MWilson

1920 Dodge Brothers Touring

Recommended Posts

Hello All....I recently acquired this totally original and unrestored 1920 Dodge Brothers Touring from the estate of a family friend who passed away a few months ago.  He had purchased it around 1957 from the original purchaser, so I'm the 3rd owner.  It was last driven around 10 years ago and ran fine.  I haven't tried to start it yet, because I wanted to get some information before I give it a go (I'm not familiar with these cars...).

 

A few questions I have:

1) Positive or negative ground? (I'm aware it's 12 volt)

2)  The gas tank is in the back, but I heard there's also a vacuum tank that needs fuel for it to start?

3) Any advice on where to set the spark advance?

4) As far as I can tell, and from conversation with the previous owner, the top has NEVER been down on this car (and there are no bracket's at the rear for holding the top, but the holes are present).  The top feels pliable, but I'm concerned about damaging it if I tried to lower it (I would love to have the top in working order).  Any advice?

 

Thanks!

20DB.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What a NICE car! Sounds like you might need an "Book of Information" for the car which will tell you a LOT about it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First may I say you have a wonderful time warp car.  There will be a lot of envious guys reading this.  I am surprised this historically important vehicle has not been snapped up by a museum.  Needless to say you will appreciate it's originality..

 

1) It will be positive ground.   As you correctly say the electrics are 12 volt.  Dodge Brothers were early pioneers with 12 volts and the car is fitted with a chain driven starter/generator unit which gives silent starting and was an advanced feature in it's day.

 

2)You will find the vacuum pump under the hood.  It is probably bolted to the cylinder head.  This tank is what many cars used as a petrol pump and works by sucking fuel from the tank an the back of the car by means of a vacuum created by the induction of the engine taken from the inlet manifold to which the carb is bolted.  The carb is supplied from the tank by gravity feed .The vacuum tank in your car is possibly by  Stewart Warner.  There is some useful information posted recently on this forum.

 

3)When you eventually start the car you should set the advance/retard lever fully retarded.  As a safety precaution, always set the ignition to "retard"  (that is with the lever on the steering wheel in the down position)  if you need to use the crank handle.  Failure to observe this procedure could result in a kick back and potentially a broken wrist.

 

4)Leave the top until you have heard from 'Trimacar' on this forum.  He is a professional trimer with a lot of experience with this type of top.  

 

My car is later (1926) but  there are many similarities.  My advice would be to change the engine oil with SAE straight 30  before trying to start the engine. Don't use synthetic detergent oil on the engine until it has been cleaned out or it will lift huge quantities of silt and carry it to the bearings.  There is no drain plug so you will need to disconnect a pipe to the oil pump.  Withdrawing the filter may give you an idea if the pan is full of silt.  These engines have a splash feed (non pressurised) oil system. There is no "dip" stick instead there is a rod with a float attached which moves in a hole in the block.   

 

You are a very, very luck chap to land this car.  All I can suggest is you acquire a mechanics workshop manual and a copy of "The book of Information" for your year.  Spares and literature are available from Myers Early Parts and Romar.

 

I am almost as excited about your car as if I had found it myself!! 

 

Ask any questions you like.

 

Ray.

Edited by R.White
minor change (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

MWilson, before you receive more bad information do as John Keiser suggested and get a copy of the Book of Information for your car. It MAY be under your seat as many were kept there. If not go to the Dodge Brothers Club website and determine by your serial number what month your car was built. Then look at the list of Books of Information and determine which Book you need. You want the one printed RIGHT before your car was produced for it to be most accurate for your car DB did not have once a year changes, if a new better part or system was found it was put into use. The Books listed on the DB site are owned by the DB club and kept at the AACA library. You can obtain a copy by emailing or calling the Book edition number to them. They will mail it to you for a small charge. Looks like a very good complete car. Become familiar with the car through the Book of Information, which is the owner's manual,  before attempting to start it.  I wish you luck and many years of pleasure with it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nearchoc. If you think I have given bad information then  say what you mean.     

