How NOT to buy a car

It is like sitting in your living room recliner when you ride down the road in this 1952 Imperial!

I bought this 1952 Imperial from a dealer is Canton, Ohio six years ago. It had been owned by the financial manager at the Canton Chrysler dealership who drove it to Florida every year. I bought this car solely on the basis of photos on-line which looked pretty good. The dealer told me it would need some plating…fine, then a week or so later he informed me that the engine needed a total rebuild, also saying he would rebuild the carburetor, which he never did.

At this juncture, it should have been a deal breaker, but I stumbled on agreeing to go forward. To his credit, he did lower the asking price. Finally the work was completed and we agreed to meet at Hemmings in Bennington where I would drive it home to Mont-gomery. When we got the car off the trailer it would not start. After various experts tried to figure out the cause, McNessor, one of Hemmings editors, found the fuel filter was on backwards. The filter had arrows indicating the fuel flow and they were definitely pointed in the wrong direction.

1952 chrysler imperialRecklessly, or just poor judgement, we decided to risk driving it home. It first stalled on Route 302 in Barre, backing up traffic for a half mile; then again in Shelburne but we finally did get home. Since then the carburetor was rebuilt by the Carb Doctor and there have been no problems.

I have had three different mufflers installed from local vendors, one even blew out the minute I started the engine. I am no mechanic but got good advice to order and install an original type muffler from Waldron’s. I have had no problems since.

1952 chrysler imperial engineThe car has needed a lot of additional work. A complete rewiring, more chrome plating, new tires and mostly correcting a lot of poor workmanship done by others. A new paint job and upholstery is my plan yet to do.

When I worked in Cape Cod one summer, an elderly lady with a mean face was walking by the house I was painting. I said “Hello”. She said “How are you?”

Replying honestly, I said I had gotten a severe sunburn that Saturday.

In a dry, raspy voice she replied, “ Well, I guess you learned your lesson!”

Yes, the lesson is when buying an old car, go and inspect it. Try to buy one, if you can, with low mileage and as good condition as you can find. Because the restoration cost are simply prohibitive.

Editors notes…….
I was surprised with Barry’s reply when asking him if I could fea-ture his Imperial. He thought Wheel Tracks only used “really old” cars for it’s features. He is correct and that is entirely my fault. My head is in vehicles older than 1930 and unfortunately that is what ends up in Wheel Tracks. I will try very hard to be more in-clusive of 1940s, 1950s and 1960s cars.

As I wrote on the front page, it WAS like sitting in my living room chair when Barry took me for a spin in his car! The transmission is a ahh-so-smooth “Fluid-matic Drive” an interesting cross between manual and automatic. The shift lever has reverse, of course but also “low range”, “neutral” and “high range”.

Another huge thing you will notice is when you close a door. It goes THUNK, not twang like my model T or boing like a 27 Dodge I know!

The Imperials were made from 1926 to 1954 and then a short time between 1990 and 1993. Barry’s “Chrysler Fire Power” engine is one of Chrysler’s first Hemi’s and puts out 180 HP. Chrysler, in WW2, developed their first experimental hemi engine for the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighter aircraft. The XIV-2220 engine was an inverted V16 rated at 2,500 HP.

The “Macaroni Monza” journey to become the “Almquist Sportster”

macaroni monzaJune 1954 – mid-Century in what has been typified by many as the Age of the Automobile – General Motors had just produced its 50 millionth car – Mercedes introduced the 300SL coupe, with its now famous gull-wing doors – Nash and Hudson had merged to form the American Motors Corp (AMC) – the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at an all time high of 382.74.

In Clearfield PA, Clark Mitchell, who was still in high school, was just starting to build his own Class H modified Crosley based sports car in the Mitchell Mills garages, his family’s business.

Clark’s mechanical sensibility came from working on the Mill’s and friend’s vehicles, building & selling kayaks of his own design, and constructing & flying numerous hand-built model planes. His intention being to make a basic tubular shaped, aluminum skinned body with cycle fenders, put it on the Crosley chassis and hop up the engine for more power. Over the preceding winter he had created several scale clay models for the national Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild competition. His design ideas generated some real interest among his family, friends and neighbors. They were aware that he was working on creating his own ultra-lightweight sports car. Several days into his project, he had a visitor. Harry Heim stopped in at Mitchell Mills to purchase dog food for his Russian Wolf Hounds. Clark’s father noticed Harry’s car was rather unusual for those parts, a Riley Healy.

