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One of the new autos I acquired lately (1920 Cole update 9/5/2020)


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I believe @edinmass said something like "Sometimes the cars just find you when you are staying quiet and not even looking' in another thread.  Well, I had the same happen to me.  There was a 1920 Cole Aero 8 7 person Tourster powered by a 346.4 cubic inch V8 that I had known about as it was featured in an old Automobile Quarterly and some other places out there.  Two months ago, I received a message that it was time for the owner to part ways with it and they wanted it to go to the right home.  It had been sitting for 8-10 years since last driven and probably not seen in the public since the 1990's as the owner maybe used it for 300 miles of local drives around his town.  I was able to strike the right deal for it, went and picked it up, and then my son and I started working to get it running again.  Yesterday we finally woke the big V8 up and we are getting close to getting it back on the road after the some more sorting out.  The car is a big impressive machine and the pictures don't really do it justice, but as a bonus I included a link to a short video of the engine running so you can hear the Cole V8.   The original cost for the Cole Aero 8 Tourster was $3350 in 1920 and today all Coles 1916 and up are considered CCCA Full Classics.  

 

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Edited by kfle (see edit history)
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I suspect that Cole ask its former owner to send it to your garage...knew you'd be a good and kind conservator.  BTW. that engine sound great, 100 years old and still going strong!

Edited by 58L-Y8
100 years old and still going strong. (see edit history)
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There were many V8s at the time, practically all eight cylinder cars from 1915 to 1923 were V8s. Several debuted for the 1915 model year, Cadillac was just one of them. Others included Cole 8, King, and Peerless, there were others I don't remember offhand.  Cadillac used a Northway engine and so did Cole. Cole had their own engine, larger and more powerful than Cadillac, but made by Northway.  Peerless used a Herschell-Spillman engine which I believe they made under license. There were more than 20 V8 cars in the 1915 - 1923 period, all expensive ones. Cadillac and Ford are the best remembered early V8s because GM and Ford put out the most publicity , not always accurate.

Edited by Rusty_OToole
mistake (see edit history)
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48 minutes ago, hidden_hunter said:

The motor looks to have a very similar setup to the cads of the period, is there a connection at all or is it just that was the way things were done?

It is a long story with lots of detailed history, but I will give you the short version.  Both Cole and Cadillac engines were made by Northway, though they were different engines from different engineers.  Charles Crawford, Chief Engineer at Cole, spent six months at Northway in 1914 working with a different group of engineers than the northway engineers working on the Cadillac V8.  Cadillac released their V8 car in October of 1914 and Cole released their V8 design on January 15th of 1915.  Coles was the first flathead V8 with detachable heads like we think of todays while Cadillacs was different and was a smaller engine than Coles.  Here is a picture of each of the 'first V8 engines' from late 1914 (Cadillac) and early 1915 (Cole)image.thumb.png.ac4f2375c6949560826621a13d004a28.png

 

Cole's V8 worked so well in 1915, after ironing out a few issues, that Cole standardized on the V8 starting in 1916.  That means that you could only by a Cole with a V8 from 1916 until the end of the company in 1925.  Cadillac ended up adopting Cole's design of the V8 engine sometime in the later teens so that it had detachable cylinder heads, etc.  Cadillac's V8 remained a smaller displacement then Coles and even Buick used the Northway V8 similar to Cole's in the early 20's, though it was 200 and some Cubic inch and had two main bearings.   Durant owned Northway and tried to buy Cole three times, but JJ Cole always refused as he thought Durant 'sucked the soul out of the automakers that he bought' and JJ Cole didnt want his name associated with that.  The only V8 that was bigger in the early 20's was Cunningham's.  I have many pieces of Cole advertising and some articles touting that their engine was only beaten by the twice as expensive Cunningham.  

 

I have quite a bit of documents and papers on the V8 related to Cole and Northway.  image.thumb.png.a245b5070ba36c263da7b598bb7c6fe6.png

Edited by kfle (see edit history)
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1 minute ago, edinmass said:

What did Cole use for a transmission and clutch..........their own? Cone clutch or disk......?

