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Building 100% accurate replicas of antique automobiles


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2 hours ago, Terry Harper said:

The cores would take some figuring out but obviously not impossible. 3d modeling and printing to create the core boxes would help a lot but presents its own set of challenges.

My uncle who certainly has the skills to help me build a 1903 Ford has a friend in the air force who has a 3D printer so who knows? The stars could align and this could be possible.

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Posted (edited)

The biggest challenge are drop forgings, particularly if steel alloys are required. Practically impossible for all but the very most advanced amateur. In fact almost anything needing a alloy, heat treated part is a big challenge. The second  biggest challenge is always the castings. Pattern making and casting skills are becoming very rare. It's not impossible by any means , but there is a long learning curve for even very basic castings.  Things like cylinders, crankcases and transmission housings or anything with cores required require quite advanced skills.

 It is very difficult to create a casting without at least a damaged  original to work from. My Staver Chicago has been a back burner project for at least 5 would be restorers for the last 70 years because it lacks some important engine parts to at least make a  pattern off of. Creating something like the crankcase the car needs out of thin air is very expensive.

 There are a number of 1910 and older cars that are probably not quite as expensive as you are thinking. Small and slow they will be, but in most cases they should not break the bank. 

You probably should at least look into this segment before making a final decision.

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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I would think it would be easier and cheaper to start with an original car no matter how deteriorated. A friend of mine has a 1909 REO one cylinder car that his father bought from a junk yard in 1965. Nothing left now but the metal parts, engine, trans, axles etc the wooden parts long gone. I don't know what something like that is worth but George Albright in Florida seems to turn up some really old stuff regularly, he might have some ideas.

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Depends a lot on what you want, why you want it, and what you expect from it? 

 

A lot of the issue is to be found in your thread title, "100 percent accurate replicas of antique automobiles".  There is a huge, HUGE, difference between building a 'tribute' replica that in general appearance looks a lot like the original, and building something even approaching 100 percent accurate. Adapting readily available old stuff can often be done cheaply. Making something a bit closer to the original pieces can up the time and dollars invested by several times. Making "100 percent accurate" parts can be several to ten times more even than that middle level! The devil, and the cost, is in the details. 

 

Good projects are out there. I refer to some of the "restorations" I have done as "resurrections" because I started with so little of the original car, it was more like bringing them back from beyond the grave! I still have a couple project piles that I hope to get done someday.

Someone else mentioned George Albright. He often has some good and rare projects available. 

 

I, like Terry Harper, won't say "it cannot be done". I have restored a couple cars that I was told were too far gone to be restored. If what you want is a long term project for the next twenty to thirty years? And building from scratch is what intrigues you? Go for it. Choose a car you would like and begin building a piece, or several pieces, at a time. For me, I like to keep several pieces "in process". I often have a wood working part of the project, some sheet metal work ongoing (currently have two fenders soaking in the molasses bath after spending a couple weeks repairing the unrepairable!), and a heavy steel fabrication item along with the general restoration R&R (repair and repaint). Some days I feel like doing some tinkering, other days I want to pound on something. And for me? There is a certain magic in the torch, cutting, welding, bending, and brazing to make something that has been gone for a long time.

 

Good luck and have fun!

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There are only a handful of people on this forum who have serious experience with MAKING the sort of parts you will need make.

 

That said, I'll add a couple of further points. Like you, my financial situation precludes my ever being able to acquire the sort of car I'd like. There are a few of us here in the same boat and, for exposure to what is is involved I suggest you search on Harm's (Sloth) thread on his 1903 Cleveland, Terry Harper's threads on his Wisconsin Engine, F&J's thread on his Nash and my own thread on my 1910 Mitchell. There are a few more but that will get you going. Presuming you have, or will acquire or have access to the skills and machines needed it would still be far more efficient to find an original car - a total basket case - but one having all or most of the needed castings and most of the parts that would be extremely challenging to make (like the crankshaft or the cam shaft). These do not have to be expensive and, when completed, you would have a real car - not a replica. (Having said that, I've noticed that sellers do often have grossly unrealistic notions of what a pile of rusty parts can possibly be worth.) Patience - and some cash in hand is needed.

 

As to 100% correct...no restored early car is 100% correct despite what the owners say. There are always going to be compromises if only because some of the materials (like very low grade aluminum castings) simply aren't available any more. Depending on where you live, it may not even be possible to register a replica of an old car since it would be classified as new.

 

Like Terry, I'd be the last person to discourage someone to wants to try...

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1 hour ago, wayne sheldon said:

Depends a lot on what you want, why you want it, and what you expect from it? 