Quoting Clark, “When Harry learned that I was dismantling a Crosley to transform it into an aluminum bodied, cycle fendered, ‘H’-modified sports car . . . dad gave him directions to our garages. He came into where I was working, introduced himself, looked at my drawings and clay models, listened to my ideas before saying, ‘Sell the Crosley and help me design and fabricate a fiberglass sports car body for my friend ‘s Stanguellini chassis.’ He upped the incentive by saying, ‘I’ll keep the molds because this will be a completely separate project from my contract with CPI,’ and finally he added, ‘I know where there are a couple of Fiat Topolino chassis that we can lay up two more bodies for, so we can build two cars of our own and go racing.’ Could I say NO’ . . . NO!”

It was then he asked me to collaborate with him on the project car for his friend John Iglehart.

1954 macaroni monza fiberglass body shell
1954 Macaroni Monza I body shell, wired & ready

1954 Macaroni Monza I body shell, wired & ready Between that time and my attending Penn State in the fall of 1954, we were able to pull the first fiberglass body from the female mold in the Clearfield Plastics parking lot on a sunny early autumn morning. ‘Hey Harry, the way the sun is back-lighting the body, it looks like macaroni!’, Harry instantly responded, “Hey Clark, we’ll call it a ‘Macaroni Monza.’ Everybody wants to call a pseudo-sporty car a ‘Monza,’ and ours has really sporty coachwork.” At that moment Clark Mitchell’s Clearfield Classic, the original Macaroni Monza, became a reality.

macaroni monza fiat topolinoBMC Somerset Engine
MM I body shell on Fiat Topolino chassis with BMC Somerset Engine and twin SU carb manifold.

The Macaroni Monzas have gone through five phases since pulling that original fiberglass body shell – when completing the Macaroni Monza I – a larger version was fashioned by Harry Heim Associates and sold through Almquist Engineering – to a day in the early ’90s when Clark inquired of his life long friend, Roger Adam if he would sell his car. . . Roger said, “You can have it!” (more on this on the page 13) – to Clark re building/ reconstructing that car into his current Macaroni Monza II.

Four years went into that recreation. In 1997 it was complete. Clark drove his new again MM II from his home near Ausable Chasm NY down to Clearfield PA where it was a featured car in the Central Mountains Region AACA car show. Clark and his car had traveled full circle back to their shared origin.

1959 almquist sportser
The initial larger bodied Almquist Sportster made in1959 for Roger Adam by Harry Heim Assocs. Mountedon a Henry J chassis with a Chevy V8 that Roger built.

Clark shares the following about being reunited with his car, “ One of the experiences that old car buffs truly enjoy is revisiting copies of the cars they previously owned. This experience escalates when that car is THE car . . . even more so when it’s a car that they helped (maybe more like conspired) to design. Imagine . . . when I asked Roger Adam if he wanted to sell his 1959 RECONSTRUCTED ROADSTER…

The initial larger bodied Almquist Sportster made in1959 for Roger Adam by Harry Heim Assocs. Mountedon a Henry J chassis with a Chevy V8 that Roger built.

clark mitchell almquist sportser
2016 – The Almquist Sportster now – Clark Mitchell with his restored Macaroni Monza II at the 15th Amelia Island Concours in 2010. Clark, who is a VAE member, will be showing his car at our 2016 Shelburne Classic Auto Festival this June 3rd, 4th & 5th.

2016 – The Almquist Sportster now – Clark Mitchell with his restored Macaroni Monza II at the 15th Amelia Island Concours in 2010. Clark, who is a VAE member, will be showing his car at our 2016 Shelburne Classic Auto Festival this June 3rd, 4th & 5th. Roger & I had not only been involved in its construction, but also in the initial design of this fiberglass bodied, modified Henry J framed, Chevy powered virility symbol. He didn’t want to sell it, instead he said, ‘You can have it!” I said, ‘For how much?’ And Roger repeated, ‘You can have it!’ When I asked if he could come down a little on the price, he laughed and said, ‘Talk to Fritz, you’ve seen it at his restoration shop. Work out something with him; it’s yours. I don’t think I want to mess with it; don’t think Fritz has time either. I know you’ll enjoy fixing it up like the old days. Just give me a ride; I’d like to see it run again.”

The work Clark did after getting his car trailered back home wasn’t really a restoration per se. It was more a synthesizing of ideas about how to revitalize the concept of what Roger had put together thirty-two years prior for his car. Clark then amalgamated that with his own ideas about how he had set up his original smaller bodied version in 1954. After reviewing numerous old photos of both cars, making sketches from measurements of Roger’s car, and making a small scale model in clay similar to that which Harry Heimand had done for the original fiberglass body, Clark undertook his hands-on reconstruction to fit the 1984 Corvette chassis that would result in the creation of his Macaroni Monza II. He decided to use the ’84 Corvette chassis following a conversation with a friend who restores corporate jets and suggested that the body shell from Roger’s car would be almost a perfect fit other than needing to alter the wheel well configurations because of the slightly shorter wheel base.

