Restorer32

Model 48 Locomobile

Recommended Posts

What are the known weaknesses with these cars? Any particular year to steer away from (no pun intended)?  Anything for you that would be a deal breaker if you were considering buying one of these behemoths? Car in question is a '24 Roadster.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They are known for being near-bulletproof mechanically, and they certainly have a physical presence. One of the most impressive-looking cars of the mid-teens to mid-20s. I've had several owners tell me that of all the cars in their collections, the Locos are the ones they would never sell. My family feels the same way about my car, a '19 Sportif 4-passenger -- it's OK to sell everything but that one. My car cruises easily at 50-55.

 

Weaknesses include the fact that they are expensive and complex to restore, particularly if an engine job is needed (525-cubic-inch T-head, two cams, massive Babbitt bearings, 3 separate cylinder blocks to align correctly on the crankcase, engine air pump that pressurizes fuel tank). The clutch has (if I recall correctly) 17 plates, though maybe it was simpler by 1924. Shifting is very heavy, but you can get the hang of it and shift quickly with practice. The electrical system is uncommonly complex for the era. Just need to understand that technically, a Loco Model 48 was a good 10 years behind its times compared to a Packard or Cadillac. Big and heavy, relatively low-revving. But the quality of the materials used was first-rate, and it shows when you look one over. They were reportedly the most expensive cars built in America until the Springfield Rolls came along. Many of the surviving Locos have fairly low mileage -- my car has 33,000 miles, the majority put on by collectors since the 1950s. A new owner should understand or be able to learn the ins and outs of the dual distributor ignition system, the wiring diagram, and steering and shifting what I like to call "A man's car." My car is pictured below. Happy to discuss further if needed.

19 Locomobile Sportif 2014.jpg

  • Like 9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good to see ex Dr. Davenport Loco that lived here in Ridgefield when it was a new car. I got to spend some time working on it when Mr. Oexle restored it back in the 1970's. Bob 

Edited by 1937hd45 (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Loco’s are great cars, and the 48 is a fun machine to drive. Remember a 48 is basically a 1914 platform. I have never seen one on the side of the road on a tour, and the owners all love them. You usually only see them for sale at estate auctions........there must be a reason. Is the Roadster a Gunboat? There are several well known Gunboats around.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been fortunate to know (or have known) more than a dozen Locomobile owners, ranging from steamers to the early '20s behemoths. Only ridden in a couple of them, and not yet driven one. I have been on many tours (years ago) alongside the cars, and they are impressive to follow to say the least. I only ever saw one fail to complete a tour. That was due to it having been recently put back on tours by its new owner, and two of the rather old tires failed. It just by chance happened to be a couple miles from the owner's home (tour was nearly 300 miles total!), so he drove home and finished the tour with his Wills St Clair. The funny part about it was the tour began with two Locomobiles, and one Wills St Clair, then finished with one Locomobile (a Sportif) and two Wills St Clairs.

The worst thing about touring with a big Locomobile is having to buy the gasoline. Their mileage stinks! But if you can afford to buy the car? That may not be so bad. Several people I know drive their Locomobile more than any other car in their collection.

If a person can afford one,  and had the opportunity to get one? For either Horseless Carriage or Nickel Age touring? You can't beat a Locomobile.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You have to be loco not to buy a Loco if you have the chance!

 

“of course, nothing is worser than driving a Mercer!”  Written while looking at a world class Stutz.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, wayne sheldon said:

But if you can afford to buy the car? That may not be so bad. Several people I know drive their Locomobile more than any other car in their collection.

If a person can afford one,  and had the opportunity to get one? For either Horseless Carriage or Nickel Age touring? You can't beat a Locomobile.

 

While Locomobiles aren't inexpensive, they needn't be

tremendously expensive, either.  One Locomobile I followed

was at the Hershey car corral for 2 consecutive years, but

sold, I believe, for HALF the original asking price.  In a way,

they are like stage coaches:  Lots of people like to look at them,

but not as many people actually aspire to own them.

They are in the era where there's less demand, and I'd say

they have less following than Pierces and Packards.

 

You asked for downsides.  The only one I can think of is that,

as J. Bartlett implied above, they take considerable strength

to operate.  I have a 1957 GM car without power steering, 

and it takes noticeably less effort than driving a properly operating 

Locomobile.  "The Beautiful Beast" is a term I've heard applied to Locos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The trick with a Loco is make a new set of internals for the steering box.........you end up having to crank the wheel around more, but the better leverage ratio makes steering easy. There are lots of early brass cars with updated steering boxes.......lots. They are usually the ones seen being driven down the road. Also, driving tecnique is a major part of operating early cars. THINK before you park it, or pull into any area............too many people worry about getting close to the door of the building..........I rather park out back, and leave lots of room to maneuver, meaning I don't have to cut the wheel to leave.......problem solved.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ed, the idea you mention for easier handling of a

big car is good for those who need a lighter-handling car;

but there's something to be said for keeping the car

as it really was historically.  Drive an old Mack truck,

or an authentic Locomobile, and you step back into

history as you learn what life was really like back then! 

 

My muscles have been strengthened from Locomobile driving.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As with any machine of this era, looks at the castings. Many have several welded parts. Inspect the welds.  While most vehicles of this era are correct, there may be modern components, for the good or the bad, inside cases, breaks, etc. I saw a Locomobile once that had an ingenious pulley on the drive shaft running an alternator for 12 volt for the CB and other touring safety.  If I could afford it, I would own a T head Loco.  when they were 35 thou, I could swing 30. When they were 75 thou, I could swing 70. Rode as a passenger in one in Juarez, Mexico. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is an easy upgrade to ease the steering of a Locomobile. The front axle/kingpin setup has the weight of the car's front end resting on slotted washers; the slots retain grease. It's not hard to replace the washers with thin washer-like roller bearings. I did that to mine and it helps. As Ed says, steering while moving is the key. The steering ratio is one-and-a-half turns lock to lock for a car that probably has 3,000 pounds weight on the front end. No way you'll turn it sitting still. Just thinking ahead helps a lot. Bottom line is I no longer consider the car hard to steer.

