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.

Six of one, half dozen of another:

Yesterday, a seller listed a 1939 Bantam Roadster on ebay.  I don’t usually blog about vehicles listed on ebay which are not advertised on this site, but I am making an exception for this car.  Given the changing nature of the classic car market, I think this car presents a very unique opportunity to write about.

The subject of this post:

American Bantam Roadster NY 32

Click here to see the 1939 Bantam Roadster on ebay.

As of this morning, the car is up to $9,800 (the bidding has dropped to $3,716.66) and the reserve has not yet been met.  Overall, this is a nice car.  It looks like an older restoration, but we don’t know too much about what has been done to it.  We don’t know if the engine was rebuilt, how it was rebuilt, how it was maintained, what was done to the brakes, or really anything.  It’s a pretty car, in my opinion, but without getting an up close look at it, it may just be a very photogenic classic.

Having been in this situation recently, I can say, that buying an older restoration can be similar to buying a pig in a poke.  You don’t know really much about the car other than what you can see at the surface level.  You hope that you can change the fluids, put some gas in, and enjoy.  However, that is not a guarantee.

I have no idea what the reserve is, but I do know that restored Bantams don’t usually perform as well on ebay as they do at live auctions, Bantam specific publications, or in private sales at car shows.  Now, I’m sure you know that I like ebay, but it’s just not the best place to market one of these fantastic small cars.  So, let’s take the price out of consideration.

Now, for the purposes of exposition is a 1939 Bantam Roadster project car:


1939 Bantam Roadster – NY

Finding an original car awaiting a restoration is a fairly difficult these days.  A car such as the one above will definitely need metal work, paint, chrome, and all of the other usual accoutrements of restoration; however you would have complete control over every aspect of the process and you would be sure of the quality of the vehicle you are driving.  Your own hands could bring it to a level of excellence which it likely hasn’t seen since 1939.  Just imagine what you could do with a project car like this.

The complete project offers its own obvious set of challenges where as the older restoration is a little more covert about what it may offer its next owner.  I used to think I was only interested in a complete project of which I could control every aspect from the ground up.  However, sometimes we don’t have enough time to do that and it’s worth taking a chance on a good looking car which is closer to being a driver; just to get on the road.  Either way, you shouldn’t get your hopes up and you should make sure you are prepared to spend a little extra money in the case you need to tend to something like new brake cables or a wiring harness.

All things considered, which would you prefer; an older restoration to enjoy as is or a complete project which you can nurture into a Roy Evans award winner?  Then again, who am I kidding, these cars are small, so why should you need to choose.  Get one to enjoy and another to build!

Also, we’ll be taking a short break from the Shop Project for a week or so, but stop back soon to see our progress.

Mystery in plain sight- Round Bed Lamps

I don’t have a copy of the newly updated version of the American Austin Bantam Club’s Authenticity manual.  So, perhaps I’m writing this a bit prematurely, but I don’t believe this matter has been covered.  Should you have an updated version of the manual and this subject is covered, please let me know.

If you have been to the Everything Bantam facebook page, you have likely seen a photo of a man and his faithful pet Bantam pickup truck.  I’ve been staring past this photo for months and have only now come to realize a small detail which has thus far eluded me.  Take a look at the photos below and see if you can spot it.  Open the photos and look hard.

Did you spot it?  There on the drivers side rear corner, this car has what looks to be a Lux style taillight.  The same sort of assembly which was found on Bantam Coupes, Hollywoods, Rivieras, and Speedsters.  From past assumptions, I was under the belief that all Bantam commercial truck supposedly had the NACO style taillights.  Every one restored truck appears to have been given this treatment.  In fact, I believe my parts list also supports the usage of the NACO on round bed pickups.

Here are some photos of Bantam round bed pickup trucks sporting NACO taillights or similar variations.  They don’t look incredibly wrong, and these were definitely used on Panel trucks, Roadsters, and square bed pickups.  So, arguments can be made that these lamps are correct.   In fact, they look quite comfortable one each of these cars.

