Sign in to follow this  
Trained Monkey

Picking up the pieces...

Recommended Posts

Hello to all,

I am just getting into the restoration of a Raceabout, and spoke with Mr Hoch on the Phone recently. He told me that there was a instruction book of some sort that was available at considerable cost to copy. I am writing in hopes that one of you may be able to post a picture of the cover so that i can see if it is the same as the one Granger F. Hill sent my grandfather years ago. I would rather not spend that cost only to get something that i already have. :)

Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There would be very different books depending on whether you have a T head, L head, or six cylinder verhead valve Series Six Raceabout. (Incidentally, Jerry Gebby, who had owned T and L head Mercers, and worked on sixes for customers, said that the six was the "best of all to drive". John Boyle would have told you that they were the fastest also, having driven through police radar in his late Series 6 Raceabout.

I have copy of an instruction manual of essentials for the L heads, which was the work of Morris Burrows and Henry Newman in 1959. It is 30-odd pages, and it is not a problem to photocopy or scan (when I can persuade my son to do the latter). It is not totally comprehensive because it pre-supposes some basic mechanical aptitude. Charles Accisano kindly insisted on giving this to me on the 1980 Glidden, but I doubt whether Morris had one because he never mentioned or showed me one when I was his guest on that Glidden.

There are a few things that need emphasis.

1) Line bore the main bearings only with the block bolted properly to the crankcase. If the mains are out of line by more than the thickness of the oil film the crankshaft will flex every rotation, and the answer comes quickly. The same problem was apparently built into the sixes because Rochester machined the blocks from "green castings" and the distortion caused centre main bearing trouble. (They are well aged now, of course.)

2) You need to use good quality 7/16" conrod bolts for the six because the originals were 3/8" overstressed . I found the same bolts in the Roamer Duesenberg had stretched threads, for an engine that had done just 14,000 miles; so I suspect there was a material/heat treatment problem. But do not ever use those original tapered conrods. Make new ones without the taper or the lightening holes. The originals could break at the stress pointof the top hole through the web just below the gudgeon pin, and the rod could nearly cut the engine in two. I have explained this carefully to two owners of sixes who visited me here in the past. The Raceabout that had about 5000 miles from new luckily only broke a bolt. The other did far worse damage I am told.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On the surface, it would seem that any printed matter would be inexpensive to copy.

Now, let's take the case of a rare, hardbound book. To lay it flat on a copier, then you basically have to "break the spine" of the book, something that can or does damage same.

Thus, it could be that Mr. Hoch was discussing a book that had to be photographed, not just put on a copy machine.

Pure speculation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the replies,

trimacar: I hadn't considered a book, that could well be the case.

Ivan Saxton: I am working on a 1921 L-head 4 cyl. do you know if the same holds true for the conrod bolts on the 4?

I am having Aldrich Engine Rebuilding do my engine work (nicely organized machine shop, experienced at babbit work in house) so any tidbits I can send him could be of benefit (he said the same thing about the line bore of the mains.

Side note to all: I have been offered the use of a CNC Laser cutter. If anyone has a timing chain sitting on a shelf that they wouldn't mind loaning out I may be able to fix that availability issue in somewhat short order. Fred Hoch told me there are none to be had and I would be happy to help. I plan to call him again today and extend this offer directly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, it is the conrod bolts of the Rochester Trego engine of the Series Six that are rubbish, and the same ones used in Rochester Duesenberg. The L-head Mercer engines have the same length 3/8 NF conrod bolts. As a matter of course I replaced these because the 1918 Series Four had been in everyday use for forty years. I used conrod bolts from Continental O-300 light aircraft engine.

Just make absolutely certain that the block is bolted down tight before the mains are bored or you could break a crankshaft.

The valve guides are very long, and the lubrication is by faith and hope only. It is worth fitting an oil line to keep felt washers on the valve stems damp.

Also a problem I located and corrected was a trap not just for beginners. The engine seemed to show symptoms simultaneously of being too far advanced, and badly retarded. You can sometimes have to re-grind the magneto breaker point cam segments so the spark advance is identical .

