, always productive and never any ego getting in the way. I learned a whole bunch of simplified ways to do production drawing from them that I used for decades afterward.

Knott quite the way I remember it

Last Friday we spent some time at a few of our favorite places in and around Orange County, including our mandatory annual visit to Balboa Island and Corona del Mar. Along the way we stopped off at Knott's Berry Farm, which I hadn't visited in so long that I could barely recognize it.

While my wife picked up a large jar of the world famous Boysenberry Jam, which had disappeared from our grocer's shelves about year ago, I picked up a copy of Jay Jennings' Knott's Berry Farm - The Early Years which was sitting by the cash register. It was printed by Arcadia Publishing and fully up to their usual high level of quality.

As I flipped thru the pages, I was somewhat surprised  at some of the statements about Knott's rides and Bud Hurlburt. The text praised Bud's honesty and ingenuity and left me with the impression that he personally designed and built most, if not all, of the early rides, in particular the Calico Mine Train Ride, Timber Mountain Log Ride and Antique Auto Ride.

Rather than jump to any conclusions, I decided to do a bit more research and headed out onto the web. There was a lot of material there, including an article from Yesterland. It stated;

"Hurlbut was an innovator, and his inventions, like flume rides and various motors, were adopted later by much of the theme park industry."

"Unlike Disney, which has teams of talented Imagineers and other specialists to help create each new attraction, Bud had mainly himself to rely on. This is all the more amazing when you consider how much more elaborate, say, the Calico Mine Ride was in comparison to Disney’s Matterhorn—opened just a year apart from one another."

"Other Hurlbut attractions included the well-loved Antique Auto Ride, which was later renamed the Tijuana Taxi when that area of Knott’s was re-christened “Fiesta Village.” 

Bud made sure the ride was not simply a car on a track, but that the passengers would experience an adventure going through all kinds of terrain and past a variety of colorful and amusing scenes."

Many of the older attractions in Fiesta Village also began as Hurlbut concessions. Many of these were relatively familiar rides from a mechanical perspective, but were made colorful and unique by Bud’s focus on appropriate theming and detail.

The photo above shows the Happy Sombreros, a “Tea Cups” clone that featured colorful chili bowls topped with huge fiberglass sombreros. Note that even the operator’s booth and wrought-iron fencing and arches reflect a sense of Old Mexico or Early California.

Now, I'll admit I tend to err on the side of literal interpretation when I read or hear things, but the message seemed pretty clear to me; Bud Hurlbut invented the rides at Knott's Berry Farm, nearly single-handedly. At that point alarm bells started going off in my head. 

Among the documents Shane Huish shared with me was a seven page list of Arrow rides, dated June 1st, 1979.  It's typewritten and stapled in the upper left corner. Titled Arrow Developent Co., Inc. Ride Locations, It lists over 200 ride systems. There are five references to rides at Knott's Berry Farm; The first is in the Corkscrews section, line 4; Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park California.

Next was the Steeplechase ride:

What followed, on page 3, in the Flumes Section, really caught my attention. There, between King's Island's Hydro and Log flume rides and Libertyland's Log Boat ride it reads: Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park California, ('69) Log Boat.

The Knott's Berry Farm website describes the flume ride;

"This classic attraction, which opened at Knott’s Berry Farm in 1969, remains as one of the most elaborate log flume rides in the U.S. The much anticipated attraction opened in July 11, 1969 with screen legend John Wayne taking the inaugural ride.

The $3.5 million attraction was originally funded entirely by its designer Bud Hurlbut who had previously designed Knott’s Berry Farm’s classic Calico Mine Ride. Hurlbut, a pioneer in the theme park attraction industry, wanted his flume ride to be a completely immersive experience."

By this time, I had virtual steam coming out of my ears. I needed to sanity check myself, so I went back thru some original Arrow sales material I received from Walter Schultze's daughter Linda. 

There, on the front cover of the December 1975 Arrow Flumes and Automobiles brochures were the two other pictures I knew I'd seen somewhere before. First the flume ride. I've overlaid it on top of the image on Knott's current web site for easy comparison;

Next the Antique Autos. Again, the large image is the Knott ride and the insets are from the 1975 Arrow Automobile product brochure. The radiator on the Knott ride is more rounded, but the side lamps are identical. The Knott ride is also missing the convertible top.

