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Mercer Series 6 Six Cylinder Question

Guest prewarpieces

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Guest prewarpieces

I have been "discussing" a six cylinder, Series 6 Mercer touring car that is located in Texas and may come up for sale. The current owner, who inherited the car, is looking for the title and doesn't know what year it is. What year were the six cylinder Mercers made? In looking through my info, I think they were just made in 1925 before the company closed. Am I wrong? Thanks in advance

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Guest John Hancox

Hi Prewarpieces.

I have an original Series Six Tourer Chassis Stamped on rear dumb iron T39.The remaining approximately 8 running cars are 2 Raceabouts,1 Runabout,A Repro Raceabout body on a Tourer chassis and 4 Sporting. This is to the best of my knowledge.

1923 was the first Production year,went into receivership in July 1923 and stopped production in March 1924. No more cars were produced until early 1925 production ceasing in June.Approximately 153 cars produced in total.

Maintenance and parts were continued until early 1928.

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Guest John Hancox

Hi Prewar Pieces,

John Boyle owns the second of the two Surviving Series Six Raceabouts,he was given it on his seventeenth birthday in 1957 by his Uncle who bought it from Vince Galloni in 1941.Vince told his uncle it was the last Mercer made and the Serial number #21011 ,factory fitted four wheel brakes and the oil pressure gauge is stamped June 1925 possibly back this up.

The body style is very different to all other Raceabouts,seats side by side not staggered,a locker between the gas tank and body,single filler cap,fillin panels betwween the tank and body,Long cowl with vents either side of the cowl and the four wheel brakes that let you get out there and mix it with todays traffic.

The sound of a Series Six is something else,the throar of the four but smoother and more threatening with the extra two cylinders and dual ignition.

I know this as some days with a beer in hand I just fire it up to listen to it with the cutout open,beats Abba hands down.

The car was ordered by a Wealthy New York Banker,forclosed on in 1933 then sold to John,s Uncle in 1941,we have both of these documents ,it has been in the family ever since.

With the Raceabout diff ratio ,light body weight the performance is something else,plus being able to stop it quickly lets you do as John did get out and drive it,full windscreen up or folded.

It is on the the market and Carol would like to see it go to someone in the Mercer Family who will use it as John Did and keep this unique piece of Mercer and American motoring history alive.

If you are interested I have reams of info and photos. jhmercer@bigpond.net.au.

John Hancox

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Just to clarify the staggered or parrallel seats question, Morris Burrows told me that at least some late production L-head Raceabouts had parallel seats. He also named one of his friends who had a parallel seat L-head, but altered it to staggered. The parallel seats may have been preferable for a taller driver; but it may well been a special order option. It is cetain that the parallel seats are original for John Boyle's Raceabout.

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  • 5 months later...
Guest John Hancox

Does Anyone out there have a Mercer series Six Parts Manual ?

They did ,Owners Manuals ,Warranty Books,Sales brochures surely they did a Parts Book.

In the Owners Manual parts are numbered so My guess they were prints out of the parts book.

I have a Series Six Touring and would love to buy a Parts book to complete my car.

John Hancox, jhmercer@bigpond.net.au

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Guest John Hancox
Does Anyone out there have a Mercer series Six Parts Manual ?

They did ,Owners Manuals ,Warranty Books,Sales brochures surely they did a Parts Book.

In the Owners Manual parts are numbered so My guess they were prints out of the parts book.

I have a Series Six Touring and would love to buy a Parts book to complete my car.

John Hancox, jhmercer@bigpond.net.au


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I have ended up with the Boyle raceabout. I would like to do as accurate a restoration as

possible. I have communicated with John Hancox, Fred Hoch and Stan Smith. I solicit

any information, ideas, or recommendations you may have on this car. It is in the shop

and is work is underway. We hope to have it done for the get together at Pebble Beach.

Am particularly interested in your view of what may have been original on this car.