 

One drawback is that the engine and rear axle tend to be leaky, but that may have been addressed by 1924. Gas mileage is 5-6 MPG, but you really don't care in one of these cars.  

I drove my car on the Glidden Tour in Ohio a few years back -- covering about 500-600 miles, and I drove in the fast car group with cars from the '30s. No problems. A pic of the engine is below. The crankcase is manganese bronze, used because it is stronger than cast iron.

 

Incidentally, you're looking at a restoration that was done in 1971-1972.

IMG_2303[1].JPG

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Couldn't resist -- here are a few more photos. Those tires are 35x5, and combined with the standard 3.2 to 1 rear end ratio, at 60 miles per hour the engine is turning only 1,769 RPM. Some of the cars even had numerically lower ratios. I don't drive that fast; nervous about wood wheels, Babbitt rod bearings and 2-wheel brakes. But those brakes are huge, and more effective than I expected. I have a new 3.07 to 1 ring and pinion gear set from Phil Hill, but have not bothered to put it in. He used to routinely drive his '25 Sportif at 70-plus. We had a friend in West Texas with a '25 Sportif who back in the 1960s toured the western U.S. at 60-70. That car is now in the Cussler Museum.  

The reason so many Locos have low mileage is that technology was advancing fast, and these cars were quickly outdated as too thirsty, and too heavy. So they were parked in carriage houses. That said, I do know of a fellow (Alexander Stein) who I was told put 300,000 miles on his Loco from the 1920s through the 1950s.

 

IMG_2342[1].JPG

IMG_2307[1].JPG

IMG_2343[2].JPG

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please do not resist ANY temptation to post ANY photos of ANY of your magnificent cars, James ! 😍 I am sure that many of us here have had our hearts carried away by this particular King of the Nickel Era roads ! I have a question regarding the function of a linkage seen in the engine bay. It is the horizontal rod, low down, which transits across the red valve handle. It seems to have something to do with intake air temp. Is this the case ?

 

My feelings about speed in ancient machinery reflect the reality of inherent instability in an emergency. Combined with the total lack of safely engineering, I always favor SLOWER than capable speeds. The sum total value of all the primitive cars in the world, is infinitesimal compared with the precious cargo they (and other vehicles on the same roads),  carry. I enjoy the privilege which driving a veteran conveys, in that I can get away with being an old man driving an old car slowly. Of course out West here, I know many lightly traveled scenic roads. Other motorists momentarily delayed, eventually pass me smiling after appreciating the seldom seen spectacle of such beautiful old machinery in operation. Now if this old guy was driving one of his extremely fast relatively modern cars at such a leisurely velocity, the facial expression on the delayed and enraged overtaker would not be a smile. And the raised digit would not be a thumb ! 

 

Wood spoke wheels are quite robust if in good condition. Seasonal inspection is a good idea. Do not ignore creaking spokes. Unloading them during long term storage by using hub jacks or jackstands is a must. Keep in mind that the greatest stress these wheels experience is during braking. Driving thoughtfully to reduce such loads is good practice. 

 

Thank you for the additional pictures. My guess is that you must be a fairly busy guy. But if you have some time, please show us more of your great cars. Most of us can only dream................    How lucky we are to be able to do so through our beloved AACA.   -  Carl 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The linkage you asked about connects to the choke. It's controlled by a nickle-plated rotating collar on the steering column, just below the steering wheel. The temperature of the incoming air is regulated by a sliding plate attached to an aluminum heat stove that encircles the exhaust manifold. It's use is contra-indicated currently because of the far-more-volatile nature of today's gasoline. I disconnected the pipe that ties the carburetor to the heat stove. Otherwise the gasoline would boil in the carburetor -- certainly down here in Texas. It's interesting to see the lengths the early manufacturers had to go to in order to deliver gasoline to the combustion chamber and get it to fire. The Loco not only has priming cups, it also has a button on the dash that when pressed shoots a jet of pressurized gasoline directly into the back of the intake manifold. That's some of the other plumbing that you see.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Hello all Loco fans. I have a 1913 Loco 48 7 passenger touring for sale. Step up to the plate and own one of the best. E-mail me for particulars and photos. Locoman, 

email me at diane3626@gmail.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Locoman,  having honored us with a chance to own your fine car, how about displaying a few pics ? Thanks,   -  Carl 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll never understand AACA Form logic...…..or lack of it. Just Googled a photo of the Alex Stein 1919 Locomobile the one he put 300,000 miles on, thought someone might enjoy seeing a photo, but the Forum will not accept it. Bob 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting that Hyman's says "... and currently showing what are believed to be less than 23,000 actual miles.." yet Mr. Stein is said to have driven it >300,000 miles.  I'd like to know his car care techniques!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you all for the 1919 Alex Stein Loco photos. This car was on the 1950 Glidden Tour along with the 1912 Model T Ford that has been in my garage since 1983. Bob 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you ever wonder were a 1919 Locomobile Sportif would have lived up till the time the second owner bought it?  The carriage house is on the left, with the chauffeur quarters above it, the main house is on the right. I drive by it every day I go to town. James Bartlett is taking good care of the Loco now. Bob 

DSCF9220.JPG

DSCF9221.JPG

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does anyone know if the roadster pictured was in fact Alexander Stein's "baggage car," or just one of the several Locomobiles that he owned? Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now