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Building 100% accurate replicas of antique automobiles


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I've always been interested in early automobiles from pre-1910 but due to the rarity and collector value of these vehicles I'd never realistically be able to ever own one of them unless I won the lottery or something. I think the only realistic way I'd ever get to is building replicas. Some people when building replicas put in some lawn mower or briggs and stratton motors, and other parts in them. But honestly where is the fun in driving something with inauthentic parts or something that isn't mechanically accurate? One day I'd love to build 100% mechanically accurate replicas of cars like the 1903 Ford Model A or maybe even the Curved Dash Oldsmobile. Considering people out there have created 100% accurate working replicas of Henry Ford's 1896 Quadricycle or Karl Benz's 1886 Motorwagen it probably wouldn't be that hard to do. The bodies wouldn't be too hard to make but the difficult thing would be I'd have to get ahold of some sort of plans or schematics to create the original engines, transmissions, etc. I have people in my family who have the metal working and wood working knowledge that could help with this too. If I was to choose one of the cars to do first it would be the 1903 Ford.

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There are blue prints available for a CDO.  Many bodies have been built from scratch and it is pretty simple for a woodworker.  There are castings of parts available but a few people have started projects to build something completely from scratch but I have never seen a completed project that was a faithful re-creation of a CDO.  

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It’s faster and cheaper to buy a real car.......by 200 percent.

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I visited a tour this past weekend in Maryland, one one of the first stops at a restoration shop.  A big Packard limousine was there, from 30 feet away I was intrigued.  From 20 feet away I knew something was askew.  From 10 feet away I was wondering what the everloving crap I was looking at.  From 3 feet away, talking to the owner, a Gibbons full on fiberglass replica of a town car, total fiberglass body.  Then he pressed the button and the top of the hood raised up about 6 or 8 inches showing the, damifino, big modern engine.  The interior was nice, the finish on the car acceptable, but the engine and the sound it made when he started it up, well, I just sort of walked away.  The fascinating thing to me is that this is welcome on an AACA tour.  It was not a bad car, not a good car, just something so fake that hard to think it would be allowed on an AACA event.  At least he had air conditioning, and would be comfortable as rocks were thrown.  There's a place for this, just not in my world.

 

Gibbon Hot Rod Shop (gibbonfiberglass.org)

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The Ford Model T was reproduced pretty well a few years back and Pur Sang in South America( Argentina ?) had been making the type 35 Bugatti and the Alfo Romeo 8C.. to about as high a standard as one can expect...so it can and has been  done..

 

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Do yourself a favor by researching machinery required to manufacture a motor starting with machining  motor castings, turning and grinding  crankshafts, line boring a motor, and general foundry casting.  Once you realize just how much machinery is needed to build your own motor, I am sure you will narrow your focus down to just building the body yourself.  

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Anything can be done, but there are tremendous skills and machines required. How would you cast an early one or two cylinder engine block and transmission case? You would need a complete machine shop with milling machines, lathes etc. Lots and lots of work to be done. George DeAngelis built a very accurate Quadricycle but it wasn't cheap. I would start with an early Model T speedster as most of those parts are available.

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46 minutes ago, Oregon Desert model 45 said:

Do yourself a favor by researching machinery required to manufacture a motor starting with machining  motor castings, turning and grinding  crankshafts, line boring a motor, and general foundry casting.  Once you realize just how much machinery is needed to build your own motor, I am sure you will narrow your focus down to just building the body yourself.  

My uncle might have most of that stuff and the skill to help me as well. He can weld too.

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This has been done with the 1914 (?) Ford Model T Touring Car by none other than the Ford Motor Company. They made a run of 5 cars to celebrate of their 100th anniversary in 2003. The company was thinking about making more but there were issues with safety and other things. In the end there were only the five cars made and at least a couple of them are running today giving visitors rides in Greenfield Village. I apologize of I got some of the details wrong.

Lew Bachman

1957 Thunderbird Colonial White

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4 minutes ago, 1957Birdman said:

This has been done with the 1914 (?) Ford Model T Touring Car by none other than the Ford Motor Company. They made a run of 5 cars to celebrate of their 100th anniversary in 2003. The company was thinking about making more but there were issues with safety and other things. In the end there were only the five cars made and at least a couple of them are running today giving visitors rides in Greenfield Village. I apologize of I got some of the details wrong.

Lew Bachman

1957 Thunderbird Colonial White

I believe the rest  of the story is that, while “replicating” the early T, there were improvements made.  In testing and touring, some of the improvements failed.  A lot of the so called

weakness of the original T was there for a purpose, to allow the car to bend and flex and thus survive...

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A fellow in England recently had a number of CDO cylinder heads and some other components cast. Several machinists tried their hand at it and gave up. Finally he was successful .I bought one for my '03 which had been converted to vertical stationery format. It's not easy !

