Friday, January 21, 2011

Vintage Fashion News

by Nancy DeWitt

There has been a lot happening behind the scenes with our vintage clothing collection this winter. Sarah Marshall, manager of our hotel gift shops, has been busy cataloging and photographing the numerous garments and items we've acquired over the past year. Here she is taking a break next to our 1907 White Steamer, wearing one of the reproduction hats visitors can don to have their photo taken in our 1911 Everitt touring car.

After carefully unpacking an item, Sarah takes photographs for our database and for the garment's storage container.

Most of the items are then wrapped in acid-free tissue and placed in archival storage boxes. Thanks to Sarah's efforts, it's now much easier to find a particular garment when we want to put in out on display. You can see that our storage room is getting quite full.

Speaking of displays, you can expect to see a LOT more fashions out on the museum floor this spring. Last week a big shipment of mannequins arrived, so now there are 40 torsos and lots of appendages keeping Sarah company in the back room. I'm sure she'll be happy to see them dressed and on display!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Book in the Works

by Nancy DeWitt

Exciting news! So many of our visitors have asked us to produce a book about our museum that we have decided to make it happen. It's a big undertaking but we've assembled a great team that includes  Epicenter Press in Seattle and John Katz, former editor of Automobile Quarterly. Fairbanks photographer Ronn Murray has spent several days crawling over and under our cars to capture the details that make each vehicle unique. Here he is photographing the Rochester-Duesenberg engine on our 1920 Argonne.

Photographing the cars is not as easy as one might think. Reflections from the ceiling lights, our own reflections in shiny metal and lacquer, busy backgrounds, ropes and signs to be moved, and obtaining the right lighting to capture true paint colors present constant challenges. Fortunately, Ronn's expertise and the help of some wonderful docents have made it work smoothly. Here are Ronn and Rod (docent extraordinaire) wedged under our 1907 Cartercar to photograph its friction drive:

Finding a good position for a full car shot that doesn't include an emergency exit door or glare from clothing cases poses another challenge--especially when the car weighs 4,500 pounds like our 1921 Heine-Velox. Thank goodness for wheel skates!

Shooting the perfect angle of an engine, like that in our 1906 Compound, might entail removing the entire hood:

It's been a fun project so far and we're almost done photographing the cars. We plan to include several pages about our vintage fashion collection too, so Barb is selecting the pieces to be included. Photographing those will present a whole new set of challenges!

Many thanks to everyone who has helped with this project. We plan to have the book printed this summer. If you would like to be notified when copies are available, please let us know.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

In the Shop: Wills Sainte Claire

by Nancy DeWitt

Willy is off enjoying a vacation but Charlie has been quite busy in the shop. This week he finished work on the 1907 Franklin and rolled the 1922 Wills Sainte Claire Model A-68 sedan in for a thorough exam.

Designed by C.H. Wills, formerly the chief designer and metallurgist for Ford Motor Company, the Wills Sainte Claire was one of America's best-engineered automobiles. Its V-8 was the first overhead-cam engine designed for passenger car use, and according to Charlie it's incredibly smooth-running.

The WSC introduced several other revolutionary features including full pressure lubrication, a water-jacketed intake manifold, a back-up light that switched on automatically in reverse gear, and headlights that could be switched between high and low beam. Wills also pioneered the use of molybdenum alloy steel, an exceptionally strong metal that was used in every part of the car subjected to stress.

Charlie says every part on our WSC is in working order, but the car needs a lot of attention. He first discovered a coolant leak in the engine, and when he flushed out the engine oil a lot of sludge drained into the buckets:

The radiator also needs repairing, and yesterday Charlie found that the brackets for the exhaust system had rusted:

Of the 12,000 Wills Sainte Claires made, only 80 are known to survive. Fortunately, it won't take much to get this 80-year-old car up and running. The hardest part will be waiting for spring so we can take her for a spin!

For more information about the Wills Sainte Claire marque, please visit the Wills Sainte Claire Museum.