Senior Specialist, Head of Department, UK
1904 Stanley Model CX 8hp Runabout Registration no. A 944 (see text) Chassis no. 1017 Engine no. 0271
'When all was well, the little Stanley runabouts probably provided more pleasurable motoring than anything else on the market at the turn of the century - that is if they were handled properly - they ran very quietly and with that effortless smoothness which no petrol car of the time could rival. They were also quite lively...' - Anthony Bird, 1967.
Francis E and Freeland O Stanley were identical twins, whose Stanley Dry Plate Company produced photographic equipment. The brothers also designed steam cars, experimenting with a solitary prototype in 1887 before reviving the project in 1897. By the following year they had completed three more, one of which completed a spectacular demonstration in Charles River Park, Boston where it successfully scaled an 80ft incline that had defeated its rivals. Orders for 200 cars resulted and the Stanleys were in business. That first design was sold to John Brisben Walker and manufactured as the 'Locomobile', while the Stanleys progressed to a non-condensing engine driving the rear axle directly, with a rear-mounted boiler, production of which commenced in 1902. With Mobile out of business by 1903 and Locomobile by that time making petrol-engined cars, Stanley dominated the market and continued to do so until 1927 when steamer production ceased.
This Stanley Model CX was imported new in 1904 by the sole UK agent F Wilkinson, of Manchester, though nothing else is known of its early history. In 1931 Richard Shuttleworth bought the car intending to fit a new boiler and have the engine overhauled. The boiler and the engine were removed but had not been replaced when be was killed in flying accident in 1940. The car then remained within the Shuttleworth Collection until Guy Black bought it for restoration in 1987. It seems that Guy did not undertake the restoration but sold the Stanley on to professional engineer Geoff Harris who, in conjunction with the late Phil Hopes, set about a major mechanical overhaul, had a new boiler made and rebuilt the original engine. Subsequent owners Stuart Gray and Peter Williams, both well-known steam-car enthusiasts, made various mechanical and cosmetic improvements.
This Stanley Model CX is fitted with a small multi-tube (316 in total) boiler operating at 300psi. The engine has twin, high-pressure, double-acting cylinders with bores of 3" and a 4" stroke, and is mounted beneath the car, integral with the rear axle and final drive. The burner is powered by vaporised petrol at 120psi and is started in much the same way as a Tilley lamp or Primus stove, using propane (originally acetylene) to heat the vaporising tube prior to ignition. Petrol consumption is about 12mpg. The feed water is held in a tank surrounding the boiler so that it is preheated, and the water consumption is about one gallon per mile giving a range of 20+ miles. In addition to the two obvious seats on top of the body, there is accommodation for a further two passengers at the front of the car, accessible by lifting a backrest and lowering a footrest. A new, plywood-lined wicker basket - mounted behind the seat - carries the propane cylinder and other necessary support items.
Built in 1994 and installed in 1996, the Goold No. 14 wire-wound boiler, together with the rest of the pressure system, had a complete 10-year examination and hydraulic test in June 2006. No measurable wastage was found. The engine has been rebuilt by Geoff Harris and is housed in a beautifully made copper cover. In the period 2001/2002 the entire burner assembly was rebuilt in stainless steel using a new Ottaway burner plate. At the same time, the pilot was converted to propane and the burner fitted with a continuous sparker device. In addition, the entire car was professionally repainted and lined out; all nickel parts were re-plated, wheel rims stove enamelled and the wheels rebuilt with stainless steel spokes and nipples. New kingpins were made and fitted also, and the crown wheel converted so as to double as a disc brake. Two callipers were designed, cast, machined and fitted so as to provide an improvement over the original single band brake. At the same time a new gear ring of hardened steel was fitted to the crown wheel. The entire modification is concealed within the copper casing (total cost £2,000).
More recently (May 2010), the Stanley was despatched to specialist restorers, Fairbourne Carriages, of Harrietsham, Kent for a 'body off' rebuild of the chassis and running gear. Work carried out (see schedule and photographs on file) included making new hickory chassis poles; sand-blasting and rust inhibiting metal components; and applying multiple coats of paint and varnish.
This car has good provenance and is reputedly as pretty and practical as any of the five CXs listed on the Steam Car Club of GB's Register of such cars in the UK. It is said to be very easy to fire up, maintaining a good head of steam and boiler water level on the road, even with a full load of four passengers, and has successfully completed several London to Brighton Veteran Car Runs. The boiler has been certified for use up to 12th July 2011 and the car, which is currently taxed, has an entry in this year's LBVCR, number 462 - the vendor has agreed to 'sit' with the purchaser on the Run! Previous boiler certifications are on file together with sundry restoration invoices, servicing/driving instructions (written by the previous owner), fresh MoT, Swansea V5C document and VCC Dating Certificate (number '2290'). Additional equipment includes a rear wheel hub puller, jack, spare reflex water gauge glass and some consumable spares. It should be noted that the registration mark 'A 944' is not included in the sale but is available via separate negotiation with the vendor.
The new registration number is 264 YUB, the updated V5C is expected back from the DVLA in three weeks time.
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