IMG_1448.JPG

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1 hour ago, 46 woodie said:

Anything can be done, but there are tremendous skills and machines required. How would you cast an early one or two cylinder engine block and transmission case? You would need a complete machine shop with milling machines, lathes etc. Lots and lots of work to be done. George DeAngelis built a very accurate Quadricycle but it wasn't cheap. I would start with an early Model T speedster as most of those parts are available.

Model T is also bigger and more complicated since it's a newer car design compared to the 03' Model A. I think the A would be easier to do. I'd just have to find some sort of plans to reproduce the parts. All those tools should be in the shop at my grandparent's farm property.

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2 hours ago, edinmass said:

It’s faster and cheaper to buy a real car.......by 200 percent.

I'm pretty sure a 1903 Ford Model A replica wouldn't cost 200,000+ dollars to make like what the real models cost today to buy.

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31 minutes ago, mike6024 said:

The 1903 Model seems to have the same type of transmission as the model T. Planetary gears, two speed plus reverse. And you select gears by clamping bands. Sounds similar to the "pre-selector" gearbox used in Britain.

 

https://www.modeltcentral.com/transmission_animation.html

Exploded view of the drum assembly

Exploded view of the clutch components

Yeah sources I've read said it was a planetary transmission.

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When you consider that guys like Henry Ford built their prototypes and early models in their garages, one might think it could be done.

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<b>1903 Ford Model 'A'</b><br />Engine no. 280

 

Is that really the engine in this picture? On the left side of the picture? I never realized it before. Engine is 2 cylinder, horizonally opposed (flat) with piston (bore) 4 inch diameter and stroke also 4 inches, and displacement 1700 cc which is very large for a 2 cylinder.

 

 

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image.png.d3207105c89651f890ff3c7b5a486e93.png

 

You can see the connecting rods in there. The crankcase is a square box. The two cylinders are offset as you would expect. The cylinders look like iron pipe with a flange welded to the bottom, so they can be bolted onto the crankcase. Side valve? Two valves per cylinder.

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Posted (edited)

TSome original '03 Model A's have been recently sold in the past couple of years in the range of $150,000 to $180,000. 

I doubt anyone could build a 100% authenic replica in that range.

 

It all sounds very romantic ,but In my lame opinion it would be impossible to construct 100% authenic reproduction of anything without the original plans if at all possible and or an original  car at hand,and a super condition one!

Also, soon as you make one fudge or consession ,which will  lead to another and another for what every reason you lost the game and your into a just a  close facsimile .

  I would think,unless you have huge check book,and have in the field resources, just to start to even think to start a project like this ,one would already be somewhat of and engineer,something of a machinist,somekind of draftsmen,partly a designer,a bit of a metallurgist ,plus a 100 hands on skill sets with lots and lots of vintage auto experience.

Maybe some one else could just wing it?

 

 

Edited by Flivverking (see edit history)
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56 minutes ago, Flivverking said:

TSome original '03 Model A's have been recently sold in the past couple of years in the range of $150,000 to $180,000. 

I doubt anyone could build a 100% authenic replica in that range.

 

It all sounds very romantic ,but In my lame opinion it would be impossible to construct 100% authenic reproduction of anything without the original plans if at all possible and or an original  car at hand,and a super condition one!

Also, soon as you make one fudge or consession ,which will  lead to another and another for what every reason you lost the game and your into a just a  close facsimile .

  I would think,unless you have huge check book,and have in the field resources, just to start to even think to start a project like this ,one would already be somewhat of and engineer,something of a machinist,somekind of draftsmen,partly a designer,a bit of a metallurgist ,plus a 100 hands on skill sets with lots and lots of vintage auto experience.

Maybe some one else could just wing it?

 

 

My uncles have a lot of experience with that kind of stuff so they could help me if I attempted it.

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1 hour ago, mike6024 said:

<b>1903 Ford Model 'A'</b><br />Engine no. 280

 

Is that really the engine in this picture? On the left side of the picture? I never realized it before. Engine is 2 cylinder, horizonally opposed (flat) with piston (bore) 4 inch diameter and stroke also 4 inches, and displacement 1700 cc which is very large for a 2 cylinder.

 

 

That's the 03 Ford engine right?

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Here are photos of Ford's Quadricycle engine. This is the engine he built in his home garage.   Manufacturing the 2 cylinder motor from a casting requires a big jump in machinery and skills, which is why all these early car manufacturers had to find investors and raise capitol - to get the heavy machines to build something more powerful and sturdy than a Quadricycle. 

quadricycle.jpg

ford quadiacycle engine.jpg

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10 hours ago, TaurusLX86 said:

I'm pretty sure a 1903 Ford Model A replica wouldn't cost 200,000+ dollars to make like what the real models cost today to buy.


