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History Old Chrome Big Car Frame ID

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

  1. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 15,363

    Squablow
    Member

    I must say, that first comparison picture looks dead-on-balls accurate to me.
     
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  2. Carter
    Joined: Mar 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,445

    Carter
    Member

    Even the holes on the tops of the rails all match up.
    The second picture isn't scaled perfectly, and between that and the photo angles and distances, it's hard to overlay them exactly.
     
  3. Carter
    Joined: Mar 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,445

    Carter
    Member

    One thing that never made sense to me about this frame was that it hadn't been heavily modified or badly damaged/repaired, and still was in fairly good shape. Being a three-springer, it would have likely been a 30's build, so I figured it was maybe restored in the 70s or 80s as an unknown car, then got parted for the engine for a known car, though that was all speculation, and outside of top-tier AAA cars, chrome frames weren't exactly common.
    The car I think this frame came from was built in '36, run until '42 with no major changes or crashes, then parted to build a new car for '46, which still exists. That it only ran for 6 years and was dissembled makes sense as to why it survived as it is. Plus the town where I bought the frame out of was only 2.5 hours from where that car was headquartered.
     
  4. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 28,415

    The37Kid
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    SORRY! I just found this thread and read through all the replies, what a GREAT find! I wonder if those rails are the same ones that were at Hershey the year they had the Yellow field? Don't remember who the vendor was but he had a lot of speed equipment, think he said they were West Coast rails. Chrome Sprint Car rails are hard to forget! Best wishes with the build. Bob
     
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  5. Holy crap this is awesome!
     
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  6. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 30,038

    Mr48chev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    As a big fan of pre war Indy and other open wheel race cars from that period that is a great find.
    Compared to most that you see from the late 20's early 30's those are really beefy rails.
     
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  7. rod1
    Joined: Jan 18, 2009
    Posts: 944

    rod1
    Member

    Amazing find Carter .It looks like these treasures are in good hands! Please keep us updated.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2021
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  8. Carter
    Joined: Mar 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,445

    Carter
    Member

    Bob, I bought these out of Mankato, MN, but the people I bought them from knew nothing about them, not even where they had come from. It is a classic car dealer type place that sells cars and parts, but they had nothing else in the realm of vintage race car parts or speed parts of any kind. How long ago were those chrome rails at Hershey?

    As Pete said, a lot of cars, especially those built by guys like Ernie Weil, Clyde Adams, Myron Stevens, etc, all guys who were involved with building Miller and Offenhauser stuff, were very similar both dimensionally and in layout. Which makes starting at the current day with a set of rails and trying to ID them from pictures nearly impossible. However, I hit a dead end trying to trace them backwards from the present day, so that was my only option.

    So, I looked through the books I had that covered racing in the 30's and started taking notes. Then, when I had eliminated most of those cars by either having bolts/holes where these rails didn't or by having been crashed badly or 2-spring converted, I bought some more books. Throughout the process, there were a few cars that were similar enough, or I didn't have good enough pictures of to warrant a further look.

    I had a chance to look at the Clyde Adams built Ernie Triplett car in person, and despite some similarities, it pushed me towards thinking these rails were likely not Adams-built.
    So I kept looking at pictures of cars in books and online, taking notes as I went. I always leaned towards these being west coast run AAA rails, since the purses were bigger and the cars tended to be done to a higher level of finish. Chromed rails were rather unusual outside of Legion Ascot Class A regulars and Indianapolis contenders.
    A few weeks ago, I started looking closer at a picture I'd seen several times.

    Screenshot_20210723-205423~3.png

    Online, it was labeled as Jungle Park, 1942, though I have no idea if that's correct, and I lean more towards this being 1940 or maybe '41, though certainly could be Jungle Park, no idea there.
    I had previously dismissed the Emory Collins car as I believed it to be the same car as Emory ran post-war, which I was fairly certain still existed, and had some frame changes that would make it not possible. But I only had a picture or two to go by, so wasn't very sure.
    Screenshot_20210725-104313~2.png

    Screenshot_20210725-103218~2.png

    Obviously the nose changed post war, as well as the added headrest on the tail. But in the first picture above, it's easy to see that there's a reinforcing plate added to the frame, and the rear set of 4 holes isn't there like in the '42 labeled picture. Then I looked at the pic below, which is missing the 4 holes but doesn't have the reinforcing plates, and which was labeled '46.
    Screenshot_20210725-103901~2.png

    So I began wondering if the frame was indeed the same pre- and post- war.
    I found a discussion on a racing forum where an Emory Collins article was mentioned, being written by Earl Fabritz for The Alternate. And I knew my pal and fellow Flyer Zach had all of the Alternate magazines, so I shot him a message.
    What he had was even better, the binders with all of the notes and pictures from the article, a veritable treasure trove of information.
    The notes included a list of cars that Collins had run, and the '46 car was listed separately from the '36 car. The '36 pictures showed transverse mounted friction shocks front and rear mounted on brackets utilizing the same 4 bolts as the front and rear crossmembers.

