Wednesday, November 25, 2009

1904 Stevens-Duryea revealed

Greetings -

Willy and I uncrated the Stevens this afternoon.  As anticipated, it was a couple hours and a whopping big mess to remove the foam.  We anticipated some foam blocking and cushioning, what we received was a completely encapsulated vehicle!  Which was a good thing, really, because it was a long trip up for a very old original car.  So this picture doesn't look too bad until you see the scale of it....

Yes, that's a 7' wide x 7' high x 14' long block of solid foam with a tiny car in the middle of it.  But what a car it is. 

Thankfully there were some 'strings' built into the packaging which allowed us to take some bigger chunks off, but that was by far the biggest block of foam I've ever seen.

The vehicle was secured and packaged by RedStar Auto in Rhode Island and Sean did a terrific job of blocking and securing the vehicle to the crate - as well as two layers of plastic, a vehicle colver, and pading.  Now that I think about it, it took Willy and I almost three hours to uncover the vehicle and it's still mounted to the blocks....

The only unfortunate part of this transport was that the leather fenders had been taken off and put in a separate box which was loaded into the crate.  They had been subject to some weather along the way and we are working diligently to reshape them.  But here it is, without fenders.  The front compartment opens for additional seating which was no doubt a breathtaking proposition for it's day - considering no seatbelts and barely a handhold on the side.  More pics to follow after the long weekend.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Quick update on New arrivals

Greetings -

I just wanted to give a quick update about the vehicles we received in Fairbanks today!  Three vehicles and a host of Museum items arrived in one 40' connex.  Included were a 1934 American Austin, 1898 Hay & Hotchkiss, 1904 Stevens-Duryea and several bicycles (including a bone shaker!)

Sorry the photo quality is so lousy but here's the 1898 Hay & Hotchkiss.  Aside from it's stunning combination of deep burgany paint and polished copper, this vehicle is truly one of a kind, and a remarkable addition to the Museum.  The engine was referred to as the "Hay frictionless gasolene (sic) Motor."  It is an 8 cycle, horizontally opposed 4 cylinder that produces 5 hp.  It was also touted as not requiring oil or water to run.  It is the oldest know surviving 4 cylinder American made vehicle.

Next up is the 1934 American Austin.
This car is just too cute.  Started in 1929, the American Austin company produced these miniscule vehicles in hopes that due to the Depression Americans might buy small cars.  And these vehicles are SMALL - 16 inches narrower and 28 inches shorter than any other car in American at the time.  It has a 45 cubic inch 4 cyl. engine and guaranteed 40 mpg.  Unfortunately the vehicles were simply not taken seriously, and were considered just a novelty.

Last up is our 1904 Steven-Duryea.
Well ok, the packing crate is all we get see today.  This vehicle was purchased from it's original owner in 1932 by Charles Duryea, the brother of Frank Duryea, and donated to the Museum of Science and Industry.  It is complete and in all original condition.  This is a true time warp vehicle and we look forward to opening it up in the next few days.  Due to it's 105 year old, original, paint and wood bodywork this vehicle was crated and 'foamed in place' for it's trip to Alaska.  We also shipped it up in stages and will allow it to warm up to 'room' temperature slowly before we open it.  I anticipate a long, messy, unpaking process but the results should be well worth it.

We wish to thank Horizon Lines and Weaver Brothers for accommodating our special transport needs on this shipment!  


Monday, November 23, 2009

Moline-Knight Arrives

Our newest arrival is now out on the museum floor. This 1914 Moline-Knight Model 50 7-passenger touring car is one big beauty. It carries a 4-cylinder Knight sleeve-valve engine with a bore of 4 1/8" and stroke of 6". This high-quality automobile was less expensive than other Knight-engined cars and was the only one to feature thermo-syphon cooling. We know of only 10 other Moline-Knights, two of which are Model 50s.

Particular care was given to the finish of Moline-Knight bodies, which were as smooth as glass and as lustrous as a mirror. Repeated coats of elastic varnish made of pure oils, japans and imported gums were applied. Each coat was given ample time to dry and then rubbed down with the finest sandpaper, curled hair, pumice stone or steel wool before the next coat was applied. As a result, the paint would not crack or flake due to expansion or contraction of the metal.

