The advancement of the automobile has always been a steady stream of small, incremental improvements. Sure, there were revolutionary moments along the way, but the vast majority of what shifted the car from a novelty to this country’s primary form of transportation came in the form of steady progress. One such step was how to keep moving parts lubricated easy and clean. You can thank Oscar Zerk and his 1923 patent for a special fitting for that.
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Nice read of history. I think farmers are another group that should be celebrating Mr Zerk. Doesn’t take long to empty a quart grease-gun walking around an old tractor...even a new one, along with all the different implements that still use the fittings.
Great article. My older cars have grease zerks on the front suspension and driveshaft. There is a special satisfaction to getting just the right amount of grease in the right place. The gradual reduction and removal of grease zerks on late model cars is proof that they are disposable, bio-degradable, appliances. The "lubed-for-life" bearings and joints on newer cars have a limited life, based mostly on build quality (Hello China).
The average new car owner would not be capable of greasing his own car anyway, or even knowing why it is required.
My 1932 Hudson Essex hot rod has the original type suspension including 24 grease zerks (king pins, spring shackles, steering etc). and should live to be 100+ years old.
So I raise a glass to mister Zerk ... Cheers
All new farm equipment runs on sealed bearings, this works fine for a few years (most of the time) but then failure begins, back in Zerk days you greased and things kept going even worn quite a bit, modern grease is far better than the old, I still prefer the Zerks.
I wonder if I'm going to stand alone here as someone who hates Zerk fittings and especially the grease gun. My Model T has flip top cap oil holes and grease caps, things I find relaxing and enjoyable to work with anywhere I might be. I wish my modern vehicles were the same way.