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

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The paradox of choice.

Listed as a 1940 Roadster, a seller in Kansas City, MO has offered up a lovely two toned vehicle which I know I will be watching.  Before I get a bit too verbose, here is the car:

American bantam roadster KCMO 4

Click here to see listing for the: American Bantam Roadster

There is something about this car that I like.  It’s certainly not very authentic, but I like it.  It has the worn in look of a favorite pair of shoes.  You could slip right into it and hopefully putter off with minimal effort.   Beside the fact that the car is too small to probably get door dinged in a parking lot, you still wouldn’t worry about them too much in this car, even if you had to.

As I mentioned, the seller has listed it as a 1940, but that likely is not accurate.  Then again, does accuracy really change the way the wind feels in your face or the feeling of your mouth tightening into a smile?

Some things to note:

  • Buyer states the vin number is 60134, which would indicate a 60 series 1938 American Bantam and the car has numerous details from an early car
  • Two main bearing engine which appears to have the early 1938 aluminum head with separate water outlet

 

If you are looking for something a bit more authentic, there is always this car:

1938 American Bantam Roadster st louis 7

Click here to see this: 1938 American Bantam Roadster

Or if you’re looking to bring an original car back from the brink, this may be just the thing for you:

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Click here to see the 1939 American Bantam Roadster

The last of the three cars above is my own project.  However I would probably want to get into something like the top car to start with rather than a complete project.  The best way to do it is to buy the driver and restore the project as you see fit.

It’s funny, when I first started my Bantam journey, there were very few options available.  Today, you have three examples in varying condition on ebay alone.  There are multiple for sale through this website, and scores for sale on the current Everything Bantam Lead Sheet.  If you’re looking for a car, this is a pretty good time to be looking.

 

 

Welcome to December!

I need to get back to blogging about the shop project.  However, in the meantime, I am pleased to share these newly listed items with you.  Please scroll down through the last few posts if you’d like to see what else is available as some of those parts have been relisted.

Enjoy your weekend!

American Austin Grille Chin Panel

American Austin Grille Chin 2

Click here to see the American Austin Grille Chin Panel Sold for 27.50

American Austin Oil Pressure Gauge

American Austin Oil Gauge 1

Click here to see the American Austin Oil Pressure Gauge Sold for 29.00

American Austin Front Axle and Suspension Parts –

This assembly has been listed for several years, although the seller has taken new photos.  Perhaps the seller is open to offers?

American Austin Front Axle 1

Click here to see the American Austin Front Axle and Suspension Parts

American Bantam Cam Shaft and Bushing

This appears to have the correct non-tapered shaft for Bantam timing gears whereas Austins have a tapered interface.

 

Click here to see the American Bantam Cam Shaft and Bushing

Incorrect Roadster Top Rear Window

This is not correct for an Austin or a Bantam.  Austins used an oval window with an entirely different interior garnish and attachment system.  Bantam generally used very different window frames.

 

Click here to see the American Bantam Roadster Top Rear WindowSold for 50.00

American Bantam Taillight (NACO) parts (Lens may not be correct)

American Bantam Roadster NACO Tailight Parts 1

Click here to see the American Bantam Taillight (NACO) parts

It’s time to reclaim eBay!

It’s no secret, I like eBay.  I could go on about how I have enjoyed it for years.  However, if you go on any Automotive blog, forum, or facebook group, you likely see it disparaged in a number of different ways.  Despite other people’s complaints and its allegedly negative effects on car shows, I have loyally defended eBay.

A few months ago, I penned a letter to the CEO of eBay, half knowing it would never be read.  It was an actual letter, ink on fine paper swaddled in a self-adhesive envelope donning a single antique truck themed stamp.  While I expected no reply, I extended a few thoughts on the current state of eBay Motors as it has been abused by certain sellers.

If you are reading this, you likely appreciate Bantams and are well aware that the parts for these cars are very difficult to find on eBay.  Typing in “American Bantam” as your search query will result in thousands of hits.  You may see something like this:

Screenshot (415)

You read that right, 4,943 parts!  The deluge of matches may make you think you can buy every part for your car.  However, this is unfortunately not the case.  Most of these items include a plethora of things including seat belt retainers that go between a bucket seat and a console, bilge pumps, cigarette lighter phone chargers, and OBD II scanners.  Each of these items alleges that it fits American Bantam cars.  This is the result of the eBay listing system allowing a seller to indicate the part fits every make, model, and year.  The result is confounding, actual Bantam parts are buried among this unrelated merchandise.

I have suggested a means where users can easily report unrelated items or the installation of eBay moderators who can make sure people are not abusing the interchange option provided by the website.  Today, I found something so you can also tell eBay that you are fed up with unrelated merchandise hiding the parts you need.

Screenshot (416)

In the circled area of the screenshot above, you can tell eBay what you think.  If you are unhappy with the way in which sellers of buffing pads are abusing the system, let eBay know.  If you are unhappy that the bilge pump will not properly fit your Bantam, let eBay know.

Once you click on the link above, it will take you to this screen:

Screenshot (417)

Let’s work together to make eBay a better marketplace for classic car enthusiasts.  In the mean time, check back here frequently and I will share the items I find with you.  I may not catch them all, but I will try.  Enjoy your Sunday!