The trans and clutch was built to their specs as part of the Northway production.  So Cole had Northway build and assemble all one 'unit' for them.  Cole used a Cone clutch design until late 22 when they switched to multi disk.  They discovered in early 1922 when they were testing 'balloon' tires with Firestone that in order for the tires to operate successfully on the car that changes to suspension, braking and the transmission had to be made for optimal performance.  Our Cole Coupe was the test car that was used by Cole for the testing so it has the first multi disk clutch, four wheel brakes, and other optimizations made for the balloon tires.  The Coupe was then used at several auto shows to show off the new balloon tires and other technology improvements.  Cole became the first production car company to offer balloon tires as standard equipment on a car in 1923 and Harvey Firestone used this to motivate Henry Ford to adopt Balloon tires. 

 

Probably more info than you wanted!   

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I don't think anyone made as many different v-8s as Northway in the teens and early twenties.  They made oldsmobile, oakland and Chevrolet engines in addition to the ones mentioned above.  That there were similarities in these engines can't be denied but they were all different engines with.  I know Olds made some of their own engines and I believe that Cadillac did too.  They started making the Olds engine in August of 1915 and they had detachable heads and fork and blade construction.  If I was closer I would love to come look at some of your Coles as I have always liked them. 

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5 minutes ago, nickelroadster said:

I don't think anyone made as many different v-8s as Northway in the teens and early twenties.  They made oldsmobile, oakland and Chevrolet engines in addition to the ones mentioned above.  That there were similarities in these engines can't be denied but they were all different engines with.  I know Olds made some of their own engines and I believe that Cadillac did too.  They started making the Olds engine in August of 1915 and they had detachable heads and fork and blade construction.  If I was closer I would love to come look at some of your Coles as I have always liked them. 

Spot on with the variance of everything they made.  I do bring them around to different places around the country, except for this year.  I was planning to bring one to Hershey this year.  

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IT is actually pretty strange that pre 1915 Northway engines had a lot of parts that were used across their offerings.  Parts like water pumps, timing covers and oil pumps were used on a lot of different engines.  I know that the earlier Coles used the same cylinders as the Olds model 53 and 54s.  It is like you could go to them and they would custom make you an engine using their many designs and parts.  After 1915 the engines they made seemed to have a whole lot less in common with each other. 

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12 hours ago, kfle said:

... Two months ago, I received a message that it was time for the owner to part ways with it and they wanted it to go to the right home.... 

 

Well, they certainly found the right man

who could give their Cole a good home!

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11 hours ago, nickelroadster said:

IT is actually pretty strange that pre 1915 Northway engines had a lot of parts that were used across their offerings.  Parts like water pumps, timing covers and oil pumps were used on a lot of different engines.  I know that the earlier Coles used the same cylinders as the Olds model 53 and 54s.  It is like you could go to them and they would custom make you an engine using their many designs and parts.  After 1915 the engines they made seemed to have a whole lot less in common with each other. 

There were much more similarities in the earlier Northway engines.  It was about 1913 that Cole started to do more individual work with 'suppliers' on the engineering and design.  Here is the 50HP engine in our 1913 Cole and there are many similarities to other Northway engines though I don't believe many of the other ones used Aluminum for the entire bottom components of the engine.  I may be wrong, but Cole was really into a lot of different metals for optimization in 1913.  Aluminum casing, aluminum fan blade, bottom of distributor is aluminum, piping was all German Silver, and the engine valves were made of tungsten, etc.

file-9.jpeg

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An aluminum crankcase was quite common for many 1913 automobiles. The most common exceptions I know of are Cadillac which used a cast iron crankcase with bolted on individual cylinders and Ford with one of the first mono - block designs.

Many other makes featured construction similar to your 1913 Cole. Alloy crankcase with bolted on iron blocks . Northway was just one of many makers that chose this construction.

 

Greg in Canada

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Congrats on the beautiful old car. Sounds like a smooth and quiet engine. Appreciate you making the video...if it weren't for modern technology and your willingness to film the car, I'd probably never get to hear a 1920 Cole run. So amazing that a 100 year old car will soon be back on the road!

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7 hours ago, JamesR said:

Congrats on the beautiful old car. Sounds like a smooth and quiet engine. Appreciate you making the video...if it weren't for modern technology and your willingness to film the car, I'd probably never get to hear a 1920 Cole run. So amazing that a 100 year old car will soon be back on the road!

