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Pipe Dreams
Posted by: Norman Hills (
Date: December 6, 2005 05:28PM

Accepting that this could be just a pipe dream, I am hoping, by posting this on the forum it might reach more people.

I am looking for a small steam car as a restoration project.

My credentials:- A retired engineer, a small useful workshop, patience, an eternal optimist.

Any ideas or suggestions (not too flippant) would be appreciated. Also any possible sightings or even a rumour, location anywhere, please contact me on my email address below.

One never knows! Norman Hills.

Re: Pipe Dreams
Posted by: (
Date: December 7, 2005 07:18PM

Norman, I’m not sure how the other Steam folks will react to my posting but your friendly comments are always welcome. I’m building a new reproduction of the 1901 Locomobile being built in kit form by the ModelWorks International folks out of England. [].

I, like you, wanted to find a “project” steam car that I could work on because I’ve been fascinated by steam automobiles. Unfortunately, unless you are really lucky, you aren’t going to find a project steam car for under $20K US and that would be for a very rough Locomobile class automobile. You will then probably spend another $20K - $40K getting it into working condition. If you are lucky enough to find a Stanley class "project" automobile, you probably would need to start at $40K US for a rough car.

I looked at a lot of “project” cars and some completed cars before I found the Modelworks Locomobile replica. While I was searching for my project, I discovered something that I thought was very interesting: very few of the real, running, steam cars have a majority of their original parts. All working steam cars today are working on their second or third boiler, most of them don’t have the original burners, most have modified fuel systems and most have replacement bodies and in some cases replacement frames! Yes there are original cars out there but they are probably not driven. In the end, I found that I would be better off buying a completely restored car than restoring a project car but I wouldn’t have the pleasure of getting dirty.

When I found the Modelworks replica, I figured that my objective of building a steam car would be fulfilled. Since steam is also something that you must respect, I also liked dealing with brand new components. Along the way, I am becoming much more knowledgeable about steam cars and some day, I hope to own a real steam car. By then, I’ll be much smarter than I am now.

To the real steam car owners on this site, I respect that you folks can operate these antique mechanisms but as a novice I must confess that I like the idea of the modernization of the Modelworks replica. I intend to drive my little steam replica on my 3 mile trip to and from my office and I really like the idea of four wheel hydraulic disk brakes, the Derr boiler, the modern diesel burner and an electric start pilot light.

If you go the project route or the build from scratch route that some owners have taken, you have my respect. If you are a chicken like me, give the Modelworks folks a shot.

For what it’s worth.


Re: Pipe Dreams
Posted by: (
Date: December 10, 2005 04:50AM

Dutch says

Yes there are original cars out there but they are probably not driven

Not true - the originals are not so common, and few have their orignal
boilers, but there are a significant number of such cars around. Bill
Hunter's for example. In the uK you can not participate in a veteran car
Club rally unless you car passes the VCC's originality test.

Re: Pipe Dreams
Posted by: (
Date: December 12, 2005 02:22PM

I knew some would take offense to my posting. It was far from my intention. I hopped that I was clear that I was referring to my experience in trying to find a “project” or a completed car. In MY experience, most of the cars that I looked at didn’t have their original boilers and the ones that did, I wouldn’t be comfortable rebuilding. Maybe it’s something about American cars. Who knows?

I know that there are cars out there that are running with their original boilers but what’s the point? Having an original combustion engine is a big deal for most collectors, having the original boiler for a steam engine doesn’t add to its value; does it? In the end, wouldn’t you feel more comfortable driving a car that has a boiler that’s not 100 years old?

To Stuarts comment about the Model Works Replica being paraded around as a restored original at some future date, I surely hope that that doesn’t happen. I understand that there are a considerable number of forgeries in the car world and wouldn’t ever want to add one to the pool. Out of respect for all of the original cars, I will be quite clear that my car is a replica whenever I drive or show the car. If someone eventually does try to pass this car off as a restored original, all I can say is that the potential buyer would have to be a complete idiot to believe such a thing. It will be obvious to even to most novice buyer that there is no way this car could ever have been constructed with parts from the turn of the 20th century. The fact that it will have a modern burner, boiler, hydraulic disk brakes, steel body frame, 12 volt batteries, LED indicators and the like should give a potential buyer that this is far from a restored car. If someone does eventually purchase a Model Works Locomobile replica believing that it’s an original car, all I can say is “Caveat emptor.”

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