Founded in 1900 by Major D Porter of New York, inventor of the Porter Motor, the Porter Motor Co. of 950 Tremont Building, Boston Massachusetts, claimed to build “The Only Perfect Automobile”. In that case, perfection was too much for the average American of the time, as the company folded in 1901.
Many claims were made by Major D Porter (Major being his Christian name, not a rank). Automatic water control, a perfect burner, a fuel and water supply that will last 60 miles; all to be made in a 100 ft x 35ft factory “within a mile of the business section of the city” that is “well fitted for building motor carriages”.
All wishful thinking. Further research carried out by my friend Keith Burton during his visit to Boston revealed that Major D Porter’s occupation was a “Patentor”, patenting others inventions for a living hoping to live of the royalties. Inventions with patents in his name included an electric motor and a Fibre Container, very similar to modern day Cardboard Milk Containers. However, at the time, it seems his income was slight; he and his family shared a house with another family in a modest house in Boston; the company office of 950 Tremont building, was in fact a hotel-9th floor, 50th room. It seems that a factory, of the type previously described, was built, the building surviving until fairly recently.However, it appears Major Dane Porter was arrested for Larceny of upward of $3000 . A Canadian by birth, he attempted to repatriate to Canada towards the end of his life, and indeed, died there in 1918, aged 59.
I believe my car to be the only Porter Stanhope ever produced. Featuring a much more complex chassis than most steam cars of the period, a swivel joint is incorporated into the centre of the front axle, with the chassis tubes “bottlenecking” in towards the front axle, allowing a foot of independent movement of each front wheel. Furthermore, truss rods that go from the front axle towards the back of the car, have hook joints on either end to allow further flexing of the chassis. Over complicated perhaps? Simpler, rectangular shaped chassis’ worked perfectly well on the rough roads of the time, and were almost definitely cheaper to build; over-engineering perhaps. All for a price of $750, similar to a contempory Locomobile of the period, the company’s chances of survival were slim.
I came to owning this car when, in 2013, at the age of 15, I decided I would like to build a tiller steered steam car, having experience with my family’s Stanley, Mobile and White Steam Cars. Help from a kind friend of mine, Basil Craske (who has helped me considerably throughout the subsequent restoration project), managed to get me a new boiler from America, and the tracing of a set of patterns and formers for making a Locomobile Chassis, along with brand new carriage springs. Just as I was about to start having the chassis castings made, a friend emailed. I had been trying to help him find a London to Brighton Veteran Car Run eligible steam car, and he had come across a partially restored original car in the states, which he asked my opinion on. It seemed a good buy to me, at the right price. Negotiations with the owner, proved to my friend that it was outside his budget, although at the time I had no idea of the cost. A month or so went by, and with little progress on my chassis, my thoughts turned to this car in America. An email to the then owner then proved that the car was available for a very reasonable price-indeed, I could never have made a chassis for that money, and there were many more expensive parts included in the sale, including the body and gauges.
So a deal was done, with me purchasing the car with my savings. Indeed the whole project has been funded by myself, with some kind donations from Family and friends! A friend was also importing some Steam Car parts from America, due to arrive in August 2014, this now being February of that year. But then there were some delays with some parts he was having refurbished. The Porter Stanhope eventually arrived in the U.K in August 2016, which neatly coincided with the start of my gap year before going to university, something I had always decided to do, so that I could restore the car.
In the Next Part-The Restoration Begins.
With the major work complete we now turned our attention to rebuilding the car.
All the main steel work had been black powder coated and unpacked ready for inspection and assembling.
We decided to pipe up the under body of the car first. So with the body turned over access was easy allowing for neat pipework to be accomplished.
This method of assembly also allowed us to install the newly made and insulated fire wall and bulk head piping, exhaust and much more as can be seen from the photos.
A new feed water heater manufactured in house was installed into the exhaust system.
The pump pit was assembled prior to installation . The fuel and water tank we also fitted and held in place with wood straps. This also allowed us to complete most of the pipework.