Edited by R.White (see edit history)
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, R.White said:

4)Leave the top until you have heard from 'Trimacar' on this forum.  He is a professional trimer with a lot of experience with this type of top.  

Well, first of all, you need to find a set of the saddles that go in the holes in the rear quarters, to be able to put the top down correctly.  Just resting it on the spare tire will do more harm than good.

 

If it were mine, I'd give the top a good cleaning before putting it down, it appears to be a vinyl type material so water shouldn't hurt it (and it should be water proof anyway.

 

That is not the original top, so it's not like you're trying to save history, just go carefully to save what's there.

 

Once it's cleaned and you have something to rest the top on when down, undo the front latches and gently, with a helper, start folding top.  If it's too brittle to fold you'll know it soon enough.  Carefully fold and put down, making sure not to pinch the top material or pads between the irons.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Best to let the car sit out in the sun and let the top warm up prior to lowering it. If it is cold, it will be VERY brittle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Nearchoc. If you think I have given bad information then have the balls to say what you mean."

 

Yeah, Nearchoc, I was wondering about that, too.  Why don't you specify what part of the foregoing information was "bad"?     

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Appreciate everyone’s thoughts. Trimacar, Curious how you know it’s not the original top?  I figured it was, looks very original to me.

9F28998F-0E10-4B86-A025-3E879FCF2BC6.jpeg

70597208-3893-4BBE-B288-EA6F053174E5.jpeg

5CA66472-9223-4D07-9FD7-B3926FDFCC7B.jpeg

F32B9EBB-1E8B-46BF-A7E5-90A256FCB7CF.jpeg

E4AC8B52-245B-4F39-8DA3-F12BF4556EBB.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, nearchoclatetown said:

MWilson, before you receive more bad information 

 

WHAT bad information?...... :angry:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As far as the top goes, I see the "cathedral windows" on the rear of the 1919s in my books and on a 1921 they are rectangular. Anyone know if 1920 had the cathedral windows? This one says it's a 1920....

1920 DB.jpg

Edited by keiser31 (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DB went to the rectangular rear window on touring cars and roadsters in May of 1921, keiser31: May 13 for the touring and May 17 for the roadster.

 

MWilson, those top rests might be somewhat difficult to locate because (1) they tend to be rare because they were optional extras, so not all cars had them; and (2) the touring car's top design changed about 6 times between the beginning of production in 1914 and the time your car was built, and when the top design changed the top rest design changed, too.  You've got to have exactly the right top rests or else the top either won't enter the top rest at all, or it won't sit correctly therein.  If you'd give me the serial number of your car, I'll give you the parts numbers for the right and left top rests that you need.  This information appears at page 334 of the DB Master Parts List book.

 

Edited by 22touring (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love the old top.  It has oodles of character.  I am also fascinated by the return at the front and the way that it is fastened up.  Is it supposed to hang down when the car is parked in direct sunlight to protect the interior?  I notice your car has  period dampers fitted.  I assume these to be an after market extra but I am not well up on these early cars enough to be sure.  Interestingly, your car has no scuttle side lights so I presume it to be a standard model but again I don't know if the early cars had any. The head lights look original to me.  I wonder if they were originally nickel plated and the plating has worn off over time exposing the brass.?    This really is a little gem.  It would be great to see photos under the hood.  Say, taken from both sides.  

Edited by R.White (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The far shot did not lead me to think it was original.  Also, I was under the impression the cathedral rear windows were factory further up into the twenties.

 

Your close up pictures make it look more like an original, or at least, a very good copy of an original, as the light color inside is correct.

 

what makes it so hard these days, let's say the top was replaced in 1955 with original style materials.  Now you'd have a 60 year old top that would look like your impression of an original top.