Since completing the car in 1997, Clark has enjoyed participating in numerous vintage car events including invitational showings in concourses at Amelia Island, the Milwaukee Masterpiece, the Hemmings Concours at Saratoga and more.

Your writer met Clark six years ago at the Keene Hill Climb Reunion in Keene NY. We had gone over to check out that rather unique vintage event . . . when I first heard the guttural growl of the Chevy V8 as he geared down to pull into the show field. When Clark rolled his MM II into the parking area, I was saying to myself, “WOW, I’ve never seen anything quite like this fifties-styled bright-red roadster coming straight at me!” Once he parked, I went over and introduced myself to begin what has become a fast friendship and shared love of small, low, loud sports roadsters.

In summary, let me quote the Amelia Island show card description of Clark’s MM II which provided the following brief history from 1954 on, “Clearfield Plastics Inc. (CPI) contracted with Fiat of Mexico to supply them with 100 bodies to construct complete cars. The bodies were shipped to Mexico. The tariff had not been paid and the bodies were returned. Harry Heim & C.P.I. owned the molds/production rights and contacted Ed Almquist in Milford PA. After Almquist purchased the 100 bodies, they were renamed from the “Macaroni Monzas” to “Almquist.” This chassis sports a larger version of the original Heims/Mitchell design. Heim and Almquist collaborated on several other “ahead-of-their-time” body designs & accessories.”

Clark Mitchell & Don Perdue are currently working on compiling a more comprehensive, illustrated history of the Macaroni Monzas to share at the 2016 Shelburne Classic Auto Festival.

1918 G-48 Locomobile Sportif

Judy and Gael Boardman’s dual ignition, 5200 pound, 48HP beauty

1908 G-48 Locomobile SportifWhy a Locomobile?

In the early 1950’s the Goodyear Tire Company would publish a 2-page centerfold advertisement in the Saturday Evening Post showing a pictorial history of cars with Goodyear tires.

These were great little pictures and my most favorite was 1925… a Locomobile Sportif. I copied and recopied this picture a lot (The Jordan also caught my eye and I could tell you a Jordan story from some years later).

Later, in 1959, I acquired an ALF fire truck for $275 (another story) and it ran like a champ, 825 cubic inches of 6 cylinder T-head with 4 inch straight exhaust, twin ignition and enough radiator to keep it cool. Wow! Who designed this wonder? Andrew Lawrence Ricker did, earlier, for Locomobile. So, I began a hunt for a Locomobile. John Hawkinson, an early VAE mentor showed me one he had rescued for Albro Case in West Hartford, CT. His was a handsome brougham sedan but not the Ricker engine – and it really wasn’t for sale.

In June of 1960, my new wife and I detoured from our wedding trip in Maine to greater Philadelphia to look at another. It, too, was a later sedan, small Series and had been in a fire…not too bad, puckered fenders and hood, but running, and not expensive. Judy, new wife, wasn’t impressed and I got over it quickly.

20 odd years later, I was bemoaning this history to Steve Dana and he said, “Do you want a Locomobile?”. Dumb question! He said H.M. Burrows in North Springfield has several and would probably sell one. I was aware of Mr. Burrows, as we had mutual friends, but had never seen his cars. This story begins to sound like one recently published here by Rusty Bolts.

Rusty’s story about Fred Gonet and his wonderful 1908 Locomobile echo’s my own experience with Henry Morris Burrows. I went to look at the cars and walked right past the 1908, a 1911 Loco, a Mercer race-about and a 1915 Mercer roadster. There was also a Porsche 911 and a much later special order Chevrolet 2-door. Mr. Burrows needed room in his garage and the 1918 Sportif took up a lot; twice as much, as he had scattered it all over the shop. He loved to inspect things as Rusty explained. We sort of negotiated and it took several interviews and a “home visit” so he could check our home and family to assure a secure adoption. We finally “passed” and I sold my really nice 1950 Cadillac convertible to fund the venture. That, and a little help from VAE member Bill Billado who was a branch manager at the Chittenden Bank. I sold Bill his 1935 Buick convertible sedan as one of his first cars. I went to present payment and Mr. Burrows said, “Oh, and did I mention the spare engine? That’s another $2500.” Oh no! Well, somehow we robbed the egg money and it was all mine! The car came home in the early ’80’s in pieces. It took me years to get it together and help from now “cousin Fred Gonet” to get it properly timed and running well. You see, some years later Fred auditioned for and got the Model E 1908 for himself. The 6 cylinder T head in my model 48 is the 525 cubic inch inspiration for the just bigger 825 edition in the ALF…same stuff, same power, same noise and better with a Frank deCausse Sportif body. The factory slogan was “easily the best built car in America” That’s why a Locomobile.

