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Wanting information on Franklin Ownership


MccJoseph
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Hi everybody, I posted in the Franklin forum but it’s pretty quiet over there so I thought I would try here instead. I am a long time classic car enthusiast, and  recently sold my classic car to get a Polaris slingshot. Well, I miss having some old iron in the garage and have decided I want to pick something up again. This has led me on a journey to find the right car. I would like to keep my budget below 25K and want a pre-war car.  I have drooled over Packard's and Pierce-Arrows, but I don't think I can afford either of these brands. Then I stumbled onto Franklin. For all intensive purposes, it seems like a whole lot of car for the money. I read everything I could find about them, and find their technology fascinating. The large displacement air cooled engine, the sheer amount of aluminum they have in them, and the high gear ratios available. They seem like just as well built a car and from what I can find very reasonably priced. I went to the HH Franklin club and see a few cars that would fit my needs. Some restored and some projects. I am not opposed to either one.

 

So what I am here to ask is, what does a prospective Franklin owner need to know? What speed are they happy cruising at? How available are parts for them? Are there any sort of maintenance needs or anything I should be aware of that is not widely known? I read that some of them you have to take the head off and manually oil every so many miles. Ideally, I just want a car that the wife and I can hop in with some friends or family members and go on cruises with, take to shows, and participate in club events. How do they behave on the road?

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Join the Franklin club......good bunch of people, and the cars tend to trade among members. Lots of fun cars at very reasonable numbers.......do your homework.......some series are much better drivers than others.

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To oil the valves by hand you do not take the head off, you take the over head valve covers off, on the 1930-34 era cars they are held on by a large clip. If you are driving the car for hours in 80+ degree heat you oil the felt pads that are on the valves and can go for hundreds of miles. As Ed mentions join the Franklin club, some members are more lively /awake then what you have experienced on their forum. SOME ...

Let us know what era you want to own - Brass era? 1920s, 1930s ? that will get you answers as to a safe cruising speed. How much work do you want to do?  Join the club and read the publications before you decide what you want to buy. Price will depend on body style and condition just like any other old car.

Edited by Walt G (see edit history)
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Thank you both for the response. We would want something from the late 20s to early 30s. An open car has a lot of appeal but they only seem to come In earlier models. I am very comfortable doing any mechanical work and have access to a full auto shop but don’t want to deal with replacing a lot of body wood. I have already had that experience and not looking to tackle it again anytime soon. I did see in another thread that some Packard’s are trading for under 25k so I may go back to looking at those as well. Thank you again for the help! 

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On 9/3/2021 at 10:10 PM, MccJoseph said:

Hi everybody, I posted in the Franklin forum but it’s pretty quiet over there so I thought I would try here instead. 

 

So our moderators moved the topic from the

active General Discussion to the specific Franklin

section!  Maybe your 2 threads can be melded into one. 

I hope you get the answers you need.

 

In 1928, the Jordan car company did a survey about

people's driving speeds, and 90% never drove

more than 40 to 45 m.p.h.  That gives today's

hobbyists some indication of the comfortable driving

range for cars of that era.  Your car should be

happiest on small highways, not in busy

suburban areas or on Interstates;  but Franklin

experts can tell you more.

 

 

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Right now there is a 1926 touring car for sale for 25k . Probably can get a little cheaper. I drove this car at the 2015 Trek the whole week with absolutely no issues. Fred has passed and his son is selling it. There is also a 1930 that belongs to Brendon Hogan in Randolph NJ . It is a series 145 sedan . Great car for a very reasonable 19k. Join the club. If you love old cars you will have a great time in the Franklin club .

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@John_S_in_Penna that is a fascinating survey. I teach an auto maintenance course and we spend a good time on history of the automobile. I’m going to borrow that for my class. Thank you. I was hoping more Franklin owners would chime in. 
 

