Black Dial Gauges and Caring Too Much?

“I just repainted them cream and printed the art onto them” he said confidently as I cringed.  It was a frigid February day accentuated by the gloomy grayness of a mid-winter Binghamton, New York sky.  He was talking about a pair of black dial Bantam gauges as mist turned to slushy snow.

“Why did you do that?  You know how rare they are to find!” My frustration got the best of me.  I pulled off the road into a gas station.  Up to this point, I had only held one pair of black dialed gauges in my hands and had seen photos of only one speedometer and one triple gauge.  “Did you at least take photos of them like we talked about?”

“I forgot, I mean, they aren’t worth anything without the cream faces.  I’ll get some decent money for them redone,” he boasted.  “And I never really cared for the little cars anyway, so taking photos didn’t really matter to me.”

I was aghast.  Why was my young mind enraged?  That was simple, black dial Bantam gauges are few and far between.  I held one set in my hands in 2013, I have seen a photo of a triple gauge in a 1940 Riviera, I have seen a photo of a speedometer in a 1940 coupe, and I had heard of these gauges.  That makes a total of six gauges in nearly six years.  The set I held in my hand was in my first year of joining the Bantam hobby, so I couldn’t appreciate their significance and my memory of them had faded.  The photo I found illustrated black dialed gauges with white gauges inset into them.  Could that be right?

Painting over black gauges to recreate something more abundant for financial gain and irreverence for the Bantam hobby just seemed wrong.  Worse things have happened in this world, but this small annoyance was easily avoidable.

Black dial gauges 8

Note that the font on this gauge is of a heavier style than cream and silver faced gauges.  Also note the boxed in nature of the scale on the oil pressure gauge versus the other two gauges.  The font on the oil pressure gauge is also different from the Amp gauge slightly, and there is an additional “MADE IN U.S.A.” in the center of the triple gauge.

black dial speedometer

The only previous photo I have seen of a black dialed speedometer.

If you look at the most recent printing of the AABC Authenticity Manual it states:

“Bantam used BLACK instrument faces on a few EARLY production vehicles. On the face is the Bantam logo as well as “Made In USA”. Needles are white. Speedometer needles has a ball on the short end and is flat on the indicator end.  So far these instruments have only been noted on commercial vehicles” (AABC Authenticity Manual, at 103 Section 646 (2nd Printing 2016)).

While not the most useful description, this does establish that black dialed gauges did exist.  However, whether they had black gauges insert into them, whether the art was the same, or what color the needles were all remain mysteries.  In the modern library being compiled here, I am working on ironing out all of the details specific to each part you may come across including gauges.  It is a time consuming effort, but has resulted in a number of parts being rescued which may have otherwise hit the trash.

Yesterday, on eBay, a closed car dashboard panel with black dial gauges appeared for sale with a price of $2,000.

Black dial gauges 1

Note the different font used on the Fuel gauge from the fuel gauge in the gauge in the photo published higher in this post and the similar AMP gauge.

The photos aren’t the best as it’s a bit difficult to see behind the fogged crystals, but they tell an interesting story.  The speedometer is remarkably similar to one of the 1935-1936 Hupmobile gauges, with only the scale and colors being different.

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The triple panel utilized similar lettering, with again the scale of the oil pressure gauge being different along with the colors.

Here are some enlarged views of the gauges on eBay:

Black-dial-gauges-5.jpg

Black-dial-gauges-6.jpg

Black dial gauges 4

The rear of the gauges do not betray any major changes that would account for the non-matching AMP gauge, however a closer inspection may.  The combination of the flat glass lenses and 15 lb oil pressure gauge lend credence to them being early 1938 gauges.  However not too much else is known about these.

Will I pay $2,000 for these just to be able to analyze and replicate the art?  No.  The asking price is far more than what Bantam gauges usually bring and is nearly the cost that some rebuilders charge for restorations.  However, the price is the prerogative of the seller and a potential buyer.

Would I have loved to have seen any photos of that lost set of black dialed gauges?  You bet!  They could have provided valuable insight into exactly what these gauges were supposed to look like.

Perhaps my frustration with the gentleman who painted over history is misplaced, but I do care for the little cars.  I care for their spry ride, their sporty and elegant looks, their history, and their owners.  I want to make sure that every restorer has the ability to refinish their car as perfectly as they wish.  Is this good business sense?  Probably not, but after all that isn’t what this is about.  This business is about keeping the cars on the road, putting smiles on our faces, and making sure that the Bantam hobby continues to grow into the twenty-first century.

