Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Buckmobile: Our Latest Acquisition

 by Willy Vinton

Here is a 1904 Buckmobile that was built in Utica, New York. So far my research shows this is the only true survivor. We will continue to research this, as rumor has it that there may still be another one or two Buckmobiles in existence.

This Buckmobile is going to be a great addition to the Fountainhead Collection. It's very fast and powerful for such an early, 2-cylinder automobile, producing 15 horsepower with an enclosed planetary transmission. This car is fast enough to scare you if you were to let it run as fast as it could go. Going ~35 mph in a car of this type and size gets your attention real fast!

The car is very original, including the leather seat, aluminum fenders,  even 3 of the 4 wooden planks on the suspension, and all the wood you see.  A big thanks to Joe and Leanne Whitney of Arizona for preserving this great car, and giving us the opportunity to have it in our museum. We hope they get a chance to come to Fairbanks and visit it sometime.

Also, many thanks to everyone who did some research to try and answer our quiz in the previous post. If you ever see a picture of a Buckmobile's unique suspension again you will know what it is. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Name that Car

Let's see if anyone can identify this car.

Here are a few hints. It was built in 1904 in New York and is one of only two left. It has an upright, two-cylinder T-head engine putting out 15 horsepower, and a column shift-enclosed transmission. Yep, that is a wooden plank used for the suspension.

The first person to correctly identify this car (in the comment section below) will receive a free museum day pass and ball cap. Good luck!

Willy Vinton

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Driving a White at the Bakersfield Swap Meet

by Willy Vinton

This annual swap meet in Bakersfield, CA, opened last Friday morning at 6 am. Not many were out that early, but it soon got real busy. I spoke with Bruce Remmer about attendance, and he said vendor numbers were up from the past and he thought visitors were level or up a little. Some of the smaller vendors said they didn't know if they would return next year because of high fuel prices. Too bad, as this is a very friendly event and you meet some great people here.

At right are a couple of the ladies from Restoration Supply Company all decked out in period attire. They really looked good, and when Jay Leno came by they got their picture taken with him. That put a spark in their eye, and made their day for sure. I did remind Jay that we look forward to him visiting our museum sometime.

I had a chance to visit with a lot of people from all over the country and made a lot of new acquaintances, including Walker Woolever. Walker is one of the few people we've found in North America who also owns a Henderson automobile. We had a good visit. Several folks said that they were coming up to Fairbanks this summer, and we look forward to seeing them at the museum.

But THIS was the high light of the trip for me...
It's a very nice, mostly original 20 hp White steam car. A big thanks to Rob Williams for hooking me up with Ryan Thurber, the car's owner. Ryan and his son Christian were very generous with their time and spent a good amount of it with me, even taking me out on the road for a rousing ride. After that he let me drive it around some and I learned a lot about  driving White steamers in a short time. I am not quite ready to fire ours up up yet, but if I can convince Ryan to come to Fairbanks to help get our White steamer tuned up to run as well as his, we will have a very sweet running car.  What a treat! Thanks Ryan.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pioneers of Alaska Tour

Fraternal organizations like the Masons and Elks were popular in Alaska during the early mining days. Around 1903 a group of men in Nome formulated an idea for a strictly Alaskan order that would work for the benefit of the Territory and look after its sick and aged members, and in 1907 the Pioneers of Alaska organization was chartered. At right are some of Fairbanks' first Pioneers, including Alaska transportation legend Robert Sheldon (3rd from left). Any idea what kind of car is behind them?

Originally, one had to have resided in Alaska before January 1, 1901 to be eligible for Pioneer status, but now membership is open to those who have lived in Alaska over thirty years. Today there are 17 active chapters, or "Igloos," that work to gather and preserve relics and Alaska's early history. On April 6, members of Igloos #4 and #8 enjoyed a luncheon at the Fountainhead Museum, followed by a personalized tour led by Willy Vinton. There was a lot of interest in the artifacts, and Willy fielded numerous questions including "How do you know so much about cars?" and "What school did you go to?"

After lunch, Barbara Cerny, curator of the vintage fashion collection, pointed out the several historic Alaska outfits on display and provided a behind-the-scenes tour of the clothing storage and work room. The Women's Igloo #8 recently loaned the Fountainhead Museum a number of antique garments worn by Fairbanks pioneers, including the tan suit at right. This wool walking suit was purchased at Gordon's Department Store in Fairbanks around 1909. We are grateful to the Women's Igloo #8 for preserving these pieces of Alaska history and for loaning them to our museum.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chickasha Swap Meet

by Willy Vinton

After showing the museum's 1932 Cadillac at the Amelia Island Concours, my wife and I traveled to Oklahoma for the Chickasha Prewar Swap Meet. Due to some unforeseen computer problems, all my pictures were lost so this is the best I have. The weather cooperated very well, with lots of sunshine and temperatures that reached 86 F. There was a lot of "stuff" and a few cars for sale, such as this early REO, plus numerous model Ts and As. As always, I managed to find a few good items.

Next we traveled in to Oklahoma City, toured a few collections and saw some really fine cars. Wilma even had a good time, was impressed with some of the cars and enjoyed meeting the people involved. This week I am off to the annual Bakersfield National Swap Meet put on by the Horseless Carriage Club of America. These meets are invaluable for locating hard-to-find parts for antique cars, so wish me luck! In return, I promise to do a better job of reporting on the trip and have decent pictures to share.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Curved Dash Olds in the Shop

by Willy Vinton

We recently brought our little Curved Dash Olds Model B runabout into the shop for some needed maintenance and repairs. This car never had the compression release installed after it was restored years ago, which makes it very hard to start. So, we built the linkage and all needed to get that up and working.
After we got the car running, we found several other problems, including a crack in the single cylinder, which we are now fixing, and a plugged radiator. These will be corrected and the car will be ready to cruise by spring (we do believe that spring will come!). At right is a nice top view of the engine bay showing the water tank and the fuel tanks.

Here's a view of the little car's two-speed planetary transmission.

The Curved Dash Olds was produced from 1901 to 1907. In addition to being America's first mass-produced internal-combustion automobile, it was the first American car to be offered with a mechanical speedometer. Our 1905 Model B was produced the same year Gus Edwards came out with the popular song, "In My Merry Oldsmobile." It cost $650, boasted a top speed of 18 mph and consumed only one gallon of gasoline every 40 miles, on average. And to think, we didn't even have national fuel efficiency standards back then!