@Laura S thank you for the lead and insight. I will head over there :)

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Just from my experience from riding with friends who own Franklins of the 1925 to 1934 era. Keep in mind several things: the series 11 from 1925 to 1927 has a brake mounted on the drive shaft, is not 4 wheel brakes. Works well but is not what you would be used to, also has a wood chassis ( read more about this elsewhere) good car at 40 mph , 1928 series 12 a and 12 b have both wood and steel chassis - depends upon the wheelbase, but also has 4 wheel hydraulic brakes, good at 45- 50 mph , 1929 series 13 has three different models, assorted wheelbases, steel chassis ( for the rest of production thru 1934) and two different engine capacity/sizes in 1929, 1930-1934 has basically the same 6 cylinder engine, assorted wheelbases, assorted steering boxes and transmissions ( prone to possibly needing restoration after 90 years or so. ) It also depends upon what gear ratio you have in the rear end, there were assorted variations there too.

All are great riding cars! full elliptic springs.

There are also two models that were slightly different - the Olympic of 1932 to 1934 used a Reo Flying Cloud as its basis with Franklin supplying the motor, and a 12 cylinder car as well which also was very different from the normal 6 cylinder "Airman".  I owned a 1931 Franklin on a 132 inch wb with a custom body that I drove everywhere in 80+ degree heat on the highway, and below freezing locally . Cruising speed it was comfortable at , was about 54 mph up or down hill and long long grades up hill. That car was heavier then a 4 door sedan due to the custom body, not an issue. I put at least 50,000 miles on the car total.

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@Walt GThank you Walt, this is phenomenal information and exactly the kind of stuff I was looking for. Our Model T and our 28 Buick had mechanical brakes and I’d like to stick to hydraulic. The Buick stopped pretty darn good though, much better than the T. The Wood chassis is fascinating I will look into that. The beauty is we have time to find the perfect car. I am familiar with REO, another fine car. We looked at one locally but it had a considerable amount of water damage due to sitting in a shed with a leaky roof. Ran great otherwise.
 

Thank you again for the help, it’s very much appreciated.

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I have had many people help me out with sound advice ( still do!) but many of the people who helped me are now gone, I think by giving a few answers or words of advice here and there I am continuing what they gave to me. I only ever tell /give advice on what I have had first hand experience with - nothing based on hear say or repeats of repeated information

that just fosters disappointment if the person that is hearing it takes it as the absolute truth . 

There are a few fellows who make great parts for Franklins in the Franklin Club- to keep the cars on the road.  Franklin owners/people love to drive their cars- because they are so nice to drive.

Better to ask questions now then be disappointed later , since you own some pre war cars you have respect that you are driving a machine that is over 80 years old , if something goes wrong it is not the cars fault!

Walt

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@MccJosephAs others have said, definitely join the HH Franklin Club. There is a large concentration of Franklin people in your area. Also, if you are so inclined, the Franklin Automobile Enthusiasts group on Facebook is very active, mush more so than this forum.

 

I own four Franklins, two series 10s, a 1923 demi-sedan and a 1925 touring, a 1932 Sedan, and a 1933 Olympic convertible coupe. The earlier cars are very nimble and are a joy to drive at speeds of 40-45 mph. The later cars are highway capable. 

 

Franklins don't come up for sale often, but they do change hands, often by word of mouth. 

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MccJoseph and Steve B!  I am also in the market for a late 20's thru mid 30's classic car, and as a 40-year diehard Corvair fan, I thought an air-cooled (& oil-cooled!) Franklin would be a good fit.  I will be watching this thread closely and will also join the HHFranklin club.  Just last week I drove my '63 Greenbrier camper from central Virginia to Ann Arbor Michigan for the Detroit Homecoming.  It was a hot drive and very hot in the sun while I was there, but the Corvair ran like the proverbial top driving about 1,500 miles roundtrip!  I'll post a thread on my adventure soon.  

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RedBriar - read your report of your trip - great to see that. Ann Arbor , Michigan was the home of David Doman - he was an engineer at Ford Motor Co. ; his father Carl Doman was the chief engineer at the Franklin Company. Both great men, I didn't know Carl for to long before he passed away - Carl would figure a tip after paying for a meal on his pocket slide rule! Dave was a great guy and I got to know him much better, he was on a team of a group of us who in the early 1970s went to see the contents of an estate of a fellow who lived in Syracuse that worked for the Franklin Company . His daughter was trying to clear the basement of his house of all the car stuff he had from the 1920s. I still have the car lap robes that I bought from her that were laying there and she thought was a "rug" of some kind.

