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1925 REO Story


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1925 REO Roadster



In 1977, when I was 4 years old, my father bought a 1925 REO T-6 Gold Standard sedan.  The body was in shambles from spending all of its existence in MI and some of that time sitting outdoors. The mechanicals were all in good shape.  I remember Dad working diligently on the restoration of that car, the smell of the old grease and interior fabric.  The car was painted black with white pinstripe along the beltline and around the wheels, and had a dark turquoise interior with black carpeting installed.



Fast forward to today and that car is in the barn, awaiting it’s second restoration, this time an authentic one.  We knew that it was supposed to be painted blue and gray and black but had no idea what shades of those colors.  Then, at the REO meet in Lansing in 2014, we saw a beautiful roadster of the same year that was supposed to have the original colors painted on it.  I asked the owner for first right of refusal and as of February of this year it became my roadster.  Now I had a car in perfect shape that had been through a nearly six figure restoration, so I thought that I could duplicate what I needed on to the sedan.  Turns out the roadster looked fantastic but was not fully restored by any account, and I have spent more time correcting things on the roadster that I can pattern from the sedan, as it is all originally intact.


On the roadster, the battery was hooked up backwards as positive ground which had caused the generator to finally give up.  It had weak spark from being hooked up that way, and someone had gone to the extent at one point to hook up 2 coils in parallel.  The ammeter stuck, pegged and didn’t zero out.   Worst of all, the passenger side rear wheel has a severe lateral bend in it that causes such a wobble that the paint started to flake off of the rim at several of the attachment points of the coupling ring, from driving the roadster.  When I took the entire wheel assembly off of the roadster I found rear axle fluid just about to get into the brake linings and is that enough yet?  



Here is a link to the video of the bent wheel disc. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1AKmYIMYtv0cm5BVEExT01xck0/view    An AACA judge stated that this is a normal wheel and that I should not be afraid to use the car with the wheel like this.



With all of that going on, I needed some help in the form of reference.  I contacted the body shop that did the, “restoration,” work on the car.  They denied everything and told me that was what the previous owner wanted.  They even blamed the previous owner for hitting a parking stop or tying the car too tightly in the trailer to cause the steel wheel disc to deform.  This body shop’s website talks about how they are a restoration shop and can fix your project right up!  It turns out that only the body work is done in house, everything else is contracted out of this particular establishment.  This enlightenment made me seriously consider how many other body shops out there are claiming to be restoration shops while causing all sorts of mechanical mayhem through their processes.  I have continued along, chasing down this contact and that referral, and have amassed a powerful list of resources that will allow me to get this roadster and the sedan in perfect working order.  I’m only short a steel wheel disc and a couple of brass petcocks for draining the cooling system.  I’m hoping that someone will have them at this year’s REO meet in Ohio, here on the forum, or see my classified ads in the ECHO.



Having a four year old of my own now, I have seen firsthand the power of feel, touch, smell and RIDE!  The old sedan had been in the workshop for a few years on blocks awaiting new tires/tubes and correct paint shades.  Finally, after a lengthy back order, the tubes came.  Trial paint was applied and had a greenish tint, but no matter, it was time for the sedan to get out of the workshop for the 2014 REO meet.  You can see it in picture #6 of the 2014 REO meet pictures.  a big black sedan with greenish tinted wheels.  My son wanted nothing to do with the sedan in the workshop.  I sat him in the seat and he got out.  Didn’t care a thing until it was ready to run and be test driven around the block.  I asked him to get in the car and he didn’t want to but I put him in the front seat with me, started the car and moved it out of the workshop and down the road.  In the 10 minutes of riding around the block with the windshield open, he was transformed into a car guy!



My background consists of an Associate’s Degree in Automotive Technology (mechanics), ASE Master Technician and a Bachelor’s Degree in owning and operating franchised new car dealerships.  When the Great Recession came about, I ventured off into another sector to work.  Over the years I have developed a passion for seeing these old cars work as designed.  It seems that so many projects meet an impasse and end up in museums.  Drivability problems have always been my special area of interest in the mechanical realm.  I thoroughly enjoy the challenge and satisfaction of getting a project dialed in and working perfectly and safely.  It is important to keep these cars on the road! 



I really need to see these old REO cars on the road and not in the museum.  It is time to start discussing a trip in year or so, maybe on the Lincoln Highway?  Perhaps this is something to begin discussing in the next issue of the REO ECHO?  Let’s get these cars running right and have some fun with them, make a stink in the hobby, get everyone asking what REO is all about!



I hope to hear from everyone!



Jason Dunn

Family Membership # 624


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Thanks for the compliment.  I agree that these are excellent cars and are very reliable for the era if dialed in correctly and maintained well.  

The latest is that the radiator just got the overflow fixed.  The roadster kept overheating.  I know that current mainstream antifreeze products are made to do their job under pressure and will foam with no pressure which happened very effectively in this case.  With the overflow tube hacked off in the tank, it was like a drain when things got rolling. 100% distilled water and the new overflow will fix this I believe.  The radiator shop owner was talking about there being a baffle in the cooling system on "some" old cars that, when rusted out, caused the coolant to flow more around certain cylinders and less around others.  I hadn't heard of that one.


Do you have any pictures of the 1926 T6 Sedan?  I would really like to see them.  1926 was the first year without the, "hill brake," which was the outboard set of brakes that engaged when the clutch was depressed far enough.


 I had the opportunity to see another 1925 sedan in the basement of the hardware store in Homer MI.  Too bad it was so dark down there, but it was really neat to see the differences, both in the trim and the design changes in the engine compartment.  Our 1925 is the Gold Standard Edition, while the one that I got to look at was not.  It had a fixed visor and painted radiator shell, I remember.


Will you be at the REO meet?


Are there any online forums or areas that are more active than this with REO?




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On July 11, 2016 at 9:02 AM, Meii said:

I really need to see these old REO cars on the road and not in the museum.  It is time to start discussing a trip in year or so, maybe on the Lincoln Highway?


YES, Jason!  Or, Route 66 ... OR ... BOTH! :)


Enjoyed reading your story; thanks for posting it.



2-DAY EVENT ;) S Elgin IL, with restaurant & hotel discounts:
"I hope life will treat you kind" __ Dolly Parton __ 'I Will Always Love You'

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