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Ivan Saxton

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About Ivan Saxton

  • Birthday 11/04/1940

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  1. Jack Nelson, who only left us several years ago, had 3, 4 1/2, and 6 litre Bentley cars. I started to gather parts to hopefully get a 3 litre; as I had always admired. Jack strongly advised me to look for a 4 1/2, as they were the most desireable. I had some useful major parts for a 3 litre, when a friend obtained an incomplete project which needed what I had. Bill paid for an incomplete Stutz DV32 engine. which Paul Freehill offered to me. Paul told me that no-one was much interested in it because they could not understand the numbers, so parts were sold off it; including five genuine steel conrods to complete a set for another engine. When I got the rest I soon found that the solution to the riddle was in the Stutz chapter of John Bentley's 1950s book "Great American Automobiles". He quoted company information that a small number of DV32s were extensively run on the Speedway, and "the mountains and deserts of Southern USA. The engine block is BB pattern, with casting date June 27 1928, cored and bored for 3 and three eights pistons; and with the word "SPECIAL" cast on the left side , upside down. The engine number is DV 30004. This is earlier than any known M series engine. It is likely that there were around half a dozen of these prototype engines. All I can find out is that this one came from New Orleans; so you may be geographically well located to search for any other survivors, Ed. The crankshaft main bearing caps are massively strong. It is clear that Stutz knew their engines had weakness in the centre main bearing cap. Geoff Ringrose used his restored BB series in Sydney for probably over 40 years. He told me he was on a weekend run in the car when the engine developed a knock He switched it off, and had it taken home on a tilt-tray. When Geoff dropped the sump off, he found that the centre main bearing cap was broken from front to back. This is likely what happened to the engine of the Black Hawk in the "Match Race" at Indianapolis, But they probably felt they had to keep going. It is likely that the super-strong main bearing caps were the design work of Frank Lockhart,, who sadly did not survive to complete and use the improved design.
  2. They are definitely very different cars, and could be as much as 6 or 8 years different in date of manufacture. Look at the line from the top of the radiator to the windscreen. On the earlier car there is a distinct upward sweep from where the rear edge of the bonnet sits on the scuttle. The later car has a straight line from the radiator to the windscreen. The engine that cannot be seen would likely be a mono-block 4 cyl side- valve with a detacheable cylinder head. The earlier car with the untidy display of passengers is likely powered by a Rutenber, with four separately cast cylinder assemblies with non-detacheable heads. The gearbox is likely a transaxle type.
  3. Yes, my understanding is that Schillo Brothers were the Mercer dealer in Chicago, and Carl Bjelland was one of their key men, though I am not sure in what capacity. I think Morris Burrows told me that CB delivered the car new to the original owner. ( It could have been Ralph Bailey or Ray Wolff). If I recall correctly, Don Pedersen had a Ford A model in Portland Oregon. He was working as a doctor in possibly Milwaukee when Janet's father found the most deteriorated Mercer 6 imaginable, where it had been parked years before "in the big shed", as we say. I think Don said it was in Cinncinati, where the sulphur dioxide content in the air was about the highest on earth. The pressed steel structure of the chassis frame was rusted to almost nothing, but the spring hanger and similar components were fine. Back-step a good while, and Morris Burrows had gathered a good Series Six chassis frame with intent to rebuild his 1917 touring onto it. But of course the frame was completely different and nothing would fit. Morris wanted me to have the good Series Six frame but I did not need it; so whenn Don's need arose I asked Morris to look after Don. Don and Janet and little baby Eric visited Morris and Libby in Springfield Vermont, and carted home not only a good chassis fame, but also a perfect radiator shell. Don's car was largely restored by Joe Kaufman as he could afford it. I ended up with the useable remains of the rusty chassis, and I have new cannel and other parts pressed in straight form, ready to make a 115inch wheelbase frame using the 1916 to 1920s chassis blueprints that Ralph Buckley gave me in 1980. Anyway, the two people who can best give you more accurate information about Schillo agency are Fred Hoch and Tim Kuser. I realise that Carl Darby's mother was daughter of either of the Roebling brothers who largely ran the Mercer company after Washington Roebling went down with the Titanic after insuring that it was the women and children, with one crew member per lifeboat; before they west back to listen to the music until the ship went down. He and his friend John Jacob Astor make you think of the lines from a WW1 poem: "Joint heirs with Christ because they bled to save his weak ones, not in vain". Washington Roebling's loss was tragic for Mercer, because it may have been his energy and abilities and social