Monday, June 27, 2011

Model A's Visit Fairbanks

by Willy Vinton

This past Saturday found me rather busy, with the local car club group photo shoot, then a trip to North Pole to take Dave Austin to sit on Santa's lap (that's another story). While there my cell phone rang, and believe it or not, someone was looking for old car parts. These two gentlemen had followed Rod and Birgit Benson, who were coming back from North Pole in their Ford Model A, and stopped them to visit.

Jack Sanborn, the gentleman on the right with the '28 tudor sedan, asked Rod if he had any idea where he might find a head for George's '31 coupe. Rod replied, "You are in luck. I just happen to know someone who will have one." Hence the phone call to me. I met the guys here at the museum shop and they described their problem. We then took a ride to my home garage and gathered up a head that was bead blasted and milled and ready to go. Rod came by with a gasket set and they were set to go.

Jack is from St Albanes, Maine, and George Staples (left) is from Seabrook, New Hampshire. George purchased his coupe when he turned 80. At age 83, that makes him older than the car he drove all the way from the east coast to Alaska. We wish them a great trip and a safe one wherever they may roam.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

1908 Cadillac in the Shop

by Willy Vinton

This is our 1908 Model G Cadillac. Its importance is that 1908 was the last year for Cadillac before they became part of General Motors. The changes between the 1908 Model G and the 1909 Model 30 are rather dramatic in style, and you can see them side by side in the Brass Era section of our museum.


We recently brought the 1908 Caddy into the shop to prep it for some excercise. Like a lot of our cars, it needed a few things done before it was ready to go. One of the things that needed attention was the oiler, which we took apart and repaired to make sure that the engine was getting the proper oil to it. We are still fussing a little with the water pump drive, but it is getting closer to being like it should. The car drives and runs well now. It starts with just turning on the battery switch, so there's no need to do much cranking (Charlie likes that). It is once again running like a Caddy should.

Until Cadillac went to the V8 block, the engines had copper water jackets. Very nice-looking engines for very beautiful cars!

Cleveland Motorcycle Repairs

By Nancy DeWitt and Willy Vinton

We had our Cleveland lightweight motorcycle in the shop recently to work on the 2.5-horsepower, one-cylinder two-stroke engine. We shipped the piston out to see if we can get a new one made, as someone in the past had broken it and welded it up to make it work. We did not want a failure that could be devastating, so we will make a new one. With luck before the summer is over we should be up and running.

This motorcycle was built by the Cleveland Motorcycle Manufacturing Company in Ohio from 1915 to 1929. First designed for use by dispatch riders during World War I, the Cleveland became one of the most popular American lightweight motorcycles of the era. Its most remarkable feature was a little two-stroke engine mounted crossways in a cradle frame. This was a sensible arrangement for a shaft-driven motorcycle, but it required a worm gear to turn the drive through 90 degrees.

While its low price of $175 appealed to many, it was the Cleveland’s performance and reliability that attracted buyers from throughout the world. Unlike most two-cycle engines of the day, the Cleveland was famous for starting on the first kick and needing little maintenance. Despite weighing only 150 lbs., a Cleveland could carry a 200-lb man for up to 75 miles on one gallon of gasoline. We think Mark, our docent at right, could get at least 100 mpg.

This Cleveland was sold to us as a 1917 model, but one of our references indicates that the saddle mounting (on a yoke, rather than a single post) dates it to 1919. Are there any antique motorcycle experts out there who can weigh in on this?

By the way, we could use a copy of a manual for our Cleveland.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Stutz Gourmet: Lost in Translation

by Nancy DeWitt


Bill Murray in a scene from the 2003 film Lost in Translation
 While doing some research on the Stutz marque recently, I came across two advertisements for a 1923 Stutz Speedway Four. The first was the original ad, while the second appeared to be a mutation of the original. My guess it that the advertisement was translated into a foreign language and then converted back into English using an Internet translation services. If you have ever used one of these on-line translators, you can guess what's coming next. Here are just some of the "after" phrases that tickled my funny bone:

Stutz, one of the great names in automotive history...
Stutz, a single of a good name in automotive story...

