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Locomobile Steam Gathering Place

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Hi Al,

 

Sounds like you had a great trip, I have a sister in Tuscon, I'm going to go see her one of these days.

 

That is a nice little steamer, without sounding like one of those guys, it really isn't a museum quality car, just from a quick glance at the pics, I can spot 11 issues right off the bat. Looks to be a pieced together car or restored of what was left of a car with some original and several replicated and not very well replicated parts.

 

-Ron

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Hello Ron,

This Steamer is located in a very nice museum.  I think this car was purchased to "fill a niche" and not actually to represent a fully restored and absolutely correct car.  That said it is nice for what it is.  Also agree, I am not real familiar with Locomobile Steamers but to an old car guy, I could identify more than a few items that I would consider suspect.  Would I turn it down due to those issue mentioned.....nope!  (unless the sell price was inordinately high, the car is not for sale however)  In this museum was MANY very nice classic cars as well as British and European Sports car, (for which the owner has a soft spot)!  The owner and his manager are very nice gentlemen...top notch I must add.  This was the only Locomobile in the collection, sadly, but he did have a great late teens Stutz Bearcat (that got my attention) and also a few Pierce-Arrow cars.  This museum was full of the things that dreams are made of.

Al 

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Hello Ben,

Are you getting much progress on your early cars?  This Locomobile steamer certainly is what it is.  Having seen this car in person, it would not bother me to buy the car, it is currently not for sale however.  The price would need to reflect the real condition of it.  It is not being on display as a 1899 car but as a 1900, as per the tag.  The owner is a true gentleman and nice fellow.  Do many of these little Locomobile steamers exist on the north east coast?

Al

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Al,

 

That is a nice little carriage. I know these little cars so well - Designing 3D models for their casting patterns, repairing and hand sanding out the woodwork and hand filing out a chassis by hand for days gives one a very good education of their characteristics. When I look at one, the inconsistencies jump out and are very obvious to me and probably not to many others, and I should probably keep it to myself :).

 

There was an instance once on a forum where a man found a rare steamer in a barn, that was all original, stored for a hundred years etc. I was helping him identify it and I determined by another well known fully restored show winning car that his car was likely the same make and using his car it was determined the show winning car likely had the totally wrong seat on it. A guy had just purchased the show winning car for a lot of money, found what I had written and went in to panic mode. I just pointed it out, and in retrospect, I shouldn't have. The truth hurts..

 

But, I will say, people should do their homework before buying. My experience is with shows, judging and the car group in general is they know very little about these early steamers, there are some folks around that do, but they are few. Just because a car has won a show doesn't verify it is all original. I implore anyone that is considering purchasing one as an original specimen to contact me, I don't know everything about it, but I know enough about certain makes to prevent them from making an oopsie. One guy was trying to determine whether his 1900 car was all original, and I pointed out the body sides were made of plywood as the endgrain was visible under the flaking paint, plywood didn't come in to widespread use and availability until the late 1920's.  So, most likely, nope.

 

-Ron

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Good Morning Ron,

Your thoughts are good and correct on the subject of knowledge, when it comes to antique automobiles (and in particular Locomobile steamers).  Yes, sometimes the truth is a bit heavy handed as received but none the less important.  Next idea comes in the thought of communicating what is known to be the correct description or just throwing something out as bate to sell a car or parts.  I can see why a well documented antique car, that has been left original and unmolested, is probably going to out sell anything else, even an over restored car, for the reasons you discussed above.  That said, I and a bunch of us realize that there simply is not an abundance of great all original cars so we end up with cars that are built and refurbished the best we can.  I am glad that you have a working and practical knowledge of these fine little Locomobile steamers and are willing to share  that knowledge with the rest of us.

Al

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Hello Ron,

Could you PM me and share a phone number, I have a couple of questions that I would like to speak with you about.

Al

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Hello Ron,

Thanks for chatting with me about Steam.  Do you have any comparison charts that would provide details on how Locomobile compared/marketed with many of the other makes of the time?  Also, do you have a handle on who provided aftermarket parts widely among the seat industry?

Alan

 

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Al,

 

It was nice talking with you as well.

