Ivan Saxton

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About Ivan Saxton

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  • Birthday 11/04/1940
  1. Could there have been any corporate connection with Leach or Leach-Biltwell, an expensive car, initially attractive to movie industry luminaries. Harry Miller designed a big six cylinder engine as one of the the options for this. Unfortunately there was a terminal shortcoming in these, and there were likely replacements of these by the alternative, which was something like a Continental model 9N. A lot of detail on these cars is in Mark Dees' most excellent and comprehensive book , "The Miller Dynasty". I apologise that I have only read this once, and that was some years ago; and the details are not strongly imprinted in my memory. Indication is that none of the Miller engines survived. Anyway, the question is whether Velie and Leach used the hyphen-Biltwell name for reason or coincidence.
  2. If he were still about, one of the greatest transcontinental drivers/travellers, Francis Birtles, might have different opinions. His first trip across Australia, from west to east by car was done with a Brush, largely without roads. It was simple enough they could fix about anything needed. It was economical, resilient, and light enough to push if they needed to. First time he did the trip was earlier, on a push bike. And he cycled round the perimeter of Australia, more than once. He is credited with creating the first cycling shorts from trousers. Tell that to the lycra road-lice that are a constant slow-moving road-block on narrow local roads. Later he favoured the English Bean car, which was efficient, good quality, and not excessive. From south into the northern territory he also used Model T and A Fords. Once the engine of the A ford died, and they spent time salvaging the power unit from a derelict and abandoned early T Ford, Jerry-rigged it in place, and drove back to Melbourne. Birtles would tell you that it doesn't matter what you use if it is light, economical, and expendable; and you are versatile and adaptable. Your personal competence and qualities may be more important than those of the car.
  3. If you look at Keith Marvin's "Cars of 1923" , The Lexington with an OHV six was one of the hot performers of that year, together with the 4 cylinder F-head Essex, and the first Chrysler 6 with 7 main bearings and Rickardo high compression, high efficiency combustion chambers, There is something unusual about the rocker gear, but it must be 45 years since I saw the car that was in Melbourne.
  4. You will find that V63 is the same detail, though the split plane counterbalanced crankshaft makes them a very different engine, though the same externally and with common blocks, heads, and accessories. The engine of my 1916 is a bit hard to check, but the rocker assembly is probably the same from that far back. If so, Francis Ransley I Tasmania may have or know of spares to help you. Scott and Craig Emmerson have their grandfather's V63 in better condition now than Henry was ever able to achieve; though Henry used it as an everyday car virtually from the time he bought it, and we have better resources and equipment now than then. Scott & Craig will have at least one spare engine. There should have been another, but Henry's nephew, before he became known as "Dollar Bill", sent one away for a pittance to Joe Drage, who had an aircraft collection in Northern Victoria. Tom Henderson may be able to help trace that. Russel Holden at Mudgee, who has a lot of Cadillac interest, may be able to help or sell you something. It is not impossible to repair your casting. The rollers look as though they may be better replaced. Bohler have a good 2% carbon, 2% Chromium steel that you machine before heat treatment. You finish grind them in two stacks of eight in a centreless grinder. You really need to talk to me or visit. I presume you are in Melbourne, and I am only 70 miles from Melbourne CBD. I have had Cadillacs including V63 since about 1961, and I have a V61 project, so I am as familiar with them as anyone here. There is a wear depression on the visible end of your rocker which should not be there. If you wish to speak, give me a landline number and a convenient time to ring so I can help you. Make sure all is kept clean inside your water jackets. A few people have cracked cylinder heads. The combustion chamber geometry is far from ideal, and the compression ration is low compared to the 1926-7 314 A,B, &C, which used a Rickardo patent combustion chamber. So a lot of fuel energy goes as waste heat through the radiator and exhaust. It does not hurt to stellite and re-face your valves, as long as the stems are not badly worn. Regards, Ivan Saxton
