Richard_D

2 Vs 4 cylinder brass era cars.

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I'm very new to the brass era scene and despite my searching haven't found thread on this.

I find myself drawn  towards the smaller lighter 2 cylinder cars around 1910 ie. AB Maxwell.

If possible what I'm interested to know is how this type of car compares to a mid teen 4 cyl car ie. Ford T when touring.

Does the lighter weight of the 2 cyl even out the extra power of the 4 on hills or make a difference to top speed?

Are the later cars more reliable or easier to keep running or just stop less?

Any other major difference between the two types of cars?

Interested to hear your experience.

Thanks

 

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Benefits of AACA Membership.

I've had a 2-cylinder Buick Model F.  I know several people who have them, and others who have 2-cylinder REOs, which are comparable.  Those cars can keep up with a Model T unless the T driver is in a real hurry.  On HCCA tours for big cars, they do pretty well, and they dominate 1-and 2-cylinder tours.

 

The smaller twins, like the AB Maxwell, are much weaker.  They perform more like single-cylinder cars, like Cadillacs and Oldsmobiles.  They'll go anywhere, but much slower, especially on hills.  I've never had a small twin like an AB Maxwell, but I've toured with them while driving my singles, and I've ridden in some small Maxwells.  They're very nice cars.  There are also more powerful, larger Maxwell twins that are quite potent, more like the Buicks and REOs.

 

That said, you ought to talk to Bob Bailey in Maine.  He has an even smaller Maxwell - an A, I think - and he and Liz tour that thing in any terrain and any weather.

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Posted (edited)

There is a certain joy to driving early automobiles. There are so many variations, really big cars, really small cars, extremely early automobiles, electrics, steam, and the good ol' basic model T. Pre-T Fords have a devoted following. All of them have their advantages, and disadvantages. I have never had one, but the two cylinder Maxwells also have a devoted following. Most parts are relatively available, and even a few things reproduced specifically for them. Information, what is correct, colors, how to fix certain things, etc, is readily available once you learn who to ask. Good replacement cylinders for some models (there are several different sizes and variations) for some models are in short supply (be aware when looking at project cars needing a cylinder). I have never actually driven one (had a few opportunities, but I don't really like to drive other people's cars). I have ridden in a few, and been on a number of tours following people in their Maxwells.

Most (except for a couple early big models) two cylinder Maxwells are fairly slow. Unless significant modifications are made, think 20 to 25 mph most of the time. The big Buick and Reo two cylinder models are about ten to fifteen mph faster. For comparison, an average model T Ford can be comfortably driven at least 35 mph according to most owners (personally, I drive most model Ts at 45 mph or even a bit more). Most smaller brass era four cylinder cars are okay at around 35 to 40 mph, some a little faster, some even a bit slower. The 30 to 40 HP fours mostly a little faster, mostly 40 to 45 mph. The '15 six cylinder Studebaker I used to have could be pushed to 55 mph if needed, but was happy just a bit under 50.

If available, it would be a good idea to seek a local Horseless Carriage or Brass and Gas club. Get to know a few of the members, look the cars over, and hopefully get a ride in a few of them.  Horseless Carriages are not for everybody. However for those that master them? There is something wonderful about completing a hundred mile day tour with several (or dozens!) of other early cars, something most of us never get tired of.

The two cylinder Maxwell is high on my list of cars I would love to get!

Edited by wayne sheldon
I hate leaving typos! (see edit history)

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I have two brass era Model T's and love them. They are very easy to get parts for and can do 40 mph very easily. I usually drive them around 35 to 40.  It has been my experience that a 2 cylinder RE0 can out run any Model T on the road.    John

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The small 2cyl Maxwells you are looking at are great little cars. They will go anywhere a Model T will go but they will get there slower. The little Maxwell is not underpowered by any means, it is capable of more than any road of their era would have allowed.  Getting into a 2cyl vehicle that truly keeps up with a small (t sized) 4cyl car will require some searching and likely 3 times or more the purchase price of a good Maxwell with a planetary transmission.
 

As mentioned by oldcarfudd, Buick model F and the 2cyl Reo’s are the most common candidates. Northern and Cartercar can run with them.  The larger Maxwell (H or N with larger engine and 3 speed sliding gear trans) comes close but not quite there.  That is a small list of others... there are likely hundreds of options. 

