Remembering Bill Turner

1937 FordsBill had been looking for some time for a 37 Ford like he had in High school and one day in the mid 70s his friend Don Adams found this Ford Cabriolet in a barn on Dairy Hill in South Royalton, Vermont. Bill purchased the vehicle from Joe Dow for $1.00 and the promise to someday give him a ride in it. Joe had used the car for racing and had added the flashy red racing stripe.

When Bill purchased the car it was missing many parts, including the engine. He found a flathead V-8 and began to restore the Cabriolet. He was a machinist by trade and a wood worker (by hobby) so many of the tasks in fabricating the parts he needed came natural for him. Some 15 years later, in 1990, his body-off restoration was completed. The upholstery was done by LeBaron Bonney from Amesbury, Mass. The paint was done by Phil Gates of Royalton, the engine, transmission and all mechanicals were rebuilt by Bill.

Bill went on to show his car and return home with 1st and 2nd place ribbons in the two years after completing the restoration. He pass away in 1992. The car has since been maintained by his widow, Marge Turner, of East Bethel with necessary maintenance being done by close friend, Ken Best. Bill and Marge, his wife of 62 years, had been VAE members since the 70s and Marge has continued her membership since loosing Bill. Bill’s brother Richard was 2nd Vice-president in 1976. Bill even had plans to fly one day when he purchased his own plane in 1990 but never go to pursue his dream.

Years earlier, a short time after Bill got out of the military he worked for Ted Green Ford dealership in Stockbridge and continued a close relationship with them over the years. When the dealership celebrated it’s 100th anniversary this summer general manager Joanne Green Mills wanted Bill’s Ford Cabriolet to be part of the celebration. It was a great day for Marge and their beloved 37 Ford.

The VAE Mobile Museum & Classroom Vision

Started with a seed of an idea to “have our own museum”. During one of the discussions Gene Fodor spoke of a car club in New Jersey that has a “Museum on Wheels”. It was the Vintage Automobile Museum in Beachwood, N.J. (they are the folks whose museum was devastated by Hurricane Sandy just a few days after their grand opening). The idea started a chain of events that started with looking at everything from step vans to even fifty-cent tours of the UPS trucks you see driving around town. Gael Boardman was the chairman of the VAAS Board at the time and probably mentioned the exciting idea a few times at home when his son Owen happened to find a Bluebird bus for sale in the Plattsburg, NY area.

Thus, the picture you see here and on our Wheel Tracks front page. The VAE membership voted to purchase the bus at last November’s annual meeting and the journey was started!

The bus found it’s first temporary home at Duane and Marnita Leach’s home in Fairfax and then after leaving it’s mark (huge ruts in the Leach front yard) it made it’s way to Vermont Technical College to get a “look over” at the school’s auto tech garage. After a few repairs at VTC it moved to Tom Mchugh’s yard for a while and currently it is parked at Wendell and Mary Noble’s home. In the few short months since the VAE has owned the bus it has been cleaned up very nicely, some signs have been made for it’s exterior and some display cabinets have been installed. A tow hitch has also been installed if an old car needs a trailer ride to a classroom event.

It’s first big outing was at the Stowe Car Show where you might have seen it proudly parked by the front gate. It was open to the public in it’s “beginning form” for all to see and to share their vision of how we might proceed in our mobile museum and classroom project. Some visitors thought there should be lunch pails and books around, others thought we should have a gift shop and ice cream bar inside. Another was that we should have videos of past parades and car shows to view. Some advice on outside painting was to leave the yellow and paint the lower area green. Another idea was to do the outside in a vinyl wrap with old cars and car parts.

So now how does the ‘mobile museum project’ go forward? As you can see there are some great ideas and if you have been around the block a few times you know those ideas will give birth to other great ideas. A discussion with a Vermont career center auto tech instructor said it all. When he was told about our plans and how we could someday roll into his facility pulling a trailer with an antique car prepared to show his class “how they did it back then”. His response was that we could have his classroom as long as we would like. During the seventeen Golden Wrench Award presentations this year we met many top notch high school juniors and seniors with amazing abilities. One wonders if being exposed to our hobby if some of those students might get into the lucrative world of restoration?

