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1919 & 1920 Cole Motor Cars


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I have a 1920 Cole Motor Car 7-passenger open touring car. Cole called it a Model 870 Tourster.  I bought it almost a year ago, with the beginning of an incorrect restoration. It is missing many parts. In my search for parts, I found and purchased a 1919 Cole Motor Car 2-passenger roadster. Cole called it a Model 871 Roadster.

 

The roadster is completely disassembled. It also is missing some parts, but came with extras of some parts I need for the touring car. The roadster is almost as complete as the touring car, so plans are to restore them both. With the unavailability of parts, the restorations will not be perfect, as some parts may have to be fabricated, or modified from similar parts of other cars. The roadster is missing its rear body, as it had been used as a tow truck in a former life. Its past owner had new roadster rear body panels fabricated.

 

There is a very limited amount of information available on the specific parts and assembly of any Cole. I have the owner's manuals for 1918 and 1920 Cole cars, as well as a 1920 parts list.  But they don't go into the detail needed to put the cars together. 

 

A lot of what I'm doing involves putting it together and taking it apart multiple times to figure out how it should be. As I stumble through this, I will post pictures of parts and assemblies to create a reference for others' future use. 

 

 

Edited by George Cole
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I have already taken many photos. First one was of the touring car before I bought it. Next picture is of the roadster in its pre-purchase condition. I brought the roadster home in 25 large plastic bins. I've got many more pictures, but they are trying to load sideways, so I'll have to fix that before posting.

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That’s the way I like them a bit of a challenge,parts may be hard to find but that’s part of the fun,to many people see these as parts cars,when I was young my mentor taught me if you don’t save them who will,two many cars lost forever,let’s get as many back on the road as possible

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  • George Cole changed the title to 1919 & 1920 Cole Motor Cars

Here's what the rest of the roadster looked like when I purchased it.  It took 7 hours to pack it all in large plastic bins and load it on the trailer to bring home.  I had used an open trailer as I delivered my aluminum rollback deck to it's new owner first.  Last picture shows it all tied down, covered, and ready to roll.

 

I had a terrible time posting these pictures.  Every one tried to load clocked to the left.  I rotated them 90 degrees to the right, resaved them, and tried reposting, but then they clocked them all to the right.  I finally resaved each in Photo Shop and they finally held their orientation when I posted them.

 


 

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A couple of the fenders and the bottom edges of the hood will require rust repair.  Most of the rest of the body pieces had a light coating of rust.  As I'm going to get the touring car at least operational before starting on the roadster, I wire-wheeled all of the roadster's body panels, gave everything a liberal coating of phosphoric acid, and then a rattle-can paint job, just to keep the rust at bay until I get ready to work on them.  

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I temporarily attached most of the roadster body panels together, as it's easier to store them that way.  They take up less room and are less susceptible to damage. This is what it now looks like in storage, awaiting its turn to go under the wrench.  It's only a shell, held together by one or two bolts per panel.  The wheels are not attached.  They are leaning against the car for the photo op.  These are the colors I'm planning on painting it...red body and maroon fenders.  In addition to the engine block and associated pieces being coated in grease, I shrink-wrapped them as well, until I get ready to assemble the engine.    

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Edited by George Cole (see edit history)
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There was a thread not too long ago questioning the use of walkway pavers for an occasional driving surface.  The majority consensus was they would not suffice.  Last year I laid approximately six hundred 16x16x1.75" pavers alongside my driveway and the sidewalk in front of my house.  Both cars in the above pictures are parked on them for their photo ops.  I would have poured concrete but the city zoning Gestapos won't allow that much concrete surface.  They claim it doesn't allow rainwater to soak in and contributes to flooding.  I guess they're okay with pavers because the rainwater can soak between them.  I've driven on them repeatedly with cars, trailers, etc., with minimal damage.  I broke about a dozen of them the first time I drove on them.  When I pulled the broken ones up I saw where the sand hadn't compacted evenly under those few.  After repacking the sand and replacing them, I haven't broken any.  

Edited by George Cole (see edit history)
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George....any chance of a parts cars or a rough sedan kicking around? Probably would be a great help for both projects. Looking forward to seeing your progress.

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8 hours ago, edinmass said:

George....any chance of a parts cars or a rough sedan kicking around? Probably would be a great help for both projects. Looking forward to seeing your progress.

There's a couple of Cole Aero 8 non-restored or parts cars that I know of, but pretty much no one wants to part with anything.  One in particular is in the hands of a private collector who used it to restore his own cars about 15 years ago, but wants to keep everything that's left over.  I've left multiple messages on his phone, but he has not returned my calls.  And there's a couple of loose Cole V8 engines floating around, but again, no one wants to part with them or any extras that they may have.  I haven't given up and will continue beating the bushes.  Kevin Fleck, Cole Motor Car Registry is looking for me as well.

