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Hi there- I am looking for some insight from someone that knows some about pierce arrows. I am trying to determine value of a barn car that needs restoration... any ideas?? Car is 1925 . 

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Kara , post any pictures you have of the car and give a summary of what you know about it’s condition and history. There are some very knowledgeable individuals who might be helpful with your question of what the car might be worth. 

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Yes. Here are just a couple pics. Its been owned by the same family since it was bought new. Its been sitting in a barn and as you can see, it needs some work. 

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It's a Series 80 Deluxe (vs. the less expensive "Coach") sedan, from the two-piece windshield.  I've had one for almost 27 years.  They are high-quality, hand-built cars but are expensive to restore.  Base price at the factory in 1925 was $3,895 for the 5-pasenger sedan, which this one appears to be.  A fully restored version of this car might sell in the low $30K range--before the recent downturn in the market especially for projects.  But that's with new paint, upholstery, and plating--and a perfectly running engine.

 

This car has been converted to sealed beam headlights and is missing its visor over the windshield.

 

If you can provide the serial or engine number (each begins with 80...  -- but those different numbers will NOT match) I may be able to provide some history.  Where is the car located?

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Grimy is one of our top experts on Pierce Arrow cars! Take anything he says on the subject as gospel truth. I also had a series 80 sedan years ago. Wonderful cars! I loved it (wish I still had it). 

Don't be too eager to pay a lot of money for one in this condition. As Grimy says, they can be expensive to restore. After I sold mine many years ago, a subsequent owner foolishly spent more than $60,000 restoring the nice original car I had had. For that expense, he added a value of maybe $10,000 to what was a nice solid and enjoyable car to begin with. And that was twenty years ago. One could easily spend a lot more than that today, and wind up with a car worth barely over $30K when they were done.

Don't get me wrong. Restoring and preserving cars is what this hobby is all about! The car in question should be restored, preserved, and enjoyed for many years to come. Just don't get the idea that it is a cheap way to get into the hobby. Much nicer cars can be bought for reasonable amounts, and enjoyed soon after purchase. So ask yourself first for what is it you want the car? And what is it you want from the car?

 

Whatever direction you decide? Good luck!

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Wayne's Series 80 was a 15,000-original-mile car from the Harrah Collection.  It passed from him to someone with more dollars than sense who "restored" a magnificent all-too-rare example of how Pierce-Arrow actually delivered their cars.  Your car is in wonderful hands now, Wayne, in Arroyo Grande.  A couple of years ago I adjusted the carb for him and taught him how to properly double-clutch, and he's having a ball!

 

PS:  Clearly I owe you a drink for those kind words  🙂 

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Thank you Grimy! I think I owe you much more than a drink or two.

I really wish I could have kept it. My wife and I were buying our first real home, and just had to have those few more dollars. It made me sick when I heard the car was restored. That very original car had the most close to perfect original interior I have ever seen in an enclosed car of that era.

I am pleased to hear it is in good hands now.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Cadillac Carl,

We will never hear from Kara again.

She made her inquiry plus one reponse and didn't get the quick and easy answer she so wanted,that the decomposing ,yet once regal old beast was worth um-teen thousands of dollars just as it sits..

 Excuse me Kara..but that is how (I) see it.😇

 

I bet the next move for the people involved would of been to get one of those over the top(paid) appraisals of like $25,000 plus..which gets them all hot an bothered and unyielding to any offeres of less in the future.

 

Maybe a way to deal with these one shot forum joiners /fortune hunters  is to address these folks by only offering a person to person phone conversion with someone who is somewhat knowledgeable ,hopefully  ,as to gain some real info on the situation ,thus aquiring a contact and way connect with the automobile in question..

That way it is possibly to follow up by someone here or pass along to ?that may want to actually aquire the dopy pile of rust , grease and mouse poop.

 

Sight un seen ,if it has a motor that turns over and the car rolls, I have $5,999. burning a hole in my pocket for that wreck.

$7,000.15 delivered on spec.=( with a refusal option). 👹

 

Seems high I know..,but I'm hoping the original headlamp lenses and reflectors are under the seat!LOL.