 

Thank you and I am glad you were able to hear and see the engine.  I will make another video of it driving when we are done going through it.   Right now we are working on a thorough cleaning of the vacuum tank as it is not pulling a consistent amount of fuel from the gas tank.  The previous owner parked it with some nice gas with ethanol still left in the tank and lines so you can imagine the mess!

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UPDATE on the 1920 Cole

 

Even though we got the engine running last weekend, the vacuum tank wouldn't maintain fuel to the engine.  When we did the engine test last weekend we bypassed the vacuum tank just to test out the engine and the carb.  So today it was time to take apart the vacuum tank and see what was going on.  Well, this is what several years of ethanol gas sitting does to the innards of the vacuum tank.  The pile of flakes was from the nozzle hole at the bottom of the vacuum tank going to the carb.  What a mess!   We are going to have to do another round of cleaning and a bit more sanding to the insides as these vacuum tanks are finicky.  

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Edited by kfle (see edit history)
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  • kfle changed the title to One of the new autos I acquired lately (1920 Cole update)

I hate that ethanol gas! And that is one of the reasons why. (Ethanol gas absorbs water from the air, temperature cycles cause any vented enclosed space to "breath" and saturates the ethanol). The water (does not actually cause rust?) enhances the oxygen also held in suspension to eat away at compromised iron or steel. This is why modern gasoline tanks are made of plastic.

 

I love a good functioning vacuum tank! Several cars I have had over the years have had vacuum tanks and when they work properly, it just enhances the antique automobile experience. For those that don't know, vacuum tanks are a bit finicky. Even minor air leaks between chambers or the outside can cause a lot of troubles. Blocking of the venting (controlled by the internal valves) also makes for a lot of aggravation. Fuel lines also must be leak-free. One of the charming characteristics of a vacuum tank is that even when working properly, when the valves are switched to suck gasoline from the main tank (which usually takes only a few seconds), it alters the fuel mixture slightly from the carburetor (air is sucked into the manifold after the carburetor). This results in a slight change (slight stumble) in the running or idling of the motor. One gets used to this and knows his vacuum tank is working just fine.

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2 hours ago, wayne sheldon said:

I hate that ethanol gas! And that is one of the reasons why. (Ethanol gas absorbs water from the air, temperature cycles cause any vented enclosed space to "breath" and saturates the ethanol). The water (does not actually cause rust?) enhances the oxygen also held in suspension to eat away at compromised iron or steel. This is why modern gasoline tanks are made of plastic.

 

I love a good functioning vacuum tank! Several cars I have had over the years have had vacuum tanks and when they work properly, it just enhances the antique automobile experience. For those that don't know, vacuum tanks are a bit finicky. Even minor air leaks between chambers or the outside can cause a lot of troubles. Blocking of the venting (controlled by the internal valves) also makes for a lot of aggravation. Fuel lines also must be leak-free. One of the charming characteristics of a vacuum tank is that even when working properly, when the valves are switched to suck gasoline from the main tank (which usually takes only a few seconds), it alters the fuel mixture slightly from the carburetor (air is sucked into the manifold after the carburetor). This results in a slight change (slight stumble) in the running or idling of the motor. One gets used to this and knows his vacuum tank is working just fine.

 

My son and I agree.  It would be “easy” to just put an electric fuel pump in but we want to get it working the way it was originally made.   We are learning about them and have some more cleaning and fine tuning to do with this one. 

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There were several companies both foreign and domestic that manufactured variations in the vacuum fuel delivery system. The Stewart Warner was the most common in the USA, and the only one I have worked on any significant amount. They are one of the most "Rube Goldberg" silly contraptions ever actually applied to common use ever. Yet, as long as there are no rust-throughs in the tanks (inner, outer, or elsewhere), no leaks in fittings, gaskets, or failed valves? They work amazingly well! The double valves switching system is fun to look at and try to figure out. It generally cannot be taken apart without destroying something, however, even at a hundred years of age, those pieces are usually still just fine. Springs get weak or break with age and usually need to be replaced (I have always been able to find good original ones). There is a simple gravity operated "flapper" valve between the tanks. Depending on the specific model and year built, it may be made of steel,  brass, or a phenolic plastic. Either way, they sometimes need to be flattened a bit. Usually, one does not need to take it apart, simply draw some very fine sandpaper though while applying light pressure with your fingers. Alternate sides of the sandpaper, and do not use anything very thick. Don't overdo it.

