Wheelie Car Question

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RustyFords
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Wheelie Car Question

Post by RustyFords » Thu Feb 07, 2019 1:48 pm

It's a trivial question, I know...but it's the first thing that pops into my head when I see photos of these cars....

How did they keep the forward-most rod bearings from dying due to lack of lubrication while they constantly drove around with the nose in the air like that?

And, for that matter, how did they keep fuel flowing?
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Re: Wheelie Car Question

Post by Henry K. Lee » Thu Feb 07, 2019 2:40 pm

Don,

Some of them used an accessory belt drive oil pump and fuel pump. My Dad as a kid used to make those odd and unusual T's and Doodle Bug tractors.

Hank in Tin-A-See

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Re: Wheelie Car Question

Post by BRENT in 10-uh-C » Thu Feb 07, 2019 3:35 pm

Don, I have worked on one personally and my father worked on one many years ago (probably in the 60s) that came to the Pasadena Rodeo each year. It was owned by a rodeo clown named Bo Bland. On the Bo Bland Model-T, it had a Stewart Warner vacuum tank (-likely off of bigger GM vehicle from the 20s) that just gravity fed the carburetor. As far as the connecting rod lubrication goes, a rod will go for quite a bit without being subjected to oil, and that motor was all worn-out anyway. On the Shriner one that I worked on, it had a lawnmower gas tank mounted on the firewall that gravity fed the carb.

A couple other things about the Bo Bland T that I remember is that he had hack-sawed the front axle on the driver's side just outboard of the spring perch, and underneath the axle he had welded (cobbled) a hinge onto the bottom of the axle. The tie-rod was cut and hinged in the same area, and so when the T would rare up, Bo would pull a cord inside the car that trip a latch and the wheel would flop down where it was laying horizontal. To get it back into the correct (??) position he would set the car down and just start driving and the wheel/tire would climb back up to the vertical position.

I do not remember exactly what my dad did to his car but I kinda think it had something to do with the timer or coils, --but as a part of it, I got to ride in the car as a kid that night at the rodeo. I remember Bo had me and the other boy riding in the back climb in and he added small bags of sand to the back seat (no upholstery) so that the front wheels were just dangling as we were sitting there. When he and the other clown were in the front seat, that was enough weight to hold the front wheels on the ground. He would holler "Lean back!" as he would stomp the low pedal, and with him and the other clown leaning back, the car would rare up. It jarred our bodies when the back hit the ground but as a kid I thought it was way cool. Probably knowing what I know today, I would not ride in it again. I wonder if that car is still in the Houston area??

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Re: Wheelie Car Question

Post by RustyFords » Thu Feb 07, 2019 3:40 pm

Thanks Hank and Brent.

I'm sitting in Stinkadena right now. I'd just about give my left arm to find that car and revive it. Maybe it's sitting forgotten in a garage as we speak. I don't know that I can even imagine anything cooler.

Maybe I can go on a treasure hunt. Who was the last person you know who had it?
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Re: Wheelie Car Question

Post by RustyFords » Thu Feb 07, 2019 3:51 pm

Found a photo of Bo Bland's Buckin' Ford on the interwebs
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Re: Wheelie Car Question

Post by Jerry VanOoteghem » Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:43 am

Don,

"How did they keep the forward-most rod bearings from dying due to lack of lubrication while they constantly drove around with the nose in the air like that?"

The answer is, they did not constantly drive around like that. They would only do the wheelie for way less than a minute or so. At least in real life examples I've seen.

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Re: Wheelie Car Question

Post by MikeSommers » Fri Feb 08, 2019 9:29 am

When I was just a kid, I rode in my uncle's car in the local parade a couple times. His car had a small gas tank above the block. I don't think he worried about engine lubrication, because my uncle and three big guys is the back seat were well lubricated. He had two brake levers and an industrial caster wheel at the rear of the frame, so he could 'steer' the car and do circles while doing wheelies. He never drove far when in the wheelie position. The guys in back all shifted their weight backwards, and with just a bit of acceleration... up it went. I now assume that the only reason I was in the car, riding in the front seat, was because I was small, and was the appointed candy thrower.
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Re: Wheelie Car Question

Post by BRENT in 10-uh-C » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:03 pm

rustyfords wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 3:40 pm
Thanks Hank and Brent.