1954 R Type Bentley

1954 R Type BentleyChristina and Paul McCaffrey’s ’54 Bentley

Are those Holley Carburetors we can see in the Bentley? Oh no, they are SUs, straight from the island!

We purchased our 1954 Bentley R-Type on 10/3/1999 from Philip Palmer – Starksboro. Original owner was Stephen John Pilkington of “The Quarries”, Quarry Drive, Ormskirk, Lancaster County, England. The vehicle was imported to Lake Placid NY in 1985. Chassis is a Standard Steel Saloon # B109ZX; 4 1/2 Litre; bench front seat; RHD; Coker Tires

We took it to the RROC ( The International Club for Bentley & Rolls-Royce Owners & Enthusiasts) national meet in Greenwich Connecticut where the local dealer completely over-hauled the brake system. They say that Bentley and Rolls Royce vehicles don’t breakdown – they only may experience “failure to proceed”. Our Bentley R-Type had a failure to stop! Once the work was finished it practically stood on the bonnet when the brakes were applied.

I grew up in Greenwich with six siblings. Our family car was always a Ford station wagon where we fought over the chance to sit in front “way back”. We took regular Sunday drives and played “punch buggy” when VW’s were spotted. My Mom always said she’d love a Rolls Royce if she could have any car she wanted. With a small inheritance from her, the Bentley became the first in our modest “collection”.

We have used it in a few family/close friends weddings. We’d love to do more but insurance restricts “commercial use”. Paul is the designated chauffeur – I’ve only driven it in parking lots and open fields. We have taken it to VAE shows in Stowe, Shelburne, St. Albans; Knight’s Point; Manchester VT; and has been a regular 1st place winner at the Bristish Invasion in Stowe. We enjoy the Tailgate competition and dressing in Vintage clothing of the 50’s era.

Bio: Paul and I were married in Ireland. We both work at the University of Vermont Medical Center in the Operating Room. Paul has been a surgical technician for 43 years; I am a neurosurgical nurse there. Paul served in the Army in Vietnam, was a City Councilor in Winooski, and was a private investigator. I formally worked as an independent stockbroker and as a Cost Estimator for General Electric/Lockheed Martin. We have five grown children: Lauren, Coberlin, Jameson, William James and John (Jack). Five grandchildren: Hillary, Marley, Paris, Taylor and Zoey. We also enjoy Lake Champlain – Sailing out of LCYC in Shelburne Bay and fishing.

1979 MG

1979 MGBDick & Kit Wheatley’s ‘79 MG

When did you purchase the MG, Dick?

I purchased in February 2006. I was looking for a reasonably priced MG, spotted this online one cold Sunday afternoon. The car was located in Maryland. I threw a bid on it (wanted to see how ebay worked), didn’t think too far ahead, then left for a tennis match in Essex Jct,. When I came home there was a message from ebay “Congratulations, you won, now pay!”

Why an MG?

I thought they had nice clean lines, the ones with the metal bumpers, my first choices were a bit pricey.

What have you done to it…any future restoration plans?

The car hasn’t needed much. I filled the tank with gas one day, parked on a hill and gas leaked out the filler cap, stained the black rubber bumper, white, so I took it to a local body shop and they painted the rear bumper the same color as the body. The front bumper was painted when I purchased it, has held up pretty well. I did replace the exhaust, so I could hear the radio.

What was the mileage when you got it and how many now?

In the 90’s when purchased, something over a 100K now.

Was there a nice trip that you and Kit have had with it?

Mostly local trips, a few garage tours. It has been a hit with our grandkids.

1979 MGB
1979 MGB

Any other points members would be interested in reading?

I had to find a carrier to bring it up from Maryland. We live on a dirt road, slightly hilly. The guy showed up with a car trailer after dark on a snowy night with a plan to back into our driveway. He could not get up to the garage, it was too slippery. The driver says “why would anyone want to live out here?”, he was from Florida. I pulled it up the driveway with the tractor and pushed it into the garage. The seller told me he would fill the rear hatch with spare parts, but the lid would not open, no matter what I did. I called a good friend, Rod Rice, the next day. Rod said his son Dave had a similar MG in South Burlington and Rod had a key to his garage. Without hesitation he said he would meet me there in 45 minutes. We looked at the rear hatch mechanism on Dave’s car and determined the only way to get into mine was to drill the lock out. Simple procedure, we found a pin had slipped out in transit, ordered a new part to replace it, everything was fine. I think Rod loved any excuse to get out of the house for something to do with a car. Rod was a great guy, helped our son with a Boy Scout project, our daughter with a school project on the Long Trail, always there ready & willing.