This is a beautiful car and we'd like to acknowledge Murray Motor Car for doing such a great job with the restoration work. We hope you'll come see our Moline-Knight soon! We're open every Sunday from noon to 6 pm.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Night at the Museum

Last night approximately 200 people braved the cold and came to the museum to support the Imagination Library. This festive event, which including wine and beer tasting, a silent auction and live music, was organized and sponsored by the Interior Builders Association. Our catering staff had quite a spread of hors d'oeuvres set amongst the cars and vintage clothing. The wine tasting table near the 1906 Compound was especially popular. I don't know what they were serving but clearly it was a hit!

It was great to have a crowd of new visitors in the building. Many Fairbanksans have no idea just how nice the museum is and it's fun to see their jaws drop as they wander past the cars. Alas, only a few folks were brave enough to throw on some dusters and climb into the 1911 Everitt for a photo (Dennis tried to wear a lady's hat but we wouldn't let him).

Kudos to the folks with IBA and many, many thanks to our awesome docents!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Our youngest docent/mechanic/general helper

I had the joy of working with one of the grandsons today. Devon came down to spend some time with me and said he really needed to help work on one of the cars, so here he is putting the back on the water pump for the 28 Pierce-Arrow. He says we need to hurry and get summer back so we can drive the cars again. I agree with him on that.

We should be ready to install the engine back in the Pierce-Arrow in the next couple weeks, so keep watching for that event.

Willy and Devon

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New "Iron Maiden" Arrives in Fairbanks

Greetings All -

It's finally here, our 1910 Advance traction engine.  This is one of three vehicles we purchased from the LeMay collection in Washington State earlier this summer.  Great thanks to Lynden Transport who brought it up to Fairbanks and unloaded it for us.  There's Rick in the Driver's Seat!  It will be placed outside the Museum as a photo opportunity for our guests and visitors.

A quick background on Traction Engines -

Traction engines, also known as road locomotives,  were the predecessors to today's modern farm tractors.  These self-propelled steam engines were used to move heavy loads, or serve as power plants for threshing and other farm duties.  They were also used in Alaska to power conveyors and other mining support functions, as well as Lumber and Timber cutting.

This particular machine was produced in Battle Creek Michigan in 1910.  The Advance Thresher Company sold more than 12,000 steam traction engines between 1881 and 1911, when they were acquired by the M. Rumely Company.  The reorganized company continued to make traction engines until 1917.

Height - 130"
Length - 220"
Weight - A lot!

Two questions for our readers: Does anyone know how much this engine weighs? (we do have the big smokestack and bell for it.) Also, does anyone have any history on this engine?


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Feelin' Sparky Today

Wait a minute...NO ONE TOLD ME I WAS GOING TO HAVE TO WRITE ABOUT SPARK PLUGS when I accepted this job! They are just nowhere near as exciting as a pre-war car. But, Tim and Willy are absolutely giddy over the spark plug collection we've acquired--part of which is now on display in a lovely case made by our very own Pete Peterson.

Apparently there are some very rare and funky plugs in that case. Willy helped me identify most of the them yesterday but these three stumped us. Is there a spark plug expert out there that recognizes any of these? Willy has added some comments. You can click on each photo for an enlarged view.


We can't find any markings on this long reach plug. It is a take apart plug.

No visible markings on this one either.

The last plug has no markings except for the number 3 that you see here.

If I could just get Nancy to experiment with the magneto set up in the shop, I think we could get her fired up about spark plugs......

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The "Hay" is on the Way!

The oldest car in our collection is en route to Fairbanks! Our 1898 Hay Motor Vehicle (also incorrectly known as a Hay & Hotchkiss) was discovered in a barn in Connecticut in the 1940s, not far from where it was built in New Haven. It passed through several owners (including the Powers Auto Museum) over the years, remaining pretty much in the unrestored condition pictured at right.

