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Mercer Roster

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Dear Mercerphiles,

Stan Smith has been trying to update the roster concerning the

whereabouts of certain Mercers. Perhaps anybody on this list can

help locate these cars. I have copied the questions as sent to me

and are as follows:

I do have a question or two relative to my updating the MERCER

ASSOCIATES ROSTER:

As usual I"ve had no luck with the Auction Houses in letting me know

who

bought a Mercer.

Do you know the names ( and at least the State they live in) of new

owners for these T-Heads?

1. The Wingard/Chandler 1911 Raceabout S/N 478

2. The green 1913 ex-Hempel Raceabout S/N 1330

3 .and who has the 1912 Touring ( no S/N, but M/N 584 ) that I have

as

owned by a Robinson of Calif.

It was once owned by Dr. Shafer of Calif ( 1950 and 60's) and

then

went to Harrah's Collection.

I hope it still exists and wasn't converted to a Raceabout.

4. Speaking of possible conversions, do you have the name of the gent

who bought the Naive Runabout S/N 1186 ?

John R introduced me to him at Hershey a year or so ago...I lost

track of his name - he lives in the Midwest?

Thanks for your input.

Karl Darby

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Karl, my son has put up a scan of a photo of your car which Morris Burrows gave me when I was his guest on the Glidden in 1980. It was taken in previous ownership of Jim Miller, Morris said, obviously 1956 by the Glidden door banner. Morris said there were two previous owners named Miller, but not related. Before that it was pulled out of a shed by Tom Carstens, with intention to use it for parts. Morris had a set of Rudge 100 wheels and hubs, which he intended to fit because he considered them more appropriate than those big Houks. His great fear was that some later owner when he had gone would turn it into a Raceabout. His expression was "Another good car gone down the road."

When I got to Springfield before the Glidden, Morris was waiting till I turned up to give him a hand to prepare it, because I gather he only used one car per year, and it had been seveal years since it had been used. The extent of what he wanted to do suprised me, because we dont lay cars up for the winter here. One of the "necessary" tasks, which I guessed at the time were really contrived to give me a full mechanical appreciation, was to remove the cover of the gearbox and inspect it and the clutch in the front chamber. We were working away on either side removing the nuts on the cover when I asked him a question. He stopped and put down the spanner he was using before replying. I said "Morris, we can converse while we are working." We both laughed. Later Libby took me aside and said "You have to understand about Morris; he is not used to working." Apart from a couple of years during the war when he considered it his patriotic duty to work in the Fellowes Gear Shaper factory in Springfield, he never worked in his life. Some how he had Income.

Libby drove her modern car up to Bretton Woods, while we went in the Mercer. Morris insisted I share the driving, and I must have had the wheel for 50-60 miles in all. My recollection is that it was a very nice, smooth, precise and refined car, a huge contrast to my 1918 L-head Sporting. It certainly did not show the same impatience or robust performance.

The other Mercer owners I met were Joe Fisher (1915 Sporting), and Charles Accisano who had a 1916 touring. Morris introduced me about 11 o'clock one morning to Austin Clark, but i cannot recall meaningful conversation, I suspect because I only had L-head and OHV six Mercers.

Morris decided not to travel down to the coast, so we returned to Springfield. Ralph Buckley had suffered a fall on his boat and had not been able to get to the Glidden, so Morris rang up and arranged that he should pick me up from the bus terminal at Atlantic City. Next morning we went round to his workshop. The cars extended into the building next door of his friend who manufactured special glass capilliary tube for some medical purpose. I was amazed at the work that was obviuosly done, despite having so little in the way of machine tools.