  5. I have never seen any of those you just mentioned, Jim. You are trying to scratch my distant memory for things that either I am not familiar with, or that I never committed to memory. If Lagonda fits your criterior, you can almost certainly put that down as one of the earlierst American efforts. I have an idea that his name may have been Wilbur Gunn, or similar; but I have no idea where the idea came from. I can certainly take a few Lancia Lambda structure photos, that show form has function. If I pull the seat cushions out of the 1953 Lancia Aurelia B22, you would know that the same design philosophy was in that too. Aurelia was the last with the vertical sliding pillar front suspension. B22 was the hottest 4 door saloons. They did not make many hundred, and the 2litre even that the early 4 door GTs like that driven by Bracco in the 1951Mille Miglia. At 850 miles he was about 3 minutes behind Villoresi's 4.2 litre V12 Ferrari which was able to stretch the margin to 20 minutes because the torrential rain stopped, and the roads were straighter and less challenging. The Aurelia is still a highly desireable road package. All the team drivers seem to have been exceptional; but Count "Johnny Lurani was recorded as saying that Bracco "Flits round corners like a bat". Several years ago, Geoffrey Goldberg came out here for the bi-annual Lancia Register meet at Castlemaine in Central Victoria. You might be lucky enough to still get a copy of his superb book on those cars, and Francesco De Virgillio who was one of the main engineers who was responsible. At the end of the 1951 LeMans 24hour race Briggs Cunningham came across to look at the most impressive Lancia. Apparently he expressed surprise that they had already managed to clean the engine down. Most of the Italians knew little English; but they laughed. He visited the factory and bought a new Aurelia B20 2 door GT, plus a complete spare set of mechanicals.
  6. I am disappointed that you do not plan to start here in Victoria. If you are interested to meet people, see the most interesting antique cars, and share information on the best ways to do things, and with what equipment, you may waste your trip if you rely on someone to organise you to travel in a group. A few years ago John and Carol Boyle were out here with a group. Fortunately they spent a couple of days with John Hancox on the Sunshine coast; but they were not able to visit here or contact me in the days they were in Melbourne, though they were only an hour away and they did not know. John had possibly the last Mercer built, a Rochester-Trego OHV six cyl, which had original 4 wheel brakes which we are effectively copying for our Mercers. We had to protect Carol when someone tried to de-fraud Carol of the car after John died.. You know more than most people about fine spline Rudge Whitworth wheels and hubs. On the floor about 3 feet from me are 52mm, early type 62mm, 72mm, 8omm, and 100mm sample hubs. I will also need to make a suitable set of 90mm long rear hubs for the 1920 Lancia Kappa, to match the spare Tipo 8 Isotta Fraschini front axle which will bolt straight on without alteration to give 4 wheel brakes. If you want to drive some of these cars in modern traffic, you need to have brakes to stop them. You realise that you need to cut ( or re-cut) wheel splines with a shaper. The hubs were always made in original production on a milling machine; but unless you have a CNC milling machine, it is far better and quicker to cut splines on a shaper with an automatic indexing attachment. It can take as little as a minute for each progressive cut around 360degrees. And when you get near size you can lift out the hub , still on its mounting spindle, to try for fit in the wheel. My youngest son has different workshop skills to me. he has capability to CNC machine difficult replica radiator badges, and the super-precision nameplate etching technique he has developed gives stunning results. I have made new rplica twin throat 105 DC zenith carbs for over a dozen people for Stutz and Lancia Dilambda, but none yet for my own cars. I have no Studebaker, but a 1929 Pierce Arrow is closely related and mechanically similar, except that Pierce arrow needed two hands to count the crankshaft main bearings. And by looking at three Stutz engines cast between March and late June 1928, you can understand why the Stutz Blackhawk probably blew up in the match race at Indianapolis with the "ring-in"8 litre displacement special Hispano Suiza. If only Stutz had one of the first 1928 prototypes available, ( like DV3004), the contest may have been different. And you will have difficulty finding another 6 litre, 6 cylinder cuff-valve Peugeot to examine. If you are coming here for a moth, you need to see what you want to see, and visit who you want to