Now we have to throttle back to the one-step-at-a-time pace. Where will our museum be parked, what color will it be, how will the inside be arranged to best serve our needs, who will drive it through the hills of Vermont?

Mobile MuseumHow do we raise the funds to complete our mobile museum? Checking with our treasurer there have been about $3000.00 contributed to date. You will soon have your chance to throw a few coins into the contribution pot. A fund raising campaign is being prepared as we speak.

If you would like to write a check today just write it to the:

VAAS
c/o Dick Wheatley
PO Box 180
Underhill, VT 05489

(Oh, by the way, you can write your contribution off on your taxes.)

White Kress Fire Truck

Tom Mclays’ White Kress Fire Truck

White Kress Fire TruckI first discovered the fire truck in 1974 in a shed in Washington, Vermont. It belonged to Frank Bushey, a school teacher from Bloomfield, Conn. Frank had purchased it to use in his Gremlin Camp for Young Boys. Instead it had rested in the shed for 23 years. I had surveyed and designed a pond for Frank at the time. A couple years later I was working on two more ponds in Orange and Washington and I stopped to visit with Frank while traveling by. I inquired when he was going to get the fire truck out and get it running? His answer.. “I’m going to sell it”. I agonized for a couple days and much to my wife, Shirley’s objections I bought it….I still loved her though . The date July 29, 1976. When I went to bring the truck home Frank said he would get the headlights. He had hidden them in a closet under a pile of house-hold goods, so as he said, “old man Miller couldn’t steal them” (A K Miller the Stutz man lived a mile away.) The lights were Gray and Da-vis 1912-13 Cadillac brass. My son, Tim, and I towed it home and began working on it. We tinkered on the motor and had it running in short order. Then began the process of restoring it. We disassembled the body, fenders and sand blasted everything. It was painted and put back together. As fate would have it, the fire chief from East Berkshire, Norm Lavallee, was at the Middlesex Fire Equipment where Tim worked at the time and he mentioned I had their first fire truck. Norm looked up some old pictures of the truck and told me to come up and we could search in the old fire house. We found most all of the old brass rails and fittings that had been taken off the truck when they sold it. What a discovery!!

Each summer Shirley and I would vacation in Maine. In my inquiries about White Kress Fire trucks I was referred to Harold Walker in Marblehead, Mass. Harold knew all the fire departments in Maine that had White Kress trucks and sent me the list. So each year we traveled to different locations and visited with the fire departments. Finally information came out that the truck came from Augusta. With that in hand we came up with old pictures of the truck. The folks in Augusta believe it was their first motorized fire truck.

It was fun to search and find missing pieces for the truck. The hose bracket came from an old Plainfield fire truck. The siren came from Roxbury. I found lanterns and nozzles at flea markets. A good friend from Suncook, NH sold me the lantern brackets I needed.

The steering wheel was an interesting event. When stored under the high drive** to the barn a beam broke one winter and fell across the steering wheel and dash board breaking the wheel into eleven pieces and gouging out a part of the dash. Frank had saved all the pieces of the wheel and I had them welded back together. When it came time to reassemble the wood parts of the wheel I found one was missing. For some reason I was looking over mechanical parts and there was the missing piece on the inside web of the frame. Talk about luck!

The truck is now back in Augusta Maine. I donated it to the Fire Department. I know it’s in a good home and will be well taken care of. I still miss it when I walk into the garage but it was more than I could handle at my age.

* Tom’s Pumper is the 2nd from the left pictured here in it’s early home in Augusta, Maine
** Some folks in Vermont call a ‘high drive’ a ‘wharfing’….it’s the ramp where one would drive a load of hay into the barn “hay mow”. The Picture at the top is of the Hartford Fire Station in Augusta, Maine early in the fire trucks history.

1928 Ford AA Dump Truck

The 1928 Ford AA Dump Truck“Don Adams’ Doodlebug”

These are some possibilities that Don Adams would not have his Doodlebug parked in his garage today…

  1. That our Vermonter Calvin Coolidge had not left a nice ‘surplus’ in our U.S. Treasury when he left his presidency in 1929.
  2. That our Washington politicians had not voted to give ‘war bonuses’ to all of our veterans returning from WW1 and then reneged on their promise.
  3. That our stock market crashed in 1929 and the ‘Great Depression’ took up most of the 1930s.
  4. The November 1927 flood did so much damage, especially in the Winooski River watershed area in central Vermont.