The Hay's last owner, Ambassador William Middendorf II, had Sean Brayton and Peter Pitcher begin what would turn into a very lengthy restoration of this unusual little car. This is the only Hay Motor Vehicle ever made, as the car never made it into production. This is likely due to the 4-cylinder, 8-cycle engine's odd design: Walter Hay claimed that no oil or water was needed to run it, "the motor simply running a trifle harder when no oil is used"! 

The 8 cycles of the engine gave two full revolutions to clean and cool the cylinders, giving it a pure mixture of fuel and air for complete combustion and obviate exhaust odor. The governing of the engine is done by holding the exhaust valves open and thus the admission valves are also open, so only air is exchanged. The cutout is done on opposite sides of the engine, and power requirements will cause the engine to fire as needed. Willy's opinion is that this engine would never run very well, due to its design and complicated nature. He spent a couple days with Sean Brayton of Red Star Restoration playing with this engine and it will run, but you probably won't see him taking any trips down the Parks Highway in it!

As best we know, our Hay is the earliest American four-cylinder gasoline-powered automobile still in existence. Sean just finished a complete restoration on it, and the car is now on its way to Alaska. We're pleased that the Hay was able to be shown in its birthplace of New Haven (pictured here) before beginning its voyage north. It is a striking vehicle, and you will enjoy seeing it when you come to visit.

Willy and Nancy

Thursday, November 5, 2009

1928 Pierce Arrow

The museum is only open on Sundays now but the shop is hopping with activity.

At right is Carolyn Mustard, working on the upholstery of our 1928 Pierce Arrow Series 81. We are doing a complete reupholstering of the car with the correct leather and patterns. You might have noticed that it is missing the engine, transmission as well as the steering. We are doing a freshening of all the mechanical components on this car and will be able to put it back into like new driving condition.

THATS A WHAT???????????? YA SURE??????

Here docents Rick Larrick and Ron Allen are disassembling the engine out of the Pierce. Overall it looks good, with the only major problem we found was one stuck valve and the head gasket leaking, which let coolant down into the valves and a couple cylinders. We will do a valve job on it and clean up the engine bay and  try to make it oil tight??????



Docents Jerry Mustard and Jim Movius have been hard at work on the large resistor from our 1917 Owen-Magnetic. They researched many hours and came up with a solution to duplicate what was original on the car. Upon removing the wire from the ceramic center, of course the ceramic center fell into many pieces, creating a great puzzle that we all (Ron Allen, Rick Larrick, Jerry, Jim and myself),  had fun putting back together again. After hearing comments from Rick ("Boy, that glue does get hot!") and lots of "Ooops!" and sticky fingers, we finally got it all repaired and put on the car. Now its a matter of getting the time to go through the fuel system and really check the car over before we fire it up for a test drive. More to come at a later date on the final results.


Monday, November 2, 2009

SoCal Wrap Up

I topped off my trip to southern California with visits to two very interesting collections. First, Bill Evans generously allowed me to look at his private museum, which includes three Pope-Hartfords, a lovely Pope-Toledo and a number of other great vehicles including some early race cars. I was particularly interested to see his Henderson opera coupe, which is stunning (and very red!). This is the fourth surviving Henderson automobile that I know of, including ours, although I think there is one in Washington still awaiting my discovery.

I next visited the J.A. Cooley Museum, billed as "San Diego's Most Unique Collection of  Antiques & Automobiles." You won't find a website for this place, and it doesn't look like much from the outside. However, Mr. Cooley and his wife, Carmen, have some great cars on display, including the only Hunt Special ever made, a 1900 Crest, 1912 Cartercar (pictured below), 1914 Woods Mobilette almost identical to ours, and a 1933 Olympic. While the Cooleys own over 170 cars, only about 20 are on display at a time.

The Cooley museum is also full of other neat antiques, including huge collections of old clocks, model trains, typewriters, cameras and the most impressive assemblage of phonographs I've ever seen. Be sure to ask James to fire up one of the wax cylinder players if you visit, and budget some time to sit and visit with him. He's a very interesting guy. The museum is located at 4233 Park Blvd., which is only a few miles from the San Diego Automotive Museum.

Now I'm back in Fairbanks, where it's 80 degrees colder than where I was 24 hours ago. Despite the chill and all the great cars in southern California, I'm happy to be back at our museum!