To see the gauges click here: American Bantam Black Dial Gauges

It’s Almost Time to Break Out the Fleece

Labor day has finally come.  For those of us in the Northeast, that means Autumn is almost here.  On one hand, we end up with the crisp smell of decaying leaves and cool morning which give way to mellow afternoons.  We work outside in a fleece jacket or flannel shirt enjoying the temperate weather while partially rushing knowing that soon all outside work will be precluded.  In these last few weeks of warmth, we get to look forward to a few great car shows.

In a prelude to the Fall car season, here are a few items which popped up on ebay.  Enjoy!

Reproduction Bantam Hood Ornament

Note this is NOT NOS.

Click here to see the Reproduction Bantam Hood Ornament

American Austin Cufflinks

Click here to see the American Austin Cufflinks

Al Asher Bantam Manual

Al Asher Bantam Manual 1.jpgClick here to see the Al Asher Bantam Manual

Cunningham Bantam Owners Manual

This is a beautiful manual which should really get its chance at a second printing run.

Click here to see the Cunningham Bantam Owners Manual

An update on the shopping list

I am very thankful for the kind words I have gotten from many of you regarding the shopping list I have been putting together over the past year.  If you haven’t looked, you can find my entries on Front End Parts, the Fuel System, and Interiors.  Each of these includes a lot of information and photos to help you figure out what you have and what you need.  In a few cases, these lists have already been helpful for saving some parts which would have otherwise been lost.

Work on the lists has stagnated a bit as I am struggling with space for all of these photos.  Currently this website has used 70% of all of the space allotted to me by word press and my computer is nearly full as well.  So, I am working on alternative storage and hosting means which will result in a better experience for you in the future.  As the weather is still nice, I’ll probably be putting off this project until it gets cold again.  After all, we need to make the most of our time.

Thank you for your support and your patience.  I think we’ll both be happy with the end result.

This morning on eBay a few front end trim pieces came up:

1940 Bantam hood side badge

NOS Bantam Badge Emblem 1

If you can hang on a few weeks, we should have new units available with new chrome and sturdier construction.

Click here to see the NOS American Bantam Badge

1938-1939 American Bantam Hood Ornament

1938 American Bantam Hood Ornament 1

For the asking price, it would be nice if the seller included photos which we could enlarge.  It’s difficult to see the condition of the chrome in the photos.  On another note, I can’t wait to see the new reproductions of these which you’ll hear more about in an upcoming feature of a Bantam club member’s recent efforts.

Click here to see the American Bantam Hood Ornament

Pacific Pumper, Thank You Judees1!

If you have been following this site for a while, you probably already know that I have a bit of an affinity for the Brennan I.M.P. engine.  If you’re new to the site, click on the link provided in the previous sentence and you will see why I find Brennans fascinating.  Really, they were initially just marine conversions of Bantam engines which grew to something more fascinating in their production run which lasted thirty years after Bantam vehicle production ceased.  However, during Bantam’s vehicle production, there were several mentions of other industrial engines being sold to outside contractors; Brennan Motor Manufacturing Company being one and another being Pacific Marine Supply Company.

While the IMP was Brennan’s power unit, Pacific Marine offered something called the Pacific Pumper.  I’ve heard about these in the past but have never really seen one or learned more than the fact that such apparatuses were built.  As best as I could ascertain, a Pacific Pumper was a conversion of an American Austin or Bantam engine into a pump of sorts.  A few weeks ago, Greg shared a photo of a Pacific Pumper crankcase with me which sent me  on a googling spree.  In all of my searching, I could only find photos of Austin engine based Pumpers.

As you already know, it’s always good to stock up on Austin and Bantam parts, so I saved a search on ebay for Pacific Pumpers.  For weeks, I have been getting emails from ebay about non-Austin or Bantam Pacific Pumper engines.  However, on Tuesday, I got a message about an auction which had unfortunately already ended.  In the collection of photos was something new and amazing to me.  Pacific Marine adapted a Series 65 style three main bearing engine to a pumping apparatus.  I had no idea that they did such a thing.  Here is the photo from the listing that really caught my eye:

Pacific Pumper 95

How many were built and where they ended up may remain a mystery, but at least one was built.  Now you and I have more reason to scour the nation for these pumpers.