John 925-963-5835/ jcrow22006@aol.com

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John Hancox knows more about this car firsthand than anyone since John Boyle's passing. John was based in Tulsa for na few years working for an oil exploration business, and during that time he met John Boyle, visited, and helped him get the car running again when it was disabled by broken cylinder head studs. About 12 years ago, John B., who did not really like the colour, stripped it down and had it all repainted as you have it. I never met him, but I gather that putting such a car back together was not his long suit; so John Hancox flew over there at his own expense, and it was reassembled in the carport with snow on the ground.

If you allow yourself to be misled by people who do know a lot about L head and earlier Mercers you may make changes that will destroy the provenance of the car.

Now confusion has arisen over what your car was like originally because of two old photos of a white Series Six Raceabout with four wheel brakes. Ralph Buckley gave me these when I visited him at Morris Burrows behest after the 1980 Glidden. Ralph gave me at the same time a sideview chassis blueprint of the Raceabout chassis from 1916 through to the end. I cannot remember what prompted this except that he understood that I had always particularly admired Raceabouts, and he knew that I had almost enough parts to build another Series Six, except the chassis siderails. We now know for sure that Mercer did build the 6 cylinder Raceabouts using Series 5 ( or perhaps even earlier recycled ) chassis frames; and that the front crossmember of your Boyle car is virtually a blacksmith's concoction because the Rochester Trego engine needed a central front engine mount. Your car must have been one of the very last, if not the last one built. If someone had known to ask either George Scoblic whom Ray Wolff interviewed in the late 1960's, he could have confirmed whether it was the very last car, because he said he helped to build that. John Hancox says that when he and John Boyle restored it in the carport, he saw a maker's date of 1925 on or inside the oil pressure gauge; so the car has to be 1925 or later. Someone tried to buy the fuel tank in the 1940's to put on a T head Raceabout project, because it is a T head tank which they either had in new unused stock, or a secondhand one that was there. They just were not precious about what parts they had to use when they had to build a car at the end. One 1922 Series 5 Sporting was specifically ordered with bosch electrical units and bress brightwork. The hubcaps read "Mercer 22/72", which is 1916! Obviously they were the only brass ones in the bin when they needed them.

One item that you might change for sake of originality is the position ofn the dashboard, which John B re-mounded closer in the extended cowl which the car has. I understand this interferes with the available range of angle adjustment of the steering column.

The late Raceabout in those two photos that I shared around also had front brakes. When John and John refurbished your car, if was clearly obvious in its stripped state that the car in the photo could not possibly be John's car. John Hancox can give you chapter and verse on all this; and he is one person who will not shovel debris from a cattleyard over you. Your car is only one that they built with the seat backs parallel instead of staggered; but it was not the only one.

Morris Burrows told me that Ralph's 1922 Series 5 Racabout had parallel seat backs, and Morris, who regarded originality as vital expressed disappointment that Ralph had changed that.

One thing that you must change from original are the conrods. When Vince Galloni owned your car, if the conrod bolts had not been altered from 3/8"to 7/16" when they built it, He would have fixed it in 1940 before he sold it to the Boyle twins. But the bolts were the least disastrous problem with the conrods. The top hole in the tapered web of the conrods often nicked the sides of the H section also; but in any case the rods were an understrength and flawed design. Engines have been destroyed when a conrod breks just below the gudgeon pin! In the early 1980's, the then English owner of the other Raceabout ex-Mrs Brunz was out here, and was referred to me by a friend. I showed him the conrods and explained why you must make good ones; but I suppose that as Dorothy Parker said, you can lead someone to culture, but you cannot make them think. That car had then some 5000 miles on the speedo from new. You can tell from the serial number/engine number lists of surviving cars, that Raceabout had an engine replacement when it was close to new. It had two catastrophic blow-ups in around 5000 miles!!!

John Hancox made sure that the drawing of the CNC conrods he had made for his own Series Six went with the car. If it did not come to you, you may need to ask him for another copy. Nobody can see inside the engine that the conrods will not be original: If you run the originals, sooner or later one will make a big enough hole in the crankcase so everyone can see what you left in it.

