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Model identification - 1916 to 1918


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Dear list members, 

This is an introductory posting, in a way, to present myself. I have bought a Chalmers, brought it home and look forward to many hours of frustration and fun in putting it on the road. I have restored two vintage cars previously in Australia, but they were not as old or noble as this one. There will no doubt be questions to ask on the way, such as torque values for big end bolts and such, but I hope eventually to be able to contribute too, not just ask and ask. First question - the previous owner was unsure of its year of make - either 1916 or 1917 probably. I've looked around the web, and ordered some reproductions of original catalogues I hope will help. It is the town car or limousine style - with an enclosed rear section and more exposed driver's section, but with the roof extending over the driver too (no window for the driver, but looks to be clips for side-curtains). Did this style exist in 1916? It has wooden-spoked wheels, and I have seen photos of 1917 models with wire-spoked wheels, perhaps that helps. Another question - the Chalmers Registry. I tried to send emails to the addresses on the page but they bounced back. Is this registry still active? Thanks for your help, Dave.

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Edited by Dave Gr (see edit history)
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Hi Dave,

 

Welcome to Chalmers ownership,    from the various images on the web it looks like cars upto 1915 had parallel bonnet's, 1915 and onwards had a tapered bonnet, so your idea of 1916 is a good start.

 

Do you have any more photo's ?

 

I think the Chalmers website closed after the author passed away.

 

 

Andy

 

 

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Hi Andy,

Thanks very much for your prompt reply. Very helpful. I was sorry to hear about the Chalmers Registry. I won't have good photos until the car arrives, but am including three that have been sent to me. But one thing I did see on one of the photos was some details of the car: Model No 35-D, then number 110124. On another badge: New Haven Carriage Co. Coach Builders, New Haven, Conn. No: 18107 (I think). The previous owner always maintained that is was a 1916-car. All the best, Dave

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Edited by Dave Gr (see edit history)
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Hi Dave,

I'm impressed with Your Chalmers Town Car Landaulet. According to Dave Hammonds book ," Hugh Chalmers , The Man And His Car" Dave indicated that both the "Town Car", and the "Town Car Landaulet", were produced from 1917 through 1919. It would require further investigation, using your serial number to establish the exact date.

With regard to your engine high temp paint match, that would require custom matching.

Best of luck with your restoration, and welcome to the Club.

Regards,

Bob

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Dave,

I'm including serial numbers for both the Chalmers Town Car, and the Town Car Landaulet, for the three years they were produced.

         Model        Year      Body Style                     Serial Number Range

        

          35-D          1917     Town Car                      110001---110007

           35-D          1917     Town Car Landaulet

 

 

           35-D           1918    Town Car                      110008---111000

           35-D            1918    Town Car Landaulet 

       

 

            35-D            1919   Town Car                      110008---111000

             35-D            1919   Town Car Landaulet 

 

Keep in touch.

Regards,

Bob

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Hello Bob and others, 

Thank-you so much for your support. I'm really thrilled with this car. My last car, a 1929 Chevrolet, I bought as a pyramid-shaped pile of rust and rotten wood. This car, a hundred years old, has little rust, good wood and good leather and cloth, and even good engine bearings. It looks like Dave Hammond's book is required bedside reading, although it's not readily available on eBay or amazon. It'll turn up though. I bought a reprint of the 1917 Chalmers catalogue by Regress Press (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Chalmers-1917-Quality-First-1917-Six-30-Roadster-Cabriolet-Six-30-Sedan-To-/322283960905?hash=item4b099efa49:g:WGoAAOSwbqpTySXr) in which they list the models, concluding with the town car and limousine. The town car landaulet is not mentioned - is this a synonym for the town car or limousine, but with a drop-down rear top? However, a limousine model was also mentioned in an advert in a newspaper in July, 1916, among reports of polio, pneumonia and other miseries (http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn83030430/1916-07-28/ed-1/seq-3.pdf). "Luxuriously upholstered Chalmers limousine, 1916 model, like new-----".  The number on my car, 110124, would indicate 1918 - 1919 according to the list above (if it on this list), although the previous owner maintains it is 1916. Time will tell. 

I previously asked about getting hold of motor paint from info Bob supplied, FS24201 and FS24087. It wasn't difficult thanks to google. There are places that will mix such colours for you in heat resistant paint and send them either as aerosol or liquid. 

