JV Puleo

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About JV Puleo

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    Senior Member
  • Birthday 11/01/1951

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  • Location:
    Smithfield, Rhode Island
  • Interests:
    Brass era... teens & 20s


  • Biography
    A lifelong Brass Car enthusiast

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  1. There are half a dozen systems although we hardly ever see the earliest, which were largely gone by about 1903-1904... like exhaust pressure to a tank on the dash feeding the bearings individually through a maze of little copper tubes. What I learned from Heldt was that the system we now think of a conventional, the gear pump in the sump feeding an internal oil galley was fully developed by 1911, including hollow crankshafts with internal oiling for the bearings. Nevertheless, it took time for the systems we think of now as "standard" to be fully accepted. Often they were expensive to introduce. Almost all of the early auto manufacturers were badly under capitalized. With little extra money, operating almost literally from hand-to-mouth, any change that required new equipment or a pause in production was dangerous. Around 1910 the market started changing drastically. Until then, virtually all cars had been sold for cash to the well to do... but, temporarily at least, that market seemed to have reached its natural limit and was dominated by a few major makers - the famous "3 Ps" come to mind. What was needed was an approach to the middle class... the hardware store owners, butchers and bakers. I suspect a lot of the companies failed because they couldn't make that change... cutting prices to meet the means of the biggest market open to them while still meeting expectations of performance. I think that was the root cause of Mitchell cheapening their engine in 1910... they cut their price almost in half from 1909 while trying to offer a "better" car. They scraped by but, in 1923 when they introduced a disastrously ugly car, the drop in sales killed them.
  2. One of the ongoing problems with doing this sort of work is deciding what really fits the period. As a general rule I try to keep all my changes in the context of the working life of the car. So, with a 1910 car, I try not to do anything that was drastically out of place before 1915. These early cars usually had very short working lives... just look at any street scene from about 1920 and see how many 10 year old cars are visible. Keeping to this rule isn't always possible and I don't apply it strictly to materials... you can't even get some of the materials they used and probably wouldn't want them if you could. I see no benefit from making something of weak materials (like their poor quality aluminum) when much better material is at hand. With that in mind, I've been collecting books on automotive design and repair for the past 40 years. There are no brass era "shop manuals"... in fact there aren't any for anything. What "Owners Manuals" were printed almost always concerned themselves with how to drive — because before 1915 most cars were sold to people who couldn't drive. They contain tidbits like "don't drive it without oil in the engine" and "don't leave the water in over night if it's freezing." What they did have were general works on automotive design and, to some extent, repairs. The four volume Cyclopedia of Automobile Engineering came out in 1909 and was updated and reprinted up through the 20s as Automobile Engineering. I have the 1909 and the 1917 editions, about half of which is still useful. There was also an ongoing publication by J.E. Homans titled Self Propelled Vehicles. Homans work began in 1904 and came out every few years until, I think, the twenties. However, the absolute best is this one: Until another member of this forum, 1912Staver told me about it, I'd never heard of P.M. Heldt — an engineer and the Editor of Horseless Age. His The Gasoline Motor is a two-volume text book for automotive designers... not body designers either. It is entirely devoted to the mechanical aspects of the gasoline motor car. The first edition of volume I, concerning motors, was published in 1911. Volume II came out in 1913 and concerned everything else. Heldt's work was updated until at least the 20s, if not later. It belies the popular notion that much of the early engineering was haphazard. It certainly wasn't. In fact, the main drawback in using Heldt, for me, is that I can't do the very advanced math required to solve some of my problems. Still, I've learned an enormous amount from it. As far as I know, the only book dealing with brass era mechanical problems in recent years is a small, self-published volume by the late Harold Sharon. The information is general in nature, but more than is readily available anywhere else. I disagree with Mr. Sharon on a few things but would still recommend his book...I think it is available from his daughter via the HCCA web site.
