Jump to content

Sears-Roebuck Motor Buggy


Recommended Posts

Neat car, I used to own an excellent one, and 20-25 mph was about all you could get out of it. I lived on an old brick street, and it was a rough ride!

These were manufactured 1908-1912, often listed as earlier but they aren't. They were sold partially disassembled, in a crate, and delivered by rail to the purchaser (purchased out of Sears Roebuck catalog).

Neat picture. The drive shaft (small gear toward the front of the chain) was attached to an eccentric cam that rode inside a housing. It would thus "release" one driving side chain when turning a corner, acting as a differential.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi David,

Great comments, you had me drive your Sears around the yard on the dirt and gravel at the "sheds".

A great memory - I don't know when else I would have had such an opportunity.

Most folks don't know how much you do for others in the hobby -- thanks,

Marty

Link to post
Share on other sites

My dad has owned his Sears for 40 years. He is currently compiling a registry of surviving cars with a friend on the west coast. So far they have found over 200 cars surviving, that's about a 10% survival rate, which is rather amazing. The Sears is a very simple and durable machine. They are a blast to drive. I took my GPS for a ride this summer, and the car topped out at 21 MPH, engine screaming.

post-48034-143138030176_thumb.jpg

post-48034-143138030177_thumb.jpg

post-48034-143138030178_thumb.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Steve,

I believe the real number of cars built is closer to 3,500 cars. I say this because my husband and I own number 3296 - a 1911 Sears Model H. The picture below is of Sears at exhibit in front of the NC Museum of History in Raleigh.

If you don't mind, would you check your Dad's registry and see if we are listed - Barker and Judy Edwards.

Thanks.

ourSears.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: 24T42</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Steve,

I believe the real number of cars built is closer to 3,500 cars. I say this because my husband and I own number 3296 - a 1911 Sears Model H. The picture below is of Sears at exhibit in front of the NC Museum of History in Raleigh.

If you don't mind, would you check your Dad's registry and see if we are listed - Barker and Judy Edwards.

Thanks. </div></div>

Yes, your car is listed in the Sears Registry. You may be right about the number of cars built. We are fairly sure that the serial numbers started at 1000, the earliest serial number listed is 1005. The highest is 5025, but then there is a jump to some five digit numbers running from 12280-32193. Needless to say, the actual number of Sears cars is somewhat cloudy to say the least.

BTW, my father's car is #3448.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The following is an article written by Riley Reiner about our Sears car. It tells a little of the history of the car. Thought you might be interested. BTW - Riley calls our car the "Lady Kenmore."

***********************

sears_catalog.jpg

<span style="font-weight: bold">MAIL ORDER CAR</span>

By Riley Reiner

All of us have wished through the pages of a Sears Roebuck Catalog for the numerous trinkets that make life comfortable. The big Fall Catalog of 1909 listed the Sears Motor Buggy for the first time. The ad was carried for three succeeding falls before it disappeared. The Triangle Chapter is fortunate enough to have one of these horseless carriages restored to beautiful condition by its owner, Barker Edwards.

Sears is a major supplier of auto accessories and aftermarket parts supplier and has been in the auto business twice, once from 1908 to 1912 and again in 1952 to 1953 with the "Allstate." Sears has its marketing labels attached to products produced by major manufactures in their respective fields. This was not the case with the Sears Motor Buggy. According to a copy of the 1910 catalog, Sears established their own factory and shipped all cars direct to the customer. Unlike other automobile companies, Sears did not establish a network of dealerships or parts houses, which may have been one of several reasons for the car's hasty demise. Total production for the four years was only thirtyfive hundred units, which gives an indication that something was missing that entices the buying public. Americans knew Sears and their integrity in the mail order business, but that was not enough to guarantee a financial success.

The Sears Motor Buggy was a turn of the century design a decade too late. By 1909, the motor car was developing into a reliable, allseason, comfortable touring machine. The Sears offered solid tires, buggy wheels, two-passenger capacity and a top speed of twentyfive miles an hour. Within a couple of hundred dollars of the $395 price of the allweather Model H, the auto market could supply pneumatic tires, lower center of gravity, steering wheel, closed final drive, five passenger seating and convenient storm protection. The antiquated design was probably the mayor factor in the disappearance of the Sears.