I'm sitting in Stinkadena right now. I'd just about give my left arm to find that car and revive it. Maybe it's sitting forgotten in a garage as we speak. I don't know that I can even imagine anything cooler.

Maybe I can go on a treasure hunt. Who was the last person you know who had it?

Don, I would have no idea what happened to that car as I have been gone from that area for nearly 40 years. It appears that Bo committed suicide in 1976 and is buried out off of 45 near Rankin Road. A quick search also showed his parents passed away in the late 80, so I am not sure what family would still be alive today that would even know. My only suggestion would be to see if you can go find the graves of family members who might still have someone alive that could be contacted. Social media searches of names may bring up some leads.

I will also say that the picture you posted made the car look much different than what I recall. It had Model-T wood wheels when I last saw it, -and I cannot stress how much of a POS it was back then. If you look closely at your picture just behind the letter D, that vertical line is where the body had been cut. The bottom of the body had hinges and a couple of latches at the top. It would flop down and dump the passengers. It had angle iron and all kinds of 'scabbing' done on the inside of the body. To re-latch the rear section, Bo would pop a wheelie and the front would rear-up until the latches closed. When I last saw it, my recollection of it was it was painted dull red with white hand-painted letters on it. It is my opinion that for the time and effort you would spend looking for Bo's car, you could spend the same amount of time cobbling together a clone out of throw-away T parts. I'd go to Chickasha next month and purchase the worst looking T parts there and likely have a better car than what Bo had. :D

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Re: Wheelie Car Question

Post by RustyFords » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:13 pm

BRENT in 10-uh-C wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:03 pm
rustyfords wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 3:40 pm
Thanks Hank and Brent.

I'm sitting in Stinkadena right now. I'd just about give my left arm to find that car and revive it. Maybe it's sitting forgotten in a garage as we speak. I don't know that I can even imagine anything cooler.

Maybe I can go on a treasure hunt. Who was the last person you know who had it?

Don, I would have no idea what happened to that car as I have been gone from that area for nearly 40 years. It appears that Bo committed suicide in 1976 and is buried out off of 45 near Rankin Road. A quick search also showed his parents passed away in the late 80, so I am not sure what family would still be alive today that would even know. My only suggestion would be to see if you can go find the graves of family members who might still have someone alive that could be contacted. Social media searches of names may bring up some leads.

I will also say that the picture you posted made the car look much different than what I recall. It had Model-T wood wheels when I last saw it, -and I cannot stress how much of a POS it was back then. If you look closely at your picture just behind the letter D, that vertical line is where the body had been cut. The bottom of the body had hinges and a couple of latches at the top. It would flop down and dump the passengers. It had angle iron and all kinds of 'scabbing' done on the inside of the body. To re-latch the rear section, Bo would pop a wheelie and the front would rear-up until the latches closed. When I last saw it, my recollection of it was it was painted dull red with white hand-painted letters on it. It is my opinion that for the time and effort you would spend looking for Bo's car, you could spend the same amount of time cobbling together a clone out of throw-away T parts. I'd go to Chickasha next month and purchase the worst looking T parts there and likely have a better car than what Bo had. :D
You're almost certainly right about how prudent it would be to re-create it rather than find it....but my only interest would be in having the actual vehicle, regardless of how awful it was. There's something about having actual historical items that has captivated me since I was a little kid. I was raised around rodeos in south Texas and work in Pasadena, TX every day so there are a couple loose connections for me.

I'd get the mechanicals right then do my best to strengthen and preserve everything else.

It might still be languishing in a barn or garage somewhere. It's extremely unlikely....but you never know.
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Re: Wheelie Car Question

Post by BRENT in 10-uh-C » Sat Feb 09, 2019 5:40 pm

Don, check your PMs please.

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