Monday, February 20, 2012

Restoration Update - Biddle & Rochester Automobiles

by Willy Vinton

I recently returned from a trip to attend the auctions in Scottsdale, AZ. I had a good time and got to see about 4,000 cars, but did not end up buying any for the museum (although I admit I raised my paddle a time or two). After a hectic few days I popped over to Escondido, CA, to visit with Allan Schmidt at Horseless Carriage Restoration. At right is our 1918 Biddle Town Car that he is working on for us. The body and paint work are complete, as well as the running gear.

We had to have the Biddle completely redone after a poorly performed attempt at restoration by another shop. The body had to be stripped, finished and repainted. Allan also had to make new frame rails, as they were nearly rusted through and unsafe. He is now working on the upholstry and waiting on the radiator to come back from Carnegie. This car will look fantastic when finished and we are hoping to show it at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance this year.

Next up was our little 1901 Rochester Steam runabout. It also has a sad restoration story. After paying for complete restoration that was never finished, we retrieved its pieces and shipped it to Escondido where we knew it would be in good hands. Allan has made terrific progress including a new boiler as well as a new frame. His next steps are to finish the plumbing and upholstery.

Note the car's brown tires. These were purchased new from Coker tire and have never seen the sunlight. They have turned from white to brown without any use.  They will not clean up and are essentially unusable. I'm trying to get them replaced, but Coker says it may be up to a year and a half before replacements are available. So once the little buggy arrives, don't blame our super white-tire polisher and docent Terry W. for not keeping them clean.

The last photo is of the Rochester's new boiler set in place. And no, once the plumbing is done, there isn't one square of inch of space left in the body.  I would like to send out a big thank you to Allan and his crew for always doing a great job on our cars.


  1. Hi, A few questions ... (1) Is that a Ball & Ball carb? (2) What is the shutoff valve at the bottom of Stewart vacuum tank? (3) Where did you get get your flat belt made? Thanks! Steve

  2. Steve, first off, the carb has no name on it, but i believe it is a Stromberg, will research and find out. the shut off is a ball type valve to shut of the fuel to carb when not in use. the flat belt is a piece of leather laced togather with heavy cord. hope that helps. i dont have access to the car, as it is in so CA.

  3. I am having the same problem with Coker WWW's. This will be the second set that have to be returned. They continue to sell this stuff and act like the "nice guy" when they offer to replace them with yet another set of tires that do the same thing. The expense and trouble of balancing /mounting / shipping is a real PITA too! Nice looking car by the way. And Allen does do some great work. I have been to his place several times and have seen the quality first hand. Cheers.


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