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. [www.modelworks-int.com
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.