Wednesday, February 15, 2012

From the Archives: The Gyro Car!

Caltrans surveyors have always used finely calibrated, state-of-the-art equipment in their work. Sixty years ago, finely calibrated, state-of-the art equipment included the Gyro Car, which was basically a station wagon tricked out with a sensitive odometer and gyroscopes. The Gyro Car allowed crews to complete alignment and grade surveys of roadways more quickly than ever before.

This exciting advancement was prominently featured in an effusive article in a 1952 issue of California Highways and Public Works, a magazine published by the Division of Highways, Caltrans’ precursor. As impressive as this vehicle was in 1952, the Gyro Car did have a few drawbacks, as the article’s author noted:

"It is necessary to take all the spring action out of the vehicle to get true grade and super readings … When the spring action is taken out of the car, the vibration is necessarily increased, making it harder to take notes … " (italics original)

Fortunately, the spring action in the vehicles used today is intact, so surveyors have no problem taking notes.

Learn more about Caltrans surveys here.