Then there is body colour. For the extra cash of a town car or limousine you could get meteor blue, coupe green, Chalmers grey and purple lake. That last one sounds a bit dodgy, but the others - if anyone can help with a colour patch or number for them I am very grateful. Meteor blue sounds like fun. Thanks again, Dave

 

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I would keep that as a preservation vehicle.

It is a difficult line to draw. But I have always believed that cars in poor condition should be restored. Cars that still look pretty decent, should be preserved. Repair what needs to be repaired. Do what must be done to the mechanics to make or keep them reasonably reliable and safe. Clean them up, and try to make them look a little bit nice (the dirt is not factory original!). But preserve for all to see, a car that still presents itself how it was built originally.

 

I have restored several cars over the years. Most of them barely resembled a car when I began. A few other cars I have had had major original features that I helped to preserve. But, that is me. And it is your car. A beautiful one at that. Especially that interior (at least what I can see of it).

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Marvelous find , Dave ! 

             That great original centenarian limo' is aging well. Every aspect of this car exudes history and gives an irreplaceable richness to its existence. Once restored , all gone. Yes , I love restored cars , who doesn't ? But I have always (almost 70 years of fascination) , preferred original cars. The universe of ancient cars is turning ever more towards preservation of relics , some rare vehicles of your era are being preserved in lesser shape than this. The pursuit of meticulous preservation has evolved to a well supported art. I agree with Andy and Wayne. I strongly suggest that you examine this alternative prior to painting or changing anything. Find knowledgeable help to resurrect , as much as possible , the remaining paint under the filth on a rear door. Take what you learn , and continue until the entire body is all it can be. Clean and preserve. Do not paint.Get experienced help with cleaning the interior. Use liberal amounts of leather conditioner like Lexol over a good period of time. Do not sand and refinish any wood. Something like refinishing and destroying the patina on antique furniture. Cuts the market value down substantially. It is conceivable that you could invest massive time and funds , and reduce the value of this remarkable survivor. Plus , if you merely invest you time in putting the car in perfect running order , you can drive it ! With modern synthetic lubricants and gentle driving, the car could be made more reliable than new. Current originality judging prefers mechanical components which , after dismantling for service , are re-assembled without painting , plating or polishing. Just clean things. Should look as an old machine aging gracefully. If you are dead set on painting and little by little erasing the cars history and soul , just put it off for a couple of years or so. The current admonition is "they are only original once". You can't go back , and you might enjoy loving her as she is. (Peace on the home front is nurtured with this attitude towards the ladies also , but we already know that). Original cars like this one attract far more attention at shows than the trailer queens. Show it around , and live with it for a while. What do you think about this ?  - Original old relic , Carl

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Hello all, 

Thanks for the sentiments; in fact we think alike. While I want to find out everything about these cars, including original colours, I intend to keep the car original and just go over the electrical wiring and mechanicals/brakes and get it back in the road. And replace the wheel bearings - a friend of mine once had a Chevrolet that he kept original. One day on driving to a rally one of the front wheels seized and his car entered the oncoming lane and he was terribly injured - moral of story = wheels got to keep turning. The previous owner of my Chalmers was driving the car around up to the day he put it away about 50 years ago, so it may not require so very much attention. 

Thank-you to hwellens for the information on models and years. The 35-D model designation seems to place this car firmly in 1918, although as mentioned earlier the owner maintained it was 1916. Had this car been 100 years (1916) it could have been imported as an antiquity, duty free, but as a spritely 98-year-old I have to pay a heap of import duty on it - but that's life. 

That Cadillac is amazing - what a car. That model has as I remember a big V-8 engine and cost around $4000 against $3000 for the Chalmers limousine. The door handle looks identical to the one on my Chalmers. Thanks again for all your thoughts, Dave. 

dent in back and paint.jpg

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  • 2 years later...

Hi everyone, I'm currently trying to piece together the various models and styles of Chalmers cars by year. From the little I've been able to find so far once the 6 cylinder models were introduced the style seemed to remain fairly constant until the end of production. I'm trying to find a copy of the book by Dave Hammonds but with no success so far, does anyone know of one out there that's for sale.

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  • 5 months later...