connections that could have seen the company survive and adapt to the changing needs of the times. I was never much interested in history, until in the final year of Agricultural Science at University of Melbourne we had a series of lectures by Emeritus Professor Sir Samuel Wadham on agricultural history. He said "Don't worry about Dates: Dates don't matter in History. The importance of History is the Reasons things Happened". When I visited Morris Burrows in September 1980 I did not know it but Bracco's 1951 sad and rusty B20 Lancia Aurelia coupe was offered for sale for a pittance. In the 1951 Mille Millia then race was run over the winding mountainous roads in torrential rain for the first 850 miles. He was second only to Villoresi's 4.2 litre V12 Ferrari by less than 3 minutes. The tuned V6 Aurel;ia may even have been smaller that 2litres. In the last 150 miles the Ferrari was able to use its top speed advantage to win by 20 minutes. At Le Mans a couple of weeks later, Bracco won his class in the same car. After the race, the Italians were clustered around the car which had its bonnet open. then Briggs Cunningham , who had his own cars in the racecame up, looked at the engine, and marvelled that they had time to clean down the engine already. The Italian mechanics just laughed. He wanted to buy that car right then; but the engineer in charge invited him to make an appointment to meet Gianni Lancia at the factory. He bought a new B20, and a complete extra set of mechanical spares. Bracco drove the same car in the Carrera in South America. It ended up years later near Springfield Vermont in very rough state and I am glad I never knew and bought it. It is beautifully restored in England. ..... I did not need it anyway. I have a 1953 B22 Aurelia 4 door pillarless sedan, which has similar handling and performance. I rebuilt it from very rough state years ago: and after finishing work on the brakes and a couple of other things I shall register it for road use again. It is virtually contemporary grand prix technology in a family sedan, with all independant suspension, and inboard brakes at the rear. It has such good acceleration, handling, and brakes that you spend little time below your cruising speed. I hope I can visit USA again soon . Some idiot line bored the main bearings of my 1918 Series 4 Mercer without the block bolted down. Ralph Buckley told me that noone had ever broken a crankshaft, but that is the reason I have not driven mine for forty years. Regards, Ivan
  4. As I recall I was probably first made aware of this car about 1980 or earlier by Ray Wolff and Don Pedersen. Don had visited Carl Bjelland when he was still the owner as he had been for many decades. I would have liked to have been able to meet C.B. after I was at Auburn in September 1980, so I could have questioned him about his association with Schillos who he worked for when Carl delivered the car new to the original owner. However I gathered from both Ray and Don that Carl may have entered a phase of cognitive decline. ( I have since regretted that I was never able to meet him, because he was one of few remaining connections with that matter from that time . You see, ,questions are important: If you have the right knack of asking the right sort of questions, you can gather and record what would otherwise have been lost.) I visited Ed and Nancy Gibes. Ed would no longer be with us, but I guess there is a fair chance that Nancy would still be about. I think I may still have photos of the Series Five which I took to remind me of details lacking on my 1918 Series Four.
  5. Two of my cars have original cutouts of different design, a 1923 Rochester Duesenberg engined Roamer, and a 1923 Series Six Mercer, which has a six cylinder pushrod OHV six cylinder Rochester Trego engine. There is none on either Auburn 8 I have, and none on any Stutz. (When I was gathering parts to rebuild a detacheable head 4 cylinder Stutz I had seven engines but no cutout. I presume most of the cars fragmented the cast aluminium transaxle housing when two gears were engaged simultaneously. I was able to buy a new machined housing that Paul Freehill had cast, strengthened by the Foley Pattern Company in Auburn about 1984. So engines were easy to find here, but little else.) ps I have used the Roamer-Duesenberg for years here to give visitors joy-rides between the house and the workshops which is about 400 yards round trip up and down the track which has about 5-7 degree incline. When I have sat in the back seat above the end of the tailpipe, the exhaust noise is very similar to a 4 1/2 litre Bentley. ( cutout closed) One day a friend who brought along a young girl. ( I had to lightly machine the brake discs of he modern car so she could stop it. She had a ride in the Roamer, and my son related that as she sat in the back seat, her pony-tail hair was horizontal in the airstream. When the original owner ordered the car which he purchased with intent to set a new road record between Adelaide the state capital of South Australia and Melbourne the state capital of Victoria, the factory sent a photograph of the mile record AAA for a mile by a car of identical specification in April 1921. One mile in 34.25 seconds is 105.15 mph. I will not finish restoring the car for road use until I have engineered brakes that will be safe in modern traffic. I do not intend that any of us may become Darwin Award statistics.