If you want photocopy of that workshop manual by Morris Burrows and Henry Newman, You will have to send me an operative postal address by private message. It will just take too long to wait for it to be scanned and cleaned up.

( I am sorry I cannot do this myself. For computer operations that for me do not seem to follow normal logic, I cannot spare the memory space to something that I normally have little use for.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also a problem I located and corrected was a trap not just for beginners. The engine seemed to show symptoms simultaneously of being too far advanced, and badly retarded. You can sometimes have to re-grind the magneto breaker point cam segments so the spark advance is identical .

Ivan, this is an interesting subject. Care to elaborate?

Karl

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There was a single spark Bosch ZR4 magneto on the Series 4 when I got it, and it had good spark. I had and still have one or more similar Berling Magnetos, which are listed as the magneto brand originally fitted. However, Morris said that Berling was "a dog", and Jerry Gebby gave similar advice. So I have never attempted to use one. After I had the engine professionally rebuilt, I decided I should bring the magneto up to spec., and the first thing I found was that the magneto points gap was way different between the two cam segments inside the advance/retard sleeve. So I dutifully cut and inserted shims so both cam sleeves gave the same open gap. Then the timing was right out because shimming the low one advanced the timing for two of the four cylinders. To correct the problem you can carefully regrind the inner surface and the leading angle of the segments.

Is this a clear enough explanation, Karl? The two-spark ZR4 I rebuilt and used did not have that problem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is an alternative to a magneto on a 1920 Mercer Series 5 4 cylinder to consider.

I helped restore this setup derived from a 1918 Stutz, it is a clever dual distributor where one head has mechanical spark advance while the second head is fixed only. Holes were added to a valve access port threaded cover on each cylinder to provide the second spark plug for each. Being that the two spark plugs at each cylinder were on opposite sides of the cylinder head I installed red and green tracer high tension wires for Port and Starboard locations. The Mercer this is on is a very responsive car on the road.

Stude8

post-31139-143138359533_thumb.jpg

post-31139-143138359537_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Twin ignition is certainly helpful in those big combustion chambers. Herb Royston, who looked after the Mercer Associates Roster in the mid 1960's when I first communicated had a Stutz Delco distributer on his Series 5 Raceabout. (I reckon that car was likely the one I saw owned by Nelson Thorpe in San Francisco in 1984.) This setup has no advantage over a 2 spark magneto, and the latter is closer to originality and more likely what owners did when the cars were near new. The Stutz Delco still relies totally on spark advance control from the steering column, though automatic advance mechanism in the distributer would have been a benefit. I am not sure when Stutz changed from magneto to distributer ignition. My detacheable head K series and all later detacheable head engines that I know had the distributer, and the 1918 SX Bearcat with special 6 1/2" stroke crankshaft (owned by a friend here) has a 2spark Bosch ZR4. Two spark magnetos have a pickup slip ring with opposite segments. The two ends of the secondary winding are connected one to each segment, so the spark is simultaneous in the two plugs in each cylinder.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This system is the one on the car Royston owned at one time. The one head does infact have mechanical advance applied with a very clever helical sleeve and shaft slot that a drive pin rotates along as RPM increases. That pin was severly worn and had to be remade when restoring the igntion unit. I wired the advanced ignition spark wires to the plugs nearest the intake valves so as to propogate fuel mixture flame pattern ahead of the second plug firing close to or after the intake valve closed due to the large capacity of the combustion chamber.

This car is now owned by Mort Huber of Park Ridge, IL. This is one of a few series 5 cars built with the Murphy Body Co cowl extension like the one owned by actor Buster Keaton now owned by John Rendimonte in NJ.