You may say to yourself, ‘Hey, that’s just a photo of one truck.  Maybe the guy could only get that assembly from a Bantam dealer?’  Your admonition may be right.  However, take a look at this factory photo:

Factory photoClick here to find a copy of the above factory photo for sale: 1940 Round Bed Pickup

That little round glass orb has made an appearance, indicating that the truck may in fact have a Lux style tail lamp.  The car also has an earlier style hood ornament which makes you wonder exactly when this car came to be.  Again you may hesitate to take this photo as meaning much because there are many factory photos that do not represent cars as they actually came from the factory.  Again, you would be justified.

So, going back through some photos I found a photo of the original bed from a pickup truck which had sat unmolested after one of the wrist pins scored one of the cylinder bores in about 1958.  Sure the truck had 7 coats of paint, but it was remarkably original.  Under all of the layers of paint you can see the original steel as it likely left the factory.  Here is a photo of the original bed in its glory:

1940 Bantam Pickup Truck Bed

The top and bottom mounting holes around the large central hole are identical to the ones used by Lux lamps in the above mentioned cars.

I was only able to dig up two photos of round back pickups with Lux style lamps, one is the convertible pickup (a dream car sort of thing) which was built by a club member in Florida and another is a 1940 pickup restored by a club member on the West Coast.

Now, I’m not saying that one lamp is right and another is wrong, but I like the look of the Lux lamp and it may be nice knowing you have some options in restoring your car.  This also may give you some wiggle room when restoring your car or some fodder for thought as you look over your next car.   This also reminds me that I need to order my new copy of the Authenticity Manual to see what it says on this topic.

Weekend Thoughts: What motivates you?

“If you waste your time a talking
To the people who don’t listen
To the things that you are saying
Who do you thinks gonna hear?
And if you should die explaining how
The things that they complain about
Are things they could be changing
Who do you thinks gonna care?”

It’s been a while since I have listened to Kris Kristofferson’s first album, Kristofferson, in its entirety, probably about a decade for that matter.  At the first listen, there were a few good songs, but others seemed like throwaways to my young ears.

This summer, Spotify advertised three months of Spotify premium for 99 cents, allowing me to download, onto my phone, a large variety of music to enjoy on the go.  My plan was to use my phone to play music in my radio-less Mustang by streaming it through a Klipsch Bluetooth speaker.  As many of you probably already know, I use an unreliable and antiquated Windows Phone for most of my communication with the world.  One day a few weeks ago, my phone crashed, deleting the Spotify and all of its associated music.  Slowly, I rebuilt my music library and decided to throw a couple of Kris Kristofferson’s albums into the mix, I’m not sure why.

Apparently, Kristofferson was one of the only albums which had made its way onto my phone.  So, I listened.

His words made me reflect on a quite a few things.  Suddenly, I met my own thoughts with a laugh, or perhaps it was a chortle.  Either way, the laugh was a two part sort of thing; firstly my own interest in the tiny marvels called Bantams and secondly this website you are reading right now.

For the better part of the last 20 years, I have been amazed by these little cars and have waxed on about them, all too frequently to uninterested ears.  However, that never completely stopped me from sharing the joy I have found in this hobby and continuing my pursuit.  Although, at one point, I realized I had soaked everyone I knew in a deluge of Bantam talk and was almost on the brink of silence.  I considered keeping the micro cars to myself and focusing my attention to other things.  After a couple of weeks without Bantams, I realized I got too much joy out of these little cars to keep them locked in some dark recess of my mind.

So, I decided to take to the internet and share my enjoyment of Bantams with the world.  I began blogging about these cars, parts, my projects, and apparently now my own thoughts.  The year this site was introduced, 967 visitors found it.  Eight months into this year, 6,145 visitors have found it.  User engagement is up and people from around the world have reached out to talk about these little cars.  We take turns talking and listening, letting a conversation grow.  Sometimes people end up finding a Bantam in their garage, other times they only take home the warmth of a good conversation.  Quite a few people around this globe have apparently been inspired by this site, and that makes me happy.

