I have been browsing through my copy of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1915 edition) and reading some of the non-food related entries. I never ceased to be amazed at the wide range of topics covered by this classic tome from the domestic literature canon. Isabella Beeton died in 1865, thirty years before the first motorcar was introduced into Britain by Frederick Simms and his friend Evelyn Ellis, a Daimler-engined Panhard & Levassor. Each new edition of Mrs Beeton’s work, was carefully updated to reflect current societal/consumer trends. By the end of the Edwardian era (1910) car ownership was on the increase amongst the wealthy. Car maintenance was one topic that would have resonated with the middle and upper classes during the post-Edwardian era. The excellent website, Edwardian Promenade, has a couple of good articles on the motorcar during the Edwardian period:
If you own a vintage car I wouldn’t recommend you follow all of the advice given in Mrs Beeton’s book, such as washing greasy car leathers with waste petrol or cleaning your engine with a brush dipped in paraffin but some of it you may find useful.
Advice on how to clean your motorcar
‘After the mud has been washed off the car by means of the hose, the painted work should be dried with a soft, clean sponge and then polished with a leather. Care should be taken to keep the water and grit out of the bearings and other working parts. The tyres should be wiped clean and dried, care being taken to see that they are well inflated and that no water gets in, otherwise the rims will rust and the canvas rot. To clean the engine and gear apply a good-sized brush dipped in paraffin. Greasy leathers should be cleaned by washing with waste petrol. The clutch leather should not be allowed to get dry, but should be moistened with collan oil, which should be allowed to soak overnight.’ (1915 edition: p. 1809)
To oil the motorcar
‘The careful driver will bear in mind that all the rotating and rubbing surfaces of his motor, except the stems of the inlet and exhaust valves and the leather brake bands, when used, require lubrication, as do the steering sockets, connections, worm and column bearings. The bearings of the road wheels, the transmission gearing and levers, the balance gear and the starting apparatus should also be carefully oiled, while the pump and radiator fan bearings should not be neglected.’ (1915 edition: p.1809)