 

A lot of the issue is to be found in your thread title, "100 percent accurate replicas of antique automobiles".  There is a huge, HUGE, difference between building a 'tribute' replica that in general appearance looks a lot like the original, and building something even approaching 100 percent accurate. Adapting readily available old stuff can often be done cheaply. Making something a bit closer to the original pieces can up the time and dollars invested by several times. Making "100 percent accurate" parts can be several to ten times more even than that middle level! The devil, and the cost, is in the details. 

 

Good projects are out there. I refer to some of the "restorations" I have done as "resurrections" because I started with so little of the original car, it was more like bringing them back from beyond the grave! I still have a couple project piles that I hope to get done someday.

Someone else mentioned George Albright. He often has some good and rare projects available. 

 

I, like Terry Harper, won't say "it cannot be done". I have restored a couple cars that I was told were too far gone to be restored. If what you want is a long term project for the next twenty to thirty years? And building from scratch is what intrigues you? Go for it. Choose a car you would like and begin building a piece, or several pieces, at a time. For me, I like to keep several pieces "in process". I often have a wood working part of the project, some sheet metal work ongoing (currently have two fenders soaking in the molasses bath after spending a couple weeks repairing the unrepairable!), and a heavy steel fabrication item along with the general restoration R&R (repair and repaint). Some days I feel like doing some tinkering, other days I want to pound on something. And for me? There is a certain magic in the torch, cutting, welding, bending, and brazing to make something that has been gone for a long time.

 

Good luck and have fun!

You know if I did ever happen to come across an original 1903 Ford Model A that needed a lot of work I wouldn't mind doing that kind of resurrection on it.

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I think the key here which isn't mentioned is that for this sort of project (other than $$$) one needs a "team". Everyone has different experiences and talents and to manufacture, machine, finish, adjust and assemble all the components from scratch takes different talents. There's a Utube of guys from the UK who built a steam locomotive 10 years ago from scratch. The same is going on now in PA to re-create what could be the world's fastest steam locomotive but unfortunately all of this model were scrapped by the PRR in the '50s so the top speed record of this still remains a mystery. I digress but anyone really serious in scratch building anything complicated needs a "team" - or a really long livelihood.

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3 hours ago, 1912Staver said:

The biggest challenge are drop forgings, particularly if steel alloys are required. Practically impossible for all but the very most advanced amateur. In fact almost anything needing a alloy, heat treated part is a big challenge. The second  biggest challenge is always the castings. Pattern making and casting skills are becoming very rare. It's not impossible by any means , but there is a long learning curve for even very basic castings.  Things like cylinders, crankcases and transmission housings or anything with cores required require quite advanced skills.

 It is very difficult to create a casting without at least a damaged  original to work from. My Staver Chicago has been a back burner project for at least 5 would be restorers for the last 70 years because it lacks some important engine parts to at least make a  pattern off of. Creating something like the crankcase the car needs out of thin air is very expensive.

 There are a number of 1910 and older cars that are probably not quite as expensive as you are thinking. Small and slow they will be, but in most cases they should not break the bank. 

You probably should at least look into this segment before making a final decision.

Curved Dash Oldsmobile is probably one of those that isn't so expensive since I've heard there were thousands of them made from 1901-1907

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Posted (edited)

Why not?

 

Here are some instructions for building early car replicas: http://horselesscarriagereplicas.com/plans.html

 

Also, I suggest the 1913 book "How to Build a Cyclecar" published by Temple Press. It's available as a reprint here: https://www.prewarcar.com/320394-how-to-build-a-cyclecar-reprint

 

Also, you could try building a "Fantom" cyclecar from plans published in Sweden. This is actually a velocar in that it uses pedals. However, you could add a 2-cycle engine! See the 2003 book "Folkhemmets Farkoster"  (ISBN 91-7988-232-3)... then learn Swedish. 

 

Also, 

Didn't Dyke's Encyclopedia publish DIY automobile plans?

 

Phil

 

 

Edited by MochetVelo (see edit history)
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38 minutes ago, MochetVelo said:

Why not?

 

Here are some instructions for building early car replicas: http://horselesscarriagereplicas.com/plans.html

 

Also, I suggest the 1913 book "How to Build a Cyclecar" published by Temple Press. It's available as a reprint here: https://www.prewarcar.com/320394-how-to-build-a-cyclecar-reprint

 

Also, you could try building a "Fantom" cyclecar from plans published in Sweden. This is actually a velocar in that it uses pedals. However, you could add a 2-cycle engine! See the 2003 book "Folkhemmets Farkoster"  (ISBN 91-7988-232-3)... then learn Swedish. 

 

Also, 

Didn't Dyke's Encyclopedia publish DIY automobile plans?

 

Phil

 

 

It looks like they have plans to build a 1903 replica in that link. The body part of it at least.