I missed out on the auction but reached out to the seller who graciously shared some better quality photos of the lot which I will be using to build an information section around in the near future.  This seller was kind and generous.  She was willing to help out our hobby and I am very thankful.  While she doesn’t have any other Bantam or Pacific Marine items, please check out her store here to see if there is something you are interested in.  Judees1, thank you!

Click here to see Judees1 store.

Building a Better Bantam: Lynn James’ Rooster Mascot

If you’ve been involved with American Austins and Bantams long enough, the name Lynn James should at least sound familiar.  There are many great qualities that you probably associate with his name and his work.  He is a man who has an eye for detail and one who pays careful attention to it in his craftsmanship.  Over the years he has reproduced numerous impossible to find parts for Austins and Bantams including gaskets, jacks, intake manifolds, steering wheels, fender skirt trim, and many others.  His latest endeavor was introduced publicly in 2014 on the Austin Bantam Society Facebook group.

One member of the group posted a link to an eBay auction for an older reproduction rooster cap.  In reply, Lynn posted a very interesting series of photos, starting with this one:  American Austin Rooster Radiator Cap Original

This satin finished rooster cap was an NOS unit which Lynn was lucky enough to come across.  If you look carefully, you can see the original casting flash on the parting line of the piece and the fantastic detail of an original.  As earlier reproductions lack the fantastic detail of the originals and suffer from small discrepancies, Lynn sought to overcome these issues to deliver the finest rooster cap in over 80 years.

American Austin Rooster Radiator Cap Mold

Putting his mold making skills to the test, he began the process of creating a three piece mold to capture the entire piece, including the manufacturer identification information on the bottom.  This mold was used to create a wax copy of the rooster for the purposes of casting the caps in the future.

American Austin Rooster Radiator Cap Wax Mold

The red wax copy was enough to impress most of us on the group and keep us waiting for superb reproductions to be available.

This week, Lynn unveiled this “polished brass” piece which is the magnificent culmination of his efforts:

While this unit was not made from the mold or wax casting shown above, Lynn guided the foundry in their crafting of this modern reproduction.  In his listing, he has said the cap is ready for you to take to the plater of your choice to have finished.  He has modestly said that they are not perfect, but you should check out the photos above and his listing to judge for yourself.

Click here to see Lynn’s magnificent American Austin Reproduction Rooster Cap

Friday morning serving of unobtanium.

Do you have an American Austin?  Then these are the parts you need to detail it to perfection!

American Austin Hub Caps

A beautifully restored set of Austin hub caps has found its way onto eBay.  For the price, buying them is almost thievery.  The man who restored these spares no effort on his quest for perfection.

Click here to see these amazing American Austin Hub Caps

Or you could buy an original hub cap to straighten and polish:

Click here to see the American Austin Restorable Hub Cap

American Austin Reproduction Rooster Cap

There will, hopefully, be an entry in our Building a Better Bantam series on this cap very soon.  However, I will say this is the reproduction the hobby has been waiting for.  If you want a cap, you should probably buy this one.

Click here to see Lynn’s magnificent American Austin Reproduction Rooster Cap

1930-1935 American Austin Bantam original Window handles

Having had a 1930 American Austin recently, I learned that these handles are very difficult to find.  Unlike Bantam handles which adequate substitutes can be found, Austin handles are usually destroyed or missing.  Interestingly, they were used on Peerless and Willys cars of the same vintage, yet they never seem to come up for sale on eBay.

Click here to see the 1930-1935 American Austin Bantam original Window handles

The seller has stated that they are for 1934-35 cars as well, but some recent photos of two barn find cars make me wonder if Austin began using Bantam style handles at the end of its production run.

Click here to see the great Austin project which dons Bantam handles.

American Austin Rechromed Bumper

Correct bumpers and spacers are difficult to find.  I don’t have a good chrome plater, yet, so to me this could be a great find.

 

Click here to see the American Austin Bumper

The Great Bantam Fuel Pump Mystery

It looks like a pile of junk! Broken bits, corrosion, missing essentials, and wrongly described on ebay; this is an easy engine to look past if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. This isn’t a 1934-1935 Austin engine, it’s actually a 1940 American Bantam three main bearing engine; the famous Hillmaster. However, it is a Hillmaster that had a very hard life.