  3. I've never been to his new location... I did go to his house once to look at a car for a friend in Texas. The fact is, I'm not really in the market for anything. I have my current project which, realistically, I'll probably be at for another 8 or 10 years and I'm 65 already. I don't even have a garage at my house so about the last thing I'm interested in is another old car. Personally, I like Ghosts better than PIs but both are fine cars. What they aren't is like any American car I've ever been exposed to in that they can be quite complicated. I can remember going to look at a big Packard with my late friend EA Mowbray... he said, referring to the engine compartment, "no wonder people like these...there's practically nothing there." What I especially like is the astonishing attention to detail that EVERY part received... when I'm making stuff I find myself thinking "how would Sir Henry Royce have done this." I know that's a bit over the top, but if you strive for that level of perfection, falling short isn't so bad.
  4. A few more bits. I have the jugs and they are in quite good condition although 3 of the 4 ears that the exhaust manifold was attached to were broken off. I had them furnace welded and the gentleman that did it also attended to some very tiny water jacket cracks. These blocks had small, pressed in sheet metal core plugs. Needless to say, they all had to come out, especially as several were in places impossible to reach when the engine is reassembled. Rather than put new ones in, I threaded the holes for 3/4" pipe plugs. They were exactly the correct size because that is what Mitchell had done with the previous years engine. The stamped plugs appear to have been another of their cost-cutting measures. Here I'm surfacing the Exhaust manifold flanges. You cant see it, but the blocks are bolted to a fixture mimicking the top of the crankcase so the are in perfect alignment. I then turned them around and did the intake flanges on the opposite side. I also made these... The caps that screw in over the intake valves. The Mitchel has a strange valve arrangement - it is Exhaust over Intake rather than the more conventional IOE. You can see some of the originals next to them. I made them out of bronze, mostly because I just like the way they look but also because it threads so nicely. The originals were threaded for pipe thread plugs (like a Model T) while I threaded mine for 7/8-18, the period SAE thread. Why? Because I want to use NOS plugs and, because Model Ts use pipe threads, those plugs can be frightfully expensive. The 7/8 plugs have almost no modern application and are often quite reasonable. I bought a NOS c.1915 package of 6 for something like $30. Also, I can use either type because I still have the original iron caps.
  5. Yes, I suppose they are. Personally, I've never liked the Model T and have never been tempted to own one though I admit they are the only brass cars I've seen on the road around here. My reaction though is personal, not a reflection on the owners and based more on history than mechanics. I started out with a 1927 Cadillac and spent most of my 20s working on Silver Ghosts and PI RRs. I had a PI at one time, albeit a huge sedan with a dismantled engine. The result is that really small cars just don't interest me much. If I'd my druthers, I'd have a 48 HP Locomobile or a big Peirce Arrow but that isn't going to happen. Besides, you can still buy just about everything for a Model T. Where is the challenge in that? Plus the fact that a lot of the so-called brass Ts have later engines with electric starters.
  6. At the urging of Frank, "F&J," I've decided to start a thread on my ongoing revival of a 1910 Mitchell. Here's where I started, about 4 years ago... I think this must have been someone's parts car/project. It wasn't complete and the odd bits missing make little sense unless it was more or less slapped together for a sale. The engine, which is correct, may not have started life in this chassis because both it, and the front cross member which is the other place the engine number is stamped, have clearly been out of the car and apart. Nevertheless, it was the biggest brass car I could afford and I actually wanted the challenge of resurrecting something that was effectively beyond saving. I also have very definite ideas of hat I like in the period and wanted the flexibility to achieve that without damaging something that has survived intact. As can be seen, the engine was a mess. The jugs were in the box on the back of the chassis but this crankcase had been completely apart. There is only 1 original piston there - the others just kept the rods from hitting the cylinder walls when it was stuck together to sell. This is the first thing I made... A design of my own, a combination generator/distributor made from parts of a seized Bosch DU4 and a Briggs & Stratton 12V starter generator from a big lawnmower. I want to run electric lights, having been caught out on the road at night with nothing but acetylene lights in the past. I am not adding an electric starter so I need minimal generating power, especially as I'll probably uses LED bulbs. These are, to me, a safety feature I would just as soon not do without. I made this about 2 years ago and have now come up with a better plan so I will probably never use it as it is... nevertheless, it was good experience making it. Next I made new valve cages... What you see here are the new cages and the 1 original I had. The original components are crude in the extreme. No provision was made for valve guide bushings. I wanted replaceable bushings and I included my own idea of a valve seal... a little felt washer retained by a light secondary spring inside the main valve spring. The bottom photo are the fixtures I made to make the cages. If anyone wonders why this sort of work is so time consuming... the fixtures often take more time to make than the parts. In an industrial setting, where hundreds of parts are being made, this is inconsequential. When you are making maybe 4 or 8 of something, it usually represents at least half the time spent. In any case, that's a start. If there is any interest in this, I have more.
