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Brush Motor Car Company (1907-1909), later
the Brush Runabout Company (1909-1913), was based in Highland Park, Michigan. The company was founded by Alanson Partridge
Brush (February 10, 1878 in Michigan – March 6, 1952 in Michigan), who designed a light
car with a wooden chassis (actually, wooden rails and iron cross-members), friction drive
transmission and “underslung” coil springs in tension instead of compression on both
sides of each axle. Although there were many makes of small runabouts
of similar size and one to four cylinders at this time (before the Model T Ford dominated
the low-price market), the Brush has many unusual design details showing the inventiveness
of its creator. Power was provided by a large single-cylinder
water-cooled engine. Two gas-powered headlamps provided light,
along with a gas-powered light in the rear. The frame, axles, and wheels were made of
oak, hickory or maple, and were either left plain or painted to match the trim. The horn was located next to the engine cover,
with a metal tube running to a squeeze bulb affixed near the driver. A small storage area was provided in the rear,
with a drawer accessible under the rear of the seat. A feature of engines designed by Brush (who
also designed the first Oakland Motor Car, ancestor of Pontiac and who helped design
the original one-cylinder Cadillac engine) was that they ran counter-clockwise instead
of the usual clockwise, which, in those days before the invention of the electric starter,
was Brush’s idea intended to make them safer for a right-handed person to crank-start by
hand. With clockwise-running engines, many injuries
were sustained, most often dislocated thumbs and broken forearms, if the hand crank kicked
back on starting, especially if the car was not properly adjusted before starting, or
the person cranking it did not follow correct safety procedures, including fully retarding
the manual spark advance, keeping the thumb alongside the fingers instead of around the
crank, and pulling the crank upward in a half turn, never in a full circle or pushing down. In 1912, Sid Ferguson drove a Brush Runabout
with Birtles as navigator, becoming the first persons to drive across the Australian continent
from west to east. The Brush Runabout Company, along with Maxwell-Briscoe,
Stoddard-Dayton, and others formed Benjamin Briscoe’s United States Motor Company from
1910, ending when that company failed in 1913. Runabouts, in general, fell out of vogue quickly,
partly due to the lack of protection from the weather. A restored 1909 Brush Runabout is on display
at the Linn County Historical Museum in Brownsville, Oregon, with another under restoration at
Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome for the New York State aviation museum’s automotive collection. An original 1910 Brush is on display at the
Swigart Antique Auto Museum, Rt. 22-Old William Penn Highway, located in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. There is also a restored 1911 Brush on display
at the Miles Through Time Automotive Museum in Toccoa, GA. The car is a part of a private collection
that was previously stored in a basement. Now the car is on display and sits next to
a 1910 Sears and a 1948 Chevy among others.==See also==
Brass Era car List of defunct United States automobile manufacturers
List of car brands United States Motor Company
Not to be confused with Brush Electric Company nor Brush Traction (United Kingdom company)
Francis Birtles==
External links==brushauto.net Brushauto.net is a website with
original brush media and information including advertisements,manuals, and images. Liberty Brush Automobile on Smithsonian site
The Liberty Brush was distinguished from the standard model by a different treatment of
fenders which were not attached to the separate side step. The standard model had long sweeping front
and rear fenders connected to a very short running board. Brush Owners Club website

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