I’ve been promising you a in-depth post on the legendary engine builder Hall-Scott for over a decade. My apologies, but I want to do it justice and just haven’t found the time, yet.
I did come across these old films, and although they don’t tell the story quite the way I would, they do of course show a lot of visual details of how the H-S plant worked. Keep in mind that this was a company that started out building airplane engines, so their approach to truck, marine and other industrial engines was deeply steeped in that tradition of uncompromising quality.
Speaking of quality, the video quality is quite poor, but I still managed to get sucked in. It’s great to see just how these engines were built back in the day.
This following video is a bit cheesy, a local tv station production. It’s from the 1950s, obviously, and nearing the end of the H-S era. But it too has some interesting footage.
Can you imagine a local tv station doing something like this now?
Our sports car club made an annual trip to a private collection. Among all the cars, the owner had two boattail Auburns. One was a clean 100% restoration and kept in a separate one stall garage. The other was kept in with the lessor cars. 1947 Ford woodie ( owned since new) , a couple of Frankins and a pair of Jag XK150 roadsters. The original engine in that Auburn was gone. It had been replaced by a Hall-Scott engine, said to be from a tank destroyer . It had just a straight pipe exhaust. That was the car we always asked to be started,just to hear it run.
There is still some locally produced TV content here in the Bay Area, but almost certainly not about manufacturing. More restaurant reviews and outdoor recreation, perhaps a bit about the arts. And almost certainly not with reporters who can recognize a lathe when they see one. Thanks for sharing these. As I’ve mentioned before, despite growing up in Berkeley and being a car enthusiast from an early age, I never heard of Hall-Scott until well into adulthood. It’s sad that communities don’t preserve and teach more about our local industrial history. One exception is the National Historic Park on the grounds of the old Kaiser shipyards but that is very recent. Thanks for sharing these!
Interestingly, Hall was a private-labeled engine for the DeVaux brand. They went Bankrupt owing Continental Motors $500,000 for engines. They took the mostly-built bodies and fitted them with Continental Red Seal engines creating the 1932 Continental-Devaux. In 1933 they came out with the their own 3 model line-up.
Awesome, how engines are meant to be built but nobody bothers theyd rather wear the warranty claims and churn out average product.
Thanks so much for posting these! I intend to see if I can recognize some of the buildings now that I have a (very blurry) view of what they looked like!
Neat videos .
Priceless! I can remember the sights and sounds of the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Hall-Scott powered Crown Firecoaches like it was yesterday. They had a number of Hall-Scott Seagraves as well.
That is some serious quality control. It would be interesting to tear down one of these Hall-Scott’s and compare its tolerance and machining quality compared to todays Class 8 diesels.
I would sure love to have one of those V12’s, would make an interesting hot rod truck.
I read a book about Hall-Scott several years ago.
E J Hall’s formal schooling ended at the 6th grade. He learned engineering from correspondence courses, a path shared with Jessie Vincent of Packard.
Hall and Vincent co-designed the Liberty engine. While Packard, Lincoln and others won contracts to build Liberties, Hall-Scott did not. The company was deemed too small. After the war, Packard tried to claim the Liberty as entirely it’s own work. Hall is said to have sneered that he had personally built more aircraft engines than Vincent had even seen. Looking at Vincent’s earlier attempts at aircraft engines, I notice the cams are driven by a series of spur gears, not the way the cams are driven on a Liberty. There is a pic of a prewar H-S 6 in the book, iirc an A-5. The Liberty V-12 looks very much like two A-5s on a common crankcase.
H-S never made the transition to diesels after the war, eventually being bought by Hercules. Herc moved some of the machine tools to Canton, and closed the Berkeley plant.
iirc, the H-S HQ building was on Seventh St. It’s long gone. Part of the H-S factory still stands, around the corner on Heinz Ave, half a block from the beach.