Stude8

post-31139-143138360428_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just re-checked the distributers for my Stutz engines. The mechanism on the horizontal shaft between the skew gears that drive the two vertical shafts is as you describe. I know Herb was a pretty resourceful fellow. ( He did write that he decided to shorten the chassis frame of a first series Packard Twin Six, to rebody a sedan into a roadster, and he wished he had never started.) Now I looked at the practicability of using a Stutz Delco dual on the Series 4, but I reckonned it would be almost impossible to fit heavy enough bob-weights and return springs in the space on that horizontal advance sleeve to give centrifugal adance, because there is some drag in the movement. I then considered making a longer vertical shaft with centrifugal advance, with an extension to raise the breaker plate, cap, and rotor button. Then I managed to get a sad ZR4 two-spark from Chicago, so I rebuilt and used that. If you look at the unit with the caps off, the cam and both sets of points are on the end opposite the drive, and both capacitors are under the cap on the drive end. I don't think that one bank of plugs should be firing before the other; as they both have the same advance

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gentlemen, as you are probably well aware, there is no advantage whatsoever to adding an extra set of plugs on an L-head engine. The Bosch magneto or a later Mallory dual point distributor of the variety configured to mount in place of a magneto, is the very best one can achieve for a Mercer L-Head. I know that I am not telling you guys anything you already know. 2 spark works a great advantage on an T-Head because of the huge combustion area, it will cut the flame speed in half.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gentlemen,

Pardon the flamespray but in what way shape or form do the last nine posts to this thread relate to the assembly manual for a 1921 raceabout?

Is it a habbit of the senior members of this forum to hijack a thread into any tangent direction? I am new to this forum and it's customs but in my experience on other threads that is considered very rude and would result in being barred from posting for a period of time.

If thread hihacking is a norm for this site please let me know. I only started this new thread to avoid hijacking other peoples with my topic.

I await your (on-topic) replies .

:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Booo hooo, so sorry 'bout hijacking the thread. Give me a break. Go somewhere else to bellyache.

Vote for Obama?

Gotcha!

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps a moderator can separate the technical stuff from the book inquire,,so you need not trouble with the tech details,,,,,,or,,,you can print the tec stuff and put it into the book, if and when you find one available,that aplies to your model Best wishes,,Ben

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, trainedmonkey, thin skin? This forum is like a conversation with a friend, it oft goes in directions that aren't originally intended, but what's the harm in that?

Surely, standing on the field at Hershey, if a conversation started discussing a Ford Model N restoration, and ended discussing the mounting of clincher tires, it wouldn't be a bad thing?

Which reminds me of...never mind..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Getting back to the original inquiry about Series 5 literature, just exactly what publication is it you are trying to obtain?

Advertising sales literature? There is one on Ebay presently at 1920 1921 Mercer Series 5 Brochure REPRINT - eBay (item 350142604434 end time Dec-08-10 14:41:30 PST)

I have a 1920 Mercer Series 5 Parts catalog copy. Original page count was 86 pages (8-1/2" x 11") *Pg 2 thru 6 are missing but appear to be matter unrelated to index lists and overall illustrated component lists. I could get a quote from the local copy shop for the cost of laser copy if that is on your wanted list. As for a shop or service manual for repair of cars I have not seen one and cannot offer any help.

I have several years experience with a 1920 Series 5 L head mechanical repair but do not own such a car.

Stude8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hello to all,

I am just getting into the restoration of a Raceabout, and spoke with Mr Hoch on the Phone recently. He told me that there was a instruction book of some sort that was available at considerable cost to copy. I am writing in hopes that one of you may be able to post a picture of the cover so that i can see if it is the same as the one Granger F. Hill sent my grandfather years ago. I would rather not spend that cost only to get something that i already have. :)

Thanks.

My offer to photocopy the workshop manual for the L-heads which was compiled in the 1950's by Morris Burrows and Henry Newman still stands. This would have been close to the time Morris bought his low mileage Series 5 Raceabout from Vince, who Morris and Ralph Buckley indicated had been factory service man from T-head days right through. I was told there had never been a book from the factory. May be it was considered that people who owned or worked on Mercers should have enough experience and judgement to do any work right.

