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Trained Monkey

Odd ball block?

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Can anyone fill me in on the possibility of a dual carb block for a series 5 raceabout? Was this a factory option or a hardcore race mod? I think "uncle hemp" mentioned it in a letter some years ago.

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Have never see such a thing described in sales booklets or parts manual. I remember your father describing it to me - Would love to see picture(s) of it. Twin inlets on the driver's side?

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21 Raceabout,

I have found (again) the letter from Hemp to my father which tells the tale. The engine was one built by a Carl Smith who built a racecar from a Mercer passenger car in the 1930's. The car was entered in a 1931 or 1932 Indy race but was unble to qualify.

I do not currently have a picture of the block but will post one when I get another chance to make a parts run. as to your closing question, the ports are on the passenger side between and slightly below the 1/2 + 3/4 exhaust ports. I would love to see a picture of the carb set-up for that would have worked. (the original carb port is covered by a bolt on blank off plate.)

Edit: on further investigation, in the same letter, Hemp mentions that YOU inherited the 1922 Raceabout that he owned back in 1940 from your father. It even lists your CT address which I just looked up on white pages.com, only to find you listed in Cape Neddick. What a riot!

Edited by Trained Monkey
more info. (see edit history)

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TM -

Yes your (great?) Uncle "Hempy" owned our car for a short time in 1940, purchasing it for $25 from a Mrs. Bascom in CT , only to turn around and sell it for $50 a few months later to D. Cameron Peck. I corresponded with Hemp for several years before his passing. Studying the Mercer roster, I concluded that is really a '21 not '22 as it is one of three consecutive S/N 1921 cars that survive.

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21,

As to "uncle" Hempy I did not mean to imply any blood relation to the man. The package of old letters and photos regarding my Mercer contain a lot of letters between Hemp and my father, at some point between 1969 and the mid 80's he seems to have taken on the title.

As a side note I am now researching the oddball block for any pictures of the car it came from to add to my collection. Also looking for J. Labaire's contact info again because according to Morris Burroughs he knew my Grandfather personally and may have first hand knowlege of the parts.

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TM -

No confusion about Hemp. It was clear from your father and from Hemp himself that he was a family friend not blood relative. His letters containing his recollections of earlier times are a fascinating read. Also his photos taken in the 30's and 40's are fabulous.

In regards to the block, I was wondering if you can see if the extra holes and internal manifold plumbing for the 2 carbs look to be part of the casting, or result of some skilled welding or brazing (i.e. modifications to the casting).

Finally, it may have been Jack Libaire's late father who knew your grandfather.

Regards;

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TM-

Another thought, you might contact the Indianapolis Speedway directly. As of ~10 years ago they still sold copies of the photos of any individual car that qualified (maybe entered?) for every race at pretty reasonable prices. I don't know if they still have this service but worth trying - maybe they have a photo of the Carl Smith car. If he really made the racing car out of a Sporting or Touring car, it is probably not your chassis as Raceabout chassis have a shallower frame web height.

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I got ahold of the IMS Photo department $13 scored me a photo of Carl and mechanic sitting in the "CC smith special" should be here in a week or two. I also got ahold of Isac, Carl's great grandson. Who has been looking into the history as well. He has some family history that explains why it's so hard to find anything about his great grandfathers car, maybe he'll join in the forum and explain one day.

Edit: 21,

As far as I know you are right, acording to my dad, our raceabout was never raced.

Edited by Trained Monkey
fail to include... (see edit history)

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TM - Glad to hear that the IMS still has the photo service and best of all you found the CC Smith special. Might be the only photo of the car still extant.

Did Stan send you a copy of the '59 L-head owners manual? If so, check the page numbers to make sure is complete... some copies are missing one page ( I have complete set if you still need it).

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A call to IMS and $13 dollars netted me this picture which only serves to deepen the mystery surrounding the oddball block. The photo shows in poor detail the number 76 on the side of the "CC Smith Special" fuel tank and "Paul Smith" as the driver. But IMS records from the 1931 race show the Driver of the number 73, CC Smith-Mercer Special, to be Carl Smith.

I have sent the photo to Carl's great grandson in hopes of confirming this to be the Smith team and not #76 Jimmy Gleason driven, Mercedes grand prix team. :confused:

190340_214051958608951_100000124465621_1033793_4632335_n.jpg

I have also gotten the block out of mothballs and will be prepping it for it's photo debut soon. :D

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Started cleaning up the oddball block this weekend decided to stop and take some before pictures. I know Hemp would have loved to see it and figured you all might enjoy as well.

Not too much to see from the drivers side...225676_223541274326686_100000124465621_1123405_6847559_n.jpg

The cool stuff is on the passenger side!!

227987_223541740993306_100000124465621_1123422_2206124_n.jpg

If anyone has a spare crank case, oil pan, connecting rods, 2 early style pistons they'd like to donate to the cause please PM me. :rolleyes::D

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That is obviously a factory casting, and I doubt that anyone would have made patterns in the 1930's, even for racing. For Indianapolis then, it must have been an optimist's special, because even with the very long stroke and conrods, you just would not have been able to run high enough revs to pump enough air for the power be competitive. I know they will get up with a single carby into a frightening extreme of piston speed. Though Ralph Buckley told me in 1980 that one engine runnining-in on electricity generation for the factory (unsupervised) ran for 18 hours at 3800rpm, which was much longer than the race. Yet you would regard yourself as fortunate to end a 500 mile race at those revs with a sump still able to hold oil. If anyone today wanted to race one of these for that era, they might make a crankshaft with much shorter stroke, and make a new and different block and OHV head. The holes in the crankcase are much larger diameter than the bores, so , without going to measure right now, I guess you could use up to 4 1/2" diameter pistons. You would then likely have a much lighter engine for more power.

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Update on the oddball,

some spare time, boredom, and curiosity hit me after getting back from Hershey. I decided to have a closer look at my carburetor only to discover that it was very much not correct for my car. insted of the Penberthy SV 22 updraft that belongs there I have a Juhasz side draft. So being the curious type I took it from its box and held it up to the oddball block and discovered that it is a perfect fit. A bit more prodding on the oddball revealed that not only are there two holes into the intake jacket there is also a divider between them! so it looks like the optomistic Mr. Smith had set the block up with a Juhasz side draft for each pair of cylinders.

I am no engineer but it would seem to me that he was hoping to get greater volumetric efficiency by using a larger carburetor and preventing the sharing of the fuel-air charge during any overlap of valve timing between the front and rear cylinders....

Opinions?

As for heating the fuel for atomization I have to assume that being attached to the exhaust side and in such close proximity to the manifold would have had the float bowls darn near explosive in short order.

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