David Lamphere’s 1919 Franklin Touring

1919 franklin noseThis 1919 Franklin Touring has been a car David Lamphere has known about much of his life. Franklin manufactured about 150,000 cars in Syracuse, New York from 1902 to 1934. This one has a story to tell…

World War I had just finished its four year blight in November of 1918, our 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt, died in January and according to Wikipedia, Amānullāh Khān became king of Afghanistan.

1919 franklin interiorIn Rutland, Vermont that year George Lamphere was shopping to buy a new car. He and his wife, Eva, lived at 3 Clarendon Avenue and their creamery & dry goods store on Main Street must have been doing fairly well. There were a number of auto dealerships in the area but the one at 107-109 West Street must have caught their eye because they sold an air cooled car where you didn’t have to worry about the radiator freezing up during the winter. Another thing they might have seen in the car ads was, “you could put the accelerator to the floor, even in the desert, and run it that way all day or until you ran out of gas”. That is how good these engines were. The dealership was named Rutland Machine and Auto Company and they sold Seldon trucks and Franklin Automobiles. The Franklin touring car pictured above is the car the Lampheres decided upon.

David and Cereta Lamphere are VAE members from Westford, Vermont; George Lamphere is David’s grandfather and the Franklin touring sits in David’s garage today. The car was passed from George to David’s dad, Richard, and then to David.

1919 franklinThe Franklin Company had sold about 43,000 cars by 1919 and had the process fairly well perfected by then. They were using 6 cylinder engines in 1906 for some of their models and by 1914 all Franklins had six cylinder engines. Managing the air flow was important in these air cooled vehicles and until 1922 all that was required was a fan between the engine and the transmission to help “pull” the air through. As the horse power increased they moved the fan to the front of the engine and continued to use the cylinder fins to force air down past the hot cylinders, this was called a “down-drafter”. As the 6 cylinder engine power grew, from 24 HP to over 100HP, the company changed again in 1930, to keeping the fan in the front but now forcing air “across” the engine thus calling it a side drafter. A much more efficient way to keep the engine cool.

It appears George and Eva began a family tradition with the Franklin car. Over the years they had the 1919, a 1923 sedan and two 1929s sedans. One of those 29s later was reworked into a pickup truck which also sits in David’s garage. David’s dad, Richard, added a 1930 and 1931 sedan to the family Franklin history and then David took his turn when he was 15 years old, when he purchased a used 1930 sedan for $45.00. David also bought a ’31 roadster at one point bringing the count to eight Franklins.

Richard was an engineer and loved to tweak things and make them better. While the 1919 was in his possession he added an electric fuel pump with a pressure regulator, to keep the carburetor from handling anything over one and a half pounds of fuel pressure. He also added a fuel pressure and a vacuum pressure gauge to the dash. The ignition switch has an extra position so when you engage the starter a second battery is wired in to have 12 volts. Once the engine is running, the switch is moved to the 6 volt position.

It is probably not totally unusual for an automobile to be purchased new and be in a family for ninety eight years, but Wheel Tracks did not want to miss out telling this story.

As you have read in our classifieds the 1919 is for sale. David and Cereta need to down-size and have decided to try to find a good home for the old girl, that still runs perfectly. The hope is that the car stays in the VAE family and will have many more stories to tell years from now.

How many of you will be watching for those Rutland addresses the next time you go through. Please take a picture of what is there now and send them to Wheel Tracks.

Avery Hall’s 1928 Packard Roadster (model 533)

Avery’s 1928 Packard Roadster is very close to its coming-out party, it has been a 4 year project!

Packard’s motto was “Ask a man who Owns One”.
Avery Hall is that man!

1928 Packard Roadster (model 533)This is what Avery Hall’s 1928 Packard Roadster (model 533) looked like when he started the restoration 4 years ago. Quite a difference from the beauty we see on the front page of this issue of Wheel Tracks!

Avery found the car in Florida in the early 1990s when he and VAEer, Bryce Howells drove there and trailered it home to Burlington. The two are in a small group of 16 VAE members who have Packards, wouldn’t it be great if we could see them all side by side, in all their glory, someday!

According to “American Cars Catalog” Avery’s model 533 is the fifth series of 6 cylinder Packards that started in production in 1921. After 1928, Packard did not build another 6 cylinder car until 1937. The 33 in the model number means the wheel base is 133 inches.
The L-head straight six with a bore and swing of 3.5 X 5 inches produces 81 HP and has 7 main bearings, mechanical lifters and the Packard updraft carburetor. The publication says there were 13,414 of the model 533s produced in 1928.