Your post on the Yahoo-Mercer web site indicates that you have problem with your crankcase. Morris told me that the crankcase is "aluminium-bronze", which indicates a small percentage of copper in the mix, which does not mean that the material is not weldable. About 1970 I put my Series 4 engine in the hands of a very experienced and reliable old-time mechanic/rebuilder, who had always done impeccable work on some very unusual and refined cars in the past. The engine had quite a few issues that needed correcting with care, and I did not have the workshop facilities at the time. The crankcase had an open-ended crack in the horizontal skirt on the left side. There were other cracks as well that were obvious when it was all cleaned up. All welded up fine with the TIG from what I could see, but I had not knowledge of who did the welding. Well, it was several years after I got the engine back before I put the car back on the road, because I had built my own house in the meantime, and you have to spend a lot of effort on young family if one is to become a Theoretical Astrophysicist. So fortunately the good bloke who had undertaken the project died before the engine broke the crankshaft at about 3000 miles, because the shock that it had happened might have killed him. It is my diagnosis that the crankcase had been comprehensively welded without the block bolted to it, and it may not have been annealed to releave stress in it. Also it is quite clear that the main bearings were line-bored without the block attached also. If main bearings are out of line by more than the thickness of the oil film, then the crankshaft will bend as it revolves. It is a wonder it did not break sooner. This is why I have always done all my own work since.

I have a low mileage long conrod 1919 engine to use. I will make my own Rickardo pistons for it, because the rambling combustion chamber is not ideal or perfectly suited to current fuel. One big advantage in this you can get much shorter flame travel in the better combustion chamber shape; and you can use spark plugs in all 8 valve caps, and plug off the original spark plug hole . The original spark plugs are 7/8" special thread over an inch long. You just cannot get suitable spark plugs for this, so you either have to have a short-reach plug shrouded in the deep hole, or as Morris told me, they used a special spark plug for a Hesselmann cycle engine, which had a gap at the end of long exposed electrodes; so you expect this would not be ideal for detonation.

I don't agree with John that twin ignition in an L-head is no advantage. When you shorten the flame travel from the spark plug to the most distant place where there is combustible mixture, you decrease the degrees of timing advance that is needed, and the engine is less sensitive to the shape of that advance curve. You play with a single cam Stutz 8 cylinder if you want to see if properly synchronised spark is necessary so both plugs fire at the same time. The Rochester Trego ohv six cylinder engine of a Series 6 Mercer has the same combustion chamber shape as the Stutz 8 but much bigger cylinders. John Hancox has his Series 6 engine (new, decent conrods) running on a stand, and he says the difference between one and two plugs per cylinder is a lot. The six cylinder Marmons of the early 1920's had about 4 inch maximum flame travel. They halved that by twin ignition on the later D74 and E75 cars.

If someone just wants to give a Mercer an immaculate presentation restoration for beauty shows, that is fine. They would stick to single ignition which is original. But Mercers are great cars to drive , as they ever have been; and as Morris said, (and Ray Wolff also with his Raceabout of the Generalissimo fro m Venuzuela), Mercers don't like parades. So if people have Mercers to drive, as you would hope many will always be, you need to understand how they run best.

Threads in a forum like this do not belong to any person who happens to start them for their own ends. They are out ïn the "ether" for anyone who chooses to read or contribute also. (You can probably be sure it won't end up in Wikileaks unless it is dribble or drivel.) It does not matter if a topic balloons according to the need and interest of participants. You like contributions to be polite interesting, useful, and informative /educational; and maybe reflective of wisdom and sense of humour. Mostly you want them to be right, but it is not always possible. I confess I sometimes "fly kites", but I try to make the difference obvious. I might have obsessional interests in a 270degree arc, but I know I cannot always be right. If I prompt someone else to put forward something more correct I am happy, because I learn something along with everyone else.

I cannot understand why concealed identity is necessary, particularly in relation to something like Mercer where there ar probably less than 200 possible complete or rebuildable cars, and a lot of people know a lot about cars, their history, and who owns them. I know different people use the language in very different ways, but with respect and goodwill there is no way I would ever use such a camouflage name. Here it means not that clever pet chimp who drove the farm tractor for years to help his paraplegic friend and master, but more the "Trades Assistant"of a public utility who had to breathe hard so noone would think he was dead, or a graceless, ignorant overpaid public servant who members of the public are uncomfortably obliged to deal with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ivan,

Thank you for the offer to copy the workshop manual, I do appreciate it. I have not taken you up on it because I believe I may already have a copy, which is why i was asking for a picture of the cover page. I would not want anyone to go to any undue trouble on my behalf. As for the monicer it was a nickname earned in my early days as a P-3 mainetnance technician which relates to my hotmail account and is my standard for all forums. I wasn't trying for any annonimity, though my father has cautioned me against being overly public about the Mercer.