While it appears that nearly every component modified or compromised in some way, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that it is a three main bearing engine of which approximately only 1000 were made. If enough people are interested, I can post some comments on the condition of the lot itself so you can have a better idea of what you’re bidding on. However, that isn’t the reason I’m posting this engine. I’m posting it primarily for two reasons.

Firstly, the number 65589 does not appear in the production log. Every other number from 65580-65590 are listed, but this number appears to be entirely absent. Perhaps it was a replacement engine, an industrial engine, mismarked on the log, or even for an export car. There are numerous possibilities.

The second reason this engine is interesting is not only because it has the fuel pump mount opened up, drilled, and tapped but because there is a fuel pump included in the lot. As you probably know, Bantams used a gravity fed fuel system which obviated the need for a fuel pump. However, beginning in 1938 all Bantam crank cases had a provision which was designed to allow a fuel pump to be run and all cam shafts supposedly have a lobe to actuate the pump arm. There have been mentions of fuel pumps in club news letters but never which part was actually used. In recent years, there has been little to no discussion on this matter so the knowledge as to what pump could have been installed has essentially vanished.

Does this information really matter? Probably not. However, if you’re like me and have a couple of engines sitting with gaping holes where fuel pumps can be mounted, you may be interested. If you are building a car which is day one authentic, this probably isn’t too helpful but should still be pretty interesting.

I have a hunch as to what the fuel pump may be and will update you if the hunch is correct.

Click here to see the American Bantam 3 main bearing engine

Monday morning parts finds

American Bantam Headlight Lenses (pair)

American Bantam Headlight Lenses.jpgClick here to see the American Bantam Headlight Lenses

American Bantam Austin Intake Manifold

Please note the repair to the mounting ear which will need to be cleaned up.

Click here to see the American Bantam Austin Intake Manifold

American Bantam Handle Assortment

Click here to see the American Bantam Handle Assortment

Reproduction Interior American Bantam Window Crank

Reproduction Bantam Window Crank.jpg

Click here to see the American Bantam Window Crank Reproduction

American Bantam Door Handle Reproduction

Reproduction Bantam Door Handle

Click here to see the American Bantam Door Handle Reproduction

American Bantam Generator Mount Bracket

This is a four hole generator mount which should work for late 1938 American Bantams through the end of production.

American Bantam Generator Mount Bracket

Click here to see the American Bantam Generator Mount Bracket

American Austin Bantam Steering Wheel

American Austin Bantam Steering Wheel.jpg

Click here to see the American Austin Bantam Steering Wheel

American Austin Timing Cover

This cover is the correct style for M series American Austin engines.

American Austin Timing Cover.jpg

Click here to see the American Austin Timing Cover

American Austin Generator Mount Distributor

Please note, each American Austin and Bantam engine utilized a distributor having a different advance curve.  While they may look similar and fit similarly, they will not necessarily run the same without modification.

American Austin Generator.jpg

Click here to see the American Austin Generator Mount Distributor

American Austin Steering Box

American Austin Steering Box.jpg

Click here to see the American Austin Steering Box

American Austin Hood Latches

American Austin used two different types of spring loaded hood latches.  However, I don’t have the information handy to explain if these are right for Austins, and if so for what years.  Please check your application.

American Austin Hood Latches

Click here to see the American Austin Hood Latches

American Austin Hood Latches

American Austin used two different types of spring loaded hood latches.  However, I don’t have the information handy to explain if these are right for Austins, and if so for what years.  Please check your application.

American Austin Hood Latches b 1

Click here to see the American Austin Hood Latches

 

Case study in Bantam advertising

As you likely already know, here at EverythingBantam.com (TrustInRust.com) we offer multiple services for the Austin and Bantam enthusiast inside of us all.  Among these services are the advertisement of vehicles for sale in the Virtual Showroom and the curation of a bimonthly Lead Sheet.  The point of these services is to make sure that the people who are in search of a car have an avenue for making their dreams a reality.

Generally, I only include cars listed on eBay on the Lead Sheet and do not place them on the home page.  However, I am making a rare exception this morning as a case study in the efficacy of advertising a Bantam on eBay.