The piping in the pump pit was later altered. the alteration was requested by the owner. He wanted the rear pump (SECOND PUMP) to be operated on the steering column instead of the front pump. That way he could run with the front pump on all the time but operated by the floor mounted valve meaning he could put the second pump on easily by operating the leaver on the steering column. He reasoned that he did not have to bend down when driving to operate the second pump when needed.
The boiler blow down valves were also operated from under the bonnet (hood) instead of from under the car body. Again this meant that the boiler blow down could be done without bending down to get to the valves.
The fire wall piping also included the installation of a steam driven donkey pump for pumping water into the boiler. This was made some years ago by my father in-law John Liming and refurbished by him for installation back onto the car.
A second water tank was also made.
A luggage carrier was made and fitted to the rear of the car. Then a wooded box with a lift up lid was made and upholstered. Inside the box was the second tank and spare parts box. The rear bodywork was strengthened with a steel frame inserted into the frame work under the rear seat. This was to make sure the weight of the water tank when full did not stress the body .
The rear water tank top was level with the front water tank top. This allowed both tanks to be filled to capacity. The rear tank was piped to the front tank using a one inch stainless pipe, incorporating a flex joint as we did not want the pipe work to be rigid. Because of the design the rear tank gravity fed the front tank as water was being used. A shut of tap was also fitted.
The front water tank was also altered. It discovered that the siphon and overflow pipes inside the tank were fitted two inches down from the top of the tank. The meant that the tank could never be filled to capacity. As is normal with Stanley water tanks ,top hat pieces were added to the top of the tank. these stand up above the top of the tank by about one inch. The old over flow and siphon pipes were removed and new ones were then correctly fitted.
The steering and boiler installation will be covered in the final part of the story.
I applied black details to the green body. This was a time-consuming process of masking and spraying. After this I applied the yellow lines with a Buegler pinstripe tool. This is a tricky process that requires a steady hand. On youtube movies it looks very easy, but you have to be very patient for a nice result.
Two days before the planned boiler test, I received Don Bourdon's burner. This is constructed in a special way so that all maintenance can take place from the front. It is made to work on regular petrol. At the moment I am testing the car with Aspen fuel. This fuel can be compared to coleman fuel. In normal fuel are about 200 substances and in Aspen only 10. In principle, therefore, no carbon build up on the cables and also the nozzles must therefore remain extra clean. The disadvantage is the higher price of petrol. Time will tell you what the results are.
From pictures I copied a brass steamboat whistle which is mounted under the footboard.
Boiler test in Norwich England
On March 16th I visited Basil Craske in Norwich to have my boiler tested. Together with my car were
4 other cars, to be tested. 3 belonging to Basil and 1 belonging to Dudley Watts.
After some small fuel problems which were solved with the help of Dudley, the boiler could be pressurized after which various checks were carried out. This resulted in a boiler certificate that is valid throughout Europe.
On the way back home I found out that it was freezing in the Netherlands. Therefore, before I entered the boat, I left all the water out of the car and because the boiler was still hot from the test, a lot of steam came out of the trailer. The port security came to take a look at whether there was no fire.
Back home I made some minor adjustments to the car.
With this, the car is ready - roughly - for its first trip in Melle, 111 years after the car rolled out of the factory in America.
It took me almost a year to complete this car. It was great fun and I learned a lot.
I would like to thank everyone who gave me tips and advice and of course the suppliers of specially tailored parts.
A recap of what we took on and the problems and work needed.
Note the fire damage as well as wiring quality.
Note the oil soaked sections all over the body as well as diff and other areas needing repairs.
Now we start the body repairs and paint.
With the the car completely disassembled, the body was steam cleaned in an attempt to remove all the oil and dirt.
Once done we then looked at all the burnt areas to assess what needed replacing by cutting in new wood. We took the decision to rub down the body with 180 grit paper. This took a few days but did reveal some more de-lamination problems.
Repairs were then carried out by cutting in new sections of wood and repairing many small section over the entire body.
With these repairs done, sanding of the body continued in an attempt to get to an acceptable surface finish to allow sealing of the exposed wood areas with a coat of West sealer.
The sealer was then rubbed down and a coat of primer was applied to the entire body. The body was allowed to dry for a few days allowing for some shrinkage of the primer.
