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E & J Model 20 Headlights - Kissel Gold Bug


ron hausmann
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Need help. I own a 1923 Kissel Model 6-45 Gold Bug Speedster which is equipped with E & J Model 20 nickle-plated bullet headlights. "edmund & Jones Model 20's are themselves very hard to obtain. According to the extremely limited Kissel writings that we've seen, these headlights were dealer options for kissel Speedsters sold in Hollywood, California, in the 1920's. However, when I have the car judged, there is often debate about these headlights being correct or not. Most judges have limited Kissel knowledge.

Does anyone out there know when Edmund & Jones started making Model 20 headlights?

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Ron...Welcome to the AACA Forum.

It may be a long shot however I suggest you contact our AACA Library & Research Center. We retain thousands of period literature on many vehicles to include original spec sheets.

In addition to vehicle literature we also have miscellaneous pieces that just may help you out. Certainly worth while. You also could request copies (nominal charge) of any info.

Click on Resources at the top of the page then AACA Library from the drop down box.

Our librarian, Chris Ritter and his staff could be contacted directly if you so desire: 717-534-2082 or critter@aacalibrary.org

Regards,

Peter J.

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  • 3 weeks later...

All,

Thanks for your help.

The Kissel Museum in Hartford Wisconsin says that they are probably correct, and AACA's library shows that E & J Model 20 headlights were being advertised in the eary 1920's. Untill a judge can definely prove these are wrong, we will consider them correct and "cool".

RLH

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Unfortunately in AACA competition the judge doesn't have to prove they are wrong you have to have factory documentation to prove they are RIGHT. We restored a Kissel Gold Bug, worked on a second and restored a '27 Kissel Brougham and have never seen any factory reference to these headlights. Nor are they evident in any of the factory ads or sales literature that we have seen. No reference to them in Val Quantz' history of Kissel. I would vote against them being a factory installed or authorized accessory but you are right, they are cool.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wills Ste Claire had electric magnets in the OE headlights to change the angle of the reflecter for high and low beam. That said, here is a 1926 Wills with E&J headlights, never a factory option for them, but what a different look for a Wills. I wish I could be more help, I would not remove them! Karl

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All,

Thanks again for your help. The International Kissel Weekend is June 21st and I will comb thru the archives there in Hartford, Wisconsin, which are the best in existence. There is one publication in "the Art of the Automobile, The 100 Greatest Cars', by Dennis Adler and Jay Leno, which definatively says that the Hollywood, Ca. Kissel Dealer mounted these lights on Kissel Gold Bugs. Where these folks got their information from may be Wm. Ruger Sr. who owned my 1923 Kissel Gold bug previously. If E & J's were available in 1923, I should be OK.

We'll see.

Ron Hausmann

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Dear Ron,I cannot answer your questions ,i just wanted to tell you what a GREAT car you have.The shapes of the radiator shell,hood and cowl to the semi boat tail,the port hole top to the shape of all the fenders to the large diameter of the wheels.What is the correct name for the JUMP seats?Those doors look awful narrow,can't be easy to get in and out.What a great car to take a trip in,put a couple of cases of your favorite adult beverage in what i believe is the rumble seat and it is easily accessed from either jump seat.SUPER car,THANKS for the pics. diz

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Yes I am a judge with 65 or so credits. I judged at the Dayton Grand National by the way, nice show. We have restored a Kissel Gold Bug to Senior Award status. We also restored a '27 Kissel Brougham which received its Senior Award at Hershey '08 and was nominated for a National Award. If Mr. Hausman did not want an honest answer to his question why did he ask it? I challenge you to dispute any statement I have made.

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I'm a lover not a fighter. The Kissel Gold Bug is a delightfully funky car. The earlier Bugs had only one door and it was on the wrong side. Nearly impossible for a person of any size to climb into with the top up but very comfortable once you are in. I love the E&J lights. If the car were mine I would leave them on and take the deduction or maybe install a set of factory lights for judging. Who knows, these lights may have been factory authorized but I have seen no evidence of that.The one we restored was displayed in the Kissel Museum for many years and is featured on their brochure. It is now owned by a European collector and is being used on tours in France. There are several Gold Bugs purporting to be Amelia Earhart's car but I've been told her actual car is on display at the Forney Museum in Chicago?

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All,

Let's just drop the questions. I was just looking for answers, not to stir up controversy.