The factory shipped each car assembled except for the wheels in a single crate direct from the Chicago factory. Shipping weight was 1,400 pounds. This was how Baker Edwards' Sears arrived in North Carolina in 1911. The serial number indicates that it was produced near the end of production 3295 out of 3500.

Barker purchased the car in August 1975 and began a complete restoration in January 1976. Barker is the third owner of the car that was originally delivered in the Laurinburg area. The car was a Model H that included top, lamps, horn, storm curtains and fenders for $395. When discovered, the car was missing its fenders so Barker restored it as a Model G that was identical to the Model H except it lacked top, storm curtains and fenders. Three hundred seventy dollars bought you this plain version.

The body is of simple wood construction that was fastened together with screws, glue, and mounted on a frame constructed of channel iron riveted together. The quality of wood craftsmanship resembles that of a piano box. A single bench seat sits atop the gas tank, coil box and dry cell battery. The passengers enter and depart by using the cast iron step plates suspended from each side of the frame. A straight leather dashboard protects the passenger’s shoes but that is about all. The floor is covered with a simple rubber floor mat. The only thing missing from this car is the whip socket!

There are no instruments, gauges or other drivers' aides. Steering is by tiller with spark and gas control attached to the column beneath the tiller. A single pedal on the floor controls the internal expanding brakes on the two rear wheels. The same pedal is ratchet toothed to provide a parking brake. Transmission and clutch is simple and effective. The flywheel face is utilized as the drive plate for a sliding wheel on a cross shaft controlled by a lever located outboard of the body. As the wheel slides from the center of the flywheel to the right of the flywheel, the car moves forward with increasing speed. The reverse is true with the exception that a limiting plug is placed along the shaft to limit the maximum reverse speed. Without this limiting plug, the car theoretically could attain the same speed in reverse as it would moving forward. This could not nave been practical since final drive is by roller chain to each rear wheel. Friction clutches at the ends of the cross shafts were provided for differential action needed at the rear wheels to manipulate turns without wheel drag. The sprockets on the rear wheels are attached with special Ushaped bolts that looped each spoke and bolt through the steel sprocket.

The engine is a two cylinder opposed design, air cooled with forced lubrication through an external oilier. There is no oil pan, which creates an oily spray problem. Seals on the crankshaft are nonexistent and only tightly fitted bronze bushings control oil flow.

The restoration of the Edwards' Sears spanned fifteen months and presented several major challenges. One piston was cracked through the skirt about half the length of the piston. Barker brazed and carefully turned the piston to standard diameter. He also showed his machining ability by reproducing the fan bearings and oil pump pistons.

Most of the wood was in good condition and required only floorboard replacement. Barker machined his own lumber and fitted each plank to perfect replacement specifications. The leading edges of any piece of wood exposed to wear are edged in steel.

Barker did his own painting, which he learned in a night course at the local high school. The quality is professional in every sense of the word. While most of the restoration was completion the basement, the wheels had to be reproduced in Wayneshoro, Penn., and the lamps were restored in California. The Sears won best in its class at the spring fleet at Burlington in 1977 and was awarded a Senior status award the first time shown. This was most deserved and appropriate recognition for an excellent restoration and members of Triangle Chapter are proud of Barker's restoration of a mail order car.

<span style="text-decoration: underline">Note</span>: This article first appeared in the January 1978 issue of the Carolina Region News. Since the original article appeared, Barker & his mail order car won a first Junior at the national meet held in Winston-Salem in 1980. The Sears also spent a year and a half in the Transportation Museum in Spencer. It is also a favorite of the NC Department of History and often is used by the State Archives.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The car that I owned, a Sears Autobuggy, was an AACA National 1st place winner. This would have been in the late 1970's or early 1980's. It had been restored by David Stewart of Longview Texas. It was beautiful, and I really enjoyed the car. I had a friend in Natchez, Mississippi, Keith Smith. He owned the car, had bought it from David, and I'd told Keith that should he wish to sell it, call me. Keith started getting involved with hot rods, and one morning, he called. We made a deal, and 2 hours later the car was in my garage (I was in Alexandria, Louisiana, my hometown, and Natchez was an easy drive from there).