 

 

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Grimy in a 'Not Mine, For Sale' thread recently showed a similar 1925 Pierce Arrow for sale that he is trying to help find a buyer. As I recall, he said he may have found a buyer. The pictures he showed were a lot like this one, however, I think it was more apart than this one. The price range being discussed was well under $5000. Just a reasonable comparison.

 

As for appraisers? One of my longest time (over fifty years now!) best friends worked as a collector car appraiser for many years (I think he still does a few). He is basically the ONLY antique automobile appraiser I have ever met that I would have any trust in. I have told stories on this forum before about idiot appraiser horror tales. I think any appraiser should be required to buy any car he appraises at about three quarters the appraised price if the car cannot be sold within a year for near the appraised price! (A few caveats and 'wherefores' required?) I have seen way too many near worthless piles of junk appraised in the several tens of thousands of dollars! If the appraiser had to buy those piles for ten times what they were really worth? They wouldn't keep giving stupid appraisals for very long.

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Yes I am still here... and to be honest- I am still trying to figure out what we are doing with this and am somewhat in limbo. I had appreciated some of the comments. I never mentioned I was purchasing the vehicle as some assumed. My family has owned a ranch since the early 1900s and has kept every car ever owned since then. We have a restored model T and a 45 (or 46- can’t remember) coupe. We are trying to determine which cars to restore and which to sell. The pierce arrow was one that we didnt know much about hence my inquiry. 

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Good to see you still here Kara. We all hope for the best for you, your family, and the car. I used to have a very similar 1925 series 80 Pierce Arrow, except mine was a solid running original car in very nice condition. I really loved that car! Unfortunately, my wife and I had to sell it when we bought our first real home almost 25 years ago. At my current point in life, I really need to not acquire any more projects. I already have enough cars worthy of restoration that I likely can never do even half of them. Your Pierce Arrow is worthy of restoration. And nearly all of us here would love to see it restored. However, the reality is simply the cost of restoration for a car like that would likely be far more than the car would be financially worth when done.

 

Best wishes for you and yours, W2

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Well HELLO AGAIN Kara !

I am certain I speak for each and every member here when I say how delighted we are to have found a new member in you ! Welcome !! You are now one of us to our mutual benefit . Perhaps , by way of apology, I should  explain a certain antagonizing syndrome , you might call it the “Fly by night phantom” , or to quote a famous 12 string blues/folk master, he said anyone ask you , who wrote this song, you tell ‘em Huddie Leadbelly “done been heeeere and gone”, a disappearing interloper who in this case leaves us with neither song nor dance. They come and stimulate vast amounts of detailed help, and then without so much as a thank you, they melt away never to return. We never know if our efforts just fell on deaf ears, or perhaps something terrible has happened to a new friend. I once spent in excess of 100 hours helping a fellow to find a particular Cadillac in California, only to come to a mysterious end of conversation. Impolite, or inconsiderate at best, predatory sociopath at worst. So yes , there is a kind of sensitivity around this camp. I will conclude this paragraph to ask forgiveness on behalf of us all.

 

Now I am happy to offer a certain point of view many in the hobby are coming around to. I recommend this to you. This is the “Barn find appreciation society “, for lack of a better term. Two subsets reside therin. One gets the old mess “running well but looking like hell”. They leave all the dust, dirt and bird hooey, maybe even a touch of rat , raccoon and mouse too. 🐀🐁😖. Only the most hard-core barnfinder would operate at that extreme level. Please don’t include me in that fanatic sect, or cult. My type of subset prefers to get the old car running as best it can within reason, and looking the best it can while preserving whatever of the original finish and features remaining. There is an appreciation society for this attitude. Awards are given in a special class called HPOF. Historical Preservation of Original Features. I have two HPOF unrestored original cars, 1924 and 1927 Cadillacs. They run very well, too. I just purchased another 1924 Cadillac from the original owners granddaughter. Bought it by remote control without any ability to determine its mechanical condition. Here you see a couple pictures of the old car. It is better preserved than your P.A. , and the interior may well clean up into a no apologies impressive original condition. But the effort to make it run , and run well is totally unknown. For comparison, FWIW, I paid $6000 taking a bit of a gamble. If the engine can be made to run well without needing a lot of time, money, and effort, I get to enjoy a sigh of relief and pay a bonus. I most certainly hope to get to pay the granddaughter more $. At my old age and declining poor health, I don’t need any projects at all. I fell into a late in life love affair with the questionable old Cad, but fallback sad position would be as a parts car. I would really hate to do it, because this is the type of labor of love which could resurrect another sleeping beauty of a respected HPOF reference standard vehicle. If getting this type of car running, which your P.A. also represents, is simply routine, it is worth doing. With luck, it takes more elbow grease than money. Yes , a certain degree of knowledge is needed to properly and thoroughly bring back and clean up what is left of such a car. But you don’t need to be a machinist or mechanical engineer either. Anyone who is still strong and healthy can do it with the help here on AACA forums. If the engine, or more yet, is shot, you have a fairly complete parts car. Unless a person has the facilities and know how to overhaul and totally rebuild such an engine themselves, the cost to do so to an already deteriorated old hulk, is absolutely prohibitive.