There are 237 Kissels total left in the world, 37 of them are Kissel Speedsters between 1919 and 1928 (Escluding "White Eagles"). About 2/3 rds of these are restored. There are only 5 Kissel Model 6-45 Gold Bug Speedsters like mine, 3 being restored, the other 2 in pieces. Because of their rarity, there are next to no originals left and the factory paperwork was thrown out in the 1930's. Thus the remaining "experts" are just a hand ful of us who typically know far more about this rare, beautiful car, than others.

My car was never driven much and not mechanically restored, according to Bill Ruger Sr's Collection Mechanic who helped Mr. Ruger with his collection in the 1980's. It had 20,116 miles on it when they bought it, and it has about 400 miles more now in my possession. I beieve this to be correct because the engine internals were never opened up by Ruger's crew, and they are still quite "new", after flushing out the block's 80-year old rust dams. It is possibly as "original" as you can get.

I will keep my E & J's on it, as they are probably, per the kissel museum, original Factory authorized accessories. They look good and "winning" isn't as important to me as sharing the enjoyment of this beauty, as is with everyone.

Take care, -- RON HAUSMANN P.E.

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Okay guys, and to Restorer32, sorry for being a crab.

I was very active in Judging early on, but have not been for the last 10 or 12 years, due to having to judge newer and newer cars. My real interest is brass, but it extends up to mid 20's, and early 30's. In Ron's last post above, he makes the point that I have the real issue about. Original factory information on most early cars does not exist, and to be bound by what THE FACTORY authorizes is a decision that does not work. It works great for 50s to 80s, but not early on.

I am restoring a car now for which an original salesman's handbook (1912) was found by me in the the remains of the factory archives in a locked area of a historical library. It contains option prices for different lamps, winsdhields, horns, speedometers, options for trip in brass, gunmetal, or nickel, or painted over. That is a very rare piece. It also mentions an "allowance for cars delivered without lamp equipment".

Most makes, other than GM or Ford models dont have anything like this. The documentation that does exist are period photos of cars on the street, or if lucky, cars at dealerships, or the original sales info. If an owner would present to me original photos showing these lights on the Kissel, or a period trunk, I would accept them and and judge them for the quality of restoration. Based on other discussion above, my logic would be that one dealer had the cars delivered with a light deduct, and then sold the cars with the E&Js. By the way, I think in a book by John Conde on Cars and the Stars, or some similar title, there is one or more photos of a Kissel like this carrying these lights. I am travelling and will have to verify that when I am home.

In any case, one rule does not fit all makes. That is a difficult position to present in the judging manual and I feel for AACA in that regard. So anyway, sorry to be on a bit of a soapbox. The Kissel is a GREAT car, and I am sure the work of Restorer 32 is beautiful. I just flipped on the textbook response.

Bob McAnlis

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Bob, I really enjoyed reading your second post on this topic much more than your first. Thanks.

A little bit of common sense goes a long way in judging. I think the textbook response was appropriate for the questions asked, but a full discussion of the issue is certainly better with the inclusion of the points mentioned in your second post.

I think we all agree that the Kissel is a great car and the lights are "cool". Hopefully, Ron will be able to show documentation about their original use on Kissel's. Hopefully, the judges will be reasonable as they have the authority to accept documentation other than factory literature to support the lights. Factory literature must be accepted, but other documentation can be accepted. Common sense should prevail on these types of issues.

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If I were judging, in lieu of factory documentation I would accept a period Kissel advertisement, possibly a period photo though that would be a bit more problematic. I would likely not accept a quote from a modern publication without seeing how the writers came to their conclusion. Luckily there is quite a bit of material available on Kissels, including parts lists, owner's manuals, sales brochures, etc. As an example, the Gold Bug we restored came to us with an original appearing "fat man" steering wheel. Aside from the fact that it would be virtually impossible to enter the vehicle without the tilting wheel, we were able to find a period ad, actually a line drawing, showing the wheel. The parts manual for our 6-45 Gold bug also listed a separate part # for a steering wheel only used on the speedsters but not described in any way. This documentation was accepted in AACA judging. Model 6-55 Kissels are recognized by the CCCA. 6-45 Models are not, even though the 6-55 engine is based on the earlier 6-45 block. I encourage anyone who finds themselves in the neighborhood to visit the Hartford Heritage Museum in Hartford Wisconsin. Very interesting smaller museum dedicated to Kissel and Nash. It also houses much Kissel family memorabilia.