Next, I checked with Linda to see if Arrow did the Antique Auto ride at Knotts. She answered without hesitation;

"Yes, of course.  I remember going to Knott's with my parents when they were putting in the rides there."

There was just one more thing to check, on the Arrow 1979 ride list:

UPDATE:  I received a message from Werner Weiss which sheds even more light on the matter: According to Chris Jepsen, John Waite, one of Bud's close associates, says;

"After the success of the Mine Ride, Bud started to pursue the idea that he had about a ride where riders would ride a log type vehicle down a mountain slope (flume) and splash into a pond.  He had read books where it told of loggers doing this sometimes with fatal results.  He thought of a wheeled vehicle riding on tracks under the water.  He then realized that it was not a good idea to have all the wheels and everything under the water, so he approached his good friends at Arrow Development, Ed Morgan and Karl Bacon, about this idea.  

Bud paid for the research that Arrow did up at their plant in Mountain View. He had successfully worked with them on the development of his Car Ride (at Knott's -df) that became one of Arrow's most successful rides at that time.  Bud kept in close contact with them on their testing of a free floating log boat. 

Arrow built a 12' tall model of a drop into a channel of water up at their plant.  When they finally told Bud that they felt they could build a full sized ride, Bud decided he didn't want the first installation.  At that same time Six Flags Over Texas was looking for a new ride and asked Bud if he would let them put in the first Log Ride. Arrow paid Bud back all the money he had spent on experimentation and then opened the first Log Ride that Arrow ever built. (El Aserradero - df) 

This original ride is still in use at SFOT. I think Bud's ride was the 6th or 9th one that they built, and it was the first one to be built in and around a mountain. I also think the logs for Bud's ride were the longest ones they ever built at 11 feet.

Bud had recovered his investment in the Mine Ride within two years and was doing so well that he could afford a larger investment now with the Log Ride. Bud wisely didn't like to take chances and that is why he wanted the Log Ride concept to be tested and proven. With the Mine Ride he was willing to go ahead on his own and develop his idea without another one out there to base his design upon. Bud understood trains but water rides were another story. 

Bud relied a lot on his right hand man, Harry Suker, to help on that design and the building of the ride. Harry came with Bud to help him get the Mine Ride built and then he helped with the building of the Log Ride. He managed both rides for Bud and helped Bud with the building of Castle Park in Riverside."

Friday, July 18, 2014

Arrow's "Mystery" Founder

Walter Schulze perusing business about 1968
While gathering images and stories for this blog and Building Disney's Dream, I was contacted by someone who claimed that her father was one of Arrow's founders. This came a surprise, as I wasn't aware of anyone except Andy Anderson, Bill Hardiman, Ed Morgan and Karl Bacon having anything to do with Arrow's birth.

There was one photo of several men standing around a miniature car that included Walt Disney, Joe Fowler, Dick Irvine, Karl Bacon and Ed Morgan, but I hadn't been able to identify one man on the far left. It turned out that man was Walter Schulze, who stepped onto Arrow's stage a bit later but filled a vital role in their future success.

Graduating from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania with an MBA, Walter and his wife Pauline were transferred to San Francisco about 1946. Walts' father, Henry, had been a Vice President and ran the Fore River shipyards in Quincy Massachusetts until his untimely death in 1941, so Walter knew a thing or two about ship building.

During World War II, San Francisco Bay Area shipbuilders produced nearly half of all the cargo ship tonnage and 20 percent of warship tonnage built in the entire country, building an average of one ship per day for the duration of the war. Disney fans will also recall that Admiral Joe Fowler was nautically inclined.

In addition to his day job, Walter and Pauline did accounting for several small businesses in the Bay Area, including Dura-Bond Bearing, thru which Walter had heard of Arrow Development. He is the mystery man on the left in the photograph shpwing Disney, Irvine, Fowler, Bacon and Morgan inspecting an Arrow Antique Ford automobile, around 1954.

Walter Schulze, Karl Bacon, Dick Irvine, Joe Fowler, Ed Morgan and Walt Disney
(image courtesy of Robert Reynolds)

Walter's daughter Linda recalls that her father joined Arrow about 1953, after hearing that one of the founders was interesting in selling his share of the company.  Schulze borrowed $15,000 from his mother Edna and purchased a 1/3 interest. From that time on he became the point man in all of Arrow's business dealings, setting prices for ride systems and filling the role of treasurer and accountant. It was likely the combination of Schulze's business sense, Karl's design skill, Ed's manufacturing prowess and Walt Disney's focus on the customer that laid the foundation for much of Arrow's future success.