  7. Interesting, it's pretty much the same for me. There simply aren't any brass car guys in my area - at least that I know of. With one exception, they were all older than me and are, sadly, gone now. I have two friends from HS who are serious "car guys", more so than I am but neither has ever had a brass car. One of the reasons I'm so skeptical of the "getting young people involved" threads is that I don't remember many "young people" being interested even when I was young.
  8. The old fashioned "hot tank" was just a heated caustic soda bath. You could do it yourself - though I don't recommend that. Lye (i.e.) drain cleaner is essentially the same thing, as is oven cleaner and for a small part much easier to do - and a lot safer.
  9. Where did a new guy get "jumped on"? Trimacar's original post was polite and to the point. He didn't denigrate the car or the seller... just said that this might not be the best place to advertise it and that the engine/running gear ruined it in his mind. I had the same reaction. That such a comment would elicit a highly defensive, obscene reply reflects poorly on the seller - not this site or the majority of people here. I don't particularly care for modified cars myself although I can appreciate some of the problems associated with the originals. In truth, I'm not sure it is even possible to keep a pre-war car completely "stock" if you are actually going to drive it. All sorts of minor modifications are often necessary just to keep them on the road. The line between unavoidable changes and "purely stock" is often quite fine and I'd rather see them working than rotting away. But, changing out the entire running gear to something from the 70s does, to my mind, cross that line, at least in the context of this forum. Having no interest in hotrods, I'm not a member of the other major site dealing with them but were someone to advertise a purely stock car there would they be welcome, especially if in doing so, they insulted the sensitivities of the hotrod world?
  10. I'd agree with the above... in fact, I'd go further and say that the heavy over emphasis on cosmetic perfection that seems to dominate all of these AACA competition-based discussions is a major detriment to the hobby. It isn't just young people who are turned off by it... Its also a major discouragement to anyone contemplating the restoration, or just the reactivation of a mid teens to late 20s car. Personally, I like that period and couldn't care less what anyone else thinks but I'm afraid that a lot of people are influenced by what the "movers and shakers" say (otherwise "fashion" would not exist)... and are discouraged by the general contempt expressed for amateur restorations. If you want new people in the hobby, don't dismiss their efforts out of hand with cracks about less than perfect paint or the fact that they own a "closed car." When I first got into this... back in the early 70s with my 26 Cadillac I heard "when are you going to restore it" and "only open cars are worth having" at nearly every event I went to.... (It was a fantastically well preserved car to, with an interior that was about 90% perfect. The main body had been resprayed in the 50s but the shiny black fenders were probably original.) When I sold it, it went to a gentleman who had been a Spitfire mechanic with the Eagle Squadron and race car mechanic after the war. He didn't give a damn what the "antique auto" world thought either.
