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1000 ci Speedster Build


Chase392
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Well today is the day I finally start the thread for my Speedster build.

 

          A few months I started a thread that I was looking to buy large displacement engine for a Speedster build, this was after 2 years of on and off again looking for something fairly local to me. I was at the point where I wasn't really getting my hopes up, but luck would have it I was contacted by a forum member and a deal was stuck. A couple months later myself and my father went on 4-day, 2,000+ mile road trip to pick up my new project.

 

Getting home I was presented with my first challenge.... getting an engine off that had to be loaded with a forklift off of the trailer... with no forklift. Took a little time to figure out but I'm happy to report all went smoothly and now I can show off my lovely pile of parts.

 

The engine is a Seagrave Type F6 T-head, I'm not sure of the exact size as it varied over the years, the previous owner said it is 1064 ci. If I'm reading the casting number correctly is was made in 1929.

 

My transaxle is from an American LaFrance front drive tractor. I got a chance to examine its remains and the drive setup was quite curious.

 

I got 2 frames although one is just bare side rails. Both are supposed to be White 1.5 ton trucks, the one standing up behind the other parts is definitely a White as the logo is cast into the levers for the brakes. The complete frame is different than the stripped rails, it is squared off at the rear vs. the curved dumb irons on the loose rails. I will likely be using the complete frame for this build and saving the side rails for a rainy day ( and maybe an aero engine :) ).

 

I'm not sure what the front axle or driven axle are from but they are wide enough to accommodate and engine this large.

 

For the last year or so I've been gathering photos of period cars that like for inspiration, I'm really drawn to the early race cars and speed record cars. I've gathered pics of cars ranging from the ALCO Black Beast to the Fiat Mephistopheles and everything in between. Although build a land speed-esque car with T-head power my not be historically accurate, it seems at least from my limited research that the line of technological evolution was anything but straight at the time.

 

Questions, suggestions and critiques are welcome. I am going to try to build this car as period correct as I possibly can on normal person's budget. 

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I agree with AJ, one look at that frame and I would look around some more. I don't think boxing it in will work. Neat project. I will watch with interest, and be sure to invest in oil stocks when it gets on the road!

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You guys do realize that the same frame is likely under this beast, right?

 

     The same front axle in this pic is lying just out of view on the left in the photo I posted yesterday. I'm not planning on using it as-is, I'll be replacing all the crossmembers and plan to completely re-rivet the whole thing.

 

I think the F6 engine weighs far less than people think.... its no light weight but wouldn't be surprised to find it only weighs 1200-1300 lbs.... making only 1/3 heavier than the engine in the Blitzen Benz. Look at the frame on the Blitzen or the Fiat S76 (Beast of Turin)... they are not massive...

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How about some more engine pics :D

 

        The owner of the Seagrave Speedster on the HAMB says the engine produces 150 hp @ 1700 rpm. I have never seen this rating any place else nor do I know if 1700 rpm is redline on the engine. The 1926 operator's manual I have says the engine produces 80 hp SAE and 130 brake hp. I don't know if power was increased in later years. What I do know is that Seagrave was constantly upgrading the engine over the years as my engine has many differences from the earlier engine. My oil pan is different and the oil level float is moved to the other side of the crankcase. The crankcase is a Lynite casting... I don't know about the oil pan.

 

The previous owner was able to rock the crank back and forth slightly... the pistons aren't stuck but the valves are. I've been soaking them the best I can with PB blaster but don't know the best way to go about freeing them up. All of the valve caps are loose with the exception one that is stuck fast.

 

The engine originally had 12 plugs mounted in the center of the cylinders. Seagrave offered this engine with 12 or 18 plug ignition. With 18 plug ignition the 6 distributor fired plugs stayed in the center, but the mag fire plugs were moved to the valve caps directly over the valves. I don't know if this was more efficient or gave more power... but it certainly looks cooler. More on that later.

 

Over the engine seems to be in good shape, peaking inside the caps the engine has a lot fluffy carbon that has helped keep inside a bit oily. There is a bit of rusty fuzz but nothing heavy... not bad for an engine that hasn't run since WW2.

 

I was hoping to get lucky and have the engine run with just a disassembly and cleaning (like the gentleman on the HAMB) but I think it will be more work. I have one major roadblock..... my oil pan is cracked. Unfortunately it happened on the way home. Not sure how but it seems to start at a fitting threaded into the pan and then ends in the large round sump drain on the bottom the pan. I won't even attempt to repair this myself... going to send it out to someone who is an expert on antique aluminum. Just not sure who that is yet.