With that, I am reminded why I started this website.  I’m not here to change the world, but to share with it something that interests me.  Out of a world of billions, 6,145 people have stopped in for a listen this year, those numbers are pretty good to me.  Hopefully I’ll hook you on Bantams, if I haven’t already, and get you into the club to help carry the torch.  If not, that’s fine too.  I’m glad you’re here, reading, and hopefully enjoying.

Remember why you do what you do, maybe it’ll make your pursuit the easier to undertake and enjoy.

“And you still can hear me singing
To the people who don’t listen
To the things that I am saying
Praying someone’s gonna hear
And I guess I’ll die explaining how
The things that they complain about
Are things they could be changing
Hoping someone’s gonna care”

Embrace the Challenge

American Bantams are small cars which can be simpler projects than many of the other cars from the same era; they have very limited trim, they share a multitude of parts with other vehicles, they have far fewer parts then other cars, and most of those parts are a very manageable size.  Even better for the restorer, Bantam was a company which was known for going to the local hardware store to get bits to keep the line running.  Despite these positive attributes, don’t let the Bantam’s smart looks make you believe it won’t be challenging.  In fact, there are some parts which you will encounter along the way which are sure to provide a challenge to any restorer.  How do you overcome these challenges?  Patience.

While I could go on about what parts may be challenging, I will tell you the story about my efforts over the last year to reproduce cross-members for Bantam Commercial vehicles and four passenger convertibles.  All of the other models used some variation of C-channel as the rear cross-member, a simple solution.  The cross-member I needed was 1 5/16″ steel tube, bent in four places, and flattened at the ends.  On trucks, it served as part of the spare tire holder and on the passenger cars, it served as a rear cross-member that didn’t interfere with the rear seats.

Bantam pickup underside

A Bantam Commercial crossmember in its natural habitat, a 1939 pickup truck.

With light kinking in each of the bends, I figured this is something which should be easily made.  I considered a Harbor Freight pipe bender, but decided against it due to the small radius of the bends.  I contacted people who built race car roll cages, they didn’t want to touch it.  Thinking of universal engine swap cross-members, I even contacted a number of aftermarket companies, who also wanted to stay far away from the project.  One race car chassis company offered to do it, but I never heard back from them after sending over a few photos of the part.

I realized I had to be missing something, it’s just bent pipe, there must be some way to have this made.  Being located in New York, I contacted a number of tube bending facilities.  The best I could find was a company which was willing to make 1,000 of the cross-members.  That would mean I would have enough units to replace the cross-members in 1/6 of the total Bantam production run.

After nearly giving up and preparing myself to accept a fresh piece of c-channel, I decided to make a few calls.  I went to google and typed in many variations of pipe bending or tube bending.  A company in Olean, New York said they may be able to do it but suggested another outfit who may be more inclined to take on the project.  It took me a while to get the sample to this other company to see what they could do.

Two weeks after getting my sample to the company, they had manufactured the component parts of two sets of prototype cross-members for me.

Bantam Crossmember Truck Riviera 1

My sample Bantam Crossmember which had seen better days and a couple of components to build two new sets.

To see how they fit, I unpacked them and brought them over to the shop project.  I’ll let you tell me how you think they fit.

I’m personally very happy with these parts.  My top goals were to have pieces made which looked identical to the original units while being substantially stronger and while remaining affordable.  These were a little more costly than I would have liked, but the manufacturer nailed my other two goals so well that the higher price isn’t as painful.  The only part which is visibly not original is the lack of a drain hole in the large tube.  This is something another person can add to their cross-member if they really want to have it.

I will need to fit them to the chassis and determine a few final details by installing these into the chassis of the shop project.  I’ll be posting detailed instructions of how they are installed once they are finalized.

