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Posted (edited)

This 1910 Mercer appears to have American Ball Bearing axles. I am just learning about Mercer. My understanding is that in the early days, Mercer had trouble sourcing suppliers and used three different engine suppliers, Continental, Beaver, and Rutenberg. I wonder if the same was true about axle suppliers.

1910 Mercer Toy Tonneau - Other Makes and Models - Antique Automobile Club  of America - Discussion Forums

While I'm at it, the steering wheel on this car lacks the bottom ribs seen on most Mercer cars. With all the write ups extolling the virtues of the Mercer car, its very hard to find much in the way of specifics.

 

The Mercer below (year unknown) has a different front hub, which means, a different make of front axle. This car, probably 1912, has something closer to a Weston Mott front axle. Notice how the hub is smaller between the hubcap and flange, while the hub of the car above is straight.

Mercer Car Photos, Pictures (Pics), Wallpapers | Top Speed

 

 

Edited by AHa (see edit history)
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Notice again, the front hub of this car tapers down to a neck between the hubcap and the flange. The steering wheel of this car has the typical for Mercer ribbed spokes. The 1910 car above was assembled from different components than the later Mercers. I am not very familiar with full floating rear axles. All Mercers appear to have full floating rear axles.

http://www.modelcarsmag.com/forums/uploads/post-13366-0-06034900-1392943916.jpg

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I would call Fred Hoch of Schaffer and Long. Doubt that anyone knows more about early Mercers.

He owns the original stock, multiple cars and is great to talk to. 856-784-4044

 

Johnny

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I have recently become interested in Mercer . I shied away for a long time because of what I perceived of as hype surrounding the early race abouts. Even today, there is more glory heaped on these cars than actual information. Here we are 110 years later and it is nearly impossible to find any real information about the cars on the internet and the internet is renowned for false information. Now, as a caveat, I have yet to speak to Fred Hoch. I have spoken to Fred at Hershey in years past and had several conversations with him concerning the Mercer he brought to the show. It was always a faded yellow car, coated with dust and dirt.

800px-Fritzi_Scheff_2.jpg.c5d22d3b1b0f6d635efd1f970ad1940a.jpg

I have been amazed to learn the early Mercers were assembled cars. Now I mean no disrespect, but assembled cars are generally looked down on by the antique car community. Yet, the Mercer, which may well be the greatest early car, is an assembled car. The Mercer engineers found suppliers of component parts and had those suppliers build parts according to their specifications. Now, I don't know anything for certain, but it appears Mercer went to continental and said we want X amount of 40 horse motors and we want a 7-1 compression ratio. Continental made the motors according to Mercer specs and thus was the beginning of a remarkable car.

 

What Mercer did, which was unique in the car world, was to build a light car and give it a quickness that was unparalleled. They set that chassis on 24" wheels, which placed it lower to the ground. I spoke with a friend recently about the car and explained my hesitation. He said he had a opportunity to drive one of the cars and the hype was not overstated. He called the car nimble, a word I had found used in an online article. The nimbleness evidently is attributable to the higher compression and a wet multiple disc clutch, which makes the car easy to shift.

 

The car immediately above, which I believe to be a Mercer, has six bolt hubs. The cars I posted earlier have eight bolt hubs. I hope to speak to Fred in the near future to find answers to these anomalies and better understand what makes these cars so unique.

 

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Get yourself a copy of the book "Mercer Magic" by Clifford Zink published in 2015 by the Roebling Museum.  This book is by far the most accurate and complete history of the Mercer automobile.  The book was thoroughly researched with the help of Tim Kuser (Mercer historian and grandson of the company treasurer) and Fred Hoch.  Yes, Mercer did use Continental and Beaver engines - but only in the first few years of production cars.  They used their own proprietary engine for the Type 35 Raceabouts, and Type 45 racers where they had so much racing success.         

 

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I am somewhat dubious that the book contains information like what front and rear axles were used or what brand of steering. This information is usually not contained in "thoroughly researched" books or articles. If you google, Mercer," you will find lots of articles extolling the overall attributes of the car and everything about the car that can be lauded but it is difficult to find anything as basic as wheelbase. I ran into a similar problem when I researched the Locomobile race car known as old 16 and the sister car dubbed #1 in the last race. It was as if to tell any particulars was to, "look up the dress," of the car and was in very bad taste.

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I am not sure what you mean by the above comment ? I think AHa is very genuine in his desire to pin down particulars about early Mercers . And although I have not had the pleasure of examining first hand a copy of the book you recommend, I agree in principal that it is somewhat rare  for even a very well researched book to identify sub - assembly manufacturers / suppliers . Unless there is a name cast or forged into the part in a reasonably conspicuous location.

 At present the only copy of the Mercer book I can find on line has a $450.00 asking price. It may well be worth that sort of money however I have not even seen a copy yet , and that is a pretty steep price to buy a book sight unseen.

