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1954-55 Theatre Catalog, 12th Edition, Page 156 (122)

1954-55 Theatre Catalog, 12th Edition
1954-55 Theatre Catalog
1954-55 Theatre Catalog, 12th Edition, Page 156
Page 156

1954-55 Theatre Catalog, 12th Edition, Page 156

Heating the Drive-In

Use of Iii-Car Heaters for Outdoor Theatres Can Make It Possible to Extend the Drive-In Season

Operators of drive-in theatres have traditionally been at the mercy of the weather. A late, cold and wet spring in most parts of the country meant a delay perhaps of weeks in opening. Conversely, an early fall with freezing weather brought a darkened theatre with sacrifice of days or weeks of profitable operation.

BRIEF: One of the problems which has faced many operators of outdoor theatres . . . is how to extend their season . . . Many times profits for the year would be almost doubled if it were possible to operate 12 months out of the year . . . The problem of closing and opening . . . and getting a new staff each season . . . is also one which is the cause of much ditiiculty . . . In most parts of the country the winter is usually not so cold as to make it impossible to operate if a practical method of keeping the occupants of the cars warm could be had at a reasonable cost and operation.

This article discusses the use of electric in-car heaters as an answer to the problem of keeping the drive-in open a full season . . . It discusses what goes into the making of a good heater . . . as well as how to distribute and repair the heaters . . . There is an interesting section devoted to the actual case history of the use of heaters in. two drive-ins . . . under diferent weather conditions.

* Even with normally good weather in both spring and fall, operators throughout the temperate and cold belts were accustomed to several months of seeing their big investments stand idle and unproductive. An added disadvantage of short and interrupted seasons was the problem of recruiting and retaining qualified employees for jobs that were known in the labor market to be seasonal and subject to protracted layoffs.

Extending Seasons

Many operators were inclined to accept these conditions as a necessary hazard of the trade. But a few aggressive owners, with a keen sense of merchandising, actively sought ways and means of extending their seasons and with this in mind proposed the idea of providing heated cars for their customers by means of portable electric heaters,

Other means of keeping cars warm had been tried, such as providing the patron with a gallon 01' two of gasoline so the regular cur heater could be operated during the Show, but the hazard of carbon monoxide fumes in cars with

THE HEATER. placed on Door of car. heats both iron! and tour arou- ado match]. All 01070:: loo! lino cord comol in own lhthly low-rod window.


Chief Engineer. Arvin Industries. Inc.

windows closed quickly discouraged this idea.

Two operators in particular, one in Cincinnati, operating a 2300-car drive-in, and another in Louisville, with an 1100car capacity, were primarily responsible for starting the ball rolling with an intensive program of engineering research and development that finally led to the wiring of their properties for in-car electric heaters and development of a heater specifically designed for in-car use.


Fortunately, a compact, lightweight, portable electric room heater of the

general size and type desired was already available as the basis for these tests. This heater was an outgrowth of 20 years of experience in building fanforCed portable room heaters. i

Starting with this basic heater, many modifications in design were made to adapt it for the rugged usage encountered in drive-in theatres. As our joint experiments progressed, it became evident that the ideal in-car heater should embody all the following features:

Compact size and light weight. The final result is an all-steel heater only seven and one-half inches high and five inches deep with one and one-half inch extended guard rails. Weight of five pounds two ounces permits easy handling, even by a small child.

Heat should be fan-forced for most efficient circulation.

1954-55 Theatre Catalog, 12th Edition, Page 156