After buying the car, enjoying it, and driving it (although it was fairly useless for a tour situation, as I found out on one tour), I decided to take it to the Petit Jean Mountain car show. This was a true "good old boy" event at the time.

David Stewart, who had restored the Sears, was also at the meet that year, with a 1911 Buick which he had purchased. He had bought the Buick already restored, and while nice, it was not to his restoration standards. It so happened that we were in the same class at the meet, and because my Sears was so nice, I was having it judged.

Judging was done by driving in front of a bunch of spectators in bleachers, and the judging team ( 5 or 6 guys if I remember correctly) would walk around and look at the car as it sat there idling.

Lo and behold, my Sears took second place, to David Stewart's Buick. He was very mad about this, and it is probably one of the few situations where a first place winner argued with the decision; remember, he had restored the Sears to a high standard, and his Buick was not at that level. But, the judges knew him, and did not know me from Adam. Remember, I said "good old boy?"

And that, too, is one of the reasons that my cars are driven, occasionally shown, and rarely if ever judged. Many time trophys are just "feel good" items to be awarded on to friends. CCCA to me has the best judging criteria, judging both mechanical (not just drive it on the field) condition, as well as cosmetic, and having the least prejudice factor (regarding other cars, in other words, if a car is high point, it is judged on it's own merits, not against what other car shows up at that meet)

In the 1980's, the first "The Auction" was held in Las Vegas. My good friend, the late Bobbie "B.B." Crump of Baton Rouge, was bringing a car to the auction to sell. I decided to bring the Sears, and a 1934 840 Pierce Arrow sedan to the auction. At the time, brass cars, and high wheelers in particular, were not the most sought after cars. The Sears sold for $18,500, a record for sure in the 1980's for a high-wheeler.

Even at that, I regret selling it, what a beautiful car.

Oh well, the Sears just brought back good memories, yes, Marty, I remember you driving it, as I remember taking my oldest sister for a ride in it. She was apprehensive at first, but all smiles at the end of the ride, and she could care less about old cars. And that's what it is all about, to me, the smiles that the cars bring to people young and old.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for posting that fascinating story about the "Lady Kenmore" Sears Autobuggy.

I didn't realize that Sears built as many as 3500 buggies and that so many are still in existence.

Thanks again.

Rog

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I have been working with Steve's Dad on the Sears Registry project. It has been great fun and we have learned there are more of those little gems out there than we had imagined.

Mine is nearly done being restored and I am eager to get her back on the road. This is number 1810 before and after. When completely done I will try to post pictures again.

1908SearsMotorBuggy.jpg

Copy1ofIMG_08401.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sharpsaws,

Thanks for the pictures. Reminds me of when my dads Sears (1204) was in similar condition. Always nice to see before and after pics. I sure miss driving that Sears. It has been laid up with rod bearing problems for years.

Thanks.

John

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...
  • 2 weeks later...

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: 24T42</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Ours is number 3295 and was built in 1911. So yours was built way before then - my guess is early 1910? </div></div>

How do you know the year of your car for sure? My father's car is 3448, and it's titled as 1910. We think the last car was built in 1912, and the numbers go over 5000. The Sears registry shows that the "so called" years of the cars do not correspond to the numbers.

BTW, the registry shows your car as 3296. Which number is right?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Steve,

I always say the wrong number. 3296 is probably correct. I will have Barker check next trip down to the garage. Will get back to you on this.

Now to the year question - we are 3rd owners of the car and it has always resided in NC. When my husband bought the car (from a Sears dealer in Laurinburg, NC), he told us that the car was a 1911. This was year that the original owner had told him.