Even as late as 1956 Arrow was struggling to achieve profitability. Caroline Anderson Moyers, daughter of Arrow co-founder Andy Anderson, recalls that the contract with Disney for the Fantasyland rides was fixed at $250,000.  She also has a copy of correspondence from her dad to Bank of America, dated April 1956, stating that he was no longer an owner of Arrow. Andy and Bill left Arrow in the mid-50's and eventually started their own business doing residential construction, although they maintained their relationships with Arrow well into the 1970's.

After Disneyland opened, Walt asked about how Arrow had come out on the deal and discovered that they had lost money on the contract. In his classic style, Disney simply wrote a check to cover the difference. Four years later he would buy 1/3 of Arrow in an effort to assure their viability. By 1971, when Arrow was sold to Rio Grande Industries, the company was valued at $3 Million.  Much of the credit for the a 6600% increase in value has to go to Walter Schulze's business acumen.

Linda Schulze had a job as a secretary at Disney in the early 70's and recalls that by that point the relationship between Arrow and Disney had begun to cool. Her father was also looking to retire and spend more time in civic activities - he had been a huge booster of the Rotary Club - and wanted to travel. That had a significant influence on Karl and Ed's decision to sell, as the company had grown to the point that it was no longer possible for any one partner to raise enough personal capital to finance a buyout. Although all three would consult to RGI for a few years after the sale, no new projects were funded during that time. RGI would sell Arrow to Huss in November of 1981.

Walter Shulze died on November 17, 1984 in Los Altos, California. Years earlier, he'd sold off all of his RGI stock. He may have had some sense of what was to come.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ed Morgan - Manufacturing Man (Update)

Of all the research I did for Building Disney's Dream, personal material on Ed Morgan was the most difficult to come by, although in terms of commonality he was literally closest to home for me. Ed didn't talk much about himself. When he did talk, it was often in praise of his dear friend Karl Bacon.  Rob Reynolds quoted Ed in his book, Roller Coasters, Flumes and Flying Saucers;

"I don't want to be a big shot; I want to share any attention with Karl. I definitely wouldn't have been as successful had I not met Karl Bacon. We generated ideas and projects together, often over lunch in the conference room. I was the guy that made them happen from the mechanical standpoint; Karl was the guy who did the math. We complemented each other completely and without strife of any kind.”

Ed's family and uncle Holden had moved to Palo Alto in 1928. Ed graduated from Palo Alto High school in 1933. My family moved to Palo Alto in 1961 and I graduated from "Paly" in 1972.

Ed's Palo Alto High Graduation Photo
Ed's first job out of high school was working as an automobile mechanic at Barron Park Auto in 1935. He was working 60 hours per week, making about $1500 per month and paying $30 a month in rent. That was at a time when a car cost $580, gasoline was19 cents a gallon, a house cost $6,300, bread was 8 cents a loaf, milk was 47 cents a gallon, a stamp cost 3 cents and the average salary was $1,500 per year.  He was clearly a hard working man.

My first job during high school was pumping gas at Don's Union 76 in Menlo Park. I loved working on cars and also worked at the European Stable in Redwood City for several months, after I graduated from college. Ed wasn't a number cruncher. Back then, I hated math.

Ed and Betty in 1945
When my family moved to Palo Alto in 1961 Ed was living at 1060 Oregon Avenue, just a few blocks east of our address on Bryant.  I must have ridden my bicycle and later driven my car, past that spot hundreds of times on the way to the Palo Alto airport or yacht harbor.

About 1961
Ed was from nearly the same generation as my dad, who was born in 1923. My dad worked for the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, who also contracted work to Arrow. My dad also wasn't much to brag on himself, but was always ready to lend a helping hand and instinctively knew which end of any tool was the handle.

Ed also got three patents for amusement park boats. The first for a design used on two ride systems at Disneyland and the the second for a tip resistant bumper boat;

Small World / Pirates Boat - USD204282

Tip Resistant Bumper Boat - US3827387

In the historical references for US3827387, it appears that the rights to the bumper boat design were assigned to Arrow-Huss on Feb 2, 1981, to Huss Holdings (USA) LTD on October 2, 1981, and then to Vekoma Technology B.V. on July 15, 1988.

