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Vanderbilt Cup 1908 winner Old 16 information


DFeeney
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Hello I am new to the Locomobile world. My next project is to build a Vanderbilt  Cup type  racer out of period parts.  I am using Old 16 as a  Standard.  Would someone be kind enough to tell me how wide the frame is on a 1907/08 Locomobile. I am guessing somewhere around 40".  Also how wide and tall is the Radiator shell. Are any front Axle parts for sale?  Thanks in advance  for your  help.  Don Feeney in central  Ohio.

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Hello Alan,  I was wondering about your age and location.  I do have some extra Studebaker disc wheels.  They take 33 x 5 tires and have a very large bolt pattern.   They have 6 lugs and about a 7" bolt circle.  Keep a eye out for me on a early chassis.  thanks,  Don Feeney

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Good Morning Don,  Have you read through the chat located at the bottom of the Locomobile section?  There is a nice write up on Locomobile 16 and also some information about a surviving Locomobile that is the same Model as what I am currently restoring.  I will send you another PM.  Are you in the path of the huge snow storm heading for the east coast?

Al

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  • 2 years later...

Hello Fellow Early Race car and Locomobile enthusiasts.  I have had a question asked me, if I know, of surety, the real mechanical status of Old 16, the Locomobile race car Holy Grail of all, now on exhibition at the Henry Ford Museum.  I have heard that the mechanics may not be sound enough to allow this charmed piece of Locomobile Americana to ever run again.  I hope that the mentioned "rumor" is just that rumor!  Do any of you Locomobile fellows and early race car guys, who have experience and knowledge, please share here.  There are more than a few of us that would sure like to be present when Old 16 has fire in the hole again!.......if possible.  Please share any thoughts or personal experiences with Old 16 either from the past or present, including the Peter Helck time.

Al 

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It has a crack in one of the cylinders...........I offered them help to fix it and the exact words were.........we don’t plan on ever running it again. That was about six years ago.

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Hello Ed and others, Do you have a "feel" for the emotion and reality of the statement you shared from your conversation with the HFM?  I, being a Locomobile and early race car enthusiast, am scratching my head on why the HFM would not consider it important to keep Old 16 in running condition.  In my thinking, Old 16 will fall more and more into obscurity to the next generations, if it is not shown in the open air and actually run and driven on occasion.  It is very impressive that a sister competitor, the Alco "Black Beast", is still actively shown, driven and utilized in the public.  I have friends, on the other side of the pond who wonder why we Americans are so taken with museums and museum queen automobiles that are never driven.  They, generally, tend to keep automobiles, of equal caliber as Old 16, out for more folks to see and appreciate.  I do think that it helps to invigorate the passion we have for these rolling pieces of automobile antiquities keeping our "hobby" healthy. Your thoughts please....

Al

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They don't plan on ever running it again, because...."it's too valuable." 

 

Remember people running the museum are NOT car people, and not lovers of history.

 

 

They are in it for the paycheck.......remember when the museum and village was free to enter? Now it's 75 bucks............so much for Crazy Henry's dream....look how screwed up the foundation is.....its pathetic. 

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As Ed mentions the car is now located in a place where the curators do not seem to be car enthusiasts , it is treated as an artifact , to be preserved but not used. Kind of like having a Stradivarius violin and never hearing it play.  I can understand the importance of preservation wholeheartedly , but the equally as important NY to Paris Thomas Flyer gets driven, pre 1905 cars get driven on the London to Brighton run every year. Get the car to a respected restorer and have the engine repaired . That car has  wheels it needs to go down the road, it would be history in motion.

For decades a car club on Long Island where the Vanderbilt Cup races were held celebrated the different anniversary years with a run and dinner. That event I helped organize  along with Austin Clark and a committee of enthusiasts . The one in 1988 for the 80th anniversary of the 1908 race saw Old 16 attend - thanks to Jerry Helck. Over 100 cars were there to celebrate that and the the newest was a 1938 Packard. I had the privilege of a brief ride in the Locomobile. I arranged to have the route of the original race ( as much as possible) blocked off by the county police so that the cars attending could rerun that race ( at a reasonable speed of course - sort of, maybe) with out slowing down for red lights. . Joe Puleo was there too coming down from New England.

I have shared this photo before I believe - "the" car with Jerry Helck at the wheel and me in the mechanics seat.