 

For a certain helpful perspective, the next picture is my unrestored 1927 Cadillac. It took me over 20 years of searching before I finally found it only 200 miles from home. It was unusually well preserved, and did run, but not very well. Well enough for me to understand what it needed, but it was overheating badly. Deferred maintenance and the need of some metallurgical improvement was fun to rectify. It is presently about half way through a 5000 mile round trip, and awaits victory over the nasty virus in order to come home. I paid $12,000 for it, and put about the same into preparation for long distance , reliable, solo , lone-wolf adventures. One needs confidence born of in depth knowledge of the particular individual car, and the year and make in general of the vehicle. Cell phone, AAA membership at the highest level, and a credit card are among the ten essentials for such driving.

 

The next pictures were taken at a local Club meet. My ‘24 Cad usually draws the most attention at such gatherings. If it were a little more threadbare, you might say “rustic” , it would attract even more. It would scream originality louder than the stunningly well preserved state that it is in. The older Cad limo in the last picture drew more gawkers than did mine. People just find it hard to believe that my old beauty has not been restored at some point. The ‘24 was prepared for transcontinental road trips 30 years ago when I could have done that. It is an open car, a Summer car, making it less comfortable, though more valuable than the ‘27 closed sedan. The ‘27 also has an extremely effective factory heater. For a really beat up old man such as myself, that comfort factor is non-negotiable , thus it is my Winter car.

 

Well then, Kara, I think you see why I needed to know that I had your attention before putting the effort forth to contribute to the massive amount of help available here at your typing fingertips. I have to laboriously tap out with my arthritic thumbs, so I will knock off now. I will close by referencing one of our beloved members who came to us maybe six or seven years ago. Her handle here is Victorialynn2. She lets me call her Vic’, as we all have great admiration for her. She was helping her dad who was afflicted with dementia. He had a lot of cars to be dealt with. She knew very little. But, energetic and extremely communicative, she learned a lot. She plugged on and on eventually earned hands on help , fixing , buying, transporting , and selling the cars from forum guys. She brought a couple cars from her dad’s place in Texas, and now enjoys them at her home in Oregon.

 

I am sure we are all here to help you too. As you get to know us, or even before that, you can use the private message function here , and can set up phone calls to help out. You might just find some of that hands on help available not far from you. I am in Washington State. Where are you ? ‘Round here I am known as :   -   Cadillac Carl.   Pleasure to get to know you.

 

 

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Edited by C Carl
Clean up (see edit history)
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Wow, Cadillac Carl! I like that new Cadillac! It looks like it may clean up really nice for a mostly original car! A wonderful addition to your HPOF fleet.

Is that left headlamp lens broken? What is the correct lens and size?

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Carl is hard core, and my favorite thing about him......he drives the obscure years of Cadillac. And while not the most collected or often seen series of cars.......his enthusiasm and drive it attitude are impressive. The lost years of nickel are so under appreciated. Lots of fun, and many of the platforms are very drivable. The most important lesson.......there are affordable early old cars, and you can enjoy thr hobby with them. You don’t have to drive 60 mph to have fun. Too many people overlook a Ford T. Affordable, easy to fix, parts are everywhere, helpful owners and clubs..........what’s not to like about a T? My favorite part.........at a Ford T meet or tour........all men are equal. No one with 50 more horsepower, no seven figure trailer queens, just a bunch of people having fun.........for very little up front cost if you choose. Just about anyone can afford a T. And with just a little effort, they are reliable. 

