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stude8

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Image Comments posted by stude8

  1. Photo details:

    The LaFrance "Speedster" started life as a fire engine I am told. The owner/builder is a friend of Stan Smith of Oak Hall, PA just outside Boalsburg. Stan has a 1918 Mercer we stopped to visit on the way home from Hershey in 1996. His friend "Mack" is an aircraft mechanic by trade and built the speedster out of what was considered unsalvageable junk. One of those things that sat in a field for 30 or 40 years.

    The engine is enormous, I think it is 12 or 14 liters! It has an arrangement where you can shift the cam shaft so half the cylinders have an exhaust valve open, that way a man can crank it to start on 3 cylinders then shift it to bring all cylinders under compression to run condition. I don't think there is a man alive who could crank 800 cubes to life. It is fitted with an electric starter at this time.

    Mack said the block had literally a dozen cracks that required welding. That kind of work is his specialty and he did the whole project as a challenge to see if it could be made to run again. He has another LaFrance in better condition but we didn't get to see it.

    It has 20 inch truck tires and while it steers heavy it wasn't bad to drive, unless I was having so much fun I didn't notice.

    The tremendous power is something to experience. It would walk up the steep grades in high gear without a flinch. Under load at 400 RPM you can almost count the cylinders firing. A helmet and goggles are required wear, once you get hit in the face by a stone off one of the front tires you know why. I recall the chain drives threw a lot of grease under way so you don't wear your favorite jacket when driving it.

    Thats about what I remember about it. I have a lot of other photos from that day but only scanned a few to show the LaFrance.

  2. This photo is actually a frame excerpt from the video program I produced of the 1997-98 Harry A. Miller racecar events at Milwaukee, WI. Car is a 1913 MERCER T-35 driven by owner Herb Lederer of Riverside, IL. Yes, the video is available, email "nopicnic_2000@yahoo.com" for flyer.

  3. This photo is actually a frame excerpt from the video program I produced of the 1997-98 Harry A. Miller racecar events at Milwaukee, WI. Car is a 1913 MERCER T-35 driven by owner Herb Lederer of Riverside, IL. Yes, the video is available, email "nopicnic_2000@yahoo.com" for flyer.

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