 

I picked up some steel this weekend start on a giant engine stand.

 

 

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On to the transaxle....

 

    As I said earlier my transaxle came from an American Lafrance front drive tractor. I've attached a photo of one I found on the 'net.

 

It is going to take some modification to work, as you can see the jack shafts are very short and the sprockets are mounted behind the drums. This is because of the arrangement required for the front-drive, which was a very complicated (for the time) arrangement. The sprockets drove two small axle shafts that drove the front wheels through some kind of coupling that allow some slip and a huge u-joint. I have these small shafts outer shafts as well.

 

I'm hoping I can make a new longer set of jack shafts and use the frame mounted "hubs" you see on cars like the Blitzen Benz and Fiat S76....

 

I haven't removed to the rear cover to verify, but the previous owner told me final drive ratio in the axle is 2:1 rather than the 4:1 or 5:1 you see in most other axles. This will make it much easier gear the car for speed with such a low revving engine.

 

I have the shifter, handbrake and pedals out the tractor as well. Shift linkage is going to be tricky as I will likely be sitting behind transaxle.

 

I'd really love to have a 4-speed box but the wife won't let me take a second mortgage out on the house ;)

 

 

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Edited by Chase392 (see edit history)
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Am I right in guessing that in its original form the front drive LaFrance had its engine mounted in line above the transaxle and had some sort of 'drop down' drive?  A different set up from the Christie front drives which had the engine mounted transversely.

Regarding the engine, the SAE hp is only theoretical and based on the cylinder bore.  The more common LaFrance engine is rated at 72.6 hp (bore 5 1/2")

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I think the SAE HP was always a "measured" value, although the measurement procedure and drive train location of the measurement varied by maker in the Battle of the Horsepower (mid 50s to the 80s?). The RAC or taxable HP was equal to 0.4 x (bore squared) divided by (number of cylinders). For a 5.5" bore 6 cylinder (e.g. the LaFrance engine), it comes to 72.6 hp.

 

 

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On 12/12/2016 at 0:10 AM, nzcarnerd said:

Am I right in guessing that in its original form the front drive LaFrance had its engine mounted in line above the transaxle and had some sort of 'drop down' drive?  A different set up from the Christie front drives which had the engine mounted transversely.

 

I believe the transaxle was mounted behind the engine just like one would expect in a conventional fire truck. The shift linkage seems to confirm this. I think the small "half-shafts" may have been mounted lower in the chassis. There was not much left of the tractor when I saw it.... little more than a rusty frame and two large wheels out in the weeds.

 

I have attached a picture of the small half-shafts.

 

 

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I'd like to see a close-up of the driven axle you plan to use. Also wondering how that '29 front drive ladder truck even steered, how the "jack shafts" were mounted and things like that; even with the picture of the complete rig it seems a mystery.

Related imageRelated image

 

La France Speedster  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Deysp2vYM4U

 

Edited by mike6024 (see edit history)
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Here is pic of my driven axle,

 

     IIRC the previous owner said somebody was using it under a trailer. The control arms were huge mangled turnbuckles that looked very homemade... and as you can see it is missing the backing plates for the drums.... but all of the brake hardware appears to be there. The drums are about 12" in diameter and sprocket is riveted to the drum instead being made as part of the drum.

 

 

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Ovalrace25 thank you for posting the pic.

 

    I'm a trying to gather as many pics as I can on chain driven axles as I can to help figure out the best way to tackle my rear suspension. I've tried in vain to get some good shots of the rear suspension on the Blitzen Benz or Fiat S76, and most of the shots are just not clear enough to get a good idea what it going on back there. It does appear that Fiat preferred a drop driven axle vs. the straight driven axle in the Benz. Since I have a straight axle, I'll have to arch the rear frame (like the Benz) to level the car back out. I believe I'm going to have to lengthen the frame anyway to accommodate the transaxle. Right now the wheelbase is roughly 126 inches. 

 

Switching gears for a post or two, I thought I'd post some pics of a few of the pretty pieces I've been collecting. Finding period "performance" gauges is a bit tough while trying to maintain a sane budget. Needless to say the $10,000 Jones 100 mph speedo on eBay will not be coming home with me ;).