 

Greg

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Posted (edited)

I am sorry you feel like it is a waste of your time to respond to my question. I understand you are a very busy man and to offer the advice you did took precious minutes of your time. I appreciate your frustration with me and offer you my sincerest apology. I will call the Roebling Museum on Wednesday (the soonest they will be open) and as soon as I get a chance, I'll call Fred. Fred and I have had numerous conversations through the years but I never understood the early Mercers were assembled from parts made by other suppliers till now. As Greg stated, there is one copy of the book you recommended online, otherwise, there are no copies listed, unless the museum still has copies. So even if I wanted to, the book you recommend is not available to me. Again, I am very sorry for troubling you.

Edited by AHa (see edit history)
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AHa probably unintentionally offended some Mercer owners. Mercers, particularly real raceabouts are very hard to find. Those who have one have either owned it for a long time or paid a small fortune for it. To suggest that there is a lot of "hype" could be misunderstood.

 

One needs to be careful when comparing the features from one photo to another as a very large number of the cars are made up or modified to some degree. Again, a 25 cent phone

call to Fred (who owns more than a dusty yellow Mercer) might provide some answers. Small or young manufacturers usually bought components from other suppliers. It was impossible for them to make very limited numbers of specialized parts without drastically increasing the price of their finished product. Even today's huge car companies obtain parts from outside vendors.

 

The Mercer Magic book does mention that the 1910 car had Brown-Lipe transmissions, Spicer driveshafts, Standard Roller Bearing axles, frames by Parrish and wheels by Schwarz.

 

Johnny Crowell

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Johnny,

Thank you very much for your kind response. From the outside looking in, it seems impossible for the early Mercers to live up to the ascribed greatness heaped upon them, yet, an inside perspective seems to say the greatness prescribed does not measure up to the car. I'm just trying to get to the bones of what made the car so great. Most car companies bought component parts from other suppliers. Even Henry Ford bought axles from Dodge Brothers for the first few years of production of the Ford model T, six years into the company's history. There is nothing wrong with shopping around for the best parts available from the people who are better at making those parts than anyone else. In fact, it would not be wise for a start up company to try to make all these parts themselves, having no experience in doing so.

 

The idea that a car made up of parts supplied by outside suppliers, an assembled car, as it were, is less than a car made up of parts designed and built in house is absurd. Anybody who has ever owned or operated a business would know that. Microsoft and Apple both buy parts from outside sources today and their products are viewed as the best in their field. 

 

One internet writer suggests there are only 12-14 true Mercer raceabouts in existence with the other cars being modified true tourings, or assembled from parts, so Johnny's warning to suspect component parts is good advice. As far as I'm concerned, true or not, a Mercer raceabout is a Mercer raceabout. The provenance or lack thereof might effect price, but not the car itself.

 

Yes, a five minute phone call to Fred would likely answer my questions but I am deep in my own restoration and am trying to utilize my time as best I can. Please, I am not trying to ruffle anybodies feathers; I'm trying to ascertain the truth of these wonderful cars, so if I have offended any of you Mercer guys, please forgive me.

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Ok, I just got off the phone with Fred and Johnny was right, he was a delight to talk to, very forth coming and honest. In fact, his honesty and forthright was surprising. Like anything else, once a car has reached sainthood status, most people aren't willing to speak of the warts and to do so is anathema but Fred had no hesitation in speaking of what made the car great and its weaknesses.

 

I was right about the early axles, they were American Ball Bearing, but they changed axle suppliers and I've already forgot the make they changed to. It was a company I am not familiar with. I need about a day to set down with Fred with pencil and paper but he recommended I talk with Tim Kuser. Next time I'll do a zoom call with Fred and Tim. Fred did say there is a reprint of the book coming out with corrections. Turns out there is a fair amount of information in the first book that was wrong.

 

Again, cars that have reached sainthood are routinely attributed with miracles that are in fact, not true. The Mercer, as great a feat of engineering as it truly is, is still a car. I could attribute this quote to Fred but he did not use those words. Thanks Johnny; Fred truly was a delight.

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That's great about a revised , new printing of the book. I won't miss my chance this time.

  I understand what you getting at with your comments of the ' sainthood " of the Mercer vs the reality of the machine itself. I am sure they were one of the leading designs of the day. And their racing record backs this up. But even when they were at the top of their game other cars could at times beat them in racing events so they were not truly dominant compared to other cars of the time.

 But yes, a great car. At or near the top of almost anyone's top 5 pre- war American cars list.

Lets hope even more detailed information becomes "generally available " as time goes by. As I have mentioned before on other threads, my definition of the perfect book on any object is one that contains a full set of engineering drawings. Now that would easily be worth $450.00.

 

Greg

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