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Cadillac Carl’s response is world class., and I too thought that your query was a one-n-done or flyby... our sincere apologies for that.

 

Carl has the advanced stage of the “originality bug” and a much bigger garage than mine, but that appreciation for the cars is getting far more popular because of the steep costs of a full restoration. There’s also a very old prejudice against closed cars... at one time the sedans were considered parts cars for the more popular open cars (and maybe a coupe) because the additional cost of restoration was “wasted” based on the idea of a lower value. When I bought my sedan one of the very first comments was that it would be a great parts car... I will get back to this soon.

 

Your car looks pretty solid, and a lot will lean on the condition of the wood in the body because the wood is very expensive to have replaced, and time consuming to do yourself if you are talented in that occupation. It also looks complete, which is also a big deal as parts are hard to find and typically expensive because what is always missing are the hardest part to find. This is a phenomenon caused by the era of manufacturing. Pot metal was used in a lot of parts but wasn’t as refined as it is today, so a part brakes, it gets replaced by one from a parts car... remember what I said about sedans? So now you’re missing a hard to find 90+ year old part that was prone to breaking. Those headlights come to mind, I don’t know about earlier PA’s but the later lenses are impossible to find. Top all of this off with the fact that Pierce Arrow never produced a true service manual for their cars and you will need a very clear understanding of mechanics to do the work yourself. That is not to say you can’t learn but it is intimidating to say the least. Thankfully there’s been no shortage of help and encouragement here for many to overcome those issues.

 

Back to my car... So, my 31 Pierce was purchased off of eBay for the initial investment of $15,000 and an additional $1,000 to get it transported to me. It was a running car and I drove it the day after it arrived maybe 40 miles for a picnic. The first thing I noticed were that the brakes were tight — by which I mean the cables were bound up and they didn’t work well at all... The next two weeks were spent going through the entire system by disassembly and cleaning everything I could and replacing the brake linings. Then we took the car to a local show about 50-60 miles away. The engine ran a little rough and was woefully short on compression, so valves are next. Well that has turned into a two year overhaul of the engine including custom pistons, rings, and new rod bearings as well as valves and guides. FWIW, the engine gasket set for my engine was a little over $500 and a carburetor kit was $125 so it all adds up quickly. While waiting for different engine parts I replaced all the wiring with a new harness, new fuel line, tires, the list keeps going but needless to say it’s pushing the $12k Carl tossed out mighty quickly and it was a ”RUNNING” car to begin with. The picture below was before I took the engine apart.

 

 I think your car has definite possibility for someone to save, I know if my garage and wallet were larger I would want to save it but I have my car. I think the most important thing you should take away is that the current condition will affect the selling value but there’s someone somewhere who would love to take it in and try if for no other reason than to enter into an enjoyable hobby without a major initial investment, and after a lot of elbow grease would have a great car.

 

Good luck with your decisions, I hope there is someone in your family who is interested as it’s not often you see a one family car...

 

 

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And Kara, if you or another family member are interested in keeping your Pierce Arrow, there is no better place to find help than by joining the Pierce Arrow Society.

There is not a more knowledgeable and friendly group of Pierce Arrow enthusiasts anywhere.

http://pierce-arrow.org

 

Good luck with your old car journey, I hope your car gets back on the road in the future.

And with your statement about every last car that your family has purchased is there on the farm, I bet you have many more wonderful pictures to show us old car nuts.

Edited by zepher (see edit history)
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I strongly endorse what Cadillac Carl, Mark Wetherbee, and zepher have said.

 

First, a few words of caution:  Please do not attempt to throw in a new battery and a gallon of gas and try to start this car--or any one of the cars!  There is an entire (fairly long) process to follow to avoid destroying the engine--we will help you with this if you decide to rejuvenate this or any of the cars--just ask!  Also--don't buy NEW tires and tubes until you have made the car almost completely tour-ready:  we use the term "rollers" for used tires (that someone has replaced with new) which allow a subject car to be "rolled" around a shop/barn and even operated around the block--but not much further. AND--minimize disassembly to that necessary to complete one task at a time, as we've all found cars "disassembled for restoration" that are only useful for parts.