On the tour I followed Jerry driving the racer in my 1931 Franklin - going under a road overpass you could see the flames coming out the exhaust pipes that ended just outside the hood.

 1988old16002.jpg

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Walt, Thanks for being willing to share your picture!  I can only dream about such a ride!  When I was at the HF last, I simply was mesmerized with the Locomobile Old 16. Several other notables come in right behind my dream ride in Old 16.  These other dreams include the Alco Black Beast, Marmon Wasp, Mercer Raceabout and of course a Stutz Bearcat.  No one can take away your dreams......

Does anyone else have personal pictures with or around Locomobile Old 16 or even better any live video clips?

Al

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Al, Peter Helck would drive Old 16 down to the annual pre 1942 car show in Ridgefield , Ct. that I have mentioned here before. You could hear the car coming when it was half a mile away! that is the truth.

I am fortunate to have experienced some cars you mention. Austin Clark and I would usually take his type 35 Mercer raceabout out for a ride when I was out at the museum he owned in Southampton, NY tat the eastern end of long island.  Interesting to have him give a thumbs up as he drove and I clung on to let me know we had reached 100 mph ( confirmed by the local police close to Sag Harbor who had a radar gun out at the time - yes we got stopped) , a good friend owns the Alco Black Beast and lives about 12 miles NE of me.

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I enjoy the efforts that Howard Kroplick puts into his website to keep the Vanderbilt Cup Race alive.  I would like to meet him sometime and see in person the location of the original Vanderbilt Cup race coarse.

Al

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Railroad bridge across NY State Route 25, Jericho Turnpike ( once called the Jericho Road) looking east . Location is the Inc. Village of Floral Park  at the west end of the village. The bridge was taken down when Rt. 25 was widened in the early 1960s. the road to the right where the rail road tracks were is now a paved parking lot and the embankments that were at each end of the bridge were removed. This was part of the route for the Vanderbilt Cup Races. ( I have been the appointed historian for the Inc. Village of Floral Park for nearly a quarter of a century)

The other photo is taken further east along the route , still on Jericho Turnpike, Rt. 25. probably in the Hicksville, NY area.  Dirt roads that were oiled to keep down the dust.

VANDERBILTrace1904FP001.jpg

OLD16grandstand.jpg

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To find those answers you need to look in period magazines of the era to get the reports of what may have taken place and been timed and reported. Those questions will take some time to look up and is research , plus the availability of the periodicals. I believe Howard Kroplick wrote a book or two ( by Arcadia) as did Al Velocci on the subject .  Do you have those books?

The forums are helpful but not an encyclopedia.

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On 1/20/2022 at 6:05 PM, Walt G said:

As Ed mentions the car is now located in a place where the curators do not seem to be car enthusiasts , it is treated as an artifact , to be preserved but not used. Kind of like having a Stradivarius violin and never hearing it play.  I can understand the importance of preservation wholeheartedly , but the equally as important NY to Paris Thomas Flyer gets driven, pre 1905 cars get driven on the London to Brighton run every year. Get the car to a respected restorer and have the engine repaired . That car has  wheels it needs to go down the road, it would be history in motion.

Walt,

I agree. Seeing, hearing, smelling and indeed feeling an artifact in motion and doing what it was designed to do - be it a  car, plane, locomotive or what have you is an amazing educational experience that one never forgets.  To this day I can still recall the sights sounds and smells of the very first steam locomotive I saw in action. As a 10 year old boy you can only imagine the thrill of being invited up into the cab and offered a chance to pitch a few shovel loads of coal into that cavernous firebox.

 

Likewise I see it every time I volunteer at the museum and demonstrate a piece of machinery - be it a 3hp Fairbanks-Morse engine, the water powered sawmill or the log haulers etc. Its also why I choose to drive 2-1/2 hours to volunteer at a "living history" museum rather than the 40 miles to a static museum that has pretty much the similar artifacts. Will things break and need repair and replacement in spite of careful use? - yup! As long as the individual or organization is dedicated to performing period correct repairs as opposed to modern "improvements" than I have no problem with that. Unfortunately people with the interests and skills to maintain and perform correct repairs are becoming rather rare. 

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Hello Walt, I am totally pressed with how close these forums come to being an encyclopedia of information.  I do not have either of the books you have referred to regarding early Vanderbilt Cup Races.  In your humble thinking, which of the two books referenced would be the best read for an enthusiast that lives far away from NY, Long Island and the New England area?