We found whilst preparing the body for paint that the car had been painted after full assembly. This was clear under the seat bases and under all the steel fittings and steel framework.
Under the seats we found no paint or sealer, as was the case in many areas. Water ingress into the wood had caused a few problems.
Once primed and ready for paint, checks were made to obtain the line detail as used on the model 70. This was done with the help of Alan Blazick. No coach line painter could be found to do the detail work for the lines on the body,chassis, wheels etc. It was decided to do it ourselves by using special low tack tape cut to spec. A local company was commissioned to undertake the work. They cut low tack material into the very thin lines, the sizes for the car and chassis ranged from 1/16 of an inch in increments of a 1/16th at a time up to 1/4 of an inch. Shaped sections were also cut for the wheels and spokes.
When the primer had been prepared for top coat we painted the entire body, doors and seats all separately with a base coat yellow- the colour of the lines.
Once applied we then taped the lines using the low tack tape. The tape colour was black which helped us get the detailing uniform and accurate. The idea here was that after the top coats were applied that the tape was removed revealing the painted yellow detail lines. Line width was determined by tape width.
Once the tape had been applied the seats doors and body were painted black again in base coat. The black also gave an excellent base colour for the green paint used for the balance of the main cars main colour.
Once the black had dried, sections of it were taped over , the sections taped over were all the areas that would be black on the finished paint job; moldings around the edge of the seats for example.
Now we painted the body and seats etc green again in base coat green. When dry we removed the taped areas revealing the black and yellow detail lines, all in the Matt base coat. The odd touch up took place to make sure the finished job would be to a high standard.
Five coats of lacquer were applied to the painted body sections giving the gloss to the paint job.
This was slow baked at a low temperature. When dry all the painted areas were wet flattened and then polished using a slow revving polishing mop and various cutting compounds. This now gave us a high quality gloss finish with the added benefit of the detail lines being sealed in place, so no lines could be polished away when keeping the car clean and presentable. The same paint system was used on all the painted parts of the car and chassis etc.
With the body now finished and ready for assembly along with the chassis we turned our attention to the wings (fenders) and bonnet (hood). These were in very bad condition . The bonnet had been severely burnt leaving bad heat distortion. The wings had also been damaged in the past leaving them with numerous dents and twists to their shape.
As one can imagine the wings needed a large amount of work to include reshaping- in some areas heat shrinking was needed. All the splits were welded up and filed into a flush finish. Some areas were leaded to achieve the final finish required prior to painting them black, again using a base coat and lacquer. The bonnet was a major challenge. We tried to source a new bonnet but none were available. The top lift up flap was twisted and badly heat damaged, as was the rest of the bonnet. Heat shrinking was used to get it back to a workable shape. The pressed leuvures were reshaped by hand both on the flap and sides. A minimum amount of lead and filler was used to achieve the finish shape, as we had to consider the heat in this area. Over a hundred hours were spent on the bonnet alone.
Once finished the bonnet was painted using the same method as used on the body.
Part three will cover assembly of the car plus a few more jobs.
The restoration started as a tidying up of the car. It ended up a full nut and bolt restoration.
After a very detailed inspection of the car it was obvious that major work was need to all parts of the car. The owner agreed to have the work done by my company on an hours and parts costing.It was impossible to quote a price from the outset. Basil Craske UK
The entire car was then taken apart .
After completely taking the car apart we commenced the major restoration work.
First job was to dismantle the engine.
During the dismantling it was discovered that the main gear as well as the eccentrics were loose on the crank pin and moving slightly back and forth, the reason for this was the key-ways were wider than the key, this fault leading to crank pin wear.
A new crank pin was made and a new key way cut . At the same time balance weights were made and added to the crank in an attempt to stop the engine vibration which occurred at around 40 MPH. We were informed by many steam car friends in America that this was the method used to overcome the problem.
The pistons were also found to be loose on the piston rods, the piston rods were also loose on the cross heads. These problems were fixed by tightening the nut holding the pistons in place and then locking the nut in place. New rings were also made and fitted.