visit. In April 1970, Bud and Bernice Catlett, and Ray and Silvia Jesch from Harrah's, together with Al and Martha Helwig from Santa Rosa visited and had lunch with me. In more recent time, two Mercer owners, Bob Sohl and Dean Butler have been here. Anyway, I hope you enjoy your trip, wherever you go, and whoever you meet. Another person in Brisbane area who you would particularly enjoy meeting is Jak Guyomar. I can give you contact details for both he and John Hancox by PM. Both are very much of a similar mindset to you in regard to cars and restoration ability. Jak and his American wife use a late 20's 8 cylinder Pierce Arrow "special sedan" as preferred vehicle for everyday use, still left-hand drive, though we drive on the opposite side of the road to you. ( I probably have cousins in USA from the 1850s that we know nothing of. Great-great grandmother was a friend of Florence Nightingale, and a paid nurse at the Crimean war, while her two young children were apparently cared for by family in England. Old great-great grandfather "beeped-off" with some other sheila on a ship to America. An earlier ancestor definitely left no descendants in your country. Sir Richard Grenville delivered the first settlers and equipment to Roanoke Island on the Letters Patent given by Queen Elizabeth to his cousin Sir Walter Raleigh. Next voyage when he brought more people and supplies, there was no sign of the first lot. He did not survive the sea battle off the Azores in 1591 between his single English ship and a Spanish war fleet. The Spanish returned his sword to his family in England, (according to history we have read); and the English Navy has regularly re-used the name of his ship "Revenge" ever since. When you find a chance to visit Victoria another time, there are a lot of significant cars and people to see and meet. For instance, a pre-WW1 Delage from Indianapolis is still here, restored after recovery form some technical problems, I believe. I look forward to meeting you next time, perhaps. Ivan
  7. First Lancia patent on this was filed in Italy 31 December 1918. It refers to "a car in which the body is a self-supporting shell without a separate chassis". The prototype had its first outing on 21 September, 1921. You cannot describe it as a "bathtub with cut-outs". The tunnel for the tailshaft, et cetera, open at the bottom, is a very important aspect of the whole structural entity. I have a 6th Series Lambda. The only vehicles with a conventional chassis that Lancia made then would have been commercial vehicles. Open cars always required particular attention to strength and rigidity; and Lancia often provided "platform chassis "variants for the work of custom body builders. Harrahs had a 5 cylinder, vertical crankshaft, rotary engine mounted in the back, and I believe it was fully restored to running order. On a rotary, the crankshaft is fixed ( and is therefore effectively the engine mounting); and the rest of the engine rotates. The power output would have been more difficult than for the WW1 aircraft that were powered by rotaries. With the later more powerful rotaries, the gyroscopic precession became an important factor in control; and they would turn in combat much more quickly in one direction than the other. This was handy to get around onto the tail of an enemy fighter, but predictable. It might have been smarter to build them in left and right hand rotation variants in mixed squadrons perhaps, to confuse the enemy.
  8. I am disappointed that you do not plan to start here in Victoria. If you are interested to meet people, see the most interesting antique cars, and share information on the best ways to do things, and with what equipment, you may waste your trip if you rely on someone to organise you to travel in a group. A few years ago John and Carol Boyle were out here with a group. Fortunately they spent a couple of days with John Hancox on the Sunshine coast; but they were not able to visit here or contact me in the days they were in Melbourne, though they were only an hour away and they did not know. John had possibly the last Mercer built, a Rochester-Trego OHV six cyl, which had original 4 wheel brakes which we are effectively copying for our Mercers. We had to protect Carol when someone tried to de-fraud Carol of the car after John died.. You know more than most people about fine spline Rudge Whitworth wheels and hubs. On the floor about 3 feet from me are 52mm, early type 62mm, 72mm, 8omm, and 100mm sample hubs. I will also need to make a suitable set of 90mm long rear hubs for the 1920 Lancia Kappa, to match the spare Tipo 8 Isotta Fraschini front axle which will bolt straight on without alteration to give 4 wheel brakes. If you want to drive some of these cars in modern traffic, you need to have