The worst problem I ever had was in one car (I never did figure out how or why it did it????). It would blow one of the switching valve seats out of the main upper body (top). It would start sucking gasoline over the top (because the valve wouldn't shut it off) and begin to flood the engine. I would have to almost immediately pull over (hopefully there was a place?), however the roadside repair was usually easy to do. I never ran into that problem on any other car, but two different vacuum tanks did this on this one car. (I won't go into the whole long story, but I never fully resolved the problem, never ran into it again, and basically consider it to be an anomaly not to be worried about.)

The top of the tank is a die-cast something akin to pot metal. A lot of people are scared off from SW vacuum tanks because of this. However, although SOME SW vacuum tanks do disintegrate due to material flaws in the casting? I know, because I have seen a few myself. MOST SW vacuum tanks have tops cast in a pure enough alloy to not have that problem. I have picked up a few over the years (for parts) that had been broken by some means of violence. They clearly were not due to a weakness in the material, and I have used broken pieces to test the material strength myself! Although there are model differences that some may want to use only the correct variation on their car (I would be that way), the tops for the most part are interchangeable, and many good tops are available.

 

Just part of the fun of nickel era automobiles!

Edited by wayne sheldon
I hate leaving typos! (see edit history)
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Unfortunately the Stewart Warner tanks made it way past the nickel era. My 1931 Cadillac had one. It was trouble free for tens of thousands of miles. They work ok..........but can be a challenge at 100 years old. V-16 Cadillacs had two of them..........twice the headaches. Usually every problem is associated with hack tractor mechanics.

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1 hour ago, edinmass said:

Unfortunately the Stewart Warner tanks made it way past the nickel era. My 1931 Cadillac had one. It was trouble free for tens of thousands of miles. They work ok..........but can be a challenge at 100 years old. V-16 Cadillacs had two of them..........twice the headaches. Usually every problem is associated with hack tractor mechanics.

Uh, partially true (the part about tractor mechanics).  Every 20 years or so (maybe 15 with ethanol gas), it's necessary to open up the vac tank and give it a little love.  @kfle (and anybody else) if you'll PM me your email address, I'll send you a pdf (which I can't post here under these rules) of an article on the care and feeding of vac tanks I wrote at least 10 years ago for my local CCCA regional newsletter

Edited by Grimy
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10 hours ago, Andrew Benoit said:

Great video!

 

I've got one of those Northway V8s I'm planning to put into an of the era Special.

Andrew - Do you have a Cole V8 or is it the Cadillac, Oldsmobile, or one of the other V8's that Northway made?  They look the same in pictures from the top view and heads but there were some sizing and differences with the internals.  For example the early 20's Oldsmobile Northway V8 only has two main bearings while the Cole has three.  The Cadillac V8 in 1920 was a bit smaller than the Cole.  

 

Share some pictures of the engine if you have them.

 

Kevin

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2 hours ago, Andrew Benoit said:

Hi Kevin,

 

It’s a 1916 Cole/Northway V8. Hopefully it’s not one of the early engines they had problems with.

 

It’s packed away at the moment. I’ll take some photos of it next week.

 

Andrew

Very nice and thanks!  Early 15's were the only ones that had some oiling problems but those were worked out during 15 and many of the early Cole V8 engines were serviced by Cole.  By the mid point of 1915 the V8's were working so well that Cole standardized on only the V8 engine for 1916.  

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  • 4 weeks later...

Here is the latest update on the 1920 Cole Aero 8 Tourster.  After the ethanol gas that was left in the tank and vacuum tank for over 7 years did a horrible number on the fuel system, I just completed the rebuild of the vacuum tank and getting everything cleaned out.  Today we reinstalled the vacuum tank, primed the engine, and then started the car.  The fuel system is now working again so it was time for a test drive on the property.  My son drove it around for a little bit and we noticed some new things that we need to work on:

 

1. The carb needs some adjustment 

2. The spark advance and timing need a bit of adjustment

3. The amp meter is showing a discharge as the engine is running so we need to test the output of the generator to see if it is producing any or enough electricity to replenish the battery

 

We are making progress and the goal is to make this Cole a great driver.  I have included a few videos of Ben driving around the Cole and then one of the engine running after the vacuum tank rebuild.  

 

 

 

 

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  • kfle changed the title to One of the new autos I acquired lately (1920 Cole update 9/5/2020)

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