  6. If you could know what the material was made of that may make recovery easier. You could experiment with small sections sawn off with hand hacksaw. There may be a solvent that can be absorbed that will correct the loss of elasticity. You should probably try to find what the possible composition may be, which might give you the clues to what might relax the rigidity of the cross-linking. You have to guess and experiment . In could soften with something as simple as gentle heat. If the material of the drums is steel, and they are worn, it may be better to rebuild the contact face with a sprayed metal coating such as Metco spraysteel LS, which finish machined has similar braking efficiency to sg cast iron, and you can use modern linings. I have written all this, in "chapter and verse", more than once elsewhere on this forum. Remember that you get the best brakes from the optimum of drum and lining materials. Early in the production of the V16 Cadillac, they had to abandon steel drums and change to cast iron to improve the braking efficiency.
  7. Difference I have seen between Olds and early Chev 4 engines is single exhaust port in the centre of the Chev head, but 3 ports in the Olds head. I suspect that the Olds would have a better arrangement to remove excess exhaust heat from the low compression ratio engine. Bob Schuhkraft showed me remnant of original plaited felt wicks that were intended to gather oil splash within the crankcase ( of his 1912 Chev 4), and assure some lubrication for the crankshaft main bearings. ( The alternative oiling was by "Faith and Hope", which was what T Ford and many others relied on.
  8. There were disc brakes on drive shaft of some of the big wartime trucks. there is a 16inch diameter by 13/16th inch radially ventilated disc brake behind the joey box on a sad Federal 6 by 6 wrecker truck, which I gave to a man 15 years ago. ( but it is still here). I also once found a few new brake discs, which by the labelling were intended for Ford or other make Jeeps, which I never had anything to do with mechanically. Probably the earliest disc brakes 000000were on Dr. Frederick Lanchester's first horizontal 2 cylinder cars. you can research these and many other treasures of early automobile design in the book "Automobile Design: Great Designers and Their Work." Last time I looked at the lists, there were excellent condition copies for around $20. If you are wise enough to acquire a copy, study also the first chapter on the Bolle' s of Le Mans, father and two sons. They were responsible for a lot of original inventiveness. We had one of these big Tank transporter rigs for 800 pounds barely new with a Rogers trailer. My father admonished one of his key employees for "wasting" the entirety of his allocated spending money for the day on this big left hand drive Diamond-T monstrosity. The cost it saved in cartage was enormous over the next 15 years. The big Hercules diesel engine was slow and lazy: "like a railway cup of tea, big and weak." But it never collected speeding tickets, at 28 miles per hour uphill or down. The Victorian State Electricity Commission had some small number of these 6 x 4 tandem drive trucks; but they discarded the Hercules diesels for much more modern and energetic Rolls Royce Diesel engines. They travelled at highway speed.