Hi kiwi carman I’m guessing you are in New Zealand too. I’ve got a charmers in my garage. Maybe you can help me with some questions I have. Could you can email me jason@vfl.co.nz and we can catch up on the phone. Regards Jason (Chch).

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Hello Jason and Kiwi. 

That book does turn up occasionally. I've never seen it on Ebay, but it does make its way into various antique book shops. Just now there is one on Amazon, but at $500 it is pretty pricy. I have one, which I bought a while back so if you need info from it I can perhaps help. Another kiwi here b.t.w. - my family comes from Kawhia, but I'm not in NZ just now. About style, especially exterior style, there was a progression up through , say 1915 - 1922 so that you can often tell the year fairly readily. There isn't much of Chalmers things turn up on Ebay, but one thing that there is a lot of is photographs, and you could readily collect a few without great expense. There is also the Shorpy Collection (https://www.shorpy.com/search/node/chalmers). 

All the best, Dave

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Hi Dave, the car I bought from the States in October has finally landed in New Zealand, the day after lockdown started, and with it should be a copy of the book for that essential night time reading but with the current lockdown it's all in a storage facility in Auckland until I'm given permission to collect it. I've now got all the details of what it is, a 1917 Model 35A 5 seat tourer, it will need some work as the previous owner had died before starting the restoration/recommissioning and the car had previously been in a museum collection for a number of years before he had bought it. I'll wait until I have collected it and make an assessment of what needs doing to make it compliant for use in NZ and then decide how far I go with cosmetics as like you I like the originality of certain vehicles. I've e-mailed Jason but let me know if/when you'll be back in NZ and we should all try to meet up. Where is your car and how are you getting on with it?

cheers, Alastair Chalmers - that explains a few things :)

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A quick Hi to Racer 2, I've just read some of your other posts, particularly the one about your first race at Oulton Park in 1995 in a Sierra, I raced there regularly from 1992 until emigrating to NZ in 2015. Which series did you race in, I did HSCC and Austin Healey events in a 1959 Sebring Sprite replica from 1992 until 1996 and then raced various Caterhams, mostly in the CNC heads series, great fun with a few wins thrown in. cheers, Alastair

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Hi Alastair,

 

Small world !   I raced a Sierra XR4i 91-94, a Sapphire Cosworth 94-96 and an ex-Dick Johnson RS500 96 and 97, I did the Ford modified saloon car championship, the Lynton trailers championship which I think became the CNC heads championship, we must have been on track together at some point maybe in the Tony Sugden Skoda era ? I was the Fords champion in 97.

I went on to race at Bathurst a couple of times and did the Nurburgring 24h 5 times.

 

The Chalmers is a little more relaxing !

 

Well done for being in the most wonderful country in the world.

 

 

Andy

 

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It is indeed a very small world these days, it sounds like your racing efforts were at an enhanced level to mine, Bathurst is definitely on my wish list although due to the passage of time it's getting less likely. I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to race at most of the North western European circuits when I had the Sprite in its original 1000cc FIA guise but you did always start near the back of a mixed grid and on a good day you didn't finish quite so close to the back but you were still nowhere near the front.

 

I am intrigued about what made you decide to acquire a Chalmers, they're pretty rare even in America and getting parts seems to be a major mission although it looks like your engineering skills and having the right equipment get put to pretty good use. A fellow Rotarian here has a well equipped workshop which I have access to along with his mechanical skills which are a lot better than mine particularly on the older cars. It seems that including my car there are now 3 Chalmers cars in NZ so it'll be interesting to see them at some point.

 

Your comment about the most wonderful country suggests that you have visited here, when and where did you get to when you were here?

 

Alastair 

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Hi again Alastair. 

This may well be old news that everyone knows, but there is a Chalmers Registry where you can meet other Chalmers owners, discuss stuff (forum) and there is a buy & sell classifieds too. As of yesterday there were 27 people registered. It may be a good source of info for you. Here is the address: https://www.chalmersregistry.org

All the best, 

Dave

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Hi Dave, I have made contact with the Chalmers registry but it's not as easy to use as this forum which has given me good results. Perhaps once I've actually got the car in the garage and assessed it then the parts side of the Chalmers Registry might prove useful. Is your car in NZ? I would like to see it when you are back here. Stay safe and keep in touch, Alastair.