 

I prefer 2cyl touring to larger car tours. That said, all of my 2cyl touring has been in a car that outperforms most cars on the tour and I have always had small 4cyl cars on the larger car tours. Perhaps ego creates part of my preference. Lots brass car guys have both a 1 or 2 and a 4 or 6, so you are spending time with the same great people no matter what kind of touring you choose to do!

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I recall a CCC show where Wayne had a 2 cyl car on the London-Brighton. When one went away he had problems and DNF. With a four cyl car if one goes away you still have three.

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Posted (edited)

I agree with everything said above. I owned a two-cylinder REO for a few years and did several long distance tours. In the 1 and 2 circles, the debate has always been what is a better car: a two-cylinder REO or a Model F/G Buick. Both are great cars and are typically leading the pack on any 1 and 2 cylinder tours. The REO has a bigger displacement, but the Buick is overhead valve. A good running two cylinder REO or Model F/G Buick will keep up with stock, small four cylinder cars such as a Model 10 Buick or a conservative/stock Model T. A two-cylinder Model 14 Buick is also a good choice (front mounted engine/dual chain drive) but not nearly as good as the Fs and Gs.

 

I think smaller, two cylinder Maxwells are also good cars. I would place them "just above" a "typical" one cylinder car ( one cylnder REO, Cadillac, etc). They are well built and mechanically straight forward.There have been a few  reasonably priced examples offered for sale recently, although they tend to sell pretty fast if they are priced right. If this is what you are looking for, go for it!

Edited by motoringicons (see edit history)
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The 1906 Maxwell Model L had the smallest engine of Maxwell's 2 cylinder cars, there were two models, the "L" and the "Gentleman's Speedster" the latter being $20 more expensive and a with slight body change and the same engine it transformed a 25 mph "L" into a 50 mph car.  Twice the speed at the stroke of the salesman's pen!! Anyone seen one of these 1906 "road rockets" in action?

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One and two cylinder vehicles are special and I agree the REO and Buick are the best, I do not have one.  The fours are smoother and more comfortable, when I do manage to catch a ride I feel the firing of each cylinder in the neck.  The four cylinder cars have more horsepower so they have larger bodies and wheels.  However, great events like the London to Brighton, Lansing to Dearborn Endurance Run or the New London require a one or two car and the guys who run them are wonderful friends.

 

Regards, Gary 

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err re London to Brighton Veteran car run " any car registered before January 1st, 1905, is eligible to do the run"

Lansing to Dearborn: "All pre-1909 vehicles are welcome. Any 1 & 2 cylinder car, steam car, electric car, cycle car, motorcycle and bicycle built up to 1915 are eligible."

New London: "Rules state that only cars 1908 and earlier, or 1- or 2-cylinder vehicles up to 1915"

There is a 1 or 2 cyl limit but only for later cars.

 

Personally I'd probably go for a 1904 Stanley Runabout but that would require a different universe.

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14 minutes ago, padgett said:

 

 

Personally I'd probably go for a 1904 Stanley Runabout but that would require a different universe.


If having a London to Brighton dream, I think a Winton Bullet would be my choice. 

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blem wit that is the rule "registered before January 1st, 1905". It depends on the definition of "registered" and what is required for proof.

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I have been told that the club in England is fairly strict with Americans and American cars when it comes to getting a car approved for the run. I have never attempted to register a car for the run so I have no first hand knowledge, but it would be a real bummer to haul a car across the Atlantic only to be denied because your documentation didn’t meet their standards.  

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You are right so the way is to find someone over there who has competed and can guide you through the process. Then you need a car powerful/reliable enough to make the hills. Maybe 20 years ago but not now.

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There is a sort of guest card you can get, renewable once, for a car that is on their approved list but hasn't gone through the full approval routine.  Fortunately, the 1904 Curved Dash Oldsmobile I bought last year, intending to take it this year's run, had gone through the whole certification procedure when the prior owner took it on the run a few years ago.  Of course, due to the COVID plague, I'm not going this year, even if the run occurs.  Next year, I hope.  But I'll be 85, and running short of opportunities.

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I have a 1909 Maxwell Model A. Cruising speed is 25-30 on flat ground. They are very easy to drive. Just move the lever forward while pushing the gas pedal. At about 5 mph push the lever all the way forward and it shifts into high like an automatic. A friend of mine may have one for sale soon. 
 

 

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Many thanks for your replies.

It has been both helpful and informative.

I'm still quite attracted to the 2 cyl cars so I'll focus on those.

Thanks again for your help.

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