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1899 Locomobile

Posted: Wed Sep 09, 2015 11:31 am
by banderson
To Whom It May Concern:

My museum owns an 1899 steam powered Locomobile made in Bridgeport. It was donated to our collection in 1900 and was the first vehicle to drive the roads of South Bend, Indiana.

The vehicle has never had any work done to it and is in original condition, however with over 100 years of age it does have a need for conservation. We are starting a campaign for its conservation of about $15,000, and $5,000 of that has been given to us by a local organization. Here is my question… the tires are in horrible condition and they are shredding. From all the research I have done, I tried to find a comparable historic reproduction of the tires, but the tire that was used was a French design I believe and I cannot find a company that makes reproductions. Have you come across this before, and if so, do you have any recommendations on a resource to buy reproduction tires?

According to old catalogue offerings, the car was equipped with 28 inches wheels, outer
diameter 625 mm, with 40 steel spokes and 2 1/2 inch single tube pneumatic tires. The rim has a big
round hole for the valve and 5 quadratic holes for fixing the tire to the rim.

The diameter is 28” with 2 1/2” single pneumatics.

Thanks in advance for your reply! If you also have recommendations on reproduction wheels and tires that can be put onto this vehicle in the meantime, I would appreciate help with that too.


Brandon J. Anderson
Deputy Executive Director
The History Museum

Re: 1899 Locomobile

Posted: Sun Sep 13, 2015 10:29 am
by Tall
You should try Bicycle Heaven. They have access to many old tires.

I am sure that you should not restore this treasure in your museum, nor would it be prudent to operate. I hope that your goal is to preserve it, not to make it look like new.

Re: 1899 Locomobile

Posted: Mon Sep 14, 2015 9:56 pm
by oldcarfudd
Coker Tire, (800) 949-8700, used to advertise single tube tires, but I don't see them in the current catalog. You could call and talk to them to see if they could help.

I agree this car shouldn't be restored, but if the boiler is sound it would be a wonderful thing to demonstrate in operation on your museum grounds. It may be too fragile to take out on the road. The Stanley Museum in Maine, (207) 265-2729, and the Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve in Delaware, (302) 239-2385, have original steam cars that they operate for the public on special occasions. Possibly they could advise you. Also, Don and Sarah Davidson have an original 1899 Locomobile steam car that they sometimes take out. The wife is Sarah Stanley, great-granddaughter of F.E. Stanley who built the critter. If you send me a private message I'll give you their phone number. has a forum where you could ask this question, but I don't know how to access it.

Gil Fitzhugh the Elder.

Re: 1899 Locomobile

Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 10:51 am
by banderson
Thank you for your advice and connections. We will not be restoring the vehicle, we will be conserving it. So it will stabilize every element of the vehicle, such as the paint, etc., and keep it in very good condition for the future. This is one of the few Locomobiles that I am aware of that is 100% original, we just need tires for it.