 

This is definitely not on-par with the Great White.  Everything I've touched on both cars has added to the list of what needs to be reworked/rebuilt/replaced.  It's going to take some time, skinned knuckles, and of course moolah.  Thanks for your interest.  George

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I've been working on the cars for several months already, so over the next few days, I'll do some catching up here on progress that's been made.  I tried to remember to take pictures of most of what I was doing but occasionally I either forgot, or didn't because of greasy hands.  I don't have a 'George the Animal' assistant.  Everything I do is by myself.  To keep from bending noses (including those of the moderators), I'm not going to name names, businesses or places unless I exclusively say something positive about them.  

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2 hours ago, George Cole said:

To keep from bending noses (including those of the moderators), I'm not going to name names, businesses or places unless I exclusively say something positive about them.  

My dentist has a nice sign in his reception area which reads:

 

If your are not satisfied, tell us. If you are satisfied, tell others!

 

Craig

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To me looks like the hard part is done, getting things assembled where they go!  Looking forward to your progress.

And yes, nothing wrong with the pavers, like you found out, its the base that makes the difference.

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9 minutes ago, George Cole said:

His last post to the Cole Motor Car facebook page was 16 January.

I should have mentioned him not posting here on the AACA Forum.

 

I don't spend a lot of time on Fecesbook, and when I do, its only a couple of the Studebaker groups I check out.

 

Craig

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15 minutes ago, TAKerry said:

To me looks like the hard part is done, getting things assembled where they go!  Looking forward to your progress.

And yes, nothing wrong with the pavers, like you found out, its the base that makes the difference.

Not really.  Those are just the big pieces.  Seems like there's a million pieces which go in between.  For example, the past few days I've been messing with the column throttle, spark advance, and accelerator pedal linkages. They are all connected together on multiple rock shafts.  The touring car didn't come with any.  Looks like there's a mostly complete set with the roadster, but it has some extras and some that I suspect are for other cars as they don't seem to fit anywhere.  It's like building a puzzle which is missing pieces and has extras, including some that don't go to this puzzle, and there's no picture to reference.  Figuring out how they all connect and work with each other is time-consuming. 

 

I could understand the pavers being an issue in areas where the ground freezes, but obviously I don't have that problem. My problem with the pavers is ants which push sand up between them.  I spray and spray, and all I'm doing is chasing them from one crack to another.  As we have fruit trees (fig, papaya, mango, sugar apple, Barbados cherry, and more,)  we try not to use too much poison in the yard, so the ants have a free-for-all.  Commercial grade vinegar works well, but can't be used on the lawn as it kills everything.

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7 minutes ago, 8E45E said:

I should have mentioned him not posting here on the AACA Forum.

 

I don't spend a lot of time on Fecesbook, and when I do, its only a couple of the Studebaker groups I check out.

 

Craig

Agree.  I don't do fecesbook either.  I just checked it to see Kevin's latest post.  First time I've visited the site in months.

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Okay, back to the touring car.  The frame, suspension, engine, transmission, & rear end had all been either sandblasted or pressure-washed, and powder coated in gloss black. Likewise with the frame, suspension, and rear end of the roadster.  The engine was originally green, but it's so well protected right now, I'm going to leave it black. I don't particularly like the powder coating as it is thicker than paint, it chips very easily, and is impossible to touch up other than with non-matching paint.  The pictures are all pre-purchase, taken by the seller (not to be confused with the owner).  Manifolds, carb, linkage, distributor cap & wiring, fan & generator pully are just a few of the missing parts.  The manifold ports had been sealed with multiple layers of duct tape prior to powder coating.  The serial number is clearly stamped on the right front frame rail.

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Edited by George Cole (see edit history)
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The car came with no history at all.  As just mentioned, I purchased the car through a private seller who was a friend/acquaintance of the owner.  I never had direct contact with the owner.  The seller relayed my pre-purchase questions to the owner, who disavowed any knowledge of the car other than he owned it.  I was told the owner didn't remember who he purchased it from, where, or how long ago.  Substantial work had obviously been done on the car, but again the owner disavowed any knowledge of what had been done, when, or where.  

 

The body panels and wood all appear to be in pretty good original condition.  The floor has been replaced with varnished birch plywood.  All of the body panels show no sign or rust or accident damage repair.  The right front fender had impact damage to the front, and it was bent.  The inner fender panel was buckled and one of the inner fender support rivets had pulled through the sheet metal.  The damage can be seen in the first picture I posted in this thread.  Here's a close up of the damage. Again, all of these are pre-purchase pictures taken by the seller.

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Although all of the wooden body framework appears original and in very good condition, I was surprised to find the wooden dashboard in such terrible condition.  It looked like it had been either laying under water or exposed to the elements for a long time.  Likewise, the instruments were badly corroded.  The dashboard was laying on the rear floorboard, with several parts which had been removed from the car.

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Edited by George Cole (see edit history)
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The seller transported the car to the I-95 FL-GA state line, where we moved it from his trailer to mine.  Once I got it home, the first order of business was inventorying what was there and what was not so I could start searching for parts.  