 

I did however find a Stewart Magnetic Type Speedo that goes up to 80 mph, from what I have researched it is probably from the early teens. I also found a slightly later but almost identical Stewart-Warner 1800 rpm tachometer. The two gauges are the some size, same font and have the same bezels (although all the plating is polished off the the tach). Not sure how I'm going to run the tach, I thought my distributor had a tach drive but I think it is actually a grease cup. I found a neat push-button magneto switch, I hope I can use it for this application, since my engine has dual ignition (distributor and magneto). I believe the starter switch is out a tractor but I need one that was 12 volts and it at least looks old. I'm not too sure of the vintage of temp gauge but "Moto-Barometer" sounds very old, the ammeter is a Weston. I wanted to try to find all matching black faced gauges, but the temp gauge was just too neat to pass up. I've noticed that many of the early race cars do not have matching gauges, they just used what ever they had on hand.

 

I still need to find an air pressure gauge, an oil sight glass "gauge" and figure out a fuel gauge because at 3-4 mpg (if I'm lucky) I don't want to be guessing.

 

The pump you see in the pics is the one I'm hoping to use for a reserve oil tank, still searching for suitable hand pumps for fuel pressure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Modifying your front drive transaxle will probably end up being a lot of trouble. I would look for a trans. from a conventional drive truck where the width across the drive sprockets is roughly the same as on your drive axle.  It would take a lot of engineering and fabrication time to modify your existing set up . There must be a few chain drive transmissions needing a home out there.

 

Greg in Canada

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What size chain is that, or would it require? Is it size 60 maybe? Or larger?

 

Size 60 chain has sprocket width 0.5 inch or 1/2 inch inside dimension for the links. And 0.75 inch pitch (distance between pins). I am wondering if new size 60 sprockets and chain would work with what you have.

 

You could make a new long jack-shaft that spans the entire width of the frame, with 4 sprockets on it, to interface between the transaxle and the rear axle. The transaxle sprockets would connect to the inside pair of sprockets on the jackshaft. Then the outermost pair of sprockets on the jackshaft would connect to the rear axle.

 

Chain specs - http://www.ocm.co.jp/en/pro/roller/03_01_07.pdf

 

Easily available new sprockets, chain, and shafts - http://www.mcmaster.com/#roller-chain-sprockets/=15idcvm

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11 hours ago, 1912Staver said:

 There must be a few chain drive transmissions needing a home out there.

 

 

Anything Brass or Nickel era is rare as hen's teeth in my neck of the woods....

 

My plan is to replace the jack-shafts in the transaxle with longer ones and eliminate the second set and extra spockets. I don't know exactly what they look inside the differential but if they are anything like modern axles they shouldn't bee too difficult to fabricate. The fancy 4-speed boxes in most of the period race cars simply have the shafts running out of the box exposed until they reach the outer "hub" bolted to the side rails of the frame. The shafts pass through the inboard drum (which is keyed to the shaft). I think I can replicate something similar.... that is of course unless somebody has a 4-speed transaxle just lying around ;)

 

 

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9 hours ago, mike6024 said:

What size chain is that, or would it require? Is it size 60 maybe? Or larger?

 

 

I haven't had a chance to measure it yet. But I've always intended to cut new drive sprockets as mine are too small for a proper final drive ratio. Since my rear sprockets are only riveted on the drums, I have no problem making a complete set of new sprockets to take advantage of a modern, easily sourced chain.

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Mike, there is a flaw in what would look to be a simple solution using a jackshaft. The diff. is in the trans. housing so a one piece jackshaft effectively locks the rear wheels together. The jackshaft needs to be split and have the ability for each half to revolve at different speeds. Not impossible but still quite a bit of engineering. The correct width trans. simplifies things quite a bit. A bit of a mismatch can be corrected by moving the drive sprockets in or out a bit, but the several inches a side the existing parts need is a much more complex situation.

 

Greg in Canada

 

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11 hours ago, 1912Staver said:

Mike, there is a flaw in what would look to be a simple solution using a jackshaft. The diff. is in the trans. housing so a one piece jackshaft effectively locks the rear wheels together. 

 

 

I also lack the available room in the chassis.

 

My transaxle is huge and with the drums it is nearly the width of the available space in the frame. I need to add a crossmember to the frame in front of and behind the transaxle to mount it. Then add shift rods, brake rods, clutch linkage, etc.... its going to get crowded quick...

 

I'm already going to have to lengthen the frame by at least a foot.... but I'm trying to limit car's size as much as possible to preserve the proportions I want.

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Thought I'd post a pic of my steering wheel and steering box.