Stude8

I have an original of the parts manual as well as a copy I would be happy to make photocopies of the missing pages for you, if you would like (I am pretty sure mine is complete).

Trimacar/ AK

Sorry if I seemed heated in my post, I was honestly seeking clarification on the matter. In the other forums I post to people are concerned with the ease of locating information and like to keep threads to one topic. I see the logic to that and it appeals to me. After reading just about every post on the mercer topic here I see that the tangent posts are the norm. Being new here I will simply adjust my paradigm, no harm no foul.

keiser31

Thanks for the lead.

Cben09

No need, it's their house not mine, I'll play by their rules. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What I have is probably an old photocopy of an original. The cover page has a Mercer shield with "MERCER , 1915-1923, L HEAD 4S " arranged in four lines in it.

The Foreword is as follows:

"This manual does not pretend to be a complete Shop Manual for the L head Mercer; so far as we know none has ever been published. The information contained herein is the result of personal experience and the experience of others passed on in letters, articles, and by word of mouth. In this regard thanks are due to, among many, Ralph Buckley, Henry Baud, Charles Jackson, J.O.Goodell, and Herbert Royston.

To the memory of Vincent Galloni, without whose help many Mercers now running would be forever silent, this manual is gratefully dedicated.

H.Morris Burrows, Windsor, Vt.

Henry Newman, San Francisco, Calif.

February 1959

____________

By this you will know if this is the same as you have.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ivan,

Thank you so much for taking the time to type the forward and description. It is in fact exactly what I have already. It was sent to my grandfather with a 1959 (12C Benjamin Harrison) stamp from a person named Granger F. Hill. My post here was in hopes that something may have surfaced since then that might be more precise.

My previous restoration experience has been with 1960's era cars which has afforded me the luxury of "manufacturers assembly manuals" which are written to give such detailed information that any newly hired person in the plant could simply read and understand what tool and procedure was needed to get propper fit and function.

Stude8

Upon closer inspection my original has a cover page but seems to start on page 5. If you would like a copy let me know. As for what is on PG 5 it is simply the "Preface".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

TM

Thank you for the offer of copying the few missing pages from the Mercer parts catalog copy I have on file. I really have no immanent need for those pages since I do not own and am not ever likely to own a Mercer.

My primary "Old Car" interest is 1931-33 Studebaker Indianapolis race cars that used the President inline eight engines.

A very good friend from Chicago area has the 1920 Mercer Raceabout I have worked on in the past and since I am retired and now live in far southern Illinois I seldom see or service the car any longer. I did accompany him with the car to the Mercer Centennial in 2009 at Roebling, NJ and it performed well on tours there. It even survived the village parade of cars on a 90 degree day at a crawl for an hour or more thanks to an emergency backup electric fuel pump that bypasses the vacuum tank temporarily in just such heat related stall conditions.

Of interest to you, there was a gentleman at Roebling with a 1920 Red L head raceabout that had a NEW REPRO cylinder block. The story is he underwrote cost of having casting patterns made and about 10 cylinder blocks recast a year or so ago. The engine in the photo of Red car is the new repro. There was another still available in 2009, price was in 5 figures area then. I can inquire about what his name is, he was from California I believe. I didn't hear if the crankcase was reproduced as well? See attached images from Roebling event.

Stude8

post-31139-143138369765_thumb.jpg

post-31139-143138369769_thumb.jpg

post-31139-14313836978_thumb.jpg

post-31139-143138369787_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stude8

If I am correct, you are referring to Jack Libaire's raceabout which was sold last year, at auction. It was red with black fenders in the pictures I have seen. I did some research and got his contact information, he told me the story of the repro blocks and gave me Fred Hoch's number.

Mr Hoke told me that it was just the block sections that were cast and that he knew of no reproduction crank cases. He also told me that there are no more timing chains to be had.

I have found a shop near me that deals with antique engine rebuilding (Aldrich) and his visual inspection indicates that my crank section is safe for use. My only intrest in having spares made would be that pre-problems seems like the best time to do so.

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
Sign in to follow this