The point of this article has nothing to do with the excellent quality of these reproduction cross-members, even though they are substantially beefier than the originals.  The point here is that there are very few things in a project that cannot be done if you are patient, make a reasonable assessment of your skills, and have the resources to make it happen.  Here is an overly simplified flow chart indicating a helpful process for reaching each of your goals:

problem flow chart

Here is an illustration of how I perceive my path through this flow chart in pursuing a rear cross-member:

problem flow chart 1

As you can see, I got stuck in the research loop for a while, but in the end it paid off.  Researching or contacting other may even lead you to a finish product ready to solve your goals or a person willing to take on your project and do the necessary leg work.  Also, as always, one of the best things you can do is join both of the clubs.  More than likely, someone has been in the same boat as you.  If that person has never found a solution to their problem, perhaps together you can.  Or, perhaps they have found just the solution you have been waiting for.  For instance, if you contact me for a rear cross-member for a Bantam Speedster, a set of brake cables, or 100 new Bantam headlight lenses; I can help you.  If you need something else, I can certainly try to help you or point you in the right direction.

Enjoy your weekend!


Laziness: The key to ingenuity?

Years ago I worked in a marina and was allowed to keep a project boat in the murky shallow water section.  The boat was a pleasure boat which served as a barge by a bridge repair company.  The interior was singed by slag and irreparably tinged with the grime of many hard days of work.  However, the boat ran strong and was priced nicely at free.

It was an extraordinarily hot summer, so I worked mainly in the early morning and from dusk onward.  With the spare middle hours of the day, I would often work on honing my battered craft into something a little better.  Since my boat was near the raised walk way which brought boaters from the land to the slips in the middle of the river, a lot of other boaters would pass while I toiled.  A lot of them would offer a few kind motivating words, some offered joking criticism, and some others offered advice.

Honestly, I don’t remember many of the conversations specifically.  However, I can remember one as though it was had this morning.  It was with sail boater who walked by several times each day, but never usually said anything.  On one particularly blistering day.  He was a middle aged man with a long forgotten accent from a European country.

“You work too hard,” he told me.

I just smiled and laughed, thinking he was ribbing me.

“No, seriously,” he said.  “You work too hard.”

Most people cajoled me into working harder each day.

“How can I expect to have a nice boat if I don’t work for it?” I asked.

The conversation went on like this for a few minutes.  He hinted that merely breaking my back in the sun wouldn’t translate into having a perfect boat at the end of the summer.  I was a teenager and was under the assumption that hard work unequivocally translated into success.  Finally, he sought to break down his arguments into a single phrase:  “Laziness is the key to ingenuity.”

Apparently, he was an engineer of sorts and he gave me some examples of successful inventions rooted in laziness.  As a teen, you often take words at their face value and don’t necessarily contemplate their undertone or context.  Earmarking that phrase in my head, I would attempt to find use for it at many points during my life.  As I’ve tried to apply it, I’ve sought to hone its meaning further and further from a blunt object into a useful tool.

To me, the man’s advice doesn’t mean that shirking hard work will transform you into a Nobel Laureate inventor.  To me, it means that a you need to be considerate and thoughtful in approaching adversity; you can’t expect blunt force to work every time.  You need to understand your objective, your priorities in reaching that objective, the resources you can devote to it, your expectations in solving the problem, and you need to be willing to devote time to finding the best solution for you.  Sometimes, the result of your consideration may reveal that you cannot fully solve the problem and you need to seek the help of others.

A project that inspires dreams too often can become an albatross to its patron.  It’s usually a single problem that causes the momentum of progress grind to a halt.  Once that momentum is lost, dust begins to collect and inspiration dissipates.  Eventually, many forlorn projects change hands to a new, rosy-eyed, owner.  Perhaps more frustrating, many people who long for the accomplishment of a finished project, will never take it on believing they will never be able to carry it to completion.

As for me and that boat, I never finished it.  I didn’t return to the river to work the next summer and never had the time to devote to finishing it; it just wasn’t a priority.  I think I probably still have some pieces of it here someplace, although most of it went on to keep other boaters dreams afloat.

The moral of this entry is that you need to figure out how “laziness” will reward you.  Perhaps you have a project, or are searching this site for one.  Each project offers its own unique challenges and rewards.  If you haven’t done so already, you should consider joining the Austin Bantam Society and the American Austin Bantam Club.  There are hundreds of other club members; many who would love to help you with their skills and many who you could perhaps help with your own skill set.