 

I have no idea what the wheel came out of but it is nice shape just about the right size for (hopefully) reasonable steering effort without being so large my 6 ft self can't slide under it. The rim is not wood... I think it is some kind of Bakelite and is in decent shape except for a couple small hairline cracks. I'm probably going to wrap the rim in cord for more grip.

 

The previous owner said the steering column and box is from a RHD White, I haven't cleaned it up yet to check for markings. Fortunately the bracket that bolts to the floor is removable I can adjust the angle of the column.

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Here is a pic of my carb.

 

     It is a Schebler SX 410 that is correct for the engine. Its a 2" bore but with 1000+ cubic inches I have a feeling this engine was under-carbed. Given the fact that both my intake and exhaust manifolds are broken, I will be fabricating new ones. That will likely be the extent of my "hot-rodding" of the engine. I don't want to go crazy as parts for this engine are almost impossible to find.

 

I'm wanting to build a multi-carb setup but I haven't decided if I going to find another matching SX 410 or source different carbs altogether... I don't know if this is one of the Scheblers that only stops leaking fuel when it is empty.

 

I'm going to build nice period header and exhaust system but I will also build a set of exhaust stubs that will just peak out of the hood so I can swap back and forth depending on my mood and whether or not I want to shoot fire out of the exhaust B)

 

My neighbors and their endless stream of golf carts are going to love me....

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Edited by Chase392 (see edit history)
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Only a guess but you will probably find that because the engine turns so slowly (1500 rpm max?) that this carb will supply enough air flow. I know that our Studebaker at 248 cubes (a quarter the size of your engine), and max revs of less than 3000, seems to be satisfied with a venturi size of less than 1".

 

I would think that the engine will not be working very hard once it is pulling only a light speedster body. Quite different from the demands of; a -  pulling a fire truck that maybe weighs around six tons, and b - of continuous pumping at a fire.

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3 hours ago, nzcarnerd said:

Only a guess but you will probably find that because the engine turns so slowly (1500 rpm max?) that this carb will supply enough air flow. I know that our Studebaker at 248 cubes (a quarter the size of your engine), and max revs of less than 3000, seems to be satisfied with a venturi size of less than 1".

 

I would think that the engine will not be working very hard once it is pulling only a light speedster body. Quite different from the demands of; a -  pulling a fire truck that maybe weighs around six tons, and b - of continuous pumping at a fire.

 

Heck I'm not even sure of the redline on the engine. The gentleman on the HAMB that built the Seagrave Speedster said 1700 rpm, then 1500 rpm, then 1000 rpm... my Seagrave operator's manual gives no specs. The trucks had no tachometers, so all I can guess is they revved them until they scattered or that piloting the lumbering monsters at speed became terrifying before the engines reached their limits.

 

Multiple carbs just add to the look. I don't have much solid info to go on. I've held the carb for a Fiat A.12 bis aero engine in my hands (the engine in Jay Leno's car) and it is massive for an engine that is only 20% larger. The Fiat Mephistopheles had 4 Solex carbs on the same engine.

 

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Looks like your off to a great start!

 

That carb size seems to be typical - My Wisconsin which is 1,090 cubic inches feeds from a single Stromberg M4 and under a full load

will burn through approximately 8 gallons of fuel per hour. Remember that these big engines are all about torque as opposed to horsepower.

Mine is rated at 104 hp at only 1,000 rpm but at  that speed its twisting out almost 600 ft lbs of torque.

 

I had to fabricate a new intake manifold for mine as well - though my goal was to copy the original which was built up from bronze castings and

brass tubing. For that I had to learn how to make patterns and core boxes. Below are some photos including an original manifold I used as the go-by.

 

Also shown are the exhaust stubs (one with pipe and heater box. In the background is a original one piece exhaust manifold. Because the cylinders

are so far apart and the resulting uneven heat (it was operated in very cold temp's) its cracked and been repaired numerous times.

 

Best regards,

 

Terry

 

 

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While I like the idea of wire wheels but if they prove an insurmountable problem you may want to consider something like this...