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Bob McAnlis,

If you have any information on E & J's on Kissels, Jon Conde's book, or their availability in 1923, I would love to get copies in any way. Thanks to all for your help.

Restorer 32,

You may not know that i petitioned the CCCA to accept the 10 or so remaining Kissel Gold Bugs like mine, from 1920 to 1923, as full classics. These earlier Gold Bugs have the larger 6-45 engine that is bigger than the Full Classic 6-55's, and identical to all but experts. And as you know, Kissel did put 6-45 engines in 6-55 Gold Bugs, which are now CCCA classics anyway. They mixed and match engines and bumpers back then as you know.

CCCA said no, because the "Gold Bug" was not a factory term or series, but rather a publically acclaimed nom. I am going to challenge them again for membership but use the term "Speedster", which all "Gold Bugs", and which is a factory term.

It makes absolutely no sense that the Kissel Speedsters in 1923 which have bigger engines should not be classics, when the smaller engined ones are.

Nuf said. -- RON --

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Restorer 32

You are correct. The recognition appeal I made to CCCA is for Kissel Gold Bugs only, 1920 to 1923, just like mine has, since it is a fact that some Kissel 6-55 Gold Bugs came factory equipped with 6-45 engines. Just doesn't seem right that not all 1923 Kissel Gold Bugs can be classics, while the cheaper model 6-55 coupes are.

Thanks, -- RON --

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OK I agree. The Gold Bug we restored is a '21 Model 6-45. The Brougham is a '27 Model 6-55. The engines are virtually identical. The only feature I might consider more "Classic" on the Brougham is the Lockheed hydraulic brakes. By the way, we had 70 or so hubcap center medallions reproduced for the Houk wire wheels. We kept 5 and donated the remainder to the Kissel Museum. I'm sure they have some left if you are in need of any. They are nickle plated and in-painted black as original.

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Dave Fields,

These "outrigger seats" were also known as "suicide seats" and "mother-in-law" seats. They were standard on Kissel Gold Bug Speedsters from 1920-1923. The car was sold as a 4-passenger. In 1924 these were discontinued. In 1925, Kissel started using "rumble seats".

The Paige Daytona Roadsters of this era had similar seats, but only one on the right side. A few early Marmons had them as well.

I have ridden in them - S-l-o-w-l-y. I would never have anyone else. They are surisingly sturdy and you won't fall out, possibly because you are scared stiff.

Thanks, RON

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Ron

While digging through stuff to illustrate an upcoming article in Antique Automobile, we came upon this 1926 Graham-Paige with your headlights, so it's definitely not out of the question that Kissel may have offered them, or any other manufacturer that catered to the wants of its customers for that matter.

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  • 6 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Restorer32,

I actually got thru to the owner of this Kissel and actually spent half a day visiting the car. It's wheels and rear axle were changed out - wrong wheel size if you look close. It is a 1922 Kissel 6-45 Glod bug to be certain (I own a 1923), but the rear trunks and lack of "outrigger seats" have all of us including the Kissel Museum Curator confused. There are no records of Kissels having true rumble seats before 1925. This one has one but the step plates are not something that came with the car (I could tell from anchorage points). We think that the car perhaps was modified from original many, many decades ago.

Body was rusted thru in many critical places. I did not buy it.

Thanks, -- RON --

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It would be very difficult to find the missing parts to restore this Gold Bug. Last time I talked with the owner he claimed to have an offer of, I believe, $28k for the car. The correct wheels and hubs would be a challenge. I too believe the car was significantly modified sometime in the past. Then again, it does deserve restoration.

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  • 1 month later...

All,

Well I answered my own initial question this past week (December, 2009) when I disassembled the E & J Model 20 headlights. They are thick cast aluminum, highly polished, and the end screws have a two inch embossed "keeper" or flanged washer that says that these headlights are "Edmond and Jones Patented June, 1921". So I now have an answer and can demonstrate that these are period-correct headlights.

Thanks for your help and advice. -- Ron Hausmann --

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  • 1 year later...

Tom,

If your E & J's are like mine, black or nickel, you will find an embossed large washer with a flat head opening at the back of the light casing. It has patent dates and other words. This washer holds both the top and bottom castings together. Unscrew it carefully and you will be able to take the top half off and access the interior. Be careful not to drop the lens piece because you will never find correct ones again.

Thanks, Ron Hausmann

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