Mike Daigle and sons Domenico and Charlie have a new project at their home. The 1918 REO Model F Speed Wagon will be their winter project… And maybe beyond winter.
Asked why a REO Speed Wagon Mike Daigle said “Probably because of his neighbor Gene Towne.”
Gene Towne died a few years ago, but he left a huge foot-print in our memories, especially Mike Daigle’s. It was visiting Gene’s place over the 16 years that Mike and his family lived as neighbors, that he caught the bug for ‘old stuff’.
In fact, it appears Mike’s sons, Charlie, eleven years old and Domenico, 16, have also caught the bug. Domenico, recently, fired up his project in the family garage for the first time. A late 40s Oliver 66, wide-front-end tractor. Maybe that Oliver 66 could be a Wheel Tracks feature some day… We hope!
Mike found the Speed Wagon in the back hills of East Wallingford. He said, after getting his trailer loaded, he had serious concerns if he was going to make it out. He did, as you can see, and the three have plans to get it, mechanically, in good shape but want to keep the same basic appearance that you see today. Mike’s background is mechanics while spending a number of years working at the VT. State Police garage in Colchester. So he knows his way around a tool box.
The Daigle’s have the REO running. They were fascinated with the exposed valve tappets and the chain-driven starter.
The Speed Wagon is built for a top speed of 22MPH, while other trucks from that era was 5 to 10MPH slower. Its engine puts out 27 horse power. This is how the term Speed Wagon began. REO started building “Speed Wagon” trucks in 1915 and they advertised that their trucks “had long-term viability and theirs could go faster”.
They were also known to go faster in stop and go city traffic because they had “Tall Gearing”. Tall Gearing (vs short gearing) simply means you do not have to spend as much time shifting because of the REO’s gear ratios.
REO used the “Speed Wagon” term through 1939, they changed the term to one word in the later years.
REO started making trucks in 1908, merged and became Diamond-REO in 1971 and went out of business in 1974.
The Model F 1918 serial numbers started with #15000 and ended with #21543, which means REO built 6543 of these trucks in 1918.
Another huge plus, if you purchased a REO truck, especially a Speed Wagon, it could be refitted for whatever special purpose was needed, and the REO Motor Car Company knew that was part of their appeal. They advertised the ease with which the Wagon could be customized and started building Wagons with bigger engines, heavier flywheels, and larger water pumps. If you needed something done, the Speed Wagon could do it.
By 1925, the company had produced more than 125,000 Speed Wagons.