 

I pulled all spark plugs and found all the electrodes were in very good condition, but all of the plugs were black with soot.  I drained the oil and was pleasantly surprised that it was clean and almost clear, and had no used or burned smell at all.  I replaced it with 6 quarts of Amsoil 10W-30.  Then after rethinking what I had done, I drained the oil again and removed the oil pan.  Again I was pleasantly surprised to discover the oil pan was extremely clean...no dirt, gunk, or anything at all other than the remnants of the oil which I had just drained. The oil pan had an upper and lower brass screen as an oil filter.  The lower one had been cut away.  After wiping everything down, I checked the bottom of the engine.  (Always leaves me with the feeling I'm looking up a girl's dress. :) )  The bottom half of the engine looked like it  had just been rebuilt.  Practically everything inside the bottom looked extremely clean. Again, not a speck of dirt, gunk, crud, or anything else that I had been expecting.  I reinstalled the oil pan and again put in 6 quarts of 10W-30.

 

I jumped ahead of myself here, as I had no oil pan gasket (or any other gaskets for the car.  I called Olson's Gaskets in Portland, OR.  Stanley (the owner) answered the phone.  He said the only gaskets they had for a V8 Cole were head gaskets and manifold gaskets. I told him that I would eventually need a complete gasket set for the roadster, but for now needed an oil pan gasket for the touring car.  He said if I'd send them accurate drawings, their CAD department would do the designs so they had them available for the future.  For my efforts, my first gasket would be free.  What a deal!  I sent him drawings of the oil pan, timing cover, water inlet, and several others.  Several weeks later, I received one of each gasket in the mail, in addition to a set of head and manifold gaskets (which I paid for).  So I was able to reinstall the oil pan.  

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Next order of business was to find TDC and the #1 plug wire location in the distributor.  I pulled plugs again and put a wooden dowel in the #1 plug hole.  I turned the engine several revolutions by hand, and only got a very small movement in the dowel.  I changed plug holes and got the same thing.  And to complicate issues, the distributor wasn't turning.  I pulled one of the lifter covers in the engine valley (there's 4) and I could see the valves for #1 & 2 cylinders opening and closing as I turned the engine.  Head scratching time!  First thought was a broken crankshaft.  I had been turning the engine using the hand crank fitting in the front of the flywheel, so I decided to turn it from the flywheel.  Problem is working alone, I couldn't see if the front of the crankshaft was turning while I turned the flywheel, and obviously couldn't see the valves, but could tell that the distributor still wasn't moving and it didn't appear the dowel in the cylinder was moving either.  So off came the oil pan again...after draining the oil for the third time.  Now as I turned the flywheel, I could see the entire crankshaft turning and the pistons working properly. But the distributor still wasn't turning, and the dowel still not moving.  The brain dump finally cleared and I realized the spark plug is not directly over the piston...it's over one of the valves  That's why the dowel was only moving  about 1/4-inch.  I started pulling the distributor and discovered it hadn't been properly seated.  It was about 1/2-inch high.  It was very difficult to get out...had to use a small wooden block to pry it up.  Once I got it out, I discovered the corner of one tooth on the drive gear had a small chip out of it, where someone had apparently tried to force it into place. And the shaft was crudded up and wouldn't turn. With the oil pan off and the #1 cylinder valves exposed, I was able to rotate the engine to find TDC. I cleaned and lubricated the distributor shaft and got it turning the way it should, then correctly installed it, with #1 plug wire location identified.  I had ordered another oil pan gasket from Olson's, and when it came it, I reinstalled the oil pan and for the third time, and put new oil in the crankcase.  

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During the down-time while I was waiting for gaskets, I worked on other parts of the car.  The left rear wheel was missing one stud.  I disassembled the wheel hub, pulled the axle and bearings to remove the brake drum, which the hub bolts were attached to.  Again pleasantly surprised to find the bearings in excellent condition, with fresh red grease.  It appeared the bearings hadn't been run since the last time they were packed.  I had already seen the outer brake shoes appeared brand new.   Likewise the inner ones looked brand new as well.  All the brake linkage looked like it had been recently disassembled, cleaned, lubed, and put correctly back together.  I replaced the missing wheel stud and reassembled the wheel.  Sorry, no pictures.

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The right front wheel was the dirtiest and nastiest looking part of the entire car.  I started scraping and sanding the wood, and found a beautiful wooden wheel hidden beneath all the crud.  I also saw 2 of the wheel hub bolt heads were different than the other 4.  On closer inspection, I found the nuts on those 2 bolts stripped.  One was held on by 2 threads...the other one was less than that.  I replaced the bolts and nuts, cleaned the wheel, and so far have applied one coat of marine varnish.  Many more to go. And of course 3 more wheels that will eventually get the same treatment.  

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I also discovered a broken spring on the cone clutch.  I pulled the transmission and replaced the spring with one from the bin with the roadster clutch parts.  I suspect there is a trick or a tool to do it correctly that I'm not aware of.  I did it pretty much by hand using screwdrivers, etc.  The spring has to be fully compressed to install.  A typical valve spring compressor won't allow enough room to install the spring cap or keepers.  I used the valve spring compressor to compress the spring, then wired the spring in that position, and was able to install the cap, keepers, and then cut and remove the wire.  Okay Ed, maybe the tractor-mechanic in me is useful after all. :)

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