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History Old Chrome Big Car Frame ID

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Carter, Apr 7, 2021.

  1. Carter
    Joined: Mar 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,422

    Carter
    Member

    So, I've long wanted to put together a couple three spring cars, one a lakes modified ala Art Gerrick or Bob Giovanine, and the other a Legion Ascot Class B type big car. As such, I've gathered up some parts for these future builds.
    I had narrowed and shortened a 20s Chrysler frame for the lakes car, and had sourced a perfect Essex frame for the big car.

    However, when a pair of old chrome Essex frame rails popped up for sale recently, I decided those would make an even better platform upon which to build. Problem was, they were way up in Minnesota, far from Pennsylvania, and I really didn't want to make that drive, despite the good price. I got lucky and was able to find transport for them, so I bought them.
    It took a few weeks to get them in my hands, but as soon as I did, I knew immediately they were not Essex rails.

    What they are is even better. What they are, as I'm sure most of you were able to deduce from the thread title, is a pair of old chrome three spring big car frame rails.
    They appear to be nicely built as well, showing excellent craftsmanship. They've not been modified and have only one old weld repair on the inside of the right rail near the front spring rear hanger. Based on witness marks and discoloration where the shocks, spring mounts etc were bolted, it was an assembled car at some point, so it's possible that it was a restored/museum car that got pulled apart to use the engine in the restoration of a better known car or something similar. I'm hoping that someone will recognize them one way or another.
    The frame shape, both at the front and rear, as well as the location of bolt holes will be what will identify it if its identity is to be found.
    From studying pictures I've noticed some similarities to some restored cars, which might indicate the same frame builder, but nothing close to definitive.

    Thanks in advance for any insight, suggestions, information, etc.

    IMG_20210322_183651714.jpg IMG_20210323_204218819.jpg IMG_20210323_204229521.jpg IMG_20210323_204239362.jpg IMG_20210323_204248207.jpg IMG_20210326_180611787.jpg IMG_20210326_180812743.jpg
     
  2. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 16,560

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Josh Shaw seems to be an expert on these cars. Have you contacted him?

    Or Bobby Green? They are both HAMBers.
     
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  3. Carter
    Joined: Mar 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,422

    Carter
    Member

    The last pic in the first post and the next pic below show the four holes where the front spring rear hanger would bolt, and if you look closely, you can see the outline of the hanger that used to be bolted there. Just in front of that inverted triangle hole pattern you can see the rearmost hole for the front shock.

    IMG_20210323_204248207~2.jpg

    At rear, just before the frame kicks up, you can see where it looks like a Houdaille type shock had been bolted in the pic below.

    IMG_20210322_183705961~3.jpg
     
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  4. Carter
    Joined: Mar 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,422

    Carter
    Member

    alchemy, I've talked to Josh already, and I think Bobby has seen the pictures also. Thanks for the suggestions, though!
     
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  5. millersgarage
    Joined: Jun 23, 2009
    Posts: 2,079

    millersgarage
    Member

    the upturned flange on the top rail is unusual.
    Interesting find
     
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  6. Carter
    Joined: Mar 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,422

    Carter
    Member

    @millersgarage
    That's fairly common on big car frames from the 20s through the end of the rail frame cars.
    This would obviously not be the case on most frames made from modified production car rails, but for purpose-built racing frames like these, that was the way. As an example, the Miller frames were made this way, as were the frames made by guys like Myron Stevens, Clyde Adams, and others.
     
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  7. Carter
    Joined: Mar 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,422

    Carter
    Member

    Here's pictures of two Clyde Adams-built cars with similar frames.

    Screenshot_20210408-093039~2.png

    Screenshot_20210408-093159~2.png
     
  8. I don't know what your intended use for the car is once it's completed but a guy I used to work with bought a T-bucket that was clearly an old build. It had a chrome rear end in it. I was absolutely stunned at the number of major repair welds that could be seen on the housing. Not where brackets had once been (my opinion) but welds where the housing or axle tubes had broken/split open ... all obviously done after the chroming process (silver paint attempting to cover welded area). I do not know the history of the car or the history of the rear end (was it always in the Bucket?) but a T-bucket weighs pretty much nothing and this car had a mild SBC in it so I am assuming the rear end was failing/needed repair because of the chroming process and hydrogen embrittlement. Again, just an assumption on my part as to the cause.