    Don Adams bought his Doodlebug from his brother-in-law, Bob Rowe of Montpelier, in 2008. Bob had done a lot of work on the vehi-cle since he purchased it in 2003. The story goes that the vehicle was purchased by a Cuttingsville gent at a government auction after the Waterbury dam was completed in 1938. The Cuttingsville gent bought a number of the construction dump trucks but they were in such bad condition he made Doodlebugs out of them. Doodlebugs at the time were used by many farmers to replace horses. You can see an ad on page 12 where for only $195 you could buy a “Staude Make-a-tractor” kit and plow with your Ford the next day!

    Don’s Doodlebug was made from a 1928 Ford AA one and one half ton dump truck (serial # AA65814). It has 40 Hp, a 4 speed transmission and very stiff suspension. No one knows when this truck was put to work on dam construction but we do know there were three dams involved and 184 dump trucks were leased by the Corps of Engineers when the first dam construction started in 1933. The first dam to be built was the East Barre Dam, the 2nd was the Wrightsville Dam and the last was the Waterbury Dam. When did Don’s AA start work…we don’t know, but we do know that between 1933 and 1938 some 4 million yards of material was hauled to build these dams. A lot of trips for trucks with a 4 yard capacity!

    So….“who” built these three dams? Most everyone thinks they were built by ‘civilians’ in the Civilian Conservation Corp. Very few ’civilian’ were involved, but instead were veterans from WW1. When the veterans started returning from the war they started lining up to get their promised “war bonuses” but there were none. The politicians had disappeared with the promise and the bonus. Coolidge had built a fairly nice treasury surplus during his time as president and the Congress and Senate spent much of their time figuring ways to spend it to make votes. The mi-nute Coolidge left, the war bonus was passed with much funfair. When a large group of war vets marched on Washington in 1932 for their war bonuses they were ’run off’ causing much embarrassment to the folks in power. The next year President Roosevelt decided to allow these older vets into the CCC which was designed to put young non-vets to work. Some 25,000 (out of the 4 million) WW1 veterans were allowed into the CCCs to earn a living. A very large group of these veterans came to Vermont from all over the United States to live in CCC camps and work on the dam construction. Vermonters of-ten made comments about how lucky they were to have these ’older’ vets in the work camp instead of ’young rowdy’s that many other states had to deal with. In fact over the five years that some 15,000 war vets came and went in the camps, other than some public drunk-enness there was only one crime reported. A prize chicken was stolen in the Barre area and blamed on someone in the camps.

    When construction began there were very few mechanized vehicles to help do the work. Some 2500 men used axes, shovels, picks, grub-hoes, bars, sledges, drills and 600 wheelbarrows to do the work. Then came the 184 dump trucks, 16 steam shovels, 4 draglines, the bulldozers and the huge cement rollers to pack the earth. All three dams are packed earth structures with Waterbury having the largest in the country at the time. Most of the men had wives and kids at home and they were able to make a living during the terrible depression. The dams were built be-cause of the 27 flood devastation and the decision to bring in the war vets. You wonder how many families survived the depression because of Don Adams’ Doodlebug…

    (From the editor, some depression and CCC facts vary depending on the publication)

1928 Chrysler Model 72

This vehicle is an old movie car. Having been driven by Bob Hope, Jimmy Stewart, George Jessel, Vera Miles, Darren McGavin and a host of other movie stars, it was owned by Warner Brothers studios. Movies included were “The Spirit of St Louis”, and “The Story of Mayor Jimmy Walker” in the late 50’s.

The car was sold in 1954 from a widow in Connecticut to the Murchio Museum in Greenwood Lake, New York. There it sat for many years being admired. In 1974 the Murchio Museum was altering inventory and Mrs. Murchio decided to sell the car to a friend of my father. The car left NY and headed to Owl’s Head, Maine. Not the Owl’s Head museum but a private garage where it sat for only a few days. Visiting his friend, my father left from his weekend in Maine with the Chrysler. The odometer read 18,000 miles which I am quite sure is real miles! Because this car was used primarily in movies, every time the doors closed, paint fell off. That was because it was never prepped right for a paint job. It was sprayed for color only.