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1 minute ago, jeff_a said:

I saw a photo of a massive Peerless 48 crankshaft built from scratch recently. Maybe it came from that shop.

 

I don't know how much machining work Temperos do. 

 

Auto Restorations occasionally make that sort of stuff from scratch. There are some skilled machinists out there.

 

The Alfa Romeos from Auto Restorations have engines from overseas.

 

Another recently completed project is this 1959 Testa Rossa - built around the mechanicals of a later model 456, so not '100% accurate' as the title of this thread discusses. I have seen it on the road a few times.

 

Lots of photos - 1959 TR 250 Representation | Autorestorations

 

 

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33 minutes ago, TaurusLX86 said:

The body part of it at least.

 

You can build it, the chassis and body, then use some alternative engine like a V-twin of some kind with a simple transmission. It is only chain drive so connecting the engine output to the rear wheels is easy.
Then you can drive it while thinking about how to create a correct engine. The hard part about the correct engine is the castings needed.

I think re-creating a "correct" engine could be made simpler by modifying it, which would make it not correct. But at least I think the head should be a separate part.

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Posted (edited)

If your young and ambitious and have the drive to do it, go for it. It was done over 100 years ago and it can be done again today. I built a stationary steam engine in a machine shop and welding vocational course I was in for three years in high school. I designed it myself. My original blue prints are around somewhere. I spent a half a school day there 40 + years ago and never regretted it. Still using the skill set today I learned there all those years ago. If you have a foundry near and a machine shop with proper tooling it will be possible to build almost anything. We also had a wood working shop on my Dad's farm where we built horse drawn wagons and carts in the past. Some required upholstery so we also did some of that also. Living on a farm now that has a saw mill. Will get it running this summer. It has sat idle for about 10 years. Should be interesting. Life can be an interesting ride. Learn everything you can about the trades and carry on the art and tradition while building your dream. You will never regret it. Dandy Dave! 

 

IMG_1846.JPG

Edited by Dandy Dave (see edit history)
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There were stories told to me by an Aunt and Uncle (born 1909 & 1911) about a car my grandfather built on the family farm some time around 1905.

I know he had most of a Blacksmith shop and did repairs for the locals.

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I am not saying this is necessarily the case with your grandfathers car, but there were fairly numerous engines and hardware " kits " or individual parts on the market aimed at home automobile builders. A small number of very capable people did indeed make cars from scratch, often people already involved in some sort of machinery manufacture . 

 But most " home built " cars relied to one degree or another , bought in mechanical components.  If you look at any of the periodicals of the day you will see many advertisements for this sort of thing.

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I invented the internal combustion engine when I was about 12 years old. I was totally shocked when I discovered that internal combustion engines worked exactly as I had planned mine to work. An explosion in a closed cylinder pushing on a bicycle type crank.  I never worked out the timing or the 4 cycle thing or the carburation but basically I had it figured out. I was going to use carbide as the fuel source.

 

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Can anyone tell me what you would expect to pay for a badly deteriorated pre 1910 car, possibly just a chassis with the body rotted away? I'm guessing you could buy one for $10,000 or less, or build one from scratch for $100,000.

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Posted (edited)

One of my, and I consider it to be the most historically significant, too many projects is a blacksmith built gasoline carriage from about 1900. The axles are 'bought' in that they both started out as standard steel light wagon axles. The front is cut, additional parts made, and forge and hammer welded to make an Ackermann principal steerable front axle. In my research for this car, I found an article about the principle in 'Horseless Age' magazine published about 1896. The engine for the car is quite unusual, and appears to be very early. The 'head' and valve chambers are professional castings, the rest of the motor could all be simply built with basic tools and equipment. Patent information for the valve chambers was also published in 'Horseless Age' in the mid 1890s. Significant effort and design of the motor was to make it both powerful (relatively speaking), and relatively light in weight.

The wheels for the gasoline carriage are unusual in that while basically a sturdy light wagon wheel, they have solid rubber cushion tires on them. Which a true light wagon would not have. The light wagon axles and wheels would have been to handle the weight and vibration of the motor. Built light wagon strong, it is only slightly larger than a typical horse-drawn carriage at a 60 inch wheelbase.

The full elliptic springs (four of them) may be shop-built (common in those days for blacksmith shops to make very nice quality springs!), or they could have been bought. The chassis frame is clearly purpose built, and was never for a horse drawn wagon or carriage.

 

After acquiring this project some years back, I spent over a hundred hours (mostly online) doing research for the car. While I never found a definitive answer to who built it? I did find a lot of interesting information about similar cars. For one thing, I made a list of over four hundred small companies (NOT actual automotive companies!), and individuals, that had built from one to maybe a very few automobiles! All before 1900! These were people that built something, and had it recorded somehow, usually in 'Horseless Age' magazine. 