 

Comparison of marketing share between companies. Locomobile was obviously the leader in production with around 5000 vehicles in a four year period. They had the most aggressive ad campaign as well. And they held the patents for the design. 1900 to late 1901 was their period of highest production. By 1902, there were serious contenders in the Internal combustion market, probably their biggest competitor at that time was the newly introduced Oldsmobile, Also Winton, Packard and several others. The gig was up for steam about that point, their last ditch effort was to go after the other steam companies building on their patent for royalties and or shut them down to consolidate the market, Mobile, Stanley, Millwaukee and likely others, but it was futile, the new internal combustion vehicles were simply easier to use, not faster nor quieter or smoother, but much simpler to drive. Could start it up and drive it immediately, not waiting to build steam pressure, didn't have to worry about running out of water and the biggie, didn't have to worry about it freezing up in the winter time.

 

The seats were made from steambent lumber, there were small concerns that did only that. The coach maker for Locomobile was Currier and Cameron in Ames. It's likely they did their own steam bending. They built bodies for several companies, it was a very large company. They even have a historic vehicle meet there every year commemorating the "Ames" bodied cars.

 

There were about 70 different known concerns building steam cars at that time. Majority of them operated the same way. Buy all of the parts on the outside and assemble it and put their name on it. That is why so many of the cars resemble one another, they were essentially being built by the same people. Order bodies from Currier and Cameron, order engines from Mason regulator, chassis and running gear from another place, Bendix sold brake Assembly. Valves were made by various companies in and around Detroit incidentally, Detroit was once best known for making brass valves of all types, and iron cookstoves, before Henry came along. The only one that I'm aware of that did most everything in-house was Conrad, as I mentioned on the phone, they were in Buffalo, NY and 500 miles away from the epicenter of the car industry at that time which was around the Boston area. Conrad sold their own assembled vehicles and also sold parts thereof to other builders as well, and even the do it yourselfers in their garage. Neff Steamer in Canada bought most of their vehicle from Conrad, the only change they made was the design of the front axle.

 

-Ron

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Hello Ron,

That is a nice discussion on the early US steam business.  How many pounds would a typical steamer weigh, (all watered up)?

Al

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The average weight on a steam carriage with water tanks full was around a thousand pounds. The larger cars were heavier of course, the big Doble touring cars weighed around 6000 pounds and could run 70 mph all day long. The Doble roadster E-20? would outrun a Deusenberg. Steam cars were very fast.

 

I drove my Locomobile off and on all day today. Polishing and tweaking it for the shows. I had a thing last year where I got some bad Kerosene and it was making a lot of carbon in the vaporizer, someone said it was probably heating oil and not kerosene. Anyways, I finally got all that flushed out and it's running perfect now. Nice burner operation and no carbon. beautiful sunny day for a steam car ride. It's nice just cruising along and listening to the engine count em off. 117 years old and still doing what it's supposed to do. I pulled the valve cover yesterday, the slide valves and faces still look as good as they did the day I put it back together about five years ago, so my oiling regiment is adequate. No rust just a fine black film. Green Velvet Sapon 680w oil, I use that in the tug too, same result, no issues.

 

-Ron

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Hello Ron,

I would have guessed just a bit more that 1000 lbs. for even a small car.  Did you happen to take an short video clips with yoru phone to share here?  You would really get me "steamed up" if you did that.

Al

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Hi Al,

 

No I haven't done that yet, it's sort of difficult to do with a cellphone. I really need a GoPro or something similar and I cannot justify the +/- $300 cost. I do have a tripod, maybe I'll try that.

 

-Ron

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Hello Ron,

Do you have a good image that shows a Locomobile Steamer on a precipice overlooking Yosemite?  If you can please post a copy of that picture here?  I have posted several pictures, of the four cylinder cars that Locomobile used for publicity on the Locomobile Four cylinder gathering place.  Those pictures are from the 1911 Locomobile Book.

Al

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Hi Al,

 

Yes, I have that picture. I didn't realize that this was a tradition of theirs. Well, that explains the pic now.