You are lucky to have those original 4 wheel brakes, so you can drive the car to its potential if you desire. Most Mercers are fast, but when you want to stop in a hurry, they will stop in their own time.

You refer to Pebble Beach, where originality and provenance are important. If you alter things that are origiginal, then you interfere with the provenance. John Hancox is the only person you can rely on to guide you to know what is correct; and he is only too happy to help you. Regards, Ivan Saxton

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Thank you for your comments. Obviously parallel seats are critical, otherwise the storage compartment could not be original, because it would not fit. I will examine the floorboards carefully for indications of where, if anywhere. the passenger foot support was mounted originally. That will tell a lot about the seats.

We have the body off and we will be able to look for old mounting areas and other clues

of original sheetmetal. I was aware of dashboard changes and steering column aiming too far inboard.

I have become very familiar with the nice original Martindale car, too.

There is a brace for the dashboard where it should mount, but it appears cut. Am concerned that the back storage compartment door appears backward and the area has no flooring. Very un Mercer like. The turtle back door also will not clear the spare tire bracket, but that may be a problem with the spare, not non original sheet metal.

The extended cowl has also apparently caused changes to the gearshift and brake handle, and they seem quite poorly done. Also poorer than Mercer would do them.

I assume the right side pump was a Boyle add on.

I will take every opportunity to discover as much as I can. I will supply any numbers or

details I discover. I have no particular point of view other than to return the car to the

best condition possible and configured as the facts show it was when first delivered.

Of course the engine will be built up from the inside out without shortcuts. I understand that

we are short a radiator since the one in the car is shot. The core from England is

slow coming, so am looking for ideas there. I also need very detailed and correct series

6 engine and engine compartment photos.

Thanks so much for your comments. No of us own these cars, we are only caretakers.

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Guest John Hancox
I have picked up a set of front mechanical brakes for a series six, with hubs, spindles, king pins, end of axle, drums, and shoes intact. Perhaps these might reveal original configurations, etc.



Have tried to send a message to you and they bounce will try this way.

I have a series Six Touring and an axle beam I can fit those bits to and give my car four wheel brakes .are they for sale ? trade ? or what ?


John Hancox ,jhmercer@bigpond.net.au

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update on "Boyle" car. Seriously appreciate all the help. Really great. This has become somewhat of a community project.

Have carefully examined car with body completely off. Had metal experts and paint experts with me. The original wood remains in the body. Removal of the alloy firewall revealed the

orginal firewall. The wood framing for the parallel seats is in tack. The car had parallel seats

from new. The extended cowl has its original wood in place and came that way from factory.

Discovered original yellow paint on cowl, rear turtle back and chassis. It tests the same.

So..... the cowl and turtle back came on the car from factory. Right rear fender probably off

another car. Discovered original holes (welded up) for factory top, along with windshield clips for the same. Have seen similar deails on the great original Martindale car. Have original dash which was metal (probably wood grained) , in spite of later replacement of wood.

Talked to 74 year old daughter of 1941 owner, who remembered a number of important

items. Back storage compartment was on car from new, but top pof it was later replacement.

Rear end has embossed "raceabout" in two places, but ring and pinion are 3.77 for sporting.

SO..... I need ring and pinion 3.26 to 1 ( or close). Wonder if it fit any other car.

Engine out, all apart and not too bad.

Making rods, repairing cam followers and oil pump.

Hate that body AND chassis was yellow. Would love another color, but will put it back like it was. Correct wheels being made.

Body metal reasonably good. Some rot at bottom near sills.

Chassis had serial number on right rear hanger.

Still need some small parts too. Doing analysis of gas tank now,

which appears to have some early and some late parts. Will answer

any questions or provide any photos that anbody wants. Shop is

doing a great, detailed job and is documenting every step.

Again invite comments, suggestions, even critical ones.