In 1979 the car finally made it’s way to Vermont where it’s been enjoyed since then. I have put hundreds of miles on it over the years. Five years ago or so, I had the car painted because there wasn’t much paint left on it. There was no real need for restoration because is was sitting in the museum all those years. No rust at all. It may have never been rained on. The body shop that painted it was shocked at the condition and the method of manufacturing. Wood framing in the doors and the shear amount of hand work is impressive. The convertible top and all side curtains are original and in prefect condition. The passenger side has a little golf bag door where you slide your bag into the rumble seat compartment. The windshield lays flat giving a real sporty look. Wood spoke wheels add a very classy look. The chrome work is still very nice. I find that polishing old chrome once a year or so keeps it from rusting away.

The suspension is rather unique. The driver seat is independently sprung for a cushioned ride and the suspension is something to be enjoyed. I have a 1928 Model A as well. Comparing the rides is like comparing a Cadillac to a VW! The instrument panel even has Walter Chrysler stamped on it. All instruments are in working order. The only change I made was to add an electric fuel pump for ease.

The engine remains untouched. It’s called a “red head” engine. The head should be painted red, this one is not by accident. The “red heads” were very desirable. They offered higher compression taking the Chrysler from 60 hp to 75 hp. A nice increase. It also has dual points! A bit unusual for that era. Cruising at 55 today is no problem.

The original price in 1928 was $2700.00. My father bought it for $3000.00 in 1974. Not a bad deal back then. With another season here, perhaps you’ll see it around Lake Champlain.

Bringing a 1965 ROVER P5 from Scotland

A schematic of the modifications for ROVER
A small group of us in the VAE fell in love with English cars in our youths. One car, that never sold in volume in this country, was the ROVER P5. In 2011, I made a trip to Scotland to acquire the car shown on the cover. Before I tell about that trip, I want to tell you what is planned for the car. It will end up as a fully equipped rally car with a 13 inch Mac computer in the instrument panel and a PATHFINDER infrared driving light system, just to make sure I can see 700 feet ahead at night.

Modifications for ROVER include a 3.0 liter BMW N55 engine with turbocharger, tuned to achieve 384 horsepower at 5,700 RPM. Power will be transferred to the rear wheels through a 6-speed manual BMW transmission with a “Guibo”, a flex disc, at the output shaft. The drive shaft is from an extended cab FORD F150. An adapter plate, machined by Paul Gosselin of HYDRO PRECISION in Colchester, fits on the front SPICER U-joint yoke and bolts directly to the Guibo.

The back of the drive shaft is connected to the differential with a especially made SPICER 1330 to 1350 U-joint adapter. The differential is a stainless steel and chrome plated FORD 9”, 39/13 ratio. Jaguar inboard brakes are also stainless steel, as are the swing axles. The entire unit, made by Kugel Komponents of La Habra, CA, is being installed in the ROVER unitized body by MARK’S AUTO in Monkton. This is the first time that a Kugel unit has been placed in a unitized body.

The trip to Scotland to buy the car was fraught with missteps, coincidence, and incredible luck. I rode a CONTINENTAL flight from Newark to Edinburgh, where I left my shaving kit in the airport men’s room. After retrieving it from lost and found, I took a train to Berwickshire, where the exit door jammed and wouldn’t let me off. Ten (10) miles further, I got off in a strange place that had no station agent and a phone that required a British credit card. Fortunately, a landscaper working on a yard close by had a brother in Philadelphia. He called out……“What kin I doo fur ya, Yank?”

A cell phone call summoned the antique car dealer and the whole thing turned around. The dealer drove ROVER and I rode in it for the first time. I was treated to lunch at a café in North Berwick. Over lunch, I discovered that a Scottish lady at the ta-ble was good friends with a couple in Essex Center that she has known for 45 years!
“My husband, Lyle, plays in the Berwickshire pipe band. Our American friends come every August so that he and Lyle can play bag-pipes at the Edinburgh Tattoo,” she said. “When we come to Vermont, we stay with them in Essex Center.”