brakes to stop them. You realise that you need to cut ( or re-cut) wheel splines with a shaper. The hubs were always made in original production on a milling machine; but unless you have a CNC milling machine, it is far better and quicker to cut splines on a shaper with an automatic indexing attachment. It can take as little as a minute for each progressive cut around 360degrees. And when you get near size you can lift out the hub , still on its mounting spindle, to try for fit in the wheel. My youngest son has different workshop skills to me. he has capability to CNC machine difficult replica radiator badges, and the super-precision nameplate etching technique he has developed gives stunning results. I have made new rplica twin throat 105 DC zenith carbs for over a dozen people for Stutz and Lancia Dilambda, but none yet for my own cars. I have no Studebaker, but a 1929 Pierce Arrow is closely related and mechanically similar, except that Pierce arrow needed two hands to count the crankshaft main bearings. And by looking at three Stutz engines cast between March and late June 1928, you can understand why the Stutz Blackhawk probably blew up in the match race at Indianapolis with the "ring-in"8 litre displacement special Hispano Suiza. If only Stutz had one of the first 1928 prototypes available, ( like DV3004), the contest may have been different. And you will have difficulty finding another 6 litre, 6 cylinder cuff-valve Peugeot to examine. If you are coming here for a moth, you need to see what you want to see, and visit who you want to visit. In April 1970, Bud and Bernice Catlett, and Ray and Silvia Jesch from Harrah's, together with Al and Martha Helwig from Santa Rosa visited and had lunch with me. In more recent time, two Mercer owners, Bob Sohl and Dean Butler have been here. Anyway, I hope you enjoy your trip, wherever you go, and whoever you meet.
  9. With these fork & blade conrod Cadillacs, if any of the bolts is stretched, you replace the whole set with new top quality replacements. Nobody had torsion wrenches in the 50's or 60's. If you break a bolt or conrod, you might "cough a rod". The crankcase alloy was weldable; but there is a lot of work to make any new conrods or big-end bearings. The 61 and earlier Cadillac V8s had a single plane crankshaft with smaller crankpin diameter. They sound and feel quite different on the road to the later V63, which had a split-plane, counter-balanced crank. They do not have the harmonic vibration periods; thanks to Charles Kettering and GM mathematician Hutchinson. With the increased popularity of closed bodies, the resonance of the vibration periods became more oppressive, and with increased car weight, you could not accelerate through the vibration periods as quickly, I had a nice V63 of the same body style in the 1960s. I traded that and a 1927 314B to a friend in Sydney for a 1918 L-head Mercer. And his friend who got the V63 thought that a verbal agreement was only valid until he got home; which lost me the engine of another car. The v61 will not stop as quickly in modern traffic, being without front brakes. V63 had drum headlights. V 63 also had larger bearing size for the Timken roller bearings for the front wheels. When the 1926Lincoln arrived at customs here from Perry, I took down 61 front wheels and tyres so they could steam clean it more easily; and I had to use a bush- mechanic's improvisation so the wheels would do to move it around.
  10. What is your bore size? I may have good BHB brand sleeves that might enable you to re-do it better. Minimum interference is Half a thousandth of an inch on outside diameter of the sleeve in the block. It is normally more than that , and I can give you an exact figure by measuring sleeves in my extensive stock. I have a near new engine in a Lancia Beta HPE, with bad rast pitting of #1 cylinder while the others are virtually new and unworn with original cross-hatch pattern fine. Some lower primate had apparently loosened the studs on that end and let water stand in the one bore. The distance between adjacent cylinders is so minimal that sleeving would distort the adjacent bore with the standard interference press-fit. You machine with a step on the bottom so it can never drop. Then you fit with about an inch-high application of high temp resistant Locktite round the bottom of the pre-machined bore, and an inch height around the top of the sleeve. You keep the sleeve moving with the press, so the Locktite does not cross-link before the sleeve is seated. If you are lucky there may be a metric sleeve size that may be a whisker larger OD than the Imperial size you have for which someone has blundered. I do not think it would be good practise to fit sleeves loose with even that high duty and heat conducting Locktite.