    Apparently there is a somewhat newer chroming process (post-chrome baking maybe?) that limits or eliminates hydrogen embrittlement but I have no idea if there is a way to determine if the process was done on a finished product.

    Not trying to rain or your parade or take the wind out of your sail, just something you might want to think about as there may be a very good reason why those rails were for sale.
     
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  9. Carter
    Joined: Mar 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,422

    Carter
    Member

    The seller didn't really know what they were. Can't imagine hydrogen embittlement ever entered into the equation as to their reasoning for selling.

    A great many racing cars of this era and others had a large amount of their components plated, cars that ran hard on dirt tracks, board tracks, asphalt tracks, even the bricks.

    While hydrogen embittlement is certainly a possibility with any old components, especially those that have been plated, I'm not terribly worried about these rails. Any cracking that would occur with future use would likely present long before catastrophic failure.
    If the rails can be identified as belonging to a specific car, I'll do my level best of recreating said car, and if they cannot be identified, I still plan on putting a car together around them. Either way, it won't be a street-driven car, though it will certainly get flogged on dirt from time to time if I have anything to say about it.
     
  10. Sounds good :)

    I just wanted to make sure you were aware :)
     
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  11. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 14,846

    Squablow
    Member

    I am not much help, but an overall picture of the rails, along with measurements for scale, might help ID them, over the choppy closeup pics.

    I can't imagine what car went through the expense of having the frame chrome plated and then was parted out later. This thing has to have a history. I will say I'm very intrigued.
     
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  12. Carter
    Joined: Mar 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,422

    Carter
    Member

    @Squablow
    Fair point on the pictures. I'll try to get some better ones tonight, and some good measurements this weekend.
     
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  13. Pete Eastwood
    Joined: Jul 27, 2011
    Posts: 991

    Pete Eastwood
    Member
    from california

    You have a real treasure with those frame rails !
    I know a little about Clyde Adams cars .
    I did a lot of the restoration on the car in this picture .
    The fellow standing behind it is Steve Huntzinger ,
    he did the paint & final assembly of the restoration .

    gil [pearson & steve huntzinger.png
     
  14. Carter
    Joined: Mar 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,422

    Carter
    Member

    @Pete Eastwood
    Thanks! I believe I read that you and Steve had done the restoration on that car. It's an absolute beauty!
    Do you have any pictures during the restoration by chance?
     
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  15. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 16,560

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    sprint car 2 - 16 - 14 002.jpg

    This one could use a little chrome.
     
  16. Pete Eastwood
    Joined: Jul 27, 2011
    Posts: 991

    Pete Eastwood
    Member
    from california

    Lots of pictures !
     
  17. Pete Eastwood
    Joined: Jul 27, 2011
    Posts: 991

    Pete Eastwood
    Member
    from california

    It's going to get some Nickel plating .
     
  18. This thread is badass. I gotta subscribe!
     
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  19. noboD
    Joined: Jan 29, 2004
    Posts: 7,544

    noboD
    Member

    Hope you find some history, will be following.
     
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  20. Great find!!
    Tagging along, as I also have everything to build a early sprinter:
    Essex rails, aluminum body, that I think is a Dreyer, OHV Alexander B, Franklin steering, front and rear suspension, and wheels and tires. A collection of parts, nothing from the same car.
    It, unfortunately, keeps getting rotated back in the line.
    Keep yours going!
     
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  21. Carter
    Joined: Mar 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,422

    Carter
    Member

    Thanks! Hopefully I can figure out some history on these things, but if not, I'm still thrilled to have em.

    Thanks, I hope so, too.

    Nice! Sounds like a fantastic pile of parts from which to build a car!

    I did a quick and dirty mock up today, just for fun. 20s Chrysler tube axle, Franklin steering box, Buffalo #4HC lock ring wheels.

    IMG_20210410_132621695_HDR.jpg

    Might not end up using any of these parts depending on how the research goes, but it definitely helps get the thought process kick-started.
     
  22. Why isn't the Hal in that mockup?
     
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  23. He has a HAL engine?!? Jealous!
     
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  24. Carter
    Joined: Mar 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,422

    Carter
    Member

    Just a HAL SOHC head, not a full HAL.
     
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  25. SOHC, that cam is driven by a worm gear on the front right?
     
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  26. Carter
    Joined: Mar 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,422

    Carter
    Member

    The HAL SOHC and I believe the DOHC have chain driven cams.
     
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