The 1914 Raceabout was next door. Ralph said that it was really scheduled for re-restoration, and he had not used it for a couple of years. So he hung a pair of plates from another car on, and prepared to start it. When it started it only ran on about 1 1/2 cylinders. "Stuck exhaust valves: we will have to free them up." He gathered the gear needed, and we had barely started when he was called to the phone. I asked "You want me to wait till you get back, or should I just potter along?" He said "Keep going. You know what you are doing." I had everything back together and was just wiping the tools when Ralph returned. He said "What, Have you finished already?" That start it ran properly on four. So we sat on itand went for a drive. After several miles he pulled up and told me I should drive. I said "Ralph, when I was 12 years old I read about these Mercers in Ken Purdy's book; and I never dreamed I would ever have the priviledge of riding on one. That is sufficient." Nevertheless he insisted, and gave me instructions.

Never use the footbrake. If you need to slow down or stop use handbrake only. If you slow down, change down. If you try to accelerate in high gear you stress the hold-down lugs on the cylinder barrels, because unlike the touring types with a compression ratio of about 4 to 1, the Raceabouts were made with pistons that nearly hit the chamber roof, and a CR of about 6 to 1. It seems that Finley Robertson Porter effectively predated Rickardo's L-head Turbulence patent by 7 or 8 years, but double-sided on a T head with the squish area in the middle of the T-head. Actually Isotta Fraschini did the same thing even earlier about 1908 in one of their racing cars. Ralph told me that you don't have to double de-clutch to change gears. He said no-one knows why, but that is just how they are, and it doesn't matter whether you shift fst or slowly. It just works. (Funny thing, now I have the Roamer-Duesenberg running around it is a bit like that too. The shft up or down between direct and overdrive is a particular delight.)

Ralph wanted me to have the original camshaft grinding machine from the factory. I was a bit intimidated about getting it home, let alone learning to use it. I was probably foolish to decline, because it would be nice to have. A lot of my equipment has history. He sent me away with a Series 6 headlamp with wire through the fork-mount fittings as hand luggage.

A few years ago Bob Sohl and his wife came here. Unfortunately it was not long before my wife found her own address, and she was pretty feral and unwelcoming to visitors, so I couldn't even bring them down to the house. Bob said that when he was restoring his n1915 for Pebble Beach he visited Ralph. He gave Ralph a list of all the small items he needed for the car in case Ralph saw any of it at swap meets. ralph disappeared, and they heard noises from downstairs. After some minutes he re-appeared with a box, and every single thing needed was in it. "How much?" "Five" said Ralph. They emptied their wallets to see if they had five hundred dollars between them. No, not five hundred dollars. FIVE dollars was the correct price!

I hope you enjoy this anecdote of what these people were like. Really good people deserve not to be forgotten; and this medium allows us to share this.

Karl, if the Glidden Tour banner from 1980 has not reached you with the car you are welcome to the one from the other side which he insisted I should have. It really is not of huge significance to me. What was significant was the chance to go on the Glidden with Morris and Libby in the car. I shall ask Wayne to insert that 1956 picture with this post.

By the way, Bill Greer ofr the Stutz Club visited a man with a T-head Raceabout which I don't think is on Stan's list.

Ivan Saxton

30972m01-med.jpg

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Ivan, I always enjoy your posts and the history about the cars and former owners. This photo shows the Frank H. Miller MERCER on the 1950 Glidden Tour, he was from Glendale, Ohio. My 1912 Ford Touring was on the same Glidden, the Elmer Bemis restoration still looks good today.Ken Purdy lived about two miles down the road from me. There is a one mile stretch of fairly straight road just past his house, I can't drive along ther at night without pretending I'm at speed in a T head raceabout. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />430639-Mvc-011f.jpg

post-31159-143137918052_thumb.jpg

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Excellent reading, Ivan. I think I see some newsletter material here.

Thanks, and Merry Christmas.

Wayne

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Now that we have a photo of the car Ivan wrote about I can see it is NOT the same car I posted a photo of. Sure the wheels are different, but look at the shape of the frame horns, is this camera angle or were the Raceabout and touring chassis different?