The piston rods were only held in place in the cross-heads with a split pin. We fitted a lock nut and reassembled the rods to the cross-heads and then locked them in place again using the lock nut with thread lock and a split pin.
The bores were honed and the valve faces in the block re-faced. New valves were needed as they were found to be too badly worn to re-use. New valves were cast and machined and then lapped in.
The engine was then assembled.
When we timed the valves it was discovered that we could not get a full valve opening. The reason was found to be the brass fork which operated the D link movement needed the stop re-machining to allow more travel on the D links. Once done we were able to set the valve timing. This was done in full hook up.
Once satisfied we fitted the end and steam chest covers. The engine was run on air and it turned over at 90 PSI without trouble.
The chassis was next on the restoration list.
The back axle was taken apart as cracks were spotted in the axle case tubes. The entire axle and cases were taken to a local non destructive testing company. Many cracks were found, this resulted in new axle cases being made using the original castings, once they had been re-removed from the axle tubes and tided cosmetically.
Excessive clearance on the planet gears with around 20 thou clearance was discovered. Add this to the 25 thou clearance on the main engine gear to diff gear answered the question regarding the noise from the back end when driving the car. Combined to this the engine problems and excessive clearance on the cross-heads to piston rods etc I am sure you can guess how noisy the back end was.
New brake back plates were made and installed, as well as new wheel cylinders . A new brake drum pattern was made and castings ordered.The new brake drums were machined and fitted; the old brake drums were badly worn, cracked and far too heavy.
New brake adjusters were also made as it was found that the ones on the car must have failed in the past and were welded up solid?? So no adjustment was possible.
All the painted parts of the rear axle were sand blasted and primed ready for a top coat of paint.
The axle was then reassembled with 3 thou clearance set on the planet gears.
New hand brake linings were fitted to the band brakes.
The front axle was next to restore.
A damper had been fitted to the steering to help stop the steering shake.
New king pins and bushes were manufactured and fitted. The damper was removed. At the same time mounting brackets were fitted to allow the mounting of the newly purchased calipers . A disc brake pattern was also made and from this discs were cast, these were then machined and fitted. New wheel bearings were also installed.
The tie rod ends were very loose so were reset to the correct clearance, the same job was done to the steering drop arm .
Later tests showed that the steering damper was no longer needed as the steering had no shudder and was now quite light to steer.
More information regarding steering improvements will be discussed in later articles regarding the restoration.
The front axle was assembled and checked and passed, it was dismantled, shot blasted and primer paint applied ready for top coat paint. It was then reassembled.
The perch poles and chassis tie rods were checked. They were then shot blasted and primed ready for top coat paint. The entire chassis was then assembled ready for paint. New nuts were made for the perch pole rods' threaded ends. These were then nickle plated.
The customer, following our advice, had already purchased and fitted new Calimer wood wheels with Stanyweld rims from Coker tyres. Five new white wall tyres had also been purchased.
The wheels were prepped for paint.
The old wheels were made of cast aluminium , the spokes being very thick and not just out of proportion to wood style wheels , but also weighed 4 times as much as a wooden wheel.
With this the engine and rolling chassis were now finished.
We now turned our attention to the body.
First thing was the the removal of the hood (top) and the seats from the main body.The leather upholstery was then removed along with the 2 swivel seats that are fitted to the long wheel base body on this one of the few true 7 seat Model 85 Stanley`s made.
The boiler ring and steel sections around the burner bay were removed, this was made of 3/8 thick steel 3 inches wide.The sizes were well over spec leading again to excessive weight being added to the car.This steel work was remade to the style of the model 70 Stanley, but a different boiler mounting method was used. The Model 70 was the style of car used to create the Model 85 from. The 85 was ,to a point, an enlarged Model 70 . This created a very large, comfortable 30 hp car.
All the fitting , gauges , brake lever, pedals,copper piping, air tanks, water and fuel tanks etc were removed leaving a bare body.
The main wooden body was found to have been badly burnt in various places. This resulted in major repairs being needed.