  11. I have been waiting for more photos with detail I am looking for, but it is similar in design detail style to Continental. I have a couple of 6 cylinder model 9N 6 cylinder engines from early 1920s Roamers. Chassis number of the later one is a 1921 serial, and the engine is 9N 45656. The patent plate lists numbers from 1909 to 1918. The earlier one is 9N 40881, and I got nothing else of the car it was from; but I have enough to reconstruct an earlier car on a 1917 serial number chassis frame . I can tell that one,( which broke down and was abandoned and stripped on an interstate trip many decades ago) originally had a Rutenber engine of a model that were not good. They had die-cast babbit big end and main bearing inserts, which were more suitable to a farm stationary engine. The 9N is a very similar design engine, but a 6 cylinder, same cylinder block style with fixed head and side valves under threaded caps. The crankcase is cast aluminium, and there are only three main bearings on a very strong crankshaft. There is a piston type oil pump like you can see on the left of the photo, which supplies oil to the main bearings; but the connecting rod bearings are splash feed with dippers running though separate oil troughs. From memory, though I did not think to check this afternoon, the camshaft gear may be canvas-reinforced Bakelite. I am not keen on this material, and personally I would always make a new one of better service life. I experienced the Bakelite gear in an early GM Holden 6, 9which I would liken to a scaled-down Chev 6 ), lose two adjacent teeth on the highway to Melbourne when I had a meeting with solicitors over my father's estate. I iguessed the cause of the slight noise, so I had all the tools I needed, plus enough water, and at new camshaft gear. I rooled to a stop in the service road. I must have pushed the right "bush mechanic's button" that day, because I had it reassembled correctly timed, and re-started after 45 minutes, which was quicker than I was ever able to do it at home in the workshop. Continental used the slogan "The Power of the Nation" , which was almost a punny mimic of Duesenberg and Rochester motors, who called the expensive 4 cylinder Rochester Duesenberg engine "The Power of the Hour" The mounting for the fan at the front of the block is about right for Continental, and you cannot seen whether there is provision for other than an "Armstrong starter". I suspect it could be from a small truck, prior to 1918.
  12. With closer detail in your pictures, I can tell that the Houdaille 2-way dampers are much later than any Mercer had; and unlike those that were used on many but not all war-time 4x4 Blitz light trucks. Yours have a squared-off section at the top where the filler plug is, to provide for extra volume of oil. They are good quality devices; and I guess they are of the same source as the engine/gearbox, and the front and back axles and wheels. It is likely that the makers were frustrated that after around 15 years on the market, a lot of American people just could not pronounce the French name; so on yours it is spelled phonetically; that is, "HOO DYE", (with the filler plug as punctuation.) The frame is not Mercer, And the wheelbase is possibly 5 to 10 inches longer than that of all the Raceabouts from 1915-16 to the last Series 6 Raceabout in 1925. It is likely that the rear axle is Studebaker, because the style is the same exactly as 1929 Pierce Arrow. The rear cover of the differential, with nuts and washers sealing ( and securing it in addition to the ring around the periphery), are probably onto double-ended bolts that hold the bearing caps. Pierce were owned by Studebaker for a few years, and some Studebaker engineering staff had transferred to Pierce; and Carl Wise remained with Pierce probably until they folded. With the fuel tank mounting and "lunch box" removed, you can see at a glance that the seats are definitely not Mercer. Two soft vertical folder bends on each seat bucket are a dead giveaway that they are copy, not original. The rest of the front body may also copy to suit. The parts that are definitely Mercer are the radiator mounts, the T-head Mercer radiator badge, the fuel tank which ha similarities to T-head, ( but Fred Hoch could tell you for sure) The separate rear body section that mounts the tank is likely Mercer; and I believe the spare wheel mounting arrangement definitely is. I have always made replacement steering wheel rims for myself and friends out of Blackwood which is one of our nice Australian Acacia timbers very like walnut. The 8 segments for the top and 8 for the bottom, all of identical length and finger-jointed ends at 22.5 degrees from right angle are clamped and glued together. The mating faces are dressed flat on a big sanding disc, and the joints are offset when you glue them together with the ends of the wheel centre. There is a lot of patience needed, if you do it yourself. Your restoration of what you might probably call a "Studebaker Raceabout" will undoubtedly be of better craftsmanship than whoever built it originally; and you will have a lot of fun driving it. You have one bid advantage, too. Nearly all Mercers have only rear brakes; and if you want to stop in a hurry, they will always stop in their own time.