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It looks very much the same car to me, Bob. The wheels are changed indeed, and I knew that had been done by what Morris told me, either by Jim Miller or Frank Miller. The only thing otherwise I would pick as strangely altered is the angle of the windscreen, which is vertical in the later photo. Lights look the same to me, Hartford shocks on the front also. Did you notice the odd thing about the wooden wheels? They are the only set I have ever seen with seven rim lugs. I think I mentioned elsewhere that Raceabouts had uneven spacing of these for wheel balancing. If I had thought we would be discussing these things I would have taken more notice of what Morris said.

Ivan

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Ivan, I just checked the issue of The Bulb Horn I stole that photo from, the car was listed as a 1913 MERCER, your car has a 1914 MERCER windsheild card. The rear fender shape and windsheild posts differ between the two. Any day you "find" another MERCER is a good day! Best wishes for 2007! Bob

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Ivan, Bob and Wayne,

I loved reading the ancedotes of your Mercer experiences. The car truely is a joy to drive as Laura and I tour as often as possible. I will try to send a picture of the '13 runabout of Joel Naives that Ken Stauffer gave me from 1996. In it you can see the different body lines particularly the rear fenders and the narrower body. The chassis is on a 108" vs the '14's 118" WB. The '14 has the brake and shifter inside the body work. I hope you will see a picture I scored off Ebay of the '53 Glidden tour showing Mr. J E Miller Jr. and (Mrs.?) wearing the exact same clothes he did in the '56 tour ! Pretty funny. Two similar automobiles yet two distinctly different cars. Part of the Mercer Magic.

1913 Mercer

819613_mercer0002-med.jpg

1914 Mercer

819614_mercer0001-med.jpg

Thank You and Hope to see you soon.

Karl Darby

post-44181-143137918054_thumb.jpg

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Fascinating to see the differences between these similar cars. Morris was fairly definite that his/yours was previously owned by another unrelated Mr Miller before Jim Miller. 35O's must have been very popular with Millers. I suppose conversion to Raceabout form is something that was not always comprehensively recorded. Do you think the Frank Miller car is the same one as later owned by Joel Naive, Karl? The wheels look different in detail. (seven lug bolts on the 1950 photo).

Yours was off the road for quite a while with broken hold-down lugs on one block, Morris said. This would have caused a very heavy engine knock, uneven to engine revs; but easy to recognise visually as the block rattled up and down against the loose nuts, --- unless you had a hearing impairment. Eventually Morris was able to buy a new block from Roger Ellis: But the deal involved trade-in of the broken one. Possibly Magees or Caleb Cressman may remember more of the history.

Do you want that 1980 Bretton Woods Glidden tour banner, Karl?

I have several photos of the finished racing car replica of the one in the extraordinary picture with wheels off the ground. Martha Ellis sent me these with Roger at the wheel, finished in haste to run before the thoracic surgery which he unfortunately did not survive. I'll get my son Stirling to put these up for people's enjoyment as tribute to Roger. When But Catlett was out of town when I visited Harrah's, Jim Edwards ran me out to Roger and Martha; and I can recall talking about Mercers till I started drifting in and out of consciousness mid sentence because I was not coping well with all the air travel and accumulated lack of sleep.

Ivan

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Is Frank Millers car the same as Joel Naive? In looking through dads Mercer Associates Roster from 1962 it shows Frank Miller Glendale, Ohio the owner of type 35-K ser # 1186. Fast forward to a roster from 1993 it shows #1186 belonging to Joel Naive ex Ed King ex Frank Miller. Just for the record, my car # 2011, belonged to Jim Proffit ex Dick Teague ex Bill & Doug Magee ex H.Morris Borrows ex J.E.Miller ex Tom Carstens. It is sad that all but one of the '13 & '14 runabouts were cut up into raceabouts. Having lived with both, the runabout has the creature comforts that along with the smooth transmission makes it a delight to drive. I have to add that Roger Ellis is still a hero to me in that he succeeded in building the 35-F when most thought it a folly. Credits also go to Fred Hoch who built parts that "they" said couldn't be built. I first met both in dads garage counting ring & pinion teeth on dads raceabout figuring out a gear ratio for the racer. Still a fond memory.