 

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These were made for an ALF speedster quite a few years ago. The man who made them, made a pattern for 3 spokes and the felloe, Each wheel takes 4 castings and, of course, the patterns for the front wheels are slightly different because they don't have the widened bosses for the bolts that attach the wheel to the brake drum. The major problem is that the surfaces where the castings meet must be very precisely machined and you'll need a lathe with a huge swing to turn the outside diameter. They were turned slightly oversize, the rims shrunk on and then the fellos were attached to the rim with flat head cap screws from the inside. There were also cast aluminum spike wheels made in Rochester NY in the late teens. If you search on Pierce Arrow on "The Old Motor" website, there is a picture of a big Pierce with them maybe c.1916 (I forget the date and don't know when they were first offered). I met the man who made these back in the 70s. He made them from melted down Corvair crankcases and put together a home-made turning fixture for the ODs. It's not a simple job, but may be more readily doable than making hubs and hub nuts if you can't find something big enough to work with your chassis.

 

I like your project… I'd have been strongly tempted by it myself if it had been offered to me. You might also want to look for P.M. Heldt's "Gasoline Automobiles"… a two-volume engineering textbook on automobile engineering first published in 1911. Most of the potential problems that edinmass mentions are discussed as it was an engineering textbook for automobile designers. I have the 1911 edition but it was published regularly through the 20s and I'd think that one from the teens would answer a lot of questions.

 

Joe Puleo

Edited by JV Puleo
better grammar (see edit history)
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On 12/20/2016 at 8:41 PM, mike6024 said:

[IMG]

'27 ALF rear drive transaxle.

 

Mike6024, is that you ALF?

 

If so, could I trouble you for some clear photos of the trailing arms, how they attach to the frame and what the backing plates look like on your rig? I'm going to have to engineer and build a set of trailing arms for my car and for the life of me I cannot find a good clear pic of the rear suspension of the one of the big chain driven speed record cars...

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Ok, back to the axles.

 

   Edinmass and Gary Ash brought up some good points about my suspension in my wheel thread so I want to get that conversation back over in my build thread.... not only for my benefit but for anybody else in the future who stumbles upon this thread.

 

Here are some pics of my front axle (yes it is upside down in the pic).

 

The axle is 38" wide between the spring perches, measured from the small flat on the outside of each perch. It is 50" between centers on the bottom of the kingpins. It is a 3" tall I-beam, I haven't tried to measure it but I does have a fair bit of positive camber that you see on most of these old axles.

 

I don't see any markings on it. But if anybody has a clue what it came from it would be great help.

 

 

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My spindles and front hubs,

 

       The previous owner said these are from my front axle, I included a tape measure to get some idea of scale. I need to figure out where to measure to get an idea of bearing sizes as I only have one remaining inner bearing. The steering arm is removable and it appears that it can be swapped side to side for LHD or RHD. I have the center link from the axle as well.

 

I've also added a close up pic of the spindle that concerns me.... it is badly scored. Probably fine for something with a 25-30 mph top speed.... but I think it probably needs to be replaced in a car that will be able to hold highway speed.

 

I can't add much about the hubs yet... I haven't looked them over too much as they are for wooden wheels.... but they are huge and heavy.

 

 

 

 

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My driven axle,

 

      Like my front axle, I have no idea what vehicle this axle was removed from. I've added the best pic that I can get of the center cap.... maybe somebody recognizes it?

 

The axle is a 2.5" tall, 2" wide solid beam, and it is 52" to the outside edge of each drive spocket. The trailing arms are mangled and look homemade, the backing plates are missing on the drums and the brake levers look pretty crude as well.

 

 

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I'm not even sure what you mean by trailing arms. There are two projects pictured in this thread with some pics that may help. Note one of these builds the fellow turned the leaf springs upside down.

 

http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/threads/1927-american-lafrance-speedster-project-begins.701856/

 

[IMG]

 

 

Edited by mike6024 (see edit history)
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mike6024,

 

     The trailing arms (not sure if that is the proper term) locate the driven axle to the frame and keep from moving front to back (as the springs have shackles on both ends). The are often adjustable but I'm not sure why. I've actually spoken to the gentleman who owned the ALF in the bottom pics you posted (he is local), he no longer has that project.

 

I may need to give him a ring, he knows quite a few people in the area who are firetruck collectors. 

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Bringing some info from my other thread concerning my frame.

 

    Here is some info on my frame that I will likely be using, it is the one propped up against the wall. It is definitely a White as the logo is cast in all of the brake levers. If anybody can provide some more specific model info I would be grateful.

 

The side rails are just over 3/16" of an inch thick and a hair over 5" high at the at the tallest point. Best guess on wheelbase ( no springs mounted ) is 126" and the frame is just under 16 feet long. The previous owner said White used nickel steel to build their frames.

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