 

The Pierce-Arrow Society (PAS) www.pierce-arrow.org is an essential investment at only $45/year, and our membership is for 12 months, not calendar years.  We have in the members-only section of our website FREE downloads of owners manuals (through 1929, these manual;s have a lot of mechanical adjustment information) and 60 years of our "Service Bulletin" publication describing repair and maintenance techniques.  Pierce-Arrow never issued factory service manuals, although some aftermarket companies (Reed, National Service Data, and others) cover Pierce-Arrow cars well.  Most importantly, PAS offers its members a message board, a miniature version of this one, in which owners can ask technical questions and get responses from experts in near-real time.

 

I think almost all of us started in this hobby because we wanted to "restore" a car.  As we gained experience, we came to understand that "restoring" is a term with an almost-infinite number of shades of meaning.  As Carl states above, the priority is getting a "barn find" (I dislike that term but it's appropriate here) (1) running and (2) cleaned up as much as possible without spending a fortune.  This allows you to assess all aspects of a car's condition, prioritize future investments so you don't get underwater in your car, and even decide whether you want to pursue the project.  Once it's running, you may want to just throw blankets over the seats and enjoy it as is!  My rule of thumb is that a car that runs and drives is much more likely to get 2 hrs of my time after dinner a couple of days per week, and a half-day on Saturday, than a non-runner which is left waiting until I have two weeks of vacation.

 

That's as much as I have time for right now, but feel free to PM me or to ask questions in this thread or elsewhere on the AACA forums.

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7 minutes ago, Grimy said:

First, a few words of caution:  Please do not attempt to throw in a new battery and a gallon of gas and try to start this car--or any one of the cars!  There is an entire (fairly long) process to follow to avoid destroying the engine-


I strongly agree that this is likely a large part of why my valve job snowballed on me. The car was “got running” without the benefit of a clean oil pan and while it wasn’t driven much it suffered from that situation. If driven much more in that condition I believe that engine would have become a boat anchor. 
 

And I should have also put in a word for the Pierce Arrow Society... I joined after buying my car and the very first question was “where can I get a copy of a service manual?” only to find out they don’t exist... However, you can access the clubs  newsletters back into the 1960’s where you will find much useful information from people who went through everything already. Absolutely worth the cost of membership!

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Let me give you just one example of why, for cars of this vintage, one needs to consult experts and have instructional materials available:

 

The Series 80 oil pans are cast aluminum and have, in addition to the usual vertical capscrews attaching the pan to the cast aluminum crankcase, two *horizontal* bolts through the cast aluminum timing cover.  Without removing these two well hidden horizontal bolts, a mechanic with experience only in post-war cars would try to pry the pan down, thereby irretrievably breaking the casting(s) of not only the pan but probably also the timing cover.  And there are NO reproductions of these parts.

 

All of us will tell you to drop and clean the oil pan, and the oil pump (forms part of the pan) before attempting to start this engine.  And to *successfully* replace the oil pump while the engine is in the car is like trying to thread a needle--more on that if and when you ask.

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56 minutes ago, Grimy said:

And to *successfully* replace the oil pump while the engine is in the car is like trying to thread a needle--more on that if and when you ask.


I had bought an inexpensive wireless bore gauge camera for doing this, it attached to my iPad and gave me a great view of the distributor shaft orientation from under the car... it saved me from getting up off the floor with each attempt at getting the timing dead on. It still took several attempts, one tooth each side of correct...

 

If you do keep the car, there’s a wealth of information like Grimy suggests that will be essential in your efforts. Please don’t think any questions are foolish and someone familiar with the mechanics will help when asked. 

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Unfortunately I extra blunt and snippy here as this plot strikes a memory of a very similar situation of a decent 1928? PA 80 something ,4 door with that integral roof visor  with kool optional bar style headlights .

 

It was hidden, up on blocks in a decaying barn down town..with another old car like a 36 or 37 tan plymouth/dodge coupe that was also in nice original shape .

These heaps were discovered by a friend and also some other unknown  guys around the same time.

There was a rumor/urban lenged for years about them.

I saw the pair twice, 10 years apart .First when I was teen with an older friend car mentor.

 

 It took 10 years till the elderly  ambivalent(key word ambivalent) owners or their heirs  parted with the cars ,but only after the barn had partly collapsed in the iterim and left one side of the Peirce car completely exposed to weather and no sun.