If it is possible, I would like to see the list of years and serial numbers that you have collected. I am beginning to wonder if it isn't a 1909, which would make it a 100 years old this year. grin.gif

Link to post
Share on other sites

Judy,

The list "belongs" to a friend of my father. He is out of town at the moment and I'm not sure that I can share it without his permission. The list is a work in progress. I will get back to you. You can contact my dad, Joel, at oldcarjoel@optonline.net

BTW, I don't think there were any Sears dealers, they were sold out of the catalog.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Steve,

Once again. I used the wrong term. frown.gif He got it from a Sears catalog store.

The original owner was a blacksmith. He put Model T wheels on it to demonstrate Diamond Tires, which he sold. He sold the car to a man who owned a Sears catalog store. He put the car in the showroom. My husband bought the car from him.

I understand about the list. I am not in a hurry but would like to see the serial numbers and years. I don't necessarily need to see any personal information. You just have me questioning the year and this seems a good way to try and figure it out.

Thanks.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Anyone who has a SEARS or is interested in checking to see that their vehicle is in the SEARS registry, can email me at wasaw@tds.net

I am the West coast connection that Steve had mentioned.

I would like to get a message from Lennert so we can add that car to the list.

My model K is getting better and when it is done and the weather allows a good picture, I will submit one.

Sharpsaws

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

The Sears Model K is pretty much done and here is that long awaited photo of her.

1908Sears.jpg

I recently acquired the original tail lamp and one of the original head lamps from my car. The fellow was at a show looking at and showing cars when he began questioning me about where I had found mine. After a short time he realized that at some point in 1958-59 he had struck a deal to buy this car and the owner gave him the head lights and the tail light, along with a photo of the car when it was new. That deal fell through when the family heard of the transaction and wouldn't let the car be sold.

Within a couple of days I had a call and he had found them and wanted me to have them. I couldn't be more pleased. Now I will need to find one head lamp for the passenger side which matches. It is a C. T. Ham - Comet light.

Also, the dates on the registry list are what the owners were told or think that their cars are. According to a list of the serial numbers by year provided through somewhere, Many of the cars are listed as '08 or '09 and they are probably later years. If I knew where that list was created or with what data, we would be able to be certain about all our dates. Some have said the list came from AACA and others said it is from HCCA. I have no idea.

This is what it says about the SEARS MOTOR BUGGY manufacture dates:

<table x:str="" style="border-collapse: collapse; width: 537pt;" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="714"><col style="width: 50pt;" width="66"> <col style="width: 197pt;" width="262"> <col style="width: 290pt;" width="386"> <tbody><tr style="height: 12.75pt;" height="17"> <td class="xl24" style="height: 12.75pt; width: 50pt;" x:num="" width="66" height="17">1908</td> <td class="xl24" style="width: 197pt;" width="262">J, G</td> <td class="xl24" style="width: 290pt;" width="386">1,000 -- 1,300</td> </tr> <tr style="height: 12.75pt;" height="17"> <td class="xl24" style="height: 12.75pt;" x:num="" height="17">1909</td> <td class="xl24">J, G, H, K</td> <td class="xl24">1,301 -- 2,300</td> </tr> <tr style="height: 12.75pt;" height="17"> <td class="xl24" style="height: 12.75pt;" x:num="" height="17">1910</td> <td class="xl24">J, G, H, K, L, M, P</td> <td class="xl24">2,301 -- 3,200</td> </tr> <tr style="height: 12.75pt;" height="17"> <td class="xl24" style="height: 12.75pt;" x:num="" height="17">1911</td> <td class="xl24">J, G, H, K, M, P</td> <td class="xl24">3,201 -- 4,000</td> </tr> <tr style="height: 12.75pt;" height="17"> <td class="xl24" style="height: 12.75pt;" x:num="" height="17">1912</td> <td class="xl24">All</td> <td class="xl24">4,001 -- & up</td> </tr> </tbody></table>

Edited by Sharpsaws (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 9 years later...

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
×
×
  • Create New...