Many sections of wood needed replacing by cutting in new wood. The main areas being around the burner and bulk head. There was no fire protection around the body in these areas, and it was clear that when the car was originally assembled some 14 or so years back that many areas had been incorrectly assembled leading to the many expensive problems now being found. Other areas needing wood replacement included the floor above the exhaust system, again no protection from heat had been installed .
The wooden body was also split in many areas, again needing repair. The section under the head light mounting fork brackets was split. We cut out that section. We then added a threaded plate to that area each side of the car to accommodate the headlight mounting brackets, wood was then put over the plates to disguise what we had done. We did the same to various areas of the car where splits in the wood were discovered.
The bulk -head on the driver's side had in the past had many gauges added to show such things a steam chest pressure, fuel line pressure at the burner forks and much more. These had been removed leaving the standard gauges as used by Stanley. This meant that many holes in the bulkhead needed repairing properly. Major work was needed around the area where the sight glass gauge was fitted and plumbed. A major fire in that area had caused bulk head damage especially around the hole the sight glass plumbing went through.
We also found an area at the rear of the car that was soaked in fuel. It was discovered that the pressurized
air fuel tanks had been leaking, maybe for some years. Fittings were found to be leaking . These fittings were not visible due to them being inside the mounting box the two tanks sat on, which also meant they could not be accessed either.
I am glad to read that this model 85 has finally received its needed restoration. I was aware of most of its problems. Jeff Theobald had kept me updated as his model 85 had progressed. Then Barry followed up with his reports. We have had our model 85 since Carl Amsley first built the body for it in 1998. First on the road in 2007, driven often, it has been most pleasurable to drive ever since. The biggest improvement on our model 85 were the additional counter wieghts added to the crankshaft. Our steering dampener has been welcomed too. Cast iron brake drums and GGA lining were also a plus. Yes... Our 85 has been a journey too. but has been well worth the experience. After 11 busy years, our paint is still perfect and in show condition.
interesting to learn of the engine vibration problems above 40 mph. Our lower geared and smaller wheeled Model 607 may have the same issues above the low 30s, so perhaps engine rpm are about the same when vibration starts. Symptom is hook up and reverse pedals shaking: the hook up dogs are a good fit, no slack or shake there so vibration seems to be transmitted from engine movement. Some have suggested valve face wear as the cause which seems unlikely given the low mileage since engine rebuild with no lubrication failures.
After receiving the body parts back from the painter I started to assemble all the parts.
I made new oak running-boards and attached the mudguards to them. Everything was pre-fit before painting. That made assembling the parts a easy job. I had to remake a few brackets that attach the mudguards to the body of the car.
On my trip to England I collected my new Don Bourdon boiler at Basil Craske`s Workshop. At home I inspected the inside of the boiler with my new 15 euro camera. I want to do this inspection every year to see how the boiler keeps up with pollution. The boiler fits perfect in the new made boiler- ring.
I putt a ceramic blanked around the boiler and covered it with a stainless steal casing. This casing needs to be easy to dismantle if a boiler inspector wants to see the piano-wire winding's. The old top on the boiler was only usable as a template and i made a new one from stainless steel. This i covered with 4 layers of dip-lag. I also cladd the inside of the bonnet with dip-lag i bought from Vintage Steam Products.
Drilling and tapping the boiler was not very difficult. The instruction manual from Don Bourdon was a great help. The boiler is attached to the boiler-ring with 3 steel rods. They go trough the boiler-ring and are also the supports for the burner.
Another thing that was not with the car was the exhaust/chimney and the copper end part. The exhaust/chimney was made from stainless steal and the end part from copper. I used drawings I have found on the internet for these parts.
The engine steam outlet also goes into the exhaust/chimney in a special way to make the exhaust/chimney work better while driving.
Last month I also received the ordered parts from the Goold family. These parts are beautiful machined and everything fits perfectly. I used the, time correct valves and valve wheels as advised by Grant Goold.
With a almost ready car but without a burner and most of the plumbing I took the car to the national road traffic service to get it road legal. Nice detail is that the address for the national road traffic service unit is Stanley road.
This inspection was for me the most difficult part because I did not put the car up for inspection before I started the rebuild. I had to convince the inspectors that it was the same car as I bought in America. Luckily i could convince them with a lot of pictures. So far I have spent 6 months restoring the car and i can not wait to receive the burner so I can start test-driving the car.