 Both were finally sold and dragged out.

The plymouth/dodge was not too bad ,but split that Peirce down the middle and everything on the passenger side needed replacement.

All  was severely rotten..flaking layers of metal and holes. The front and rear frame horns and springs were so corroded it was scary..I've seen better wheels in a field after 50 years.

It got worse ,a few years later the car was spotted in a front yard in upper class neighorhood  with a for-sale sign of $3,000 (1995). 

 

It was there for a LONG LONG TIME melting into the ground.

Finally it was gone with the wheel divots and dragging tracks still there.

  

I don't think the guy who dragged it out of the barn paid more then $500 for the PA...I do not recall if he bought both cars.

 

The poor Pierce Arrow probably ended up as just parts.

 

How do we break down the ambivalent factor that holds many things up?

Is it just nostalgia or fear of getting screwed out of some money? 

 

You either keep a thing or let it go.

You either sell a thing or give it away.

Then I guess you break those down to (how to)

Those are the only issues to wavor on I think.?

Till it's too late.😱 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, wayne sheldon said:

Wow, Cadillac Carl! I like that new Cadillac! It looks like it may clean up really nice for a mostly original car! A wonderful addition to your HPOF fleet.

Is that left headlamp lens broken? What is the correct lens and size?

About that headlight.When the glass lense was made they added a certain chemical to make the glass clear. Over the years this chemical reacts with sunlight and turns purple. The same effect can be seen in some old bottles, telephone insulators and other glass articles. In this case it took 100 years to turn that color.

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6 minutes ago, 60FlatTop said:

 

I thought you only shifted them in the driveway.

Not if you're backing out of the driveway....

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  • 4 weeks later...

Purple lenses.

I had been told by various sources

through the years it has something to do with "lead"content in the glass mix.

There is manufacture window of time where it is usually  seen in some aged automobile lenses..  

Like 1915-1923 ..rarely if at all after 1925..

 

Like low number license plates..some folks get all giddy about purple lenses...Break one from a pair...good luck finding a match

.unless its a Model T.  

 

 

 

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On 3/17/2021 at 7:06 AM, edinmass said:

Carl is hard core, and my favorite thing about him......he drives the obscure years of Cadillac. And while not the most collected or often seen series of cars.......his enthusiasm and drive it attitude are impressive. The lost years of nickel are so under appreciated. Lots of fun, and many of the platforms are very drivable. The most important lesson.......there are affordable early old cars, and you can enjoy thr hobby with them. You don’t have to drive 60 mph to have fun. Too many people overlook a Ford T. Affordable, easy to fix, parts are everywhere, helpful owners and clubs..........what’s not to like about a T? My favorite part.........at a Ford T meet or tour........all men are equal. No one with 50 more horsepower, no seven figure trailer queens, just a bunch of people having fun.........for very little up front cost if you choose. Just about anyone can afford a T. And with just a little effort, they are reliable. 

 

Your comments about the Model T world is one of the reasons that I just added a 1912 Model T to my collection of Buicks.  Their objective is to drive them from the friends that I know that own them.  I plan on joining them on tours this summer if the Covid stuff subsides.

 

Also if the Model T club does another coast to coast tour, my Wife and I want to be on that tour with our two grandsons!!

 

Please sign me up now. 🙂

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10 hours ago, Flivverking said:

Purple lenses.

I had been told by various sources

through the years it has something to do with "lead"content in the glass mix.

There is manufacture window of time where it is usually  seen in some aged automobile lenses..  

Like 1915-1923 ..rarely if at all after 1925..

 

Like low number license plates..some folks get all giddy about purple lenses...Break one from a pair...good luck finding a match

.unless its a Model T.  

 

 

 

Close... if the glass happens to contain a small amount of iron oxide it would give it a green tint. To neutralize the green, glass makers would add a little manganese dioxide, sometimes called glassmaker's soap. The manganese dioxide has a pink or red tint, which neutralizes the green. The result would be perfectly clear glass.

 

Over many years sunlight causes a chemical reaction that turns the manganese purple.

 

Glassmakers started using manganese dioxide in the mid 19th century. Evidently they changed to a different type of glass for headlight lenses about 1925.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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