What’s happening on @NATIONALMOTORMUSEUM

  • We look forward to welcoming visitors to the Museum when we reopen from Wednesday 3 June, just in time for the long weekend. More details to come.

@historysa #museums #SouthAustralia
  • Douglas Keith Litchfield - ever heard of him? Possibly not, but have you heard of Litchfield Engineering, maybe! The chances are, if you're over 50 and have mechanical skills, you may well have used his products, sold under the Litchfield Tools brand name. 
Douglas, or Keith, was born in the small town of Willmington, South Australia. When and why he moved to Adelaide is not clear, but what seems to be the case is that speedway racing may well have attracted him. A Keith Litchfield raced at Rowley Park and Speedway Royal, in the 1920s, on an AJS. In 1929 he received serious injuries, being flung over his handlebars, but lived to marry in 1934. 
By this time he had opened an engineering business in Adelaide specializing in engine reconditioning. Furthering his engineering interests, he decided to build a Flying Flea (also known as a Mignet Pou-du-Ciel) in 1936. These were a French-designed, 'home-built' aircraft, with a rather dubious safety record. Maybe sensibly it wasn't Keith that flew the machine on its successful inaugural flight at Parafield Airport. During WWII his company undertook the manufacture of ammunition, which may well have been how he came into contact with motor manufacturers in Australia. 
After WWII his company branched out into the manufacture of specialist tooling for the automotive servicing sector and became preferred suppliers to Holden, Ford and Chrysler, crafting various service tools for their dealers. By the early 1960s, with premises based in Croydon Park, his business was employing 100 people with an asset base of 200,000 pounds. Litchfield Tools continued to supply specialist tools to the big three car companies in Australia until the 1980s. Douglas Keith Litchfield died in 1987.
  • It's the middle of National Volunteer Week and we want to share with everyone our appreciation for our volunteers!

Over a million people volunteer in South Australia alone, and we have some of the best at our service - we truly couldn't keep the Museum ticking without them. For the occasion, we've digitised some old photos of volunteers from c. 1990. We reckon they looked pretty smart in our old standard-issue overalls (why did we stop using them?!)... they became affectionately known as the 'orange men'. Do you have any stories or remember any of our past volunteers?Can you help us identify any of the people in these photos? Unfortunately we've only been able to recognise a handful of the people on the back of the truck!

#ColourYourCommunityRed #SAvolunteer #NVW2020 #5234
  • In today's world where your car is serviced by a technician who downloads the latest service information from a secure factory-backed website, you may ask how all this was done in the past. 🤔Well, if it was a hundred years ago your mechanic (or even blacksmith, as they were then!) would have turned to his 'Dyke's'. 'What's a 'Dyke’s?' you ask? Well, these were an encyclopedia of motoring information. 
Andrew Lee Dyke, of St Louis Missouri, is now most remembered by vintage car enthusiasts for his blue-covered (let's face it, not many still have the nice paper cover... these books were printed to be used) 'Dyke’s Encyclopedia'. A.L. Dyke was the editor, rather than an author; he compiled all the latest information from the many different manufacturers of both complete vehicles and components. He had it all printed and published as one handy volume by Goodheart-Wilcox, a textbook publisher based in Chicago and still going to this day.

Dyke’s was well versed in the automotive trade and had, at the turn of the 20th century, established a mail-order automotive supply business. Sensing an opportunity to expand the business, he branched out into 'kit cars' sold under his name. Dyke Steam Carriage, and later Dyke-Britton were originally steam-powered, but soon sold as petrol engine-powered vehicles. 
Flushed with the success of his mail-order automotive component businesses, Dyke decided to author several books on the subject of motoring, these being Diseases of a Gasoline Automobile and How to Cure Them, and Dr Dyke’s Anatomy of the Automobile. However by 1909, with the coming of the Ford Model T, Dyke's days as a 'kit car' purveyor were fast running out, so the publication of his Dyke Automobile and Gasoline Engine Encyclopedia became one of his main focuses and the key to Dyke's long term success. Dyke’s last edition appears to have been published in 1951 only eight years before his death, at 84, in 1959.

Next time you're at the National Motor Museum you can see our homage to Andrew Lee Dyke on the wall of the George Brooks Library Reading Room in the main pavilion.
  • Over the past four years, Greg Mackie and team at The History Trust have been looking at ways to reduce our carbon footprint, promote renewable energy and deliver cost efficiencies across our organisation.

Today we’re excited to announce our investment of a 300kw rooftop solar system at our National Motor Museum in Birdwood with more than 1100 solar panels. ☀️ Education Minister and Minister for the History Trust, Hon. John Gardner MP said the initiative is an important new exemplar of how the state’s buildings and infrastructure can support renewable energy and deliver sustainable outcomes, while protecting South Australia and Australia’s valuable cultural heritage. “I congratulate Greg Mackie and The History Trust, on delivering this significant and valuable investment. Mackie’s careful fiscal management and understanding of the emerging and future needs to contain costs have resulted in a positive outcome for the museum, the environment and ultimately our state”.
  • Undoubtedly one of the most unusual, and rare, publications in the George Brooks Library and Learning Centre is La Premiere Traversée du Sahara en Automobile. 
The book published entirely in French in 1924 has a very plain cover but recounts the 1922 exploits of Georges Marie Haardt and his men as they crossed the deserts of French North Africa. Haardt was to go on, with his faithful companion Louis Audoin-Dubreuil (both seen here), to lead several more expeditions in Citroen Kegresses across continents. 
As the expeditions (or 'raid', in French) grew in number, they were given titles related to the continents they crossed, such as La Croisière Noire and La Croisière Jaune, or in English, 'The Black Cruise' and 'The Yellow Cruise'. Haardt died in 1932, in Hong Kong, after one of his expeditions and if you visit Les Invalides in Paris you can find a memorial to him in a quiet corner of this famous French military museum.

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