Karl

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Karl, I find all this MERCER chat most educational, never knew there were so many different models of the T Head. Is the Ellis 35-F the same car that is in the George Wingard collection now? That car was at Hershey a few years ago. Isn't there an engine & radiator for another one of these in the hands of a MERCER driver? I need to ask Stan Smith for a roster so I can keep track of the cars history. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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I think Ivan wants this picture in this thread!

Wayne

Roger Ellis' 1931 Mercer, in May 1981

309721913Mercer03-med.jpg

309721913Mercer02-med.jpg

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Thank you Wayne! That car is painted as the #22 Spencer Wishart car that finished 2nd in the INDY 500 in 1913. As a side note Spencer Wisehart was from Philadelphia and drove a Mercedes in the first INDY 500 in 1911 and again in 1912 finishing 4th and 15th. The Mercedes was later modified by Larry Beals with a Hisso V8 and ran the dirt track circut in the Philly area. The car was part of the Thompson collection until 6-8 years ago. It is now in Germany under restoration to its 1908 GP Mercedes factory team car appearance. I got to sit in it before it was shipped over, real neat experiance. <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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Just wanted to add this photo to the conversation, could this be the car in color photos above? Stude8

post-31139-143137918064_thumb.jpg

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449306-Mvc-001f.jpgHere is a photo of Spencer Wishart in his #19 MERCER that he drove in the 1914 Indy 500. It is also the car that killed him and his riding mechanic John Jenter at the Elgin race. NOTE: I just found a fine feature on Spencer Wishart in the September 1962 issue of CAR LIFE Magazine. He was from Greenwich,Connecticut not Philadelphia as I had thought for many years. It states that the used 1908 Mercedes GP car he raced at Indy in 1911 and 1912 cost him $63,000 in 1911!

post-31159-143137918066_thumb.jpg

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My Mercer experience goes like this. In 1974 I worked in a subcontracting shop located at Golden Restoration ( Golden, Colorado ) that did some of the metal work and painting for Golden Restoration. The owner or owners of GR went to Texas and returned with a 1913 Mercer Raceabout. It appeared to be in fairly good unrestored condition and ran strong if my memory serves. Rides were given around the large storage building. It was the first car I had ever seen with a large round monocle windshield. It truly was a MACHINE! I believe it was then restored. I left the shop soon after and it seems like a few months later the car appeared for sale in Hemmings Motor News. The ad was hard to miss because it was 2 pages I think,in full color. I had never seen color ads in HMN before. Even the paper was special. Does anybody remember or know of the car now? John Worden

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I remember the Hemmings ad well, the car had wire wheels, all white tires and an odd shade of yellow in my opinion. The car was on the East Coast at one time and I got to look at it. The thing that bothered me about the car was the lack of prep work on the chassis. It was badly rust pitted and no time was spent trying to fill them. Blast, prime & paint. I'm sure it's still in a collection today, maybe rerestored.

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I have some Ralph Buckley Mercer Pictures, where should I send them? Or how may I post them. I have some found memories of Ralph from when I was a child and took my first Mercer ride.

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1redmercergirl,

Please contact me off list at Mercer20@aol.com and I can get these to the Plumbo - Buckley Antique Car Foundation & Museum. Please include your name when posting.

Karl Darby

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You should probably start reading the Mercer feature in Automobile Quarterly vol34 #3. Mercer's prehistory is not simple and direct, and probably there is much that is not known. The Walter was made by a chocolate machinery company, and Etienne Planche and Louis Chevrolet were apparently involved in part. Sharp Arrow is also a likely antecedent. It is unlikely that any remains exist of any of these cars, and little pictorial record. One of the Mercer owners in Sydney told me he had a letter from a man who said he had a Roebling-Planche, but when I spoke to him about it he denied all knowledge. The best people to consult are probably Tim Kuser, whose family weree involver with Walter and Mercer, and Fred Hoch. You may learn a lot by looking and asking; but the probability of finding anything is maybe not encouraging. Ivan Saxton

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