Saturday, May 9th

Good morning, Good morning,

Do you remember your first love?  Was it a bicycle, a dog, a certain pair of running shoes?  Was it the girl down the street, or boy next door?  Or, by any chance, could have been, your first…car.  Ah, the first car.  Not the Mach I you may have wanted or the Camaro you thought you deserved.  Oh the follies of the fantasies.

Today is the day I wanted to speak about a car.  A car I have never seen, nor hope to.  A car I could never afford nor want to.  It is a car with a name, rarely recognized and a heritage long forgotten.  And there is only one in Northern Virginia, if not the entire commonwealth.  It is a “Maybach.”


Wilhelm Maybach                                              Gottlieb Daimler

In the latter part of the 19th century two men shared employment in the same company, developing engines, but had dreams that were definitely outside the Box.  They were Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach.  Dreamers who were inventors and designers.  They first worked together on locomotive engines and later standing engines.  Than… they wanted to take the dream on the road.  If you know what I mean. 

When I was young man a priest in the Des Moines Diocese, named Fr. John Aldera, once told me that certain people in the world were known for great ideas and there was a complimentary group that improved on the ideas.  The Chinese had great ideas and the Japanese improved them.  The Italians had great ideas and the Germans improved them.  In the early days of cars it was the French who dominated the ideas of transportation by car and it was Maybach, the German, who made the improvement in the engine designs. 

Wilhelm Maybach (1846-1929) designed the first fuel powered motorcycle.  The first powered motorcycle was drive by a steam engine.  Understandably, it did not enjoy any great popularity. In the early days motorcycles were mounts where the engineers/designers tested and tuned their new engine designs… for cars.  There were several hurdles to engage in those early days.  First, the design for a compression release system where fuel was injected into a cylinder as the piston rose in the cylinder and a spark initiated an explosion in the optimum pressure moment.  The piston driven down met an opening for the combustible gas to be released at the bottom of the cylinder.   The second concern was how to keep the engine cool so that it would not seize up, or crack the cylinder.  Maybach developed three different kinds of cooling systems.  And finally, the feature that made the auto most unpopular with the people of it’s time… Noise.  Maybach had to figure out a sound suppressant, something we call a “Muffler.”

But first, how did we come to use the term, “Car?” “The English word car is believed to originate from Latin carrus/carrum “wheeled vehicle” or (via Old North FrenchMiddle English carre “two-wheeled cart,” both of which in turn derivefrom Gaulish karros “chariot.”[11][12] It originally referred to any wheeled horse-drawn vehicle, such as a cartcarriage, or wagon. “(Wikipedia). 

Now, please be so kind to allow a comment on the features of European road development and their impact on the wheelbase of the coming car designs.

Here is a look into the corporate mind that is very interesting, educational, historical, completely true, and hysterical all at the same time:

The US standard railroad gauge (width between the two rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That’s an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used?

Because that’s the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates.

Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used.

Why did “they” use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons which used that wheel spacing.

Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that’s the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe (and England) were built by Imperial Rome for their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots first formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for (or by) Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Specifications and bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse’s ass came up with it, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses. Thus, we have the answer to the original question.

Now the twist to the story . . .

There’s an interesting extension to the story about railroad gauges and horses’ behinds. When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory had to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses’ behinds. So, the major design feature of what is arguably the world’s most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a Horse’s Ass!”

 Back to the Maybach story.  The first motorcycle.

Alright, let’s give a little credit to Fr. Aldera and his Italian theory.  There is some thought that Enrico Bernardi, in 1882, may have had the first internal combustion machine mounted on two wheels.  But… The French didn’t pay him much mind and they took the credit for the early development of motorcycles that were engineered and powered by Daimler-Maybach products.  Poor Bernardi suffered a poor promoter for his new vehicle.

 The expansion for larger engines on larger transport vehicles for the road. 