    Screenshot_20210807-191335~2.png

    Later pictures, from promo shots for a 1939 movie called 'Indianapolis Speedway,' showed the friction shocks frame mounted, with new holes added for mounting them, which by the end of the prewar era had been replaced with Houdaille shocks in the same location as the friction shocks, as seen in the first picture in this post. These '39 pictures show a new grille, and the unique exhaust which was used on the later car as well, added I believe when the 255 Offy was changed out for the 318 Offy for the '38 season.

    Screenshot_20210810-103450~2.png

    Ann_Sheridan_1939_1.PNG

    IMG_20210816_232654~2.jpg

    A sway bar had been added up front by the last picture, which I believe is '40 or '41.

    I'm hoping to make a trip to see the postwar car as I believe nearly all of the chassis parts and possibly even the body (with some changes) were retained from the '36 car, though what still existed before that car was restored I have no idea. Notes indicate Leon Derock bought the car and 5 318 engines from Collins when he retired, but only ran it for 1-1/2 years then sold the rail frame chassis to a 'Vanderwilt' and had a tube frame Hillegas built. Then some time later the rail chassis was sold again, though the notes only say 'to hot rod builder.' At some point, it was restored to it's '48 version.
    At one time it resided in Des Moines along with the car Gus Schrader had Curly Wetteroth build in '38, the car he was killed driving. I'm not sure if the owner there restored both cars or just owned them. In any event, I'd love to get in touch with him if anyone has contact info.
    I'm also interested in any information on Wetteroth built cars, including pictures, chassis details, etc.

    As I said before, I'm not 100% certain it's the frame from the '36 Collins car, though I'm obviously leaning heavily in that direction. I hope checking out the '46 car and possibly talking to its previous owner will answer most of my questions.

    If anyone has any info or pictures on the '36 Collins car, I'd certainly appreciate anything that could help me confirm that these rails do or don't belong to it.
     
  9. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 28,415

    The37Kid
    Member

    WOW! Do these rails have the proper owner! I met the owner of the Emery Collins car 40+ years ago, must have his card somewhere. I meet Emory Collins at a Vintage race in Davenport years ago and had him sign my Fox Indy 500 book. Pebble Beach was great this year with a MILLER class, Bobby Green had a Two man car there, last time I saw it it was scattered in a field in Woodland Hills, when Crazy Chris was the caretaker. Stopped to see Bill & Mike LaRosa from Hot Line fame. I've totally renewed my interest in 1930's race cars, GOT to find the two man car I sold to Jim Etter! Best wishes with your project. Bob DSCF6903.JPG
     
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  10. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 28,415

    The37Kid
    Member

    Whoever had the car that these rails were under must have been a top of the line builder/owner. At some time the 3Springers were outdated, my guess is that a tube frame replaced it and the engine, axles and body became a "new" car. Bob
     
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  11. Tman
    Joined: Mar 2, 2001
    Posts: 34,935

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    VERY cool thread.
     
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  12. Carter
    Joined: Mar 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,445

    Carter
    Member

    Bob, that's great! I know you've been in the vintage racecar game for quite some time. Jim had an unbelievable number of cars and parts pass through his hands over the years. I recently got to visit the collection that acquired all of his stuff after his passing.

    Emory building a new car for '46 as a three spring rail frame car is certainly unusual, though perhaps the rumors as to steering issues resulting from the conversion from 3- to 2-spring causing his close friend Schrader's fatal crash might have already been circulating then. So hard to say...
     
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  13. -Brent-
    Joined: Nov 20, 2006
    Posts: 6,433

    -Brent-
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    The HAMB is lucky to have all your posts related to the info you've found @Carter. You've done some great work thus far. Well written, too.
     
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  14. bowie
    Joined: Jul 27, 2011
    Posts: 2,777

    bowie
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    Really enjoying your thread. Love these historic racers! I miss Jim Etter, always looked forward to chatting with him and perusing his cool stuff at Hershey and Carlisle. You might also want to talk with super sleuth Mike Guffey , as his insight is extensive.
     
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  15. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 28,415

    The37Kid
    Member

    First met Jim Etter back in the early 1970's, knew he had health problems a few years ago but didn't know he passed away until Carter mentioned it. There would be quite a photo collection if all the cars he found were posted somewhere. He was a big part of the hobby, and got a lot of cars in the hands of restorers. Rest in peace Jim.

    Bob
     
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  16. Fordgasser1
    Joined: Jan 20, 2009
    Posts: 1,279

    Fordgasser1
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    from Jersey

    EmoryCollins.jpg
    This is a pic from 49. I guess not the 3 spring car but boy looks close!
     