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Guest stude8

I have a friend who owns a 1920 Series 5 raceabout, will attach a photo in case it shows any details you have interest in seeing. Car is located in Chicago area. I have done work on it years ago like rebuild the dual coil Stutz distributor ignition system.






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Boyle update:

Still need to test first paint on gas tank. But, tank appears to be early T head tank.

Certainly many feel that this gas tank, with its heavy guage metal was put on the car

sometime between 1925 and 1941. I have no opinion, yet. It seems odd that the only

gas tank left when this car was built was a 12 year old one. And yet there certainly are

other examples that this car was put together from what Mercer had left. I also have

a copy of a photo of another 6 series raceabout that is not the the Boyle car that itself

has a two filler gas tank.

We will examine the tank mounting area on the turtle back, which we know came on this car.

We will also carefully determine the original paint and compare it to the other paint.

Testing also shows the chassis was yellow! Boy thats going to be tough to keep clean.

You are correct, the car was maroon in 1941 and it remained that way until 1961 when

it was "restored".

The daughter of the 1941- 1957? owner remembers that the dash was "chromed" and that

it made the car tough to drive at night. My guess is that the dash was originally wood grained,

but not yet certain. Nevertheless, her dad got permission to remove some leather

from a bus in a junkyard, and they covered the dash and her mother made new seat

cushions from it.

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Guest stude8

For what ever it is worth here are a few photos from the Mercer Meet at Roebling, NJ in 2009. There were several 1921 L Head raceabouts on hand. Also another photo of the fuel tank on the 1920 L Head from Huber collection that shows a left rear view of how it is strapped to the frame rail width.










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JCROW - I believe the attached picture is your car back in the 40's. Unfortunately the original photo is very small 2x3" so hard to pick out details.

The picture of the two 21 Raceabouts in 2009 from Stude8 was another reunion of sorts; the last time that S/N 14730 and 15810 were parked next to each other was in 1940 when 14730 was owned by the late Hemp Oliver. He published the 1940 photos of the two cars in a 1957 edition of Road and Track.

Sounds like you are doing a top notch restoration of your car. I hope to be able to see it again someday.


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Hey Raceabout, thanks for that picture, but is actually not this car. Quite similar in that they

both have an extended hood. The help on this forum has been wonderful. I love those old

photos. They help so much.

The latest visit and examination of the gas tank confirm that it started life as a gray color

and was not on the Boyle car from the factory. The turtle back has also been modified ever so slightly from it early shape to accept this gas tank. So we will be making a correct tank.

We have confirmed the existence of factory top supports and factory parts that went on the

windshield to accept the front of the top. I have now seen proof on two different raceabouts

of factory (not after market) tops.

The body is coming along well. The sheet metal has turned out to be reasonably good.

Any opinions on nickle or paint for the radiator shell? Guess it could have been either way.

Was able to locate 6 new tires with fairly correct original tread.

Does anyone know if the series 5 raceabout rear end is the same as the series 6?

I doubt it. The Boyle car has the correct housing but has the mid range ring and pinion.

It should be 3.22 to 1 and is now 3.77 to 1. Any comments as to how the 3.77 gears

do with the six cylinder? My rough calculations suggest that the 3.22 would result

in a road speed of 60mph at 2000 rpms.

Again, thanks for the great help. Oh, still need color photos of the engine.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Not certain if this will help but I recall a booth at Hershey that showed pictures of ring and pinions that they had made for a Mercer. As i have a tendancy to collect business cards for later use, I believe it was REMPCO out of Cadillac, Mi. 231-775-0108. I can't say with certainty that this was the place or not, but it stands to reason since this is the only card in my stack that lists gears as one of their products.

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Well, you certainly have a great memory. The rear end is there as we speak. Am a little confused because the information all suggests that the raceabout had a 3.22 to 1 ratio.

This car had the 3.77 that belonged in the sport touring. Yet, the rear unit had "raceabout"

embossed on it. I figured that the gears had just been changed sometime in its life. However,

REMCO has reported that the unit will not accomodate 3.22 gears. Largest that will

fit is about 3.44.