Nobody that later made a 'name' for themselves in the automotive manufacturing industry is included in that list. No Henry Ford, no Ransom Olds, no Haynes or Apperson or Winton either. Only mostly unknowns, and 'also-rans'. Interestingly enough, the Wright brothers are on the list! However, it ISN'T Orville or Wilbur! And Packard is on the list, but said to be no relation to James Ward Packard.

Over four hundred mostly unknown and also-rans known to have built one to three or maybe four automobiles before 1900. And I wonder, how many people did so, and aren't on that list?

 

A lot of people in those days wanted to get on the automotive band wagon!

Edited by wayne sheldon
spotted a typo :( (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Rusty_OToole said:

Can anyone tell me what you would expect to pay for a badly deteriorated pre 1910 car, possibly just a chassis with the body rotted away? I'm guessing you could buy one for $10,000 or less, or build one from scratch for $100,000.

 

 

I bought my 1912 Staver Chicago for slightly less than $5,000.00. { year 2000 } Some parts of it are quite good / already restored, but much of it is either missing or good only for patterns. A reasonably big car { 40 HP } , but that also puts it in Ed's " Big Boy " league for engines / parts , rad repairs, wheels and wheel hardware. I doubt $100,000 .00 would finish it unless nearly all the work is done by the owner. The fact that a good 1/2 of the engine is missing is the major roadblock, not helped by the fact the engine is also used by the middle size American Underslung. Deep pocket rivals for the few engines or parts that have turned up over the decades.

I thought I would be well along by this point of ownership, but reality is far different . When I first bought it my income seemed reasonably sufficient and I expected it to slowly but surely rise.   However in reality my finances have bit by bit become worse over the last 21 years, the 2 1/2 years since retirement my income has fallen off a cliff.

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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6 hours ago, Rusty_OToole said:

Can anyone tell me what you would expect to pay for a badly deteriorated pre 1910 car, possibly just a chassis with the body rotted away? I'm guessing you could buy one for $10,000 or less, or build one from scratch for $100,000.

While I certainly understand your point... I don't see any pre 1910 cars available, much less under $10K.   I've been looking fairly regularly and I have missed one or two, but I haven't seen many come up.  I don't think I would even be bold enough to build one from scratch and that's mostly because I pretty much understand some of the issues.  If I did.... I'd fudge just a tad so that I could use modern pistons, rods and probably valves.  Then get a crank made, 3D print the cast pieces and send them to the Amish and you'd be well on your way.

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Not so much on AACA however there have been a few on the Horseless Carriage Club site. But yes , reasonably scarce. Unless you want a very simple one or two cyl. car I would extend the search date right up to 1915. Small pre- 1910 cars are very limited with regards to speed and usability.  The HCCA has a few 1 and 2 cyl. tours each year depending on your location.

 There was actually a pre Model T project available for quite a while near me recently. Not sure what the asking price was but it was advertised for a couple of months before it dropped off of Craigslist. It was about 1/2 complete and I got the impression the price would be right around the going rate. Not some pie in the sky number. Can't remember if it was a R, N, or S. Interesting but I have my hands full. 

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8 hours ago, Rusty_OToole said:

Can anyone tell me what you would expect to pay for a badly deteriorated pre 1910 car, possibly just a chassis with the body rotted away? I'm guessing you could buy one for $10,000 or less, or build one from scratch for $100,000.

 

My Mitchell was certainly in that range. I specifically required that it have all the major castings... the parts I couldn't, or would have a very difficult time, replicating. I can think of several others that have come up on this site that fit that description. You certainly could find a badly deteriorated Metz or Saxon or Brush or one of the other small cars. I agree with Staver1912 though, these small brass cars have a very limited capacity unless you goal is to carry it around on a trailer. Generally, the bigger they are, the more they will cost regardless of condition. I know of another 1910 Mitchell, much more complete than mine, that sold for only slightly more than I paid. Actually, when I think of it, $5000 to $10,000 is probably about right for a small or medium size brass car in dismantled and badly deteriorated condition...provided the seller is the slightest bit realistic – which it seems many aren't.

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)
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13 hours ago, wayne sheldon said:

One of my, and I consider it to be the most historically significant, too many projects is a blacksmith built gasoline carriage from about 1900.

 

Here is an example we have the Maine State Museum of just such a vehicle. This particular automobile was built in 1906 by Hollon Rawnsley - who, at the time, was working as a machinist in a textile mill. Allegedly he ran this automobile until about 1915 when he took it apart and stored it in his barn.

 

unnamed.jpg.100744750cf803b0fa871137f0c9a466.jpg

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