 

yours could be original....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really didn't feel like arguing when a new owner is looking for information. Just thought it best for him to read for himself and get the straight scoop.  There are volumes of information in the Books of Information if used correctly and answers many questions rather the relying on well meaning internet info.   But if you ask, according to what I read positive ground started in '22 after the horn button moved from the door to the steering wheel. It was done for corrosion prevention. The only way it would have a magneto was if it were a foreign car, maybe Australia,  most likely RHD, which it isn't. It definitely isn't the correct top, like Trimacar said. Not the correct material and should still be cathedral windows. I personally would not put it down unless I was prepared to replace it as it will probably tear. It also looks like the interior was redone at some point, most likely in vinyl but should have button tufted for sure. With both items done at some time it MAY have been painted, but at least it is the correct color. It even appears as it has blue wheels, which is also correct. This is NOT to degrade the car, it looks great JUST the way it is. I would be very proud to own and drive it just like it is. Deluxe cars did not exist in '20 so it would not have cowl lights either. If I am wrong I apologize, but I think I am right.

Edited by nearchoclatetown (see edit history)
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It does look like a very nice find!  You may want to take a good look in the gas tank with a strong light before pouring gas in there.  If any gas was left in it from 10 years ago it could be a mess and should be cleaned out (best to remove tank to do this).  If not, then someone did you a favor and drained it before storing the car.  After you change oil and want to try and start it, you will want to prime the vacuum tank first.  There may be a removable plug in the top of the vacuum tank (in center), removing plug and pouring a cup of gasoline in the tank (if no plug you'll have to remove fuel inlet fitting and pour in there).  The gas gravity feeds  from the vacuum tank to carb (there should be a shut off valve at bottom of vacuum tank that will need to be opened too).  The rest of the starting procedure is in the Book of Information but it basically involves setting spark to full retard, pulling out choke, adjusting idle speed lever and turning on ignition.  The starter button is on the floor.   Good luck!

Edited by MikeC5 (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The source for my foregoing statement that cathedral windows were abandoned in May of 1921 is the handwritten production notes of Frederick Haynes, John Dodge's production assistant at the time, from the Chrysler Historical Collection.

 

Edit: Oops, I goofed! It would have been rather difficult for Haynes to have been John Dodge's production assistant in 1921, wouldn't it, since John died in 1920!  I believe Haynes was promoted to factory superintendent after the brothers' deaths.

Edited by 22touring (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are correct, cathedral windows left in late '21. Haynes was named President in Jan. '21. As I said the owner should do some research in correct locations, starting with a Book of Information. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Appreciate everyone’s thoughts, I will try and upload some more detailed pictures tomorrow. I’m located in Ontario Canada, and as far as I know the car was purchased at a dealership here. Would the Canadian aspect have anything to do with any of the inconsistencies that have been pointed out?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It shouldn't  effect things. You may want to look at the production chart on the DBC website to make sure when your car was built. That could change a lot of things. Pictures would help, both sides of the engine compartment for sure. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

M Wilson.  The point about the car having possibly been revived at some time in the past is well made.  The pleated upholstery is indeed telling.  I stand corrected about the polarity but nothing should be taken for granted after all these years and only an investigation of the wiring can be relied on.  I did in fact edit out my error regarding a magneto. An easy mistake as virtually all our cars of this period were so equipped.  Bearing in mind your location, I would look closely at the engine to see if there are any cracks.  Frost damage to these old iron castings is surprisingly common.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many DB owners in America are ignorant of the fact that DB cars that were exported to Australia and other countries were Magneto equipt I know where you are coming from Ray

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really scratching my head as to how this could not be the original interior.  If it was replaced, it would have to be during the 1920's...and what would have necessitated that?  This interior is in decent shape given the age, but has all the right wear. The original purchaser was a bachelor who lived with his mother, so it's not like he had a bunch of kids ripping up the upholstery.

Interior-1.JPG

Interior-2.JPG

Interior-3.JPG

Interior-4.JPG

Interior-5.JPG

Interior-6.JPG

Interior-7.JPG

Interior-8.JPG

Interior-9.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now