Does anyone have experience with the the sixth series gear ratios and what works best?

The car is coming along quite well. Chassis is painted and parts are going on. Body completely

redone and was tested for fit on the frame today. Still many parts to remake, restore,

and or refinish. But lots of questions about the history of this car have now been answered.

Seats were parallel from the factory. T head turtle back came on the car from factory.

Oil/gas tank did not come on car originally. Neither did pump on side (anyone need one?).

Extended cowl was original to car. Alloy firewall covered the original and is now gone. Car and chassis was yellow from factory. And...those four wheel brakes are original (yeah!!).

Everyone's help is so appreciated. But we will need much more.

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  • 1 month later...

Not sure if there is any interest, but here is Boyle car progress report. Still expect car to be ready to drive the 1500 mile Pebble Beach Motoring Classic from Seattle to Pebble in early August.

Chassis is pretty much done. Most body work done and being painted. Will start engine assembly soon. Beautiful new rods and pistons cut by firm in Nevada that builds NASCAR engines and John Force dragsters. Now that design work done will make available to any other series six owners. Shop is very reasonable, and design work I paid for is free to you.

Need help with correct replacement cowl (body) tag. Looking to buy a couple of hides of black leather with proper graining.

Would attach photos, but they seem to exceed size limits for the forum. Tell me what to do and I will attach those.

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oh very interested, don't worry! Great to hear it is coming along, and love the idea of doing the Pebble tour. Please post photos. Easiest method is to open an account on Flickr or photobucket, upload them there, then paste the link to your forum post. They make it pretty simple. Otherwise you have to get into reducing file sizes etc.

Leif Drexler just did my interior in consultation with Fred Hoch using an original interior set for guidance. It looks fantastic, and got a lot of approval from aaca judges who saw it at Leif's shop enroute to the the Elegance at Hershey. I discussed with Leif on Sunday at the Elegance and he said that he had enough leather made to do several other interiors. PM me if you don't have contact info. The original leather had a distinctive stamped grain and a painted finish vs. dye.

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  • 1 month later...

I am not good at attaching photos. They are too large. Anyone who wants a photo update

send me an email (jcrow22006@aol.com). Engine has run about ten hours in stand and

is now in car. With luck will test drive tomorrow. We don't own these cars but are really

only temporary caretakers. I appreciate the help from everyone on this site. Maybe we saved

another one.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...
  • 4 years later...


on 2/23/12 you wrote the following in a post

"They just were not precious about what parts they had to use when they had to build a car at the end. One 1922 Series 5 Sporting was specifically ordered with bosch electrical units and bress brightwork. The hubcaps read "Mercer 22/72", which is 1916! Obviously they were the only brass ones in the bin when they needed them."

Sounds like you are describing a 1922 sporting that i know have.mercer seriel #17990 engine #6351 is green owned for the lats 20 years by Bill Hony and Ed Gibes of WI before that. Is this a car a you are fermiler with or have personal knowledge of ? i am trying to get as much information as i can about its history.



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  • 4 years later...

As I recall I was probably first made aware of this car about 1980 or earlier by Ray Wolff and Don Pedersen.  Don had visited Carl Bjelland when he was still the owner as he had been for many decades.  I would have liked to have been able to meet C.B. after I was at Auburn in September 1980, so I could have questioned him about his association with Schillos who he worked for when Carl delivered the car new to the original owner.  However I gathered from both Ray and Don that Carl may have entered a phase of cognitive decline.   ( I have since regretted that I was never able to meet him, because he was one of few remaining connections with that matter from that time .   You see, ,questions are important:   If you have the right knack of asking the right sort of questions,  you can gather and record what would otherwise have been lost.)       I visited Ed and Nancy Gibes.  Ed would no longer be with us, but I guess there is a fair chance that Nancy would still be about.   I think I may still have photos of the Series Five which I took to remind me of details lacking on my 1918 Series Four.

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