THE RUCKSTELL AXLE
Grover Ruckstell earned his master degree in automotive engineering from Princeton University. He later became well known in the racing circles as head of the famous Mercer racing team. In 1914 Ruckstell and Eddie Pullen both drove Mercers in the famous Corona Road Race at Corona, California. The race track was a perfect three mile circle which still exists today as Grand Avenue. The competition was fierce with such drivers as Bob Burman, Eddie Rickenbacker, Earl Cooper, Ralph DePalma, and Barney Oldfield. The grand prize was $12,000.00. Ruckstell was forced to leave the race on the 107th lap with mechanical problems while in 3rd place. Eddie Pullen went on to win the race for Mercer.
Ruckstell’s involvement with the two speed rear axle is reported to have begun in 1913 while he was working for the Ford Garage in Maricopa, California. The first axle he built was for a truck used in the local oil fields. This interest was cut short by World War I when Ruckstell joined the new Army Air Force and was commissioned a Captain.
Following the war, Ruckstell was employed by Hall Scott Motor Works, Berkley, California and became head of the Airplane Motor Department. While employed there his interest in the two speed rear axle was renewed.
Ruckstell was not the inventor of the two speed rear axle. However, he was the most successful entrepreneur who succeeded in developing the basic concept into a popular product.
The “Perfecto Axle,” designed by Arthur Baker, is considered to be the forerunner of the Ruckstell.
Sometime in 1921-22 the Ruckstell Sales and Manufacturing Company was formed and Ruckstell acquired the rights to manufacture and market the Perfecto Axle. However, a short time later the design was modified to reduce production costs and to improve reliability. The name was also changed to the “Ruckstell Axle” and sold for $62.50. Both the Perfecto and early Ruckstell were manufactured by Ruckstell’s employer, Hall-Scott.
The Ruckstell was but one of thousands of accessories marketed for the popular Fords. Henry Ford hated competition and branded most of the parts and accessories manufactured by companies, other than Ford, as Spurious parts. However, Ford apparently liked the Ruckstell as it has the distinction of being the only accessory, ever produced for the model T Ford, that Henry endorsed. In fact, he actually included them in the 1928 Ford Parts Catalog and sold them through his Ford dealerships.
The Ruckstell axle is as popular today as it was back then. This popularity has generated a great demand for new, replacement parts. Chaffin’s Garage Inc. has endeavored to fill that need since 1980. Our goal has been to manufacture and distribute the highest quality parts at reasonable prices. We have continued to increase our production rates and add to our growing line of products until we are now able to offer a complete Ruckstell kit. Please see the following pages for a complete listing of available parts and kits.
Today, Chaffin’s Garage Inc. is located in Corona, California, just a few blocks from where Ruckstell raced in 1914.