Author’s note: It’s a good thing I didn’t go over there to meet another woman! By noon, 3200 miles away, my cover would have been blown…..
Having had lunch, the dealer and I went out to find a crowd around ROVER, admiring it. A little Scottish boy approached and put his hand on the right-front fender. His father, horrified, yelled: “Dinna touch the car, lad ! Dinna touch the car” !

At that point, I realized that I had to have ROVER.

1926 Buick

The St. Albans Fire Chief’s 26 Buick is found!

Alden ChapmanIf you remember, Wheel Tracks had a really nice story about a fire truck from St. Albans, VT that was turned into a ‘Speedster’ back in the February issue. A question was simply asked at the end about the car in the picture that was “the fire chief’s car. “What make and year is the car?”

Well, did that go places! There were a number of calls from folks who claimed the car was a 27 Buick, just like a few of the guesses that had come in earlier.
Then a call came in from this gent pictured to the right, Alden Chapman of South Barre. Alden is the famous VAE member who has a lifetime collection of over 2000 diecast cars. You might remember a short article about his collection in the August 2011 issue of Wheel Tracks. He confirmed the chief’s car was a 26 Buick Roadster and told me a little about it being re-stored some 43 years ago. His last comment was the Buick was stored in a garage and he knew where!

Greg SabensThe Buick is owned today by Sue and Greg Sabens and the “garage” was just up the road from Alden’s home. Greg’s Dad, Dell, had purchased it from Charlie Arnholm on August 12th 1965, Charlie was a longtime VAE member and club president in 1961. A meeting was set up and Jim Sears and I went South to find this garage. You can see the garage on the front page with the Buick looking out from the shadows. As it turned out, the gar-age is at the home of Dell’s wife, Helen, who was the person who did all the leather and fabric work for the Buick restoration. The family lost Dell some fifteen years ago, but it was easy for us to know a little about him from seeing his part of the loving restoration on this car. Charlie Arnholm was known for his great abilities with the pin-striping brush and the Buick carries some of his work. Charlie Arnholm was also the second
owner of the Boardman/Teachout Speedster.

Greg told us with pride how his Dad won the Governor’s Award at the 1970 Stowe Car Show and how Governor Davis presented the award to his father, Dell.

Greg and Sue became the new owners in 1998 and he speaks of the many trips he has made to the Stowe Show since then….and some of the repairs he has made on the 86 year-old car. From our conversation, I think he knows a thing or two about how to keep this roadster on the road.

There were over 255,000 Buicks built in 1927 and around 10,000 of them were coupes like this one. Around 12,000 Country Club Coupes were also made. They had 207 cu. inch engines that produced 63 HP and average cost was $1100.00.

In trying to make a 100% connection between this Buick and the St. Albans Fire Department, I asked Greg haw he knew it was the Buick in the fire station picture. The Buick part, we know is correct and the 1927 part is also correct. The positive connection with the fire house was made from the fact that the “St. Albans Fire Department” logo was still on the car’s doors when Dell brought the car home.
There are two remaining mysteries and we would like to hear from you if you have any information……

  1. When and who was the Buick sold to when it left the St. Albans FD, and how did it spend it’s time before 1965?
  2. Where is the Boardman/Teachout Speedster? Where did it go when Charlie Arnholm sold it?

1917 Studebaker Tour Car Changes VAE Homes

From a home in the Great Northeast Kingdom To The Champlain Valley…

1917 StudebakerJanuary 20th, 2013 was a cold and windy day in Greensboro Bend. Hundreds of Snow Rollers were poked up in the white fields around Dave and Dot Maunsell’s home on Cook Hill. Dot had prepared a great lunch while outside at times one could see only a few feet through the swilling snow, only the Champlain Valley folks seems to be amazed at the weather outside.

