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Old Speedometer Question


John348
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It's certainly not from a locomotive!  Its probably a brass casing under the black paint and could have been used on a number of early automobiles circa 1915 or slightly later.  that's the point where brass was being replaced by nickle plating on a lot of vehicles, and the less expensive of them had black painted brass.  Even the Model T Ford began loosing brass at that time.  It looks like the rim (bezel) has indeed been nickle plated.  Nice it's with the bracket, and with it only being an optimistic 60 MPH speedo, it's most likely a lower-speed four-cylinder type, or maybe even a truck?  If the needle jumps when the input shaft is spun, chances are it's a decent unit needing only cleaning and as good check-out internally by an expert.   The price quote (150-300) is about right for it.  If your friend has any old spark plugs let me know-

thanks,

Terry

 

Edited by Terry Bond (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, Terry Bond said:

1915 or slightly later.  that's the point where brass was being replaced by nickle plating on a lot of vehicles

 

I keep seeing comments to that effect on here:

Many (nearly all) of the very early cars used nickel plating, early steam and gas carriages etc. They rarely left brass in the raw, even the kerosene sidelamps etc were nickel plated. I have copies of old letters (1900 etc) to companies where customers were complaining about items not being plated. Early "gas engine" cars seemed to have largely omitted this process for a period, probably as a cost cutting measure and to speed production.

1 hour ago, Terry Bond said:

It's certainly not from a locomotive!

 

I wouldn't be too certain of that, many early Locomotives had speedometers as there were speed limits on branch lines. There is no telling with any certainty what that came off of. Speedometers were used on many vehicles.

 

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If the question was when did nickle began to appear on automobiles, you are correct. A lot of very early 1900s automobiles did use nickle plating.  Speaking in general terms though, I think that most early car enthusiasts believe the "brass era" probably ended about the 1915/16 time frame. 

If we could zoom in on the photo of the speedometer in question to more clearly see the model number, it could be accurately dated.  I have a Model T Ford Club publication with a list of Stewart serial numbers by year.  I tried but the image gets pretty fuzzy when enlarged.

 

I'm sticking with my opinion on possible use though.  Never seen or heard of a Stewart speedometer like this being used on a train.  If you have any info on that it would be great to see.  We could all be trained, and I must admit, I'm no train expert.  If it was used on a train, I wonder how it would have been driven?  

Terry

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I just said it could possibly be, the response was "it's certainly not from a Locomotive!". I was curious as to what this certainty was based upon. Like I wrote, there is no telling what it was used for. Stewart sold millions of those speedo's most likely, I've seen them on many early cars (Prior to Model T, Gas, steam, electric), keep in mind there were over 250 different car companies/brands by 1906, of those, there were about 70 different steam car companies, although most of them folded about 1902. It's like the Veeder odometer/cyclometer, they were sold to many different companies as standard equipment and as an aftermarket item.

 

Cities like New York had auto speed limits about as soon as the first cars showed up, 12 mph on the straight and 7 mph on corners. New York actually had speed limits in 1650  that covered galloping and trotting in certain areas. First traffic ticket was written to man with the last name of "German", he was speeding in an omnibus/streetcar.

 

Charles Babbage invented the speedometer in 1888, it's purpose? For steam Locomotives.

 

-Ron

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This is what I do know about the history of the speedometer. My long time friend who I restored many a car with relocated to California a few years ago. He is no longer in the hobby.He has run into some health issues and is getting his affairs in order. He sent me this along with several other pieces and asked me to find the right person for it, for fear that it will just get tossed when he passes. He has no family and his girlfriend passed away a few months ago. I am the closest to any family he has. So he asked me to see what I can get for it and I will forward him that amount. He also sent me some upholstery and trim sample catalogs that he wants me to donate to the AACA Library.

I did speak with him a few days ago and asked about the speedometer, he told me that he was dating a girl in 1964-65 who lived in Connecticut, and her Grandfather was a collector of early brass era cars, and somehow he was given the piece. I plan on speaking to him in a few days to get more specific details and possibly a name of the person who owned it.

Thanks for all of the help and direction  

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11 hours ago, John348 said:

This is what I do know about the history of the speedometer. My long time friend who I restored many a car with relocated to California a few years ago. He is no longer in the hobby.He has run into some health issues and is getting his affairs in order. He sent me this along with several other pieces and asked me to find the right person for it, for fear that it will just get tossed when he passes. He has no family and his girlfriend passed away a few months ago. I am the closest to any family he has. So he asked me to see what I can get for it and I will forward him that amount. He also sent me some upholstery and trim sample catalogs that he wants me to donate to the AACA Library.

I did speak with him a few days ago and asked about the speedometer, he told me that he was dating a girl in 1964-65 who lived in Connecticut, and her Grandfather was a collector of early brass era cars, and somehow he was given the piece. I plan on speaking to him in a few days to get more specific details and possibly a name of the person who owned it.

Thanks for all of the help and direction  

Thanks John, you're taking the correct approach.

Terry

Edited by Terry Bond (see edit history)
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I suspect it is pre-'15, but not by much. Stewart was not common much earlier, and the size and odometers look later rather than earlier styles.. The "clock needle" type speedometers were more common before 1915 than they were after, however, there were exceptions. The mounting suggests it was surface mounted on a flat firewall. That also suggests something before 1915. Some vehicles continued to require surface mounted speedometers for years later, however most of those like trucks likely would not want a 60 mph version.

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