Merry chrismas and a happy new year to you all.
12/26/2017 12:01:43 pmBeautiful job.
I see your restoring the pumps as original. If you want maximum performance add a second fuel pump back to back like the water pumps or you will need a passenger to keep pumping up the fuel pressure.
I also added a pressure reducing valve on the pilot to hold the pilot fuel to 30 PSI. The main fuel I run 120 PSI.
Thank you for this advice. Roel
My name is Roel Rasker from the Netherlands. As a regular visitor and exhibitor at the Great Dorset Steam Fair i became more and more interested in steam cars. After building a Likamobile from Steamtractionworld in 2009 i have had different Locomobiles. The Locomobile i own now is a good running car from 1900 witch was previously owned by Steven Theobald. I drove last Melle tour in Germany almost without any problems ( thanks George Hounslow for riding with me and helping ! ).
A few months ago i went to America to have a look at a 1907 Stanley EX. This car was advertised for a long time on the Steamcarnetwork website as well as other websites. On this trip i have bought the car and i also went to Don Bourdon to meet him and have a look at his workshop. There i orderd a boiler and burner for the EX.
This week the car arrived to my home. I am planning a full restoration. Most work i can do myself having some experience in metal- paint- and woodwork. Some parts i will have to buy.
The car has number 3511 and is very original. In the deal was also a new body. Pictures show the old parts temporary put on the new body. I want to use as much as possible from the original body. This will be a lot of extra work, but an old car is original only once.
In this and future articles I will try to show pictures from the process. If anyone has ideas or parts to complete this car, please let me know.
I looked at that car closely at Hershey. It's a wonderful starting point, with so much original material and build detail. I do applaud your intent to retain as much original material as possible. It's much more interesting to have a car where a high percentage of its content came bolted together into the same car out of the Stanley factory door all those years ago.
- Part Two
I have decided to use the new body. The old body was cracked and damaged to much to restore and still keep enough strength. A lot of parts from the old body will be used on the new body as pictures show. The car has been in a accident once. both wood layers were badly damaged and the body was not straight.
This week i have done a lot of sandblasting on wheels,leaf-springs and chassis. Every part is cleaned and spray-painted in a K epoxy coat. Between sandblasting all kind of small parts are made, cleaned or repaired. The steering column did not move anymore and i had to make new bronze bushes to get it working the way it has to.
The steering-system is pre-fitted on the body before painting the steering column. I have glued and riveted brake liner on the brake-shoes. I gained experience with this process on my Oldsmobile curved dash so this was an easy job. Also much work is done on the differential. The 3 gears are made from scratch and it took a lot of measuring and testing before everything runs fine. For this part i had help from a 84 year old local craftsman. The un-restored top gives a little bit a “titanic” feeling but gives a goo idea how the final layout will be. The engine is taken apart and checked on wear. All parts look fine and it didn't take much work to get the engine running on air. Some small parts were missing but i have took them from a spare engine i have.
Back to the sandblasting cabinet.....................................
After sandblasting and small repairs the framework is given a 2K epoxy coat and a 2k Color paint.
The springs are taken apart and each leaf is epoxy coated. I then applied a thin layer of colour paint on each leaf. After drying i assembled the springs and painted them again.
The front wheels were not the correct size. They where a different size than the back wheels. I decided to fit smaller rims to fit 30 x 3 tyres as well.
Being a very difficult job that needs experience i have sent the wheels to Robert Hurford. When ordering Wheels, valves, boiler, burner i have noticed that all craftsman have a lot of work and i have to wait a long time. Nice to see that they are all very busy, but i have to get used to this.
I have pre-fit the body on the chassis for the first time and it fits perfect.
In the meantime all kind of small projects were done like repairing the bonnet, overhauling the steam-oil system, throttle and water bypass. The dents in the bonnet are hammered out and holes are filled with tin. The steering wheel was in a bad condition so i decided to repair the cracks and paint it black. The engine is pre- fit as well and runs on steam provided by my locomobile.