362 cubic inch displacement inline 4-cylinder engine and a 3-speed manual transmission
362 cubic inch banishment inline 4 cylinder engine as good as a 3-speed primer smoothness

...this massive, 4 cylinder touring car.
...this massive, 4 cylinder furloughed car.

This extremely rare car is in original condition throughout.
This intensely singular automobile is in strange condition throughout.

This car resided in the legendary A.K. Miller collection...
This automobile resided in a mythological A.K. Miller pick up...

The car was then passed to a Stutz collector...
The automobile afterwards was upheld to a Stutz gourmet...

...even more powerful than a Duesenberg!
...even some-more absolute than a Duesenberg!

The detachable head 4 is a rugged and reliable motor...
The detachable conduct 4 is a imperishable as good as arguable engine...

These cars are great driving cars.
These cars have been good pushing cars.

So, buyer beware--especially all you Stutz gourmets out there. You might not want to pay good money for a car that's been furloughed.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Daily Driver

by Derik Price

Well, maybe not daily, but weather permitting.....

We have moved the 1932 Ford Phaeton to our corporate office for the summer.  Nancy and I will be driving it around town, on errands, for the next few months.  Because we got it ready to go yesterday, of course, today is the first significant rain we've had in town all summer.  But yesterday I did get to drive it around the office a little and I have to say, it's pretty much as easy to drive as any newer car.  And for that, big thanks to Willy and Charlie for preparing it!

You may remember this vehicle from the post - The Tax Man Cometh -
This isn't just any old Ford, but one with right-hand drive and a rich history. It was built in 1932 by Ford of Canada (Ontario) and shipped new to Bombay, India. The car's first owner was a zamindar who collected taxes from peasants for a maharaja. 
We won't be doing any tax collecting, but I'm sure we will be turning heads.  The horn button is on the floor, pretty much right underneath the clutch.  So with nearly every shift you get a nice AH-OO-GA!  Willy thought that was a nice 'feature' to leave in place for Nancy and me.

Other notable history -
The Model 18, styled by Edsel Ford, was a handsome car that incorporated the sculptured lines and fine detailing of the larger Lincoln. It was lower and sleeker than the Model A, and handled better due to its lower center of gravity. This was the first Ford to feature a grille that hid the radiator, but in keeping with Ford tradition, all fenders were dipped in black enamel.
We will not be testing the 'claimed' 80 MPH top speed, or exercising the boundaries of its handling prowess.  Nope, we're just pleased with the opportunity to occasionally exercise the "Indian Mistress".  Now then, bring on the sun!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

30 Miles per Gallon in 1914

by Nancy DeWitt

I can't help but chuckle whenever I read an article about improving fuel economy in today's cars. America not only had electric cars on the roads more than 100 years ago, but a number of the early internal-combustion cars got better gas mileage than many modern cars. These included the cyclecars and one of America's first 'compact' cars, the Grant. The 1914 Grant roadster weighed 930 lbs., could reach a top speed of 50 mph with its little 12 hp engine, and achieved an impressive 30 mpg.

The Grant was made by the Grant Motor Company from 1913 to 1922. They advertised it as the first high-grade motorcar to be sold under $500. The Grant combined the light weight and low cost of cyclecars with the quality, durability, comfort and wide tread of standard automobiles. The bull-nosed radiator was designed to provide additional cooling for the 4-cylinder inline L-head engine (95 cid).

The Grant's dash was notable for its complete absence of instruments, leading one passenger to note, “One could certainly enjoy the scenery, as there were no instruments to watch.”

Only 3,000 Grants were made in 1914, and very few Grants survive today. You can read more about their history here.


Willy and Charlie had our little 1914 Grant roadster in the shop recently. Willy said "It's a small car that needed big work." The magneto had been destroyed by poor worksmanship by the car's previous mechanic, so that had to be rebuilt. The cylinders were worn and glazed, so the engine also had to be rebuilt. Finally, after servicing the fuel system, Charlie cranked the engine and away we went. Nice of the guys to do all that work so I could take a ride around Wedgewood Resort!