Four VAEers had made their way to Cook Hill to haul the 1917 Studebaker back to Milton. The car had spent the last 18 years in Dave Maunsell’s garage and driven frequently . Gene Towne of Milton had finally convinced Dave to sell him the car after many months of negotiations. Dave is pictured above on the left and Gene on the right. (unknown to all of us at the time…the two trailer tires you can see are flat! Try to picture some ole-guys taking turns replacing the air with a hand pump…yes you have it.)

A friend had told Dave about the car and in 1995 Dave and Pev Peake drove to Michigan to examine it. The car was mostly original and had very little wear. So Dave bought the car and had it hauled home. He and Gael Boardman put new rod bearings and piston pins into the engine. Gael knew of two sisters who did leather work, and they made a new leather band for the cone clutch. Otherwise, very little has been done to it. The interior leather is in good condition but the top is not useable. Gene said that will be his first priority, to find a shop to replace the top.

It is a fair weather car. It has a 16 gallon gasoline tank, a vacuum tank and takes six quarts of oil. The owner’s manual states the car will use about a quart of oil every 85 miles. It is capable of 50 miles an hour but with two wheel brakes, which are marginal and have never been replaced, 40 MPH is a safer speed today. The speed limits in 1917 were 25MPH on the highway and 10MPH in town.

One unique feature is that the front passenger seat can be flipped to face the rear passengers. Another is that there are two ’jump seats’, with arm rests that can be used and then stored under the rear seats. The front seats are adjustable back and forth along with the clutch and brake pedals. It has a 6 cylinder engine with a monobloc (no remova-ble head) that produces 50HP. The car has a ‘transaxle’ type transmission where it is ‘married to the rear differential. It was sold new for $1075 in 1917.

In 1917, Studebaker was the largest man-ufacturer in the world of horse drawn equipment, wagons, buggies, gigs harness and the like. They got a contract in 1916 to supply the Allied Armies with their extensive horse drawn army equipment including the wooden caissons and wheel used for field artillery. With the end of the war in 1918, the company directors decided that automobiles were their fu-ture and ceased operation of all horse drawn equipment. They built a new mod-ern auto factory in South Bend, Indiana, where they remained until the end of 1964.

1954 Chevy 210 “The Inliner”

1954 Chevy 210In high school, my car was a 1950 2-door Ford painted black, and had dual exhaust. Two of my classmates had ‘49 Chevies with split exhausts (one of which was done in shop class.) This is when the envy started. How could I make my Ford sound like the Chevies? The answer is: you cannot!

Transportation for the next 45 years consisted of a VW, 3 Chevy wagons, a Nova, a Buick, an Omni, two K-cars, two Tauruses, and a Mercury, before we became a two-car family.

One day while getting gas for our return trip home from South Hadley, MA, we saw a really nice 1954 Chevy 210 2-door with the sweetest sounding pipes. I was hooked again. On another visit to South Hadley, my cousin said that “my” car was for sale and did I want to take a look. Of course I did. Off we went. But the owner wanted too much money. The next time we were in South Hadley was for our 45th high school reunion, Thanksgiving weekend, 1994. My cousin said the Chevy owner wanted to see me; he had become more reasonable. A test drive, a handshake and the deal was made.

The following weekend my son and I went to bring the car home along with a box of some 38 trophies, various moldings, speedometer, a bumper, and several boxes of small parts.

Since owning the Inliner I have made some enhancements. Visually, it has been painted black suede, rims painted red, with caps and rings and whitewall tires. The engine was rebuilt some years ago and mildly modified. The transmission, a Power-glide, was replaced with a TH350 with a shift kit. (Boy, does that car love second gear!) We also replaced the rear end with a ‘57 that came with 3.36 gears.

The first show for the Inliner was the last VAE show at the fairgrounds in Essex. There I met Conception Conti, he signed me up, and gave me a handful of old dash plaques. I have been collecting them ever since.

That same year was our first time at Stowe. As I was heading down the hill looking for my registration number, I heard, “What are you doing with Ray Faginski’s car!?” And that is how I met Barry Rickert, apparently a friend of the man I bought the Inliner from.

Marty and I have become good friends with Barry and Ginny Rickert from Wilbraham, MA. Over the years together we have put many miles on our Stovebolts.

We meet great people who share our interest in the old car hobby!

