So far, I've written about my work with other people's steam cars, the reason for this is very simple ... I've never owned my own car to work on. As I said earlier, since the time I first saw the red Locomobile in my sadly now passed friend's cellar, I had a desire to have my very own steamer one day. Those who usually read my postings may remember the story of the red Locomobile, that steam carriage was far from being in a useable condition when it fell to me to try to figure out how it was supposed to work. It took several years to complete the work, but I'm not complaining, I got a new interest that made all previous interests fade.
Now it was finally time. When we entered our hotel room in Princeton at 4 o'clock I had not slept in 26 hours and due to the time difference, it was only a few hours until it was time to get up and do what we came to do.
The whole story begins when , as I so often do, I looked at the "Steam Car Network". I'm a bit of a dreamer and it's always nice to watch the cars advertised under "For Sale". For a while, I can disappear into a world where I drive around in any of the cars in the ads. It was during such a moment of dreams I suddenly saw it ... 1901 STANLEY STEAMER "LOCOMOBILE" FOR SALE. In the subtitle it read "4-seater with tiller steering".
A four-seater Stanley ... or was it a Locomobile? 1901 indicates it's hardly a Stanley, but a four-seater Stanley is more common than a four-seater Locomobile, maybe someone had misunderstood something here.
But it's in New Jersey, across the Atlantic.
I, who live far enough away from the Atlantic Ocean, thought just forget about it. How could I get such a car home to Sweden? I live so far away from everything. Anyway it has probably already been sold to someone in the US.
During the following weeks, I looked at that ad on several occasions, I really could not forget that Stanley-or Locomobile if that's what it was. In the end, I decided to contact the seller. "Well, there's interest in the car, but it's still for sale, nobody has decided on it yet.", was the answer I received from him, his name was William but he called himself Bill.
Bill and I started conversing by email, and the story he told me made me even more fond of the car.
Now to determine the car's make. When the first pictures came (over time it became closer to 100 images), it became clear that it was a very early Locomobile, a so-called Locosurrey, and it was absolutely not a car manufactured in 1901, as the car is a Locosurrey with serial number 77, which indiactes that it was manufactured in 1899. As I mentioned, the car has a fascinating history, it was not owned by Bill himself but by his elderly mother. The Locosurrey had been owned by this same family since 1902.
The person in the family who originally bought the car was named Robert Wallach. Robert, who was the father of the elderly lady who owned the car, had a small collection of cars, this collection consisted of at least 3 cars. First the Locosurrey and then a Stanley (which later was donated to the Stanley Museum, although it is a little unclear as to what model it was). There had also been a Panhard racing car from 1902 in the Robert Wallach Collection (see image of a sign showing this). The collection may have included several cars, but I do not have any information about this. If anyone has information about Robert Wallach or the "Robert Wallach Collection" I would love to know more information.
The time is now 9.00 am, and we are in the hotel reception waiting for Bill, he is probably almost as tired as we are. The flight was 2.5 hours late and we knew Bill had stood outside the terminal and waited for us. The queues for passport control crawled slowly forward, also this being my wife's and my first visit to the US, our fingerprints and photos were taken, along with us being asked where would we stay, and how much cash we had.
When Bill stopped in front of the hotel, we lifted up our bags and got in the car, at last I would shortly get to see the Locomobile for the first time other than just in blurry pictures. We drove to Bill's parents house, it's empty now and for sale. The only thing left there is an old covered trailer, I recognise it from the pictures I received, it's next to the garage where the Locosurrey is kept.
The car really matched my expectations, or even exceeded my expectations, it's absolutely unbelievable how good the body is, after all, the Locomobile is almost 120 years old. Certainly, the seats and tires have seen their best days, but to my way of thinking this is no big deal.
There is no boiler in the car and the burner must be replaced. But it comes with a completely unused Bourdon boiler, albeit 15 years old, but quite ok. After accepting the car, we load the car onto it's old trailer and start the journey to a warehouse in New Jersey, where the Locosurrey will be loaded into a container for further transport across the Atlantic.
I'll skip the journey with the old trailer being towed by Bill's car. I was worried about the whole trip, the trailer had been standing for many years and I was unsure if the wheel bearings,etc. were going to be able to withstand the journey. The car was then unloaded into the warehouse, and that is where the story currently stands at the time of writing, as my Locosurrey is in a container somewhere on the Atlantic, where I understand the weather is not all too good, I hope my car does not get sea sick!
Soon it will arrive, and I can promise that I will document the entire renovation work here on Steam Car Network. Those interested are welcome to check back and read on my progress.
Those who live long enough may see it finished!
Finally, the last part of the Locosurrey's journey will not happen until the spring. The car will stay in a friend's garage over the winter, the last 1100 km (684 miles) journey will be undertaken sometime in April or May.
Keep on steaming!
I am a self-taught steam car engineer whose interest is in the renovation, repairs and manufacturing of steam car parts....