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Hi Alastair and all,

 

I had been looking for a brass / Edwardian era car for a while, they don't come along that often and when I saw it at Beaulieu autojumble in 2012, it was the last car at the far end of the fields,  I had to have it, it had potential, I didn't go out looking for a Chalmers, it really found me, there are 3 1913 4 cylinder and a 1912/16 6 cylinder I know of in the UK, there is also a 4 cylinder in Germany.

My brother Gareth won the Ace Vehicles "North West Sports and Saloons" back in 2000, he was in his Ford Escort Cosworth in class D, he also won the Ford Saloons and the Formula Saloons in it, he went on to drive in the Time Attack championship in various Mitsubishi Evo's with 700-1200 bhp.

 

I have been lucky enough to visit New Zealand twice, driving top to bottom was the classic trip we did, meeting lovely people, and seeing spectacular sights along the way, very envious.

 

Let us know how you go on with the Chalmers, if you have any questions about the cars quirk's just ask, we should be able to help.

 

 

Andy

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi Andy, looks like it was a very lucky car to find you, I think it has a very good home with someone who cares for and uses it unlike a huge number that end up in storage or become barn queens awaiting the start of "the project".

Thanks for reminding me that the CNC Heads championship was previously the Ace Deliveries, I think I only did one season when it was Ace sponsored but I do recognise your brother's name.

If you ever fancy a return trip to NZ, if and when this world returns to "normal", we live in Hastings in Hawkes Bay and can offer accommodation, nothing flash and there's usually a spare car or 2 knocking about that can be used. We might even try a meet with the other owners here.

I'll let you all know when I've finally collected the Chalmers from Auckland and assessed what needs doing, that'll be when the questions will start.

 

Alastair

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi all, as NZ exited strict lockdown at the end of last week it allowed me to collect my car from Auckland and I spent the weekend just looking over it to assess where the previous owner had got up to. The first job is to get it running as it has been untouched for several years and the wiring is a complete shambles with the ignition/lamp switch being seized solid, I've got it off the column but can't get the housing to separate with gentle persuasion. The ignition system needs a new lead set which is easy enough to sort but the cap and rotor could be a challenge to find, anybody got any ideas of where to start the hunt? Is there information out there about timing settings or is it a case of guesswork and finally, for the moment, how does the fuel delivery system work? I knew it would be a voyage of discovery but I hope someone can help shorten the route a bit.

cheers, Alastair

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Posted (edited)

Hello Alastair,

The fuel delivery on mine (35-D; 1918) is a Stewart Warner vacuum tank. It fits on the firewall. Mine is a model 113-R. These things turn up on Ebay regularly, although perhaps not the exact model you want. They look complex, but are easy to fix. The bottoms of the two tanks may be rusted through, though. 

Here is the repair manual: http://hudsonterraplane.com/tech/1927/StewartWarnerVacuumTank2-11-27.pdf

Here are a couple of places that sell stuff for them, although gaskets you can make yourself. The replacement springs, though, will make it work better: 

https://www.classicandexotic.com/store/c-366-stewart-warner.aspx

http://classicpreservation.com/vactankkits.html

And a place with info: https://www.allpar.com/fix/fuel/vacuum-tank-fuel-pump.html

 

I am including photos of the ignition/light switch. It was hard to get the outer cover off, because it jammed against the light selector knob, but little by little it came off. The inside workings are simple and you will see how it comes apart and has to go back together. The key is simple to make - you just have to get the depth right, and you can try it with a simple little piece of metal until you get the right ignition contact. Here is a page for that: 

 

You can look at the pics and quickly sort out the system. You stick the key into the key sleeve and it pushes a piston down, closing a spring contact, and there you are. The rest is the octopus-like selector for the lights. I cannot help with distributor parts. 

 

All the best, 

Dave

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Edited by Dave Gr (see edit history)
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Hi Dave,  thanks for all those photos and links, absolutely brilliant, it'll keep me out from under the wife's feet working through it all. It looks like your wiring and mine came from the same batch only in most cases mine doesn't actually go anywhere, all the back end has been cut off half way down the chassis and the rest is just a mess with stuff not connected and lying on the floor/under the bonnet, it was obviously an area that the previous owner hadn't got round to although it was meant to be a runner, he must have had a magic wand for it to have worked like that. Where is your car, in NZ?

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