The video above offers a very good insight on the early development of transportation vehicles and I leave it for your review.  The Maybach engine, small in size for ground transportation will also be adopted for boats and air dirigibles.   The Zeppelin program of lighter than air dirigibles were dependent on the Maybach engines to propel the great balloon forward.  The key problem was the gas content of the balloon.  The hydrogen option was more volatile with the heat emanating from the engines.  The Hindenburg Disaster, Mary 6, 1937, used such an option for hydrogen instead of helium.  

At the conclusion of lengthy and detailed investigation by engineers there was no certain understanding why the Hindenburg exploded.  Hollywood, many years later put out a movie with the name “Hindenburg” and blamed it on sabotage.  But, in Lakehurst, New Jersey, one of the considerations focused on the Maybach engines that were air cooled.  They may have overheated waiting for the ground crew to receive the dirigible into its docking harness.

 In 1921 Wilhelm Maybach expanded beyond designing engines to manufacture full automobiles named after himself.  Maybach Limousines.

                          Maybach W-3

The first model, the Maybach W3, was shown at the 1921 Automobile Exposition in Berlin and featured

– 6-cylinder engine
– 4-wheel brakes
– new transmission system
– maximum speed of 105 km/h (65 mph)

It was produced until 1928, selling 300 units, mostly with sedan bodies; the two-seat sport version was less successful.”

Maybach than developed engines that ran on diesel fuel.  The larger and more powerful engines were introduced to the war effort housed in German tanks.  In the enclosed video the key interest of those viewing the Tiger Tank was the sound of the engines.  The deafening sound of the mobile fortress travelling at night would be enough to frighten folks to death.

Back to the luxury cars.  As a point of trivia, Daimler named his series of cars after his daughter, “Mercedes.”  In more recent years the Mercedes Company introduced a high end luxury car named after the old friend, Maybach.  And that brings us to the point of the day.  The Modern Maybach Luxury Car. .  If you have to ask how much… check the internet.  Last October the car, S-650, cost $400,000.  That is a lot of zeroes. 

And now the rest of the story.  Part of the Maybach family related to Wilhelm Maybach, his great great great grand nephews and nieces live in Warrenton, Virginia.  Their father, Dr. Eric Maybach, served as a wonderful example of the family genius.  Dr. Maybach was both MD and engineer. Prior to his marriage to his wife, Jo, he worked on the Alaska pipe line as an engineer.  In his free time he would pan for gold and found enough to make the ring for their marriage. In his medical service he helped develop the Kidney dialysis machine while affiliated with NIH, National Institute of Health.  He was the town doctor in Warrenton and offered house calls and would stitch up anyone who came to the door with a serious laceration… and couldn’t afford the Emergency Room.  He was the true family doctor.  NASA asked him to create the toggle switch for the Lunar Lander.  They sent him a glove for the astronaut who would use the glove in the landing.  He was also the owner of one of the early Maybach cars and was restoring it when he died.  Unfortunately, many parts of the car were sent out all over the world for the restoration… and never came back.  Now the car, with its wooden frame sits in a garage waiting the day for its restoration.  The seven Maybach children each share in the Maybach genius and enjoy a great camaraderie with each other. In their own ways they reflect the mystery of their father and his ancestors.

From Bishop Burbidge.  Click here for reopening the diocese

 Commentary from Bishop Robert Barron for this day in the Easter Season.


JOHN 14:7-14

Friends in today’s Gospel Jesus says, “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.”

When we pray in the name of Jesus, we are relying on his intimacy with the Father, trusting that the Father will listen to his Son who pleads on our behalf. In the letter to the Hebrews, we hear that Jesus, like us in all things but sin, a fellow sufferer with us, has entered as our advocate into the heavenly court. Risking a crude comparison, it is as though Jesus is our man in City Hall, a representative for us in the place of ultimate power.

Mind you, this analogy breaks down in the measure that the Father must not be construed as a reluctant and distracted executive, annoyed by the petty appeals of his constituents, which are mediated by a persistent lobbyist. For the author of the letter to the Hebrews, Jesus has become our advocate, precisely because the Father wanted him to assume this role for us; therefore, presumably, the Father delights in hearing us call upon him through his Son.

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