So, Google Alert, scanning for references to the name Zwicky on the web, recently came up with the Zwicky tank truck, adding yet another product to the growing list of Zwicky things (among them chocolate, muesli, thread and yarn, arrowheads for bow-and-arrow hunting, and meat rub).
The trucks came up in an Automotive Alphabet site, under Z, where the compiler of the site included a link to a British site on Steam and Motor Commercial Vehicles, where we find a section on three-wheel trucks:
The three wheel arrangement allowed a tighter turning circle, making it popular for industrial locations. The example shown below is a 2×250 gallon airfield refueling truck or ‘bowser’ from 1937. Zwicky were based at Slough in Bucks, they specialised in airfield equipment as well as providing gear such as hydraulic jacks. The firm still operates today selling everything from aircraft tow bars to de-icing lorries and caterpillar track jacks. For this little truck they used Ford parts for the running gear (so spares would be easily available).
Small three wheeler road vehicles were fine for a butcher or grocer handling his local delivery round but deliveries for the clothing trade and light engineering works needed something rather larger.
This prompted a comment from an American on the Automotive Alphabet site:
Thanks for that as we never see anything like those over here. I think I actually saw that site while researching though didn’t see that Zwicky. There was another picture of a fairly conventional Zwicky tank truck; Peter Davies’ book has a picture of a boxy Zwicky truck painted in a checkerboard pattern.
But still no sign of a Zwicky logo anywhere.
Zwickys have of course put their hand to producing such characteristically Swiss items as wine and cheese (see Henry J. Zwicky of the Wisconsin Cheese Group), but apparently without affixing the family name to their company or its product.
Meanwhile, as I revealed in a Language Log posting back in 2006, there have been other Zwickys of note, among them (in alphabetical order) Arnold (that would be me), Elizabeth (in Silicon Valley techland, now at Yahoo), Fay (the Australian poet), Fritz (the Cal Tech astrophysicist), Jan (the Canadian poet), and Richard (also in Silicon Valley techland, now at his company Enquisite). Google Alert keeps me up on their doings, as well as appearances in print (in the Reading (PA) Eagle, for which I once worked) of my cousin David, who’s president of the school board in the Conrad Weiser district back where I grew up, and of other Zwickys as well.
Also from Google Alert, I learn of the recent release (June 15) of of an ep Zwicky Catalog, with five tracks of electronic music by Hardstroke, which is to say by the Swede Simon Johansson (it’s / he’s / they’re a one-man band). I’m listening to it right now, and you could definitely dance to this stuff; it’s space music — the Zwicky reference is to Fritz and his catalog of galaxies — with a sturdy beat. (There’s also, I suppose inevitably, a porn site hardstroke.com, which I don’t think has anything to do with Johansson.)