 

-Ron

 

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Hello Ron,

That is the exact picture I have seen before but have never owned it so I could post.  Thanks for posting it!  If you look carefully at the picture one of the crowd of high minded and daring participants you can just see one guy assigned to security.  He is the one holding back on the rear tire.  I bet, while they were staging themselves for this picture, there was some very tense tissue involved among that group as they all proved their manhood!  The sitting woman was also proving her Womanhood!  Does anyone else have "publicity" pictures of the early Locomobile steam cars.  I have seen several others as well as tours with Locomobile steam cars that were publicity driven adventures.  Everyone, please post pictures or links if you have or know of any additional publicity stunts, tours, stories or just pictures.

Al

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Publicity pictures?

 

The picture of the constable on a Locomobile is notable. These little steamers were the first police and fire department vehicles. They were the fastest thing on four wheels at that time.

 

The one picture shows the quality of the finish which was very high.

 

 

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Hello Ron,

Your posted picture number 4 appears to be a bit later in that maybe my 1909 Locomobile Toy Tonneau may be on the floor being assembled and prepped for sale.  Picture number 2, what type or model is that Locomobile?  Picture number 5 is a conventional surrey?  Nice pictures!

Al

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Posted (edited)

Al,

Pic 2  That is some sort of prototype, that is the only picture I've ever seen of that car.

Pic 4 yes that is later, I thought you might like to see that.,

Pic 5 I'm not 100% certain that is a Locomobile. That is one or very very similar to it.

 

Pics attached: Locomobile apparently played around with other body styles or this one could be a body created later on, far different than everything else. Reported to be an 1899.

 

The name "Locomobile" is sort of like the name "Chris Craft", where every old wood speed boat is labeled a Chris Craft if it has no name on it, when in fact, there were hundreds of companies building wood speedboats. With the steam carriages, it is a very complex web to unravel.

 

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Edited by Locomobile (see edit history)
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Hello Ron,

This is an interesting car.  The engine does appear to be a smaller type similar to what a Locomobile would have?

Al

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Hello Again Ron,

How would the new Locombile, as shown on picture Number 2, exhaust with the  passenger seats on the tonneau?

Al

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They have those pictures above labelled 1899 Locomobile, but I don't think it is one. I'm guessing it's a one-off of some kind.

 

The #2 pic exhausting? I have no idea, looks like the folks in the back would have had hot knees. :)

 

-Ron

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It's to bad that you do not have a picture of the car shown in the number two picture from the back.  I actually like that body style.  In fact, I may consider that body style should I decide to get after and build a steam car.  I also had a thought that the car mentioned could have been a factory shop car used to haul big shots around.  I recognize the factory from a few factory photos I have.  I would like to enlarge the later Locomobile factory picture that shows gasoline cars.  The incomplete cars, being built, have the firewall configuration that is the same as my Toy Tonneau.

Al

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Al,

 

The way the exhaust systems worked for flue gas, there was two different "modes". The T-pipe that you see on the back was really just for firing up and there was a duct that ran from that to the top of the boiler. If you look close at these pictures above and even the #2 car, there is a pipe that extends down near the differential, that is the actual flue gas exhaust. How it worked: There is a tube that goes down through the water tank about 3" diameter, it actually tapers toward the bottom. The engine exhaust was piped in to the this tube with an elbow downward. When the engine was running it would pull the exhaust gases down through that tube. It would dispense with some of steam cloud (which people complained about, as it also startled horses) by condensing and also heat the water tank a little bit. The #2 car may have had openings along side the seat for firing up. The White steamer and others had similar opening under the seat. They look like a row of port holes.

 

The #2 car likely had saddle tanks for water under the seats, with one of those tanks having an flue gas exhaust as I'm describing.

 

The very early 1899 Locos had no provision to vent the exhaust gas during firing up and relied on the downward tube only.

 

Matter of fact that short T-pipe with a panel back seat will not work at all at high speeds. I found that out the hard way. I put one on mine and had to take it back off, it was shoving the fire out the bottom of the burner. I don't have that tube in the water tank, I chose to omit it and it has a brass tailpipe for exhaust (pic attached). It works just fine without it, but I cannot run a T-pipe on it, as the wind comes around the seat on both sides and pushes on the ends of the pipe and it won't draw. That T-pipe was a bone of contention for these cars and many people offered aftermarket solutions to solve the issues.

 

Included pics of the muffler with feedwater heater coil in it. And these modern day auto engineers think exhaust heat recovery is something new :)

 

-Ron

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