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  17. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 28,415

    The37Kid
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    Has anyone found photos of race car frame rails being built? Think I read they were forms that they were hammered over, that had to turn our pretty well if the next stop was the chrome shop with long tanks.
     
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  18. Carter
    Joined: Mar 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,445

    Carter
    Member

    Fordgasser, there's a lot of mislabeled pictures out there, and that's one of them. That's the '36-built car in either '36 or '37.
     
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  19. Carter
    Joined: Mar 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,445

    Carter
    Member

    Bob, many were hand hammered over forms, though I'm not certain they all were. I don't recall having seen any old pictures of that process.
     
  20. Good stuff!
     
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  21. Fordgasser1
    Joined: Jan 20, 2009
    Posts: 1,279

    Fordgasser1
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    from Jersey

    I thought so!
     
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  22. 97
    Joined: May 18, 2005
    Posts: 1,957

    97
    Member

    Back in the day like every other trade the platers knew what they were doing. They were professional about it , everything was done properly, i.e triple plating was the norm , not special request. It is only since the instant gratification throw away generations arrived that everything has turned to shit, driven by price not quality.
    If a professional plating company did these rails in the era of the big car I am sure they will have been heat treated post plating.
    I have a chromed 34 rear axle housing which was done over 70 years ago, it was in a race car and then a friend put it in a hot rod . He sold the car and the new owner discarded it . I collected it up in the 70s, used the trumpets and brakes on a Q/C in my roadster pickup for a while. It was in the RPU when it was crashed, (not by me) and is going back in now. I have assembled it and replaced the Q/C center which broke in the crash, and have checked it for bends and cracks, there are none!
    I am sure these rails have stood the test of time because they were done in an era, when pride in work and satisfaction from accomplishment meant more than sky high profits , and people just knew they had to pay what it was worth to get a job done.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2021
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  23. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 28,415

    The37Kid
    Member

    [​IMG]

    Just noticed the front anti sway bar! Is that a 1940 Ford item, or from something else? Bob
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2021
  24. Hi, Chrome plating in the day was indeed better quality. All the chrome was Hexavalent chrome back then and today it is Trivalent chrome unless you ask for the better chrome sometimes called show chrome. Big issue today is disposing of the waste water and bath after it is expended. I worked in a research and development lab. I made Chrome baths up from liquids and crystals and plated several types of finishes. Prep surface to be plated then copper coating down first then buffing, next comes the Nickel plating and finally the Chrome finish. Chrome is porous and the Nickel protects and gives deep shine thru the Chrome. t/hose old rails have great Chrome on them! As far as Hydrogen from the plating process yes Hydrogen can induce embrittling depending on the base metal. We would clean up some parts in a Hydrogen environment but being careful to not allow it to penetrate the grain structure causing cracking in the part! Hope this helps!
     
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  25. Jay McDonald
    Joined: Apr 6, 2020
    Posts: 66

    Jay McDonald

    Threads like this are what keeps me checking the HAMB every day! Keep it coming guys.
     
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  26. Well I try to help out here as much as I can. I learn quite a bit so owe the site and folks something back to share when I can!! One other thing about those rails. The tank they needed to chrome those rails had to be long to accommodate the rails and bath. Also they had to make special anodes to throw the chrome on the inside of the rails. Chrome especially plates out in a straight line direction. It does not like going around corners to plate. If you try and build up the surface too long you get wiskers on the job.Look at Corvette rear bumpers where they make a 90 degree turn. You can see thin plating in the crotch area. Top flight plating shops go to great lengths making special anodes to throw the chrome in there. Add that to show chrome and you get great quality but at a premium. Saying goes you get what you pay for!!
     
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  27. noboD
    Joined: Jan 29, 2004
    Posts: 7,774

    noboD
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    Isn't that what gives the yellow tint or shadow in corners?
     
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  28. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 28,415

    The37Kid
    Member

    o_Oo_Oo_Oo_Oo_Oo_Oo_Oo_Oo_Oo_Oo_Oo_Oo_O:)
     
  29. Carter
    Joined: Mar 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,445

    Carter
    Member

    Donald, you bring up an interesting point. If you look at these rails at the right angle in the right light you can see what appears to be a 'seam' in the plating diagonally near the middle of each rail. It's not like a hard seam, more like a very slight difference in color. I don't even know if it'd show up in a picture. In talking to another vintage racecar guy, he recognized it as similar to something he'd seen on the frame from one of Ted Horn's cars, and that he was told that frame had been plated a half at a time since it wouldn't all fit in the tank at once..
     
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  30. Carter
    Joined: Mar 18, 2006
    Posts: 1,445

    Carter
    Member

    Bob, the front sway bar seemed to have been added for the '40 season. It doesn't appear to be a Ford item looking at the axle end links, though I'd guess it to be some OE part.

    As a matter of fact, if anyone recognizes the front sway bar or mounts, let me know.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2021
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