Although I never met Ed Morgan personally, I think we would have had a lot to talk about.

About 1986

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dumbo Under the Hood

Parading Pink Pachyderms

Arrow co-founder Andy Anderson's daughter Carolyn kindly shared this image of the Dumbo attraction concept art. It was provided to Arrow by Disney and has some interesting details which differ from the current configurations.

The official story about the Dumbo attraction reads:

"As a jovial organ melody begins, Dumbo gracefully lifts off from the ground and magically begins to fly round and round above a dancing water fountain. Feel the wind race across your face as faithful friend Timothy Q. Mouse—resting on a decorative hot-air balloon in the center of what looks to be a vintage circus-themed toy—directs the action with help from his “magic” feather."

Werner Weiss's wonderful Yesterland site web page has some terrific photos taken between 1954 and 2006 which reveal some interesting changes over the years. If you do some detective work, there is even more to the story.

Dumbo was one of the opening day attractions at Disneyland, however, the Wikipedia article says that Dumbo opened on August 16, 1955 - a month after the July 17th press opening. The delay was caused by a problem with the system's hydraulics, which had been sized to lift 500 pound elephants that ended up weighing 700.  Karl and Ed explained it this way:

"Disney gave us so much work that we couldn’t do it all... so we hired an engineer to help with Dumbo. He used... accumulators... one for each elephant.  But they would get out of balance, since there was nothing to separate the oil from the nitrogen." 

An accumulator is the hydraulic equivalent of a capacitor.  Partly filled with pressurized gas and partly filled with liquid, it is used to smooth out oscillations in the fluid flow and act as a pressure reserve when the pump capacity isn't large enough to handle temporary overloads. The problem is that without a barrier between the hydraulic fluid and the gas, the gas can begin to permeate into the fluid. Then, if the pressure is released, the gas expands and creates foam, like when you first open a bottle of carbonated soda.

The Dumbo lift system was supposed to use pressure in the accumulators to balance the weight of the elephant cars and riders while the main pump provided the power to move them up and down. In theory it was a great idea, but by the time the cars were delivered they'd gained 200 pounds of weight over the original specification, which probably overloaded the system. As the elephants flew up and down, alternately raising and quickly dropping the pressure, the high pressure gas in the fluid began to expand and cause it to foam. There was no way to keep the oil and gas separated the result was that the system became very unstable. 

The short term solution was to leave Arrow employee Paul Harvey there to do what Ed called "milking the elephants." Between rides, Paul would drain the system and put in fresh hydraulic fluid. Karl designed a fix, but it delayed the actual opening day by a month.

Paul Harvey - Elephant Milker
Other changes include the color of the elephants, Timmy's whip, and moving ears.

In the planing stages there were ten pink pachyderms, patterned after the Pink Elephants on Parade part of the Dumbo story, which explains the color in the concept art above. Walt changed them all to grey, so they all became Dumbo.

Timmy with whip (left) and feather (right)
Moveable and Fixed Ears (Yesterland)

The moving ears were also a victim of Dumbo's hydraulic system insufficiency. They were removed as a part of a weight reduction effort, probably because they were easier to change than the main hydraulic cylinders which were upsized in later versions. (See below)

For comparison, here is an image of another type of hydraulic system which Arrow would have been very familiar with, and possibly inspired by from their automobile repair work;

Northern Tool's Engine Hoist (2014)

Eventually it all sorted out, but as the old saying goes; The Devil is in the Details.

By the way, there may be a new Dumbo style ride on the way. Last year, Disney filed a patent (20110312428) for one with airplanes on extensible arms.

Planes comes to the Magic Kingdom...?

This would mark a return to the granddaddy of this theme of go-round, designed by Clifford F. Kennedy in 1939;

In the mean time, you could try doing one of these in your back yard;

Well... maybe not.

For those of you who can stand a little math, here is a basic static vector analysis just to see the magnitude of overload those 200 extra pounds created;

As you can see, what started out as 2700 pounds of force at the lift point turns into 3800 pounds; a 40% increase. Add to that up to 300 more pounds of riders and, well... you get the idea. Which is part of the reason why the later style lift cylinders are fatter and huskier, as shown on the left below.