Al

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Peter Helck's book the Checkered Flag may not be that easy to come by - look on e bay. The Arcadia books are available in Barnes & Noble or can be ordered by them for you. Or Google Arcadia publishers and order by mail. They are not that expensive are soft cover , both are photo based history books, Arcadia is known for getting authors who know the subject to do a history and all are photo based using period images. They mostly do local area history books - I have done one in that regard for them as a state historian for the area I reside in.

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Hello, You should find a copy of the magazine Antique Motor News February 1977. Can’t find my copy but one is sale on EBay. Great story and includes drawing made by a model company to create models for sale. 40” too wide.

Good luck.

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5 minutes ago, prewarnut said:

How did Old 16 wind up at the Henry Ford anyhow? Was she donated or did the institution bid/buy her? Or is it a long-term loan? (I'm not sure if I have the pronouns correct - it is a manly vehicle....)


 

I think Peter donated the car with the provisions that it be used and shown. Which it was fairly active till the failure. I think it was just a convenient excuse. Peter’s grand son recently died from Covid if I am not mistaken.......he runs the website dedicated to his grandfather. I’m guessing it will now fade away.

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This is a similar story to the famous Ab Jenkins land speed car the Mormon Meteor.  The Mormon Meteor was on loan and on display at the Utah State Capital, for years,  until they forgot how to take care of it which was one of the original loan provisions.  After a fairly good sized legal argument, Ab's son Marv was able to take back possession of the Mormon Meteor, restore it and show it to the public once again.  In my humble thinking, the Henry Ford should do some very critical thinking on the subject of the future and fate of Old 16 and its role to the American public.

Al

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On 1/25/2022 at 6:17 AM, edinmass said:


 

I think Peter donated the car with the provisions that it be used and shown. Which it was fairly active till the failure. I think it was just a convenient excuse. Peter’s grand son recently died from Covid if I am not mistaken.......he runs the website dedicated to his grandfather. I’m guessing it will now fade away.

This is on the Dragone sold site.23C2B1B9-BE55-41EF-9215-1302C7F226E3.jpeg.8cf0e8eb65bde0fbf55a8a5e2777432a.jpeg

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There’s remnants of another similar car in Connecticut........not sure of the entire story, it’s been under restoration/construction for twenty years or more.........

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 2/2/2022 at 10:25 PM, edinmass said:

There’s remnants of another similar car in Connecticut........not sure of the entire story, it’s been under restoration/construction for twenty years or more.........

I think you know more about what’s known as old 15&1/4.

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Does anyone know of surety if we will sometime in the future, see the sister car to Old 16 back to life and in the public eye?  Many quiet rumors but to me nothing has been confirmed as to its existence and and potential for a return.  History is good and it is up to we now involved with antique automobiles to keep history straight, true and exact or we suffer from convolution of fact.

Al

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here is a fun you tube video clip of several sister cars to Old 16.  The good thing about these Race Cars is that they are kept alive, running and drivable so many can yet enjoy them for what they are.  Are any readers here familiar with these three racers shown as well as history and facts?  Please share your comments.  Enjoy this You Tube clip.

Al

 

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I will make one comment.  My comment is in line with what is stated in the video clip, these early race cars should be kept in running and driving condition.  Sadly, that is not the current thinking about Locomobile Old 16 which is currently a non operable curio staged in the Henry Ford.  It is nice that many people get to see that unique piece of early race car "Americana", but that is it!  Other sister race car competitors, as in the Alco Black Beast, the early Mercedes, the Fiat Beast of Turin are all alive and well.  The Beast of Turin was a serious labor of love to put the breath of life back into those huge cylinders.  I still wonder why Old 16 is simply allowed to languish in it's current non op status.  After many years working towards the goal of getting my 1909 Locomobile running, what an absolute rush to here it run and run great.  Maybe in the future, circumstances will shift and would allow Old 16 to be repaired and run once again.

Al

Edited by alsfarms
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Al, the drawing was done by Pierre Dumont. 
 

it is from this fabulous book. I don’t remember when I picked this up, I have more reference/automobile books than any sane person would have. EBA1F747-BA2B-4E42-A5E7-291701AEF35E.jpeg.f0c059ccac813f93a7f81aff258ae6a9.jpegif you like the classic era and big expensive iron, you will enjoy it. 

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