On March 28, 2018, the following car was listed on eBay in the category of Salvage Parts Cars:

Bantam Roadster For Sale NH 6

Click here to see the 1939 Bantam Roadster
Click here to see the third relisting: 1939 American Bantam Relist

The listing offers only a buy it now, and appears to either be of a 30 day duration or of the good until cancelled variety.  The seller is asking $12,000 for the car and has not offered a make offer option on it.  The entirety of the description reads:

“This car is made in America no rot four-cylinder engine 20 Horse power standard does 50 miles an hour good restoration project Motor transmission rear end 100% local pick up as is”

Here are the rest of the photos:

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When publishing advertisements here, I work with the seller to describe their car in detail so the car is appropriately attractive to potential buyers, more easily found through search engine optimization, and so an interested party may be more confident in their potential purchase.  For buyers looking for help in finding a car, we also offer a locating service which helps them find what they are looking for and includes advice in appraising the vehicles being considered.

This roadster looks to be quite complete and in decent shape.  It appears that it has the some of the top bows, part of the original jack, a full set of trim rings, the proper seat, a correct tail light, correct headlights, and other important parts.  At $12,000, this car is a crap shoot, it could provide a great numbers matching car that is complete and in decent enough shape to make an easy restoration, or it is a crap shoot with a seized engine (or worse yet one with a broken crank), shoddy body work under its newer paint, and no papers.  As it is, we just don’t know what the true nature of this car is.

A similar project 1939 Bantam Roadster (one of our own cars) has been listed on eBay in the same category as an experiment.  That car has been listed since early 2017 and after spending some time at the top of the “best match” search results, it quickly faded into an abyss of irrelevant parts ads.  Now, you won’t find that car unless you are specifically looking for it.  Any interest which that car received was in the beginning, appeared to primarily come from people interested in hot rodding it, and any offers were well below reasonable.  I am a huge fan of eBay, but I’ll still not convinced that it is a good place to sell a Bantam.

I see a lot of potential in this pink roadster (although it doesn’t have the curb appeal of the car I wrote about here).  I’m going to watch this car and report back occasionally to update you on its progress in the listing.  I hope the seller is successful and it finds the good home which it deserves.

Click here to see the 1939 Bantam Roadster

4/9/2018 Update:  This car has been relisted two times already.  I didn’t pay much attention to the first relisting, but the second relisting has placed the car for sale as a vehicle and the price has been lowered to $11,800.  Although an American Bantam, the car has been listed in the “Austin”.  It’ll be interesting to see if the seller has any better luck in the 7 day sale format.

Is your Bantam in need of a new heart?

$4,000 is a lot of money, there is no question about that.  So when confronted with a price tag calling for that much money, it’s best to be an intelligent buyer.  This engine has been listed for auction by a seller who has been listing a lot of Bantam and Austin parts over the past few months.  This engine is probably one of the greatest finds in the collection because of the potential it may offer.

I don’t have an awful lot to say about this engine, as people have their different views on rebuilt engines and engines that are rebuilt but lay dormant.  While some may recommend tearing it down to go through the engine, others may be willing to run it as is.  If you’re willing to accept this as being equal to a modern rebuild where all of the parts have been wet magnafluxed, rebabitted, and assembled with the highest quality materials; this could be a bargain.

In theory, I believe it should be torn down and inspected before being run; but then again I am usually a “get the ether and a jumper pack” kind of guy because I just want to hear the engine come to life (which is a terrible idea).  I’ll let you be the judge, but I’ll give you a few things to consider:

  1. In the 1980’s, parts may have not been magnafluxed or at least not wet magnafluxed (which is a far superior method of crack detection).
  2. Original Bantam rod bolts are notoriously weak, we do not see a bill of materials indicating what was used.
  3. New main bearings were cited in the ad. Does that mean the rebuilder used NOS front and rear bearing retainers with their original poured babbit, were original retainers rebabbitted, or were some sort of inserts used?
  4. We don’t know if the new rods were the NOS 38 style rods which were available with original babbit or something else.  In any event, how were they modified to accommodate the undersized crankshaft?
  5. The engine does not appear to have any of its openings sealed.
Screenshot (74)

This is what a NEW or never run rebuilt Brennan IMP looked like in the exhaust ports after laying dormant for years.

 

 

 

This engine could be great or it could be a very expensive (but pretty) collection of parts.

What are your thoughts? (A few people have already chimed in and have inspired some additions to this post).

 

Click here to see the American Bantam Engine