  13. To resume: If you took a rear wheel off to get a side-on photo of the rear of the chassis frame it might indicate whether it is Mercer. Obviously both front and rear of the frame have been altered, and the rear spring hangars are totally unlike anything T-head. The fender mounts are early in style to my eye. The filler caps on the fuel tank look like T-head, but with a level indicator on the side which could indicate L head. The badge on the Delage-style radiator is off a T-head. The spare wheel rest arrangement is typical L-head Mercer, and the over-centre locking bit is the same as L-head and Series Six. I have not seen a wooden rim steering wheel rim on a Mercer. All I have seen are hard black moulded. What is the steering box like? You can switch a steering box or steering wheel. The Rear end of the gearbox almost looks as though there could be a cable operated overdrive or freewheel. The straight 8 Pierce Arrow engines were cast in the Studebaker foundry on different days with different patterns , of course, for the 9 main bearing crankshaft of the pierce engine of roughly similar appearance. ( The alloy mix for Pierce was different for longer durability of bore life. The sad 1929 Pierce with remnants of a 7 passenger body was one of a small number in the hire-car fleet of Melbourne company. They were used for carrying Federal politicians back and forth between Melbourne and Canberra, before the day of the airlines. The man I bought it from told me it was retired by City Motor Services after 400 thousand miles, and he used it for another 130 thousand miles. The engine was rebored once. Overdrive would be more likely on Pierce than Studebaker , perhaps.
  14. JM, I can tell you a bit more, but need more specific photos to help you work out origins. Also, what is the wheelbase in inches? Houdaille two-way hydraulic dampers were used by Mercer from at least 1916, but not exclusively. Houdailles are shown of the chassis blueprint that Ralph Buckley gave me when I visited him in September 1980. That was for Raceabout frame from 1916 to the end; though for the small number of Series Six Raceabouts that they must have built to order though they had not intended to offer them, they used Series Five Raceabout frames with fairly improvised cross-members to use the 6 cylinder pushrod OHV Rochester Trego engine with 3 speed Brown-Lipe gearbox. The six had 3 point engine mounting, with the gearbox that was almost identical to Pierce Arrow Model 80. I can give you measurements for the 4 engine mount bolts of my 1918 L-head Sporting if you want to look carefully for filled bolt holes in the chassis side rails. The clutch on L heads was fully enclosed; and there was a stiff semi-flexible drive shaft to the separate 4 speed gearbox, which was mounted on two cross members. ( The "semi-flexible" discs of that short drive- shaft were so inflexible that you needed absolute alignment ----- difficult on a car that was driven a lot for 40 years.) John Boyle's 1925 6 cyl Raceabout, which had factory 4 wheel brakes, was built on the used chassis frame of an earlier L-head car, and John Hancox from Queensland described the crossmember and front engine mount as a blacksmith's creation adequate in function, but perhaps less in elegance. I haven't been able to get opinions from John, who has been away from his computer and phone for good reasons. He helped John Boyle to get the car going, and then to help put it together and back on the road after it was pulled down for re-painting. And he went again several years ago when Carol needed help to get it going and sell it to advantage for her. John Boyle was a plumber, and had cleaned the radiator with sodium hydroxide which apparently had not been thoroughly cleaned from the bottom radiator tank, which was leaking badly everywhere because most of the zinc had been dissolved out of the brass I made a new bottom tank like mine out of the next gauge thich er brass, and that went on the radiator. I will submit this now and complete my comments later.
  15. Proportions and style are very close to some Delages, but Delages through the 1920s had no separate outer shell like Mercer did from 1915. I can make top and bottom tanks et cetera that go on the core, if you want to convert as much as possible to Mercer: and could get prices from sheet metal craftsmen to copy from my shell to make a new one accurately. The bronze casting that carries the badge is not a problem. Arrangements for access to my shell to copy could not compromise my ownership of my own part. You need to get the car up and take a lot of photos so we can work out exactly what is the origin of what is there. There is a man in Portugal who had and probably still has a good Series Six Raceabout., and you might need to get profile patterns of the fire wall because you might find that the front of the body has been made to suit the radiator that is on it. I know John Hancox has been in communication with Helmut there , and I understand he is a very nice and helpful person.