Filed under: History
My buddy Ron had been telling me to come over and check out his hot rod stuff for a while. I knew he’s got lots of gearhead goodies collected over the past 30 years like old speed catalogs, 50s car show programs, and vintage racing annuals. When I finally did the tour of his shop, the real jaw-dropper was what he saved from going in the trash about 5 years ago. Wooden molds. But not just any old industrial patterns from some hole in the wall. These are the original casting molds from many of the significant Miller, Offenhauser & Meyer Drake powerplants ever built.
Macaulay Foundry in Berkeley, California has been in business since 1896 casting everything from turrets to turbines. Although Harry Miller was a skilled foundryman himself, he knew he couldn’t consistently produce a good engine block with all of internal intricacies, and starting in 1922 he began using Macaulay for the first time. Fred Offenhauser followed Harry’s connection and began using the foundry in 1934.
These hand made wooden molds represent an old world craft that the computer operated mill replaced many years ago, and as the foundry was clearing out old “junk” one day, Ron was in the right place at the right time. He literally saved pieces of racing history from disappearing forever. Pardon the blurry and dark cell phone images I quickly snapped last night, and I’ll try to post the rest of the detail pics on Thursday, along with some more history of the foundry’s relationship with the Miller dynasty.