Gimme A Brake!

Gimme A Brake!

I grew up going to garage and estate sales, and I’d like to think I was a fast learner. At a young age, I discovered these impromptu sales are usually fun, and—more often than not—a little bit of cash can go a long way. My mom taught me the basics. Get there early. Follow the hand-written signs. Group the items you’re interested in. Ask questions. Start in the garage. Explore the basement. Make an offer. Most importantly, be nice. I’ve shared some of my garage sale shopping hijinks on here before, and I figured there was no time like the present to showcase another H.A.M.B.-friendly find.

Regardless of where I am, I’m always searching for estate sales. As luck may have it, my girlfriend, Lindsey, is too. At the end of last year, she sent me a link for a sale that she figured we would both be interested in. The ad was short on details, but one tidbit stood out—everything was free. “Free?” I asked. “Count me in!”

Days passed and the sale crept closer. In an unexpected turn of events, I realized I wouldn’t be able to make it after all. Undeterred, Lindsey cleaned out her car and made her way over to the sale. The place was a total disaster with decades worth of this and that strewn everywhere. Many of the items were from the ’70s or before, which made for some prime picking, but the conditions were not for the faint of heart (dusk masks, anyone?). While rummaging around, she came across an old orange and white booklet and grabbed it for me.

So what is it? It’s a copy of Modern Brakes: A Guide to Fundamentals, Operating Principles and Adjustments. Published by Rusco Automotive Products of Middletown, Connecticut, this little leaflet zeroes in on a wide range commonly used drum brakes manufactured during the pre- and immediate post-war years. Judging by the brakes they discuss, I would wager it was printed prior to 1950.

From the typography and diagrams to the company’s mascot “Rusco Pete: The little man with the grippy feet.” this booklet is loaded with mid-century goodness. Even though it’s a brief 21 pages, it provides a great glimpse into a simpler time in motoring. Kick back, take a break, and catch up on some drum brake details straight from the ultra-modern facilities of Rusco Engineering.

Joey Ukrop

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