I am certain that unless you are an experienced pattern maker already in possession of your own forge, foundry, and machine shop… then yes, it would cost well over 200k to make one from scratch. With fairly complete brass era project cars regularly available for 10k or less, a restoration will be the far cheaper method if ownership is the goal. Purchasing a restored car will be cheaper yet, but the guy thinking about building one from scratch is likely looking at the project as much as the ownership. 
 

To put an example out there, when guys restoring a car need a replacement component and no originals can be found, they scour the earth for other people that need one to share in the cost. For a simple 1 or 2 cyl engine jug, the pattern maker is going to charge somewhere between 2 and 20k, the foundry is going to charge a few thousand for the first one but then be rather reasonable for subsequent pieces. When that cost gets spread out over 20 parts for 20 different people, it is manageable… but if making the the first one of every component, the high cost of the first one will be there on every part…. The machine shop is going to be the same way to do just one. 
 

Over a decade ago we needed a small brass latch that held a wooden door under the seat for a 1907 cartercar. The first one cost nearly $2,000 (cast fob on stamped base) but every one after that cost about $40 if we purchased in some quantity.  People were more than happy to pay $100 or a little more each for the latches and we had enough made to hit a break even at that sales price… but it took almost ten years to move them all. 
 

Following all that talk of an accurate replica built from scratch not being a cheaper option, it is an option that spreads the cost out over time. Your build could generate patterns, parts, and knowledge that help all owners of whatever vehicle you choose to duplicate. I hope you go for it and succeed! It just won’t be cheaper. 

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3 hours ago, Terry Harper said:

will never, ever tell anyone that they can't do something.

When giving another person advice one may often underestimate the other persons skills and financial capabilities. It's not like you were evaluating yourself.

 

Bernie

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So there is a little company in Argentina called Pur Sang.  The build 100% accurate replicas of early European racing machines, Bugatti Type 35, Alfa Romeo Monza, Fiat Botafogo.  They are not allowed under Argentinian law to import anything, they have to make everything including the tires.  This is offered only as inspiration.  Reproducing early cars is an art form in my opinion and I'm a little jealous of those with age and skill on their side that can create an old car out of nothing...

 

https://pursangargentina.com/

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Model A Engine

 

I really like that engine, and it seems like a worthy project. But the whole cylinder and head is cast as one piece, so it seems that would be the hard part. The crankcase is not so bad, just a box, less complicated.

 

 

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Not really related but I got into a conversation with one of my Model A neighbors.

He is building a 5 main bearing engine that will not be recognized from the outside.

He says its a kit (Australian if I recall correctly).

Comes with the crank shaft and camshaft I believe.

I did a little googling and see that it has been discussed at the Ford Barn.

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3 hours ago, Terry Harper said:
4 hours ago, 60FlatTop said:

Bernie

My statement that I would never tell anyone that they cannot do something is based on personal experienc

 

Read what I wrote slowly and out loud.

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8 hours ago, gossp said:


I am certain that unless you are an experienced pattern maker already in possession of your own forge, foundry, and machine shop… then yes, it would cost well over 200k to make one from scratch. With fairly complete brass era project cars regularly available for 10k or less, a restoration will be the far cheaper method if ownership is the goal. Purchasing a restored car will be cheaper yet, but the guy thinking about building one from scratch is likely looking at the project as much as the ownership. 
 

To put an example out there, when guys restoring a car need a replacement component and no originals can be found, they scour the earth for other people that need one to share in the cost. For a simple 1 or 2 cyl engine jug, the pattern maker is going to charge somewhere between 2 and 20k, the foundry is going to charge a few thousand for the first one but then be rather reasonable for subsequent pieces. When that cost gets spread out over 20 parts for 20 different people, it is manageable… but if making the the first one of every component, the high cost of the first one will be there on every part…. The machine shop is going to be the same way to do just one. 
 

Over a decade ago we needed a small brass latch that held a wooden door under the seat for a 1907 cartercar. The first one cost nearly $2,000 (cast fob on stamped base) but every one after that cost about $40 if we purchased in some quantity.  People were more than happy to pay $100 or a little more each for the latches and we had enough made to hit a break even at that sales price… but it took almost ten years to move them all. 
 

Following all that talk of an accurate replica built from scratch not being a cheaper option, it is an option that spreads the cost out over time. Your build could generate patterns, parts, and knowledge that help all owners of whatever vehicle you choose to duplicate. I hope you go for it and succeed! It just won’t be cheaper. 

As I've said in the thread there is a machine shop at my grandparent's farm property and most of the tools I require are most likely there. My grandpa before he passed away last year was working on building a late 1920s Ford model A sedan completely from the ground up with parts he bought. I have people in my family with the wood working and metal working knowledge that could help me out. I really don't think it would really cost 200,000 dollars to do it unless I was paying someone to do it for me. I mean come on a 1903 model A tonneau can't be that more complicated than a riding lawmower. You can really find brass era projects for that low? Wow, I might have to keep my eyes out for one in the future.

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