Wheel Tracks has been corrected a few times on what the 5 really means in the model number 533. The 5 might simply mean it was the fifth series as noted above. We were told it also means the travel of the piston and one informant says the 5 means the number of passengers the roadster can carry. Wheel Tracks will publish any “corrections” that might be sent in our next issue….please stand by.

There is no question about Avery’s 533 when it comes to beauty and quality. When standing in front of the vehicle and looking along the side of the body you can find it has a beautiful curve as it reaches the rear of the car……a little “boat-tail” feel!

The engine compartment is very simple and easy to understand it’s workings. Even the Stuart vacuum tank is in full dress, as you can see to the left. Most of the white oak body frame has had to be replaced in Avery’s 4 to 5 year restoration. The engine was rebuilt by the “Auto Shop” and the upholstery and top was done by Michael Lemire in Richmond, Vermont

The first Packard was built in 1899 in Warren, Ohio. In 1903 the main Packard factory opened in Detroit, it was designed by Albert Kahn and occupied 3.5 million square feet across 47 buildings on 40 acres and employed over 40,000 skilled workers. In 1956, when the factory was closed, it was claimed to be the largest abandoned factory in the world.

Fred and BJ Gonet’s 1908 Type “E” Locomobile

fred gonetThe Locomobile automobile (1900-1929) finds its evolution linked to the indomitable and identical Stanley twins, F.E. and F.O. In 1896, after re-locating their successful photographic dry plate business to Watertown, Ma., from Kingfield, Me., the Stanleys started experimenting with a steam propulsion automobile and by 1899, were building cars for the public. In the same year, the Editor and Publisher of Cosmopolitan Magazine, John Walker, was also I interested in getting into the burgeoning automobile business, and approached the Stanley brothers with an offer to purchase their company. After repeated offers and their constant refusal to sell, the Stanleys were quickly tiring of the annoying Mr. Walker. In an attempt to get rid of him, they countered with an exorbitant price of $250,000 ( $7.1 million today) and a term of 10 days. To their surprise, Walker jumped at it, and along with Amzi Barber, ”the asphalt king”, purchased the company from the Stanleys and changed its name to Locomobile. With only a one-year “non-compete clause” in the sales agreement, the wiley Stanleys were right back in business.

1908 locomobile type eWithin the year, Walker and Barber split, after Barber discovered that he had been hoodwinked into paying the full $250,000, and Walker had invested nothing. Barber ended up owning Locomobile outright, and moved it to Bridgeport, Ct. Walker went on to build the Mobile steam car in Tarrytown, NY., but by 1903, he was finished. Barber desperately needed someone who knew more about automobiles than he did, so he hired an electrician/mechanic by the name of Andrew Ricker, who then traveled to Europe to “observe” automobile designs, specifically Mercedes. Locomobile continued with both steam and gasoline engines until 1905, when they switched to gas engines exclusively, fighting several Mercedes patent infringements along the way due to Ricker’s keen sense of “observation”. The “Type E” was designed for this year and continued through 1908, with many mechanical improvements. It utilized a 15/20 HP “T Head” four cylinder engine, dual chain drive rear axles, and a 3 speed sliding gear transmission, which evolved into a four speed selective gear transmission in 1908. Ignition was a “make and break” type running off the intake camshaft, with the hammer and anvil spark inside the combustion chamber. Spark timing was adjusted by sliding the cam back and forth. (Google “make and break engine” and watch Greg Cone demonstrate his 1908 Matheson’s “make and brake” engine). Locomobile’s slogan was “Easily The Best Built Car In America”. They were indeed, exceptionally well built and expensive, utilizing bronze castings for the crankcase, transmission case, steering box, etc. Although only a 15/20 HP engine, the “T Head” accelerates to a very comfortable cruising speed of 45 MPH, as was evidenced on my recent Fall day outing.

The story behind Fred and BJ’s Locomobile is filled with all sorts of characters. Soon after WWII, a widow from Wycliffe, NJ. contacted Henry Austin Clark, who owned the Long Island Automobile Museum, and wanted to get rid of her late husband’s 1908 Locomobile. She would be willing to part with it for $1, just to make the transaction legal. This was common at the time and many cars were acquired this way after the war. The famous opera singer and collector, James Melton had many people give him early cars. Remember, these vehicles were only 40 years old at the time and pretty well “used and abused”. Apparently Clark took the car and in ’52 sold it to Lou Schaffer, also of Glen Cove, Long Island. Schaffer spent the next 2 years “restoring” the Locomobile. Having only 1905 literature, he made fenders and acquired items that fit the earlier style. In the early ‘50’s, restorations would often copy the oldest styles trying to make them as “antique” as possible. Schaffer finished the restoration in time to participate in the 1954 Glidden tour. Ironically, Fred Gonet grew up only 3 miles from the Locomobile he would eventually own 30 years later. In 1956 it was sold to a John Snyder, who in turn sold it to his son in Scarsdale, NY.