Editor’s notes….Andy tells me there are over 3000 members in the world wide “Inliner Car Club”. For you folks just learning, like me, the term inliner means the cylinders are inline and not like a v8 or v6. Although in Europe the term inliner can include V configurations. An Inliner can be two, four, six or twelve cylinders but the Chevy inline six engine is where the term resides most of the time.
What does stovebolt mean? Well I asked that too and it seems if you want to tear down a Ford you can do most of it with a 9/16 inch wrench…..but when it comes to Chevies they used half inch ‘bolts’ just like they use to build stoves….you know, with quarter inch slotted bolts and the square nuts. Many non-Chevy folks have some fun with that but mostly there are no smiles on the Chevy guy’s face when the term is used.

1910 Sears Motor Buggy

1910 Sears Motor BuggyMany VAE members have seen Bill Erskine’s Sears Motor Buggy. Some have even seen him arrive at a VAE meet with the crated motor buggy just like it arrive by train from Sears, Roebuck in 1910 and watched him assemble the vehicle.
Bill has had this Motor buggy since 1999.

Reprinted from old publications Wheel Tracks found that…..Lincoln Motor Car Works was an automobile company in Chicago, Illinois. It produced cars for Sears Roebuck from 1908 until 1912. Nine models were offered, priced between US$325 and $475. They were sold by mail, out of the Sears catalog. Sears had a very lenient return policy: cars were sold on a ten-day trial basis.

The cars had an air-cooled, two-cylinder, horizontally-opposed engine, similar to that later used on BMW motorcycles. The engine was located under the floorboards, beneath the drivers feet, and started from a hand crank in the front. Early cars were rated at 10 hp, and later models developed 14 hp.

In the interest of simplicity, all models used a friction-drive transmission. A roller (a metal wheel with a rubber surface vulcanized to increase its grip) on the front sprocket shaft was pressed against the machined rear surface of the engine flywheel, thus driving the sprocket shaft, the drive chains and the rear wheels. Moving the shift lever set the drive roller to various positions on the flywheel, either nearer the center or nearer the edge, effectively changing the “gear ratio” for climbing hills or driving on level roads. Moving the roller past the center point spun it backwards to give reverse gear. The “clutch pedal” worked differently from most other cars, in that the operator had to hold their foot on the pedal to keep the roller pressed against the flywheel (the catalog claimed that the weight of the operators foot was sufficient to provide forward motion). Removing the foot from the pedal allowed the roller to spring back from the flywheel, effectively providing “neutral” so the car could be cranked without moving forward.

1910 Sears Motor Buggy advertisementThe engine was lubricated by an “oiler”, essentially a tank mounted under the seat which had several adjustable drip feeds with separate lines to the engine bearings and other areas. All components of the transmission were exposed, so several bearings and pivots had to be oiled or greased manually from time to time.

Despite Sears’ solid financial bases and great marketing ability the Sears Motor Buggy was doomed from the start. Sears competitors were making many advancements and by 1912 Sears automotive division had lost $80,000. After selling around 3500 Motor Buggys in four years Sears decided to stop. Lincoln Motor Works continued into 1913 to make vehicles under their name until they also stopped.

1910 Sears Motor BuggyToday we call the vehicles “High Wheelers” but the term very likely will confuse any ‘old timers’. Sears had it’s Motor Buggy and International Harvester had its “Auto Buggys” and “Auto Wagons” like the picture to the left. Auto Buggys had a back seat and Auto Wagons did not. IHC made this type auto wagon from about 1909 through about 1915 when the term motor truck slowly took over. IHC made many models of vehicles during this period: from the auto wagon and auto buggy to the roadster and the touring car, in all over 11,000 vehicles were built.

Have you ever seen a Sears Motor Wagon and an IHC Auto Wagon race?
Watch here, or go to this address on the web, it is a hoot. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qLpBv4qm6A

If somehow we could take ourselves back to visit 1910 when the Sears and IHC were trying to make a buck building motor vehicles you will find a few competitors. No wonder Sears stopped and IHC went to trucks! Here is a partial list of the other car companies.

1910 auto manufacturers
By 1910 there were 290 auto manufacturers in the U.S. with over 458,000 cars on the road.