1905 REO Model B Runabout, the first year of production by the REO Motor Car Co. While this car is visually correct, it was missing many original parts, namely the wheels and rear hubs, hubcaps, ignition coil box, floorboards and engine cover. Additionally, the VIN and engine number (701 through 1200 were issued by REO Motor Car Co. for the 1905 Model B) have been lost through the passing of time since its purchase 107 years ago.
Major components that had to be fabricated/replaced with other than original materials are: wooden spokes and falloes, rims and rear hubs (front hubs are original). Also, the solid brass hubcaps have been fabricated, the rear axles and brake drums have been modified from original Ford Model T parts. The original radiator core sections are intact, but the cooling fins had to be replaced throughout. The radiator tank, gas tank and battery box had to be replicated using the original units as patterns. The original seat was in such poor condition, I used a few pieces of the original seat that were solid and remanufactured a replacement seat using the original delaminated and fragile pieces as patterns using bending Birch, and it turned out nicely.
Also missing were the front wood fenders, and I traced the patterns from a 1906 REO in the R.E. Olds Museum in Lansing, Michigan, and bending Birch as the material that worked well to replicate these. I had an Amish artisan from Arthur, Illinois replicate the groove details on the fenders, and he did a splendid job. Top irons were fabricated by Mels in Ohio, and the new leather upholstery and canvas top were fabricated by Mike Stone of Topline Upholstery in Sycamore, Illinois. The original compression relief starting system was missing, and I opted to instead install an electric starter, along with a starter/generator, oil drip alarm and other upgrades to the 12 volt system, which replaced the original 9V system on these cars. The original hand crank survived, however, and I was able to start this car with the hand crank in the early stages of my restoration project.
A spare wheel was also assembled for me by Bill Calimer of Calimers Wheel Shop in Pennsylvania. No spare came with these cars, and this spare can be used by removing the hub of the flat tire and remounting the hub bolts through this fresh wooden spoked wheel: much easier than trying to remove and replace a flat tire/tube on the side of a road. More photos to come, this car should be a real looker once I am done with it and publish it for sale.
History of this 1905 REO Model B Runabout:
I was unsuccessful in finding the name and state of the original owner, but through the Nebraska license disk #395 nailed to the firewall, the owner in 1911 was Harry Seward Villars who registered this used car with the Nebraska Sec. of State. Its possible that Harry Villars bought it new and kept the registration current through 1916, however Nebraska records only verify records starting in 1911. In 1916 while driving around on the U. of Nebraska campus, where he was a Ph.D candidtate, Harry suffered a cracked cylinder wall and the car sat idle in his widows barn for another 40 years through around 1956.
It was subsequently purchased by Jack Gardner and shipped to Elba, Michigan where the engine was rebuilt in 1962 but never run. The rest of the car was in pieces and remained in this barn until purchased by Dan Shafarman around 2003, and subsequently sat in his shop until I laid my eyes on it in June, 2011. I purchased the car in October, 2011 and the restoration process continues. I successfully drove the car around my subdivision in Burlington, IL in early May, 2012, the first time this car had been driven since the Howard B. Taft administration.
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