Don't buy anything until you have had a chance to at least ride in any Franklin of any series for at least a half hour. There are enough owners out there that would be willing to give you that pleasure if they knew your intent was to buy one and wanted to know what to decide on.

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This is the first time I have ever seen a Greenbriar or even heard of one and wow what a cool looking machine! 
 

@Walt G thank you for passing on that advice. As someone who is fairly young to the hobby (33) I greatly appreciate the passed down wisdom from older members. I think of all the knowledge that is lost and wish we could preserve it. I was talking to a coworker the other day how many places won’t service old cars with a carb, or understand how a magneto works. We can preserve the cars for future generations but we can’t preserve the people that can take care of them. In my opinion we should be training people and cataloging this knowledge on. I’m sure it’s something that someone has begun. 
 

@Steve Braverman thank you for that insight. I have heard they are a very tight knit group. I am off to join the Facebook group :)

 

@63RedBrierGood luck RedBrier with your search for a pre war car! 

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Well, it’s not like owning a Model T or A when it comes to parts, for sure.  To answer your question, I am not aware of any supplier stocking replacement parts specifically for Franklin, other than the Club.  The Club site lists quite a few high demand repro parts that were run as club projects.  Lots of specialized suppliers in the hobby can make what you need, too.  I am thinking of Olson’s for gaskets and RIW for wiring harnesses as examples.  Many Franklin parts cross to other makes.   A vintage interchange manual is a good friend.  (A piece of trivia:  NAPA part number 1 is a master cylinder kit that fits a series 14 Franklin.).  I have also found useful tech articles on the Club site, such as how to upgrade wheel cylinders to an off-the-shelf Wagner-Lockheed part, and how to adapt a common Chevy distributor cap to my Franklin original.  

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13 hours ago, Akstraw said:

Well, it’s not like owning a Model T or A when it comes to parts, for sure.  To answer your question, I am not aware of any supplier stocking replacement parts specifically for Franklin, other than the Club.  The Club site lists quite a few high demand repro parts that were run as club projects.  Lots of specialized suppliers in the hobby can make what you need, too.  I am thinking of Olson’s for gaskets and RIW for wiring harnesses as examples.  Many Franklin parts cross to other makes.   A vintage interchange manual is a good friend.  (A piece of trivia:  NAPA part number 1 is a master cylinder kit that fits a series 14 Franklin.).  I have also found useful tech articles on the Club site, such as how to upgrade wheel cylinders to an off-the-shelf Wagner-Lockheed part, and how to adapt a common Chevy distributor cap to my Franklin original.  

Here are a few, and there's more out there.

www.classicandexotic.com

www.brillman.com

www.mykmlifestyle.com

www.riwire.com

 

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The Franklin Club is a great resource for networking and finding parts when needed, as is the Facebook group. A few years ago, a member drove his Series 9 from Florida all across the country (I think over 4000 miles), and he broke an axle in California. An axle was located, overnighted to a Club member nearby, and he was back on the road in a couple of days.

 

I have never had a situation where one of my Franklins were incapacitated due to unavailable parts.

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Wow. That is very impressive. I read horror stories about cars being down for parts but it’s good to know there’s people and parts out there to help. That has been my other biggest worry was finding something I could enjoy without worrying about something breaking and it being down. I also wanted something unique that you don’t see as much as The big 3. Franklins are looking better and better! Is it true that the gearing in the rear end made a Franklin outperform a similar Packard? (I was reading this in an old thread on here) 

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8 hours ago, MccJoseph said:

Wow. That is very impressive. I read horror stories about cars being down for parts but it’s good to know there’s people and parts out there to help. That has been my other biggest worry was finding something I could enjoy without worrying about something breaking and it being down. I also wanted something unique that you don’t see as much as The big 3. Franklins are looking better and better! Is it true that the gearing in the rear end made a Franklin outperform a similar Packard? (I was reading this in an old thread on here) 

 

Anything that is 90+ years old can, and will, break. I find my Franklins to be reliable, and I drive them a lot. Franklins in the teens and 20s were faster than most other cars on the roads of the day. Their light weight and excellent suspension allowed them to outpace heavier cars. My Olympic will outrun almost anything else from 1933.

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