Saturday, December 31, 2016

Auto Wash Bowl, Chicago, Illinois.

The Auto Wash Bowl concept originated in St. Paul, Minn. It was patented in 1921 by inventor C.P. Bohland, who opened two locations in St. Paul. He devised the bowl as an easy way to clean mud off of the undercarriage of cars. Back in this early age of motoring, roads were often unpaved and muddy, and that mud would get caked on the undercarriage of the car and the wheels — but a spin in the nifty Auto Wash Bowl took care of that.

The nearly 80-foot-wide ridged concrete bowl could hold about 16 inches of water at its deepest point in the center. Customers paid 25¢ to an attendant who strapped a protective rubber cover over the radiator. Patrons would then enter the bowl via a ramp and drive their cars around and around the bowl at a speed of about 10 miles per hour. The ridges in the concrete would vibrate the car and the water, creating a sloshing action that helped wash away all the mud from the chassis and wheels. The process took about three or four minutes. The car would then exit the bowl where patrons who wanted a complete car wash could enter one of the bays where the rest of the car would be cleaned. On a busy Saturday, about 75 cars per hour would go for a spin in the Auto Wash Bowl.
The Auto Wash Bowl, northwest corner of 42nd Street and South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL. 1924
The Auto Wash Bowl, Southeast corner of Elston and Diversey, Chicago, IL. 1926
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.


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