  9. Remote control of the T from the seat of the moldboard plough looks to be an innovative entry for the Darwin Awards.
  10. Someone in New Zealand related to Len Southward may be able to tell you what they were like to drive. He had a beautiful low mileage original car in his collection which I saw when I was on a work trip when I was with CSIRO Division of Animal Physiology. I met him when he was here for the 1970 Sydney to Melbourne International Rally. He was a really nice fellow, and was an extraordinary engineer. He was very useful and beneficial to our hobby , because his manufacturing specialty was making tubing for all purposes. Of course that would include extruding and flaring the ends of very thin-wall brass tube; whereof many honeycomb radiator cores were made. I understood he acquired the Owen Magnetic in USA in the 1960s, and deported it home to NZ. My visual memory tells me he was very tall and slim, and drove an early teen 4 cyl ohv Buick when he came here. He took back a good late twenties supercharged 38/250 Mercedes Benz sports-racing car, which nobody here knew was waiting for a new home. Len was very discreet, with his eyes and ears open and his lips shut. You should ask Bud Tierney about the engine. To me is has close similarity in style and detail to a Continental brand proprietry engine, though the Model 9N ContinentaI I am familiar with is a bit smaller at around 303 cubic inch. The picture of an OHV six cylinder engine on a test stand I cannot recognise. I had hoped to be able to attend Hershey just past to meet people with compatible interests. Look after yourselves and know the full science, maybe we shall meet sometime later in this decade. Regards.
  11. Best source for a mass of details of practically any obscure early American automobile is probably the January (Show) addition Of MoToR for the year. Copies of these would be hopefully conserved and in some way accessible in such as Detroit Public Library Automotive collection, Smithsonian, AACA and HCCA and you name it. The only one I have is for January 1921, and it is in very fragile state; so I handle it as little as possible. It was given to me , together wit some quantity of similar age motoring material, by the man who sold me the Roamer Duesenberg in the early 1960s. Please try to access copy from your local sources. The volume is so big that it is very difficult for me to transcribe what you would want from the many large pages of data.
  12. One important advantage which nobody seems to have noticed is the good-looking front brakes. In 1980 when I visited Morris and Libby Burrows and accompanied them by invitation for the Glidden, he indicated that he would have liked to sell me his 1916 Locomobile on 120 mm Rudge Whitworth wire wheels. As far as I could tell it was a low mileages original open car that did not need restoring; and I suspect he may have had another, dismantled mostly in the basement. I had no idea how I could have arranged shipping To Australia. The vertically displayed L-head Mercer crankshaft at the top of the stairs would have been useful for my 1918 Series 4. Ralph Buckley told me that no-one had ever broken a Mercer crankshaft. But I subsequently found out that some person of un-traceable ancestry, who had been responsible for some of the rebuilding of my engine, had line-bored the main crankshaft bearings without the cylinder block bolted down. So far I have lost 40 years use of that car.
  13. If you tell me the bolt diameters and the respective pitches I will see what I can come up with. Thread angle will invariably be 60 degrees. Perversely, thread angle for Whitworth and British Standard Fine are 55 degrees. I have never had problem getting whatever taps/dies from local manufacturers. Patience & Nicholson at Castlemaine, (who also had capacity for large work for the goldmines in the region), would often make special sizes when they were needed. The most odd thread I had to cut recently was the taper thread for the water inlet from the pump into the cylinder block of the Roamer Duesenberg. I also had to do a Metco thermospray rebuild up of the water pump shaft because that was badly rusted. I managed to save enough of the rusted stub inlet pipe to get the OD, the pitch, and approximate angle and taper length. I made the new stub out of a free- machining stainless with slight sulphur content, I cheated by cutting a parallel thread, and used a thread file of the correct pitch so the tapered thread would just seal correctly in the block. I wonder how many of these cars and engines were destroyed because this component had such a short finite life. Ivan Saxton
  14. If you want to clean it chemically you could use a little phosphoric acid with a scotchbrite type scourer such as used in your kitchen. Otherwise it is probably self-cleaning as you drive. Any bush mechanic here, capable of divergent thinking , might chain the back of the car to a good stump and slip the clutch gently. The mist coating of rust is probably just a slightly different friction surface to the dressed face. You can sensibly do all sorts of different things for specific purposes. For instance, a friend and neighbour who was a speedway racing ace asked me to put a better surface on a super-light aluminium flywheel with a very low moment of inertia for his hot Holden engine. The Metco Spraysteel LS coating on the undercut face, over a nickel aluminide bond coat gave Gary exactly what he wanted. Just an example of what you can do when you need to.
  15. If it was a modern used car like a Standard Vanguard of the 40s, 50,s or 60s, you would fit the wheel so the hole lined up with one on the brake drum. Then you could turn the wheel carefully so you engage a screwdriver with the slot of one of those wretched serrated cam adjusters. The lining clearance would soon automatically loosen itself.
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