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  Colin Roberts 1904 Stanley CX

Some interesting history from America
From the files of Bill Zerega, father of the writer.

In preparing this email I reviewed my father's files on the car and I must apologize for asserting that the car was a 1903. Although it was titled in Maryland as a 1903, I've reviewed correspondence from the second owner and he bought it as a 1904. So I'm afraid you were originally correct. The second owner was Mr. Heywood B. Miller of Remington, VA. Mr. Miller purchased the car in Washington, DC when he was a machinist with the Navy Yard (U.S. Naval Gun Factory). When he left the Navy Yard after the Great War he moved down to Remington to his family farm. I remember when we first met Mr. Miller.

It's not clear how my father found out about Heywood, although I remember as a child he would go to small towns and when he'd fill up at the local gas (petrol) station, he'd casually throw out the statement, "who's that old man with all the old cars around here?" Very often someone would say, "Oh, you mean old Mr. So-and-so." That usually signalled the beginning of a search for some guy with an old barn with an old car. We had two rules: rule one - never tell mother and rule two - never ask how much money the owner wanted for the car (unless, of course, father wanted the car).

(I recall crawling in a collapsed, dirt-floor barn looking for something or other. I was in there on my stomach under this rubble, when I realized I wasn't alone. I yelled, "dad, there's something in here". Dad said, "reach your hand back here". He gave me a beer can with a stone in it. "Shake that at it, he'll leave you alone".)

Dad was restoring his 1911 Model 62 and he was definitely not interested in the early, lighter Stanley's. Before he owned one, he opined once that they were museum pieces not suited for the road. I know he was not desirous of a tiller steered, but he liked to say that if a steamer dropped in your lap you'd be a damn fool not to put it up.

Heywood lived on the top of a mountain and in 1967 although we had the directions, after several trips up and down his road we were unable to find his roadway up to his property. Dad finally put me out in front of the car walking and looking into the brush along the roadside for his dirt road. I saw it through the overgrowth and dad drove in. Mr. Miller was a nice old man, albeit a little reserved.

After a discussion, he admitted to having the Stanley engine to the car he owned. He took us around his property in search for the engine; however, as we went, we found pieces of the car were everywhere. The copper tanks were the first thing we spied hanging on a barn wall. Dad deadpanned, "there's the car's tanks. Any chance you'd let those go?" Heywood said that the copper was good and he might need a piece now and then to repair the roof and he'd just cut a piece out of the tanks. I gasped and dad said in Italian not to say anything. I calmed down and we walked on.

In another barn we found the pumps, also hanging on the wall. Again Mr. Miller said that he had a Mason engine over the hill and he wanted to use the pumps to pump water up to the few dozen head of cattle he had on the place. In this same barn there was the remaining body part of the car - the front section. "I burn up the rest of it during the war". Mr. Miller would let these go.

We came to the end of our walk around the property and were back at the car with the engine leaning up against the rear bumper. Mr. Miller asked my dad what he wanted to offer for the engine. Father said, "how about a hundred dollars"?

Mr. Miller came alive and beamed. He said, "Hell, for a hundred bucks, you can have the tanks and the pumps. And I recall having the gauges for that car around here". We couldn't find the gauges; however, we went home happy. The following Wednesday a package arrived at the house and in it were the gauges and the oil winker. Every so often a package would arrive and there would be something new that turned up. Dad was friends with Mr. Miller until his death in 1981.

One fun project he had with the car was reverse-engineering the water level indicator that 'floated' two different density metals (lead and aluminium) in water. Most people were baffled by these devices and he was pleased with himself to figure them out. He wrote a monograph on the subject.



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