Remember Chore Boys?

Posted 04/15/04

By Keith Horton

How many of you guys out there (particularly working as mechanics at field stations) remember far enough back to recognize such pieces of ramp equipment as the Clark Climate Controller or the Chore Boy Ground Power Unit? You’d have to go way back to remember those with the introduction of the 049 Constellations back in 1945.

In his recent discussion of the Constellations, Bill Dixon mentioned that the 049 Connie did not have any air conditioning. It would get pretty uncomfortable in the cabin during summer ground stops at places like MKC, STL or MDW, and a ground air conditioning truck was very necessary.

The Clark Climate Controller was supposed to keep the airplanes comfortable by forcing some cold air into the duct distribution system on the airplane, and it did a pretty good job if conditions were satisfactory. At stations where the humidity was not excessive, for instance PHX and ABQ, the Clark could cool off the dry air quite readily, but at locations where it was both hot and humid it just couldn’t do the job, as it required a lot more cooling capacity to wring the moisture out of humid air while it was being cooled.

The condenser coils on the back of the Clark (where the heat was withdrawn from the cooled air was and discharged into the atmosphere) just did not have anything like sufficient capacity. In consultation with the manufacturer, it was decided to make a system to spray water on the condenser coils to increase capacity. The guys in the garage at MKC went to work and developed a good water spray system that helped the Clark Climate Controller do a better job of providing cool air to the airplanes. There were three or four guys down there in the garage area on the south end of the hangar at MKC that should have gotten get credit for developing that modification, but after all these years I don’t remember their names except for one, Paul Fraher.

What about the Chore Boy Ground Power Units? You may recall that ground power was supplied to the DC-2’s, DC-3’s and Boeing 307’s by battery carts. With the arrival of the Constellations, a great deal more ground power was needed so a gas engine driven generator was required. That was going to be pretty heavy to haul around by hand, so the engine and generators were mounted on a three-wheeled self-propelled cart called a "Chore Boy," and that thing did a real good job during warm weather.

However, the first time there was about an inch or so of snow on the ground it just wouldn’t travel very well, so it had to be towed by a tractor. Then there were the times when the little engine on the Chore Boy wouldn’t start, so a tractor had to be brought up to haul it away and delay the scheduled departure of a flight.

We figured that if a tractor was going to be needed most of the time anyway, why not develop a simple three-wheeled cart to hold the engine/generator. The tractor could pull it and eliminate that darned old Chore Boy! Some of our ace mechanics, Curly Fortune, Paul Fraher and Abe Fransen, got busy in our little development shop at KCOB and came up with a neat little three-wheeled cart that was adapted for use.

Thank goodness for such practical and inventive miracle-workers as the ones at TWA’s KCOB and the MKC garage.

Keith Horton, 1941-1983, served in Maintenance/Technical Services Engineering and Field Maintenance

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