  11. These discussions always leave me feeling I must have lived in an alternate universe. Are we to understand that 20 or 30 or 40 years ago lots of 20-somethings were participating in AACA events? While I admit that the AACA had little presence in my area — the northeast — there was plenty of old car stuff going on. I bought my first old car, a 1927 Cadillac, when I was 19, the summer after I finished High School. My pal, John Zangari, bought a 1926 Chrysler Imperial 80 about the same time and he and his brother together had a 34 Chevrolet. The three of us were ALWAYS the youngest drivers at any car show... virtually everyone else was in their 40s and older. This was 40 years ago so I fail to see what has changed. I completely agree with F&J. It is not lack of interest, it is lack of exposure. But, even that may not be all its cracked up to be. I had zero exposure to old cars in my youth and certainly not from my family. My father could not have cared less about them and regarded the whole thing with benign displeasure. At least he didn't try to stop me, but he did nothing to encourage me either. A year or two ago my early 20s nephew asked me if I had an idea where he could find an early motorcycle to rebuild... not an early Honda either. I told him to stop by the house where I gave him a dismantled 500cc BSA c.1948. He hasn't gotten to putting it together yet, but he has accumulated most of the needed parts so I'm reasonably sure it will happen. My point is, I made it easy for him to get involved . Its up to him to see if there is an ongoing interest. Edit... I'd second the comment about shows. Believe it or not, there are old car enthusiasts who don't care much about "showing" their cars or collecting trophies and aren't obsessing about whether the bolts that hold the trunk rack on have grade markings on them.
  12. Well... if I had the extra money and a place to put it, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. My first car was a '27 Cadillac (and no, I'm not 90 years old... I bought it when I was 19 and it was 44 years old). They are excellent cars and just about any engine and mechanical work would be welcome compared to the expense of replacing that interior. That said, the seller shouldn't be mislead because a handful of guys on this site really like it. American car collectors are still obsessed with shiny and "new looking" and the idea that "only open cars are worth having", not to mention the inevitable "you'll be underwater as soon as you do anything." The original asking price was just about right and should he press for much more it will probably sit for a long time. It's another example, like the Maxwell in another thread, that would probably do much better in the European market than here.
  13. ebay may be your best option... at least it will get extremely wide exposure. But, to optimize this, pull it out of the garage and pump up the tires... they will probably hold air, if only for an hour or two. Take a lot of photos... and not just intense closeups that show a few square inches. Left and right views of the whole car, the engine compartment on both sides and then some of the small bits like the intact, original tail light. If there are areas of damage show them and be up front about it. In a case like this, saying it turns over but that you haven't started it is fine. Any decent mechanic should be able to get it running but any knowledgeable buyer would want the pan off and the sump cleaned BEFORE it ran. Also... get GOOD photos — not fuzzy cell phone pictures. If you don't have a good camera, find someone who does and pay them a few bucks for their effort... you will almost certainly get it back in price and make actually selling it that much easier. As F&J correctly says, this is not an era that has ever been extremely popular but no one is taking early 20s cars to the scrap yard because no one wants them. Yours is really in excellent condition in the context of original, untampered with and complete. A lot of people, myself included, really like that. Oddly enough, It would probably sell better in Europe where original condition has long been appreciated so don't be surprised if you get questioned about an overseas sale. Personally, I'd start at $5,000 and make it clear it's a "no reserve" auction. A bidder who knows that the high bidder is going to take it home is much more likely to bid enthusiastically. If, for some reason, you'd prefer not to use ebay, use those good photographs for an ad on "PreWarCar.com" PWC is a Dutch site with a world-wide readership and the owners of it are very fond of unrestored cars like yours so it will get the best possible international exposure. Good luck,
  14. My day job involves a collector magazine in another area... one that also has a large "auction scene" component of expensive antiques sought by supposedly informed collectors. Most of my own collecting, modest as it is, is done at auction. But, I am frequently asked if this is a good idea for beginning collectors and my standard reply is that "if you need the auctioneers description, you are not qualified to buy at auction."
  15. I've always interpreted "inquire" as "we'll size you up to see how much we can stick you for." The endless search for someone with more money than brains is a fantasy, but it's one that a huge number of people indulge in. Just look at the "buy it now" prices on some terribly common (but always described as "rare") items on ebay. Did anyone junk an early teens Cadillac and not save the lights? It's pretty much the same everywhere. And, like F&F, the handful of really wealthy people I know are never flamboyant spenders. they acquired their money through prudence and good judgement - not something the seller of an overpriced muscle car is looking for.