Enter, the infamous character Morris Burrows who had a summer house in Springfield, Vt. Morris was a brilliant, yet quite eccentric mechanical engineer. He was known to have bought a new Porsche 911 when they were first introduced in 1963, ordering an extra engine with it so he could dismantle it to study how it was constructed. Being a subscriber to Car and Driver, in 1963 he came across an ad for a 1908 Locomobile. For some time he had decided he would like a brass era automobile and decided that Locomobile was a car worthy of him. He paid the lofty sum of $1200, and the Locomobile moved to Vt. Morris and his wife drove the car many miles over the next several years. In 1970, his wife passed away, and he re-married, but his new bride was afraid to ride in the car because it lacked front doors, so the Locomobile was put up on blocks in the basement. During this time, Fred Gonet had moved to Vt. and became involved with antique automobiles and motorcycles, eventually starting what is today known as G & G Restorations of Proctorsville, Vt., with his cousin John.

As time went on, Fred let it be known that he would like to find a brass era car. Every year, Harry Olney (Gary’s father) would register and insure his 1910 Reo for Fred to drive around during the summer, but he wasn’t interested in selling. Along comes Ruffus Estey, an old car guy who is a friend of both Morris Burrows and Fred. Morris is now in his 80’s and ill, and Ruffus informs him that he knows of a very knowledgeable young enthusiast that would be a good candidate for the Locomobile. Morris is kind of an irascible old fellow who was known to scold people if they ventured too close to one of his antiques, didn’t especially like children, and could otherwise be a grumpy old curmudgeon( like many of us). Morris agrees to let Ruffus introduce Fred. Being a quick study and fearing the worst, Fred does his homework on Locomobiles. After the introduction, Morris starts grilling Fred, asking him about his feelings on certain engineering aspects regarding the Type E Locomobile, what his plans for the car would be, what he thought about the incorrect 1905 style fenders and the other incorrectly dated items on the car, etc. After a few hours, the meeting ended. Several days later, another meeting, and more questions for Fred. This goes on a few more times, and now Morris wants to meet BJ, Fred’s wife. The meeting goes well, and Morris actually asks BJ if she would like to sit in the car (still up on blocks). BJ looks at Fred, he shrugs, and so up she climbs into the Locomobile. Morris is concerned that she might feel uncomfortable about the lack of front doors, but BJ is unfazed. As the meeting draws to a close, Morris states he would like to meet their 2 children. Knowing of his unwavering love of children, Fred and BJ agreed, and hoped for the best. Well, as it turned out Morris liked the kids, invited them to also sit in the car and the rest is history. Fred and BJ finally signed the adoption papers in 1985, and enjoyed driving the Locomobile for the next year. At the end of 1986, Fred started a total frame up restoration.

1908 locomobile type eUsing cardboard templates, he was able to recreate the correct compound curves on both the front and rear fenders before hammering out new ones. Finding an original 1908 owner’s manual (with Morris) at the Bennington car show, Fred was able to fabricate all the other correct pieces for 1908 that he needed for the restoration. Through good luck and perseverance, he was able to find the original box of discarded “make and break” items that had been taken off the engine in 1952 and eventually sold to Walter McCarthy. If you look on page 893 of The Standard Catalog Of American Cars, you will see a picture of Fred’s 1908 Locomobile taken by Henry Austin Clark shortly after its “restoration” in 1952. Notice the 1905 style ”chopped off” fenders. There are only 7 surviving examples of the Type E Locomobiles, and only this one for 1908. To date, Fred, BJ and family have driven over 40k miles throughout New England and Canada, a true testament to Fred’s meticulous restoration of an exceptional automobile.

Bill Sander’s “other hobby”

General Motors SW1500 Diesel

Bill's Lionel Train LayoutBill Sander got the “green light” from his wife Jan, about 10 years ago….at least he went with his interpretation.

Bill had been into the Lionel train hobby for some time when one day there was a comment of him maybe getting a full sized train. Jan made a comment about “that happening will be the day he could find one that fits into his garage” Bill says that was the day he envi-sioned his “mission” and of course that led to a step-up from Lionel… the 7 1/2 inch gauge model train! It fits into the garage just fine and you can ride on it.

The red locomotive on the front page is a model of a General Motors SW1500 Diesel. This unit and a second Elco RS3 model that Bill has were the two main work horses used on Vermont rail roads. They were built much closer to Road Switcher specifications and not yard switchers and were very capable of pulling their loads through our hills and valleys. There were 808 SW1500s built by GM from 1966 to 1974 and the 1500 HP engine was capable of reaching speeds of 60 MPH. The Alco RS-3 is the 3rd design variation and continued to the RS-11 design. The RS-3 was built by the American Locomotive Company and the Montreal Locomotive Works and has a 1600 HP engine. Between 1950 and 1956 there were 1418 built, 1265 for American railroads, 98 for Canada, 48 for Brazil and 7 for Mexico.

Bill’s SW1500 locomotive is powered by a gas 17 HP Briggs and Stratton engine and rides of tracks seven and a half inch wide. The 7 1/2 inch tracks are used mostly in the western states and is said to follow the example of Walt Disney’s layout in California. The eastern modelers mostly use 7 1/4 inch tracks….. Bill went with the western tradition. Bill’s model is hydraulically powered by both the wheels under the locomotive and the wheels under the second car, it has reverse, lights and a recorded sound track of the real deal as he moves along his 450 feet of track.

1910 Stoddard Dayton 10H Roadster

1910 STODDARD-DAYTONThe Stoddard-Dayton Motor Car Company started out, as many early auto manufactures did, as a farm implement company in 1875 originating in Dayton, Ohio. As the automobile craze grew in the 1890’s, John and Charles Stoddard caught the fever and by 1904, with the help of a young English engineer, H.J. Edwards, launched their pilot model with a 4 cyl. Rutenber engine. Stoddards were a well-built automobile and soon orders outpaced production.

Unfortunately, in 1910, Stoddard made the fatal mistake of joining the automobile conglomerate of Benjamin Briscoe’s United States Motors, an eventual failed attempt to compete with Willy Durant’s General Motors. By 1913, the high-end Stoddard was dropped from the line and only Maxwell remained. Today, there are approximately 30 Stoddards known to exist and only 3 Stoddard Roadster 10H’s.

For the 1910 production year there were 3 different engines; 30, 40 and 50 HP, and 8 body styles; roadster, baby tonneau, coupe, touring, torpedo, landaulet*, limousine and town car. This Stoddard Roadster 10H has a 3 7/8” x 4 ½“ hemispherical combustion 4 cyl engine developing 30+ HP. The valves are 2”, each pair operated by a unique single rocker arm on top of the cylinder jugs, resembling a walking-beam steam engine when in operation. It has a true twin ignition using a Bosch magneto, Connecticut coils and 8 spark plugs. It sold new for $1500, compared to a Model T at the time for about $800.

The history behind this car is that it was discovered in an abandoned mine property in the West around 1940 and being recognized as a quality early automobile, was spared from the scrap drive of WWII. It passed through several hands until it ended up with the infamous antique car dealer, Art Burrichter in 1967. A collector from Pa. purchased it, and then sold it to his son 2 years lat-er. The son spent the next 9 years scavenging for parts and fabricating the ones he couldn’t find. Fortunately, in 1970, a sister Stoddard 10H was unearthed in upstate New York, so any needed patterns became available. In 1978, the restoration was completed and the Stoddard was taken to Hershey where it was awarded a National 1st Prize. Having only been driven a few times around the block, it was sold to another collector in Pa. who had seen it at Hershey. Apparently this gentleman took the car out once and had a carburetor backfire which scorched the side of the hood. After re-painting part of the hood, he parked it, and the car languished in a corner of his barn for the next 32 years. When the owner died, his family started slowly selling off his automobile collection and this is when I got wind of the Stoddard. Fortunately, one buyer was dealing with the family quietly and fairly, so the word never got out about the sale of these vehicles, or even the existence of this Stoddard. After a couple of years of patiently waiting, the family finally agreed to sell the car and I wasted no time.

After getting it back to Vt., I started calling all the Stoddard collectors to find out more about the car. To my amazement everyone had lost contact with this car and wondered what had ever become of it. I feel very fortunate indeed to have been in the right place at the right time. Presently, the engine is out and apart, aluminum pistons ordered, the transmission mounts modified to handle the twisting, the shifter shaft and transmission re-aligned, the clutch relined, the rear end adjusted, etc. I felt the 7” headlights were too small, so I set about procuring the 10” Gray and Davis ones on it now. I pounded out the dents and converted them to the early magnifier-type headlights by taking the lenses out of a couple of magnifying glasses and making the brass bezels and tri-pod supports to hold them in place. The convex lenses are from a clock-parts supplier in Oregon. A little buffing, and “Voila”, new headlights. And so, as you know, on and on it goes!