Home-Built Duryea Celebrates 100 Years Of Automobile

Duryea Horseless carriage

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49602 McClure Road East Palestine, Ohio 44413

After growing up in a family that has always been automotive-oriented and around a family-owned automotive parts business all my life, it's no wonder I developed an interest in old automobiles.

After attending numerous gas engine shows, steam shows etc., I decided to try my hand at constructing a horseless carriage. The 1895 Duryea known as 'the car that started it all' in the United States seemed to be the most interesting because of its historical prominence.

The two-year project yielded many hours of enjoyment gathering pieces that would eventually resemble the original car.

The body is 5/8' yellow poplar finished in Dupont flat black. The wheels are hickory, Amish made, with hard rubber tires, 38' front and 44' rear. The front axle is a modified Model T. The rear axle is a highly modified Harley Davidson Servi-car, chain drive with an added 180mm mechanically actuated brake inside.

The transmission is a Harley also, chain in, chain out, with a clutch pack as an integral part (three speeds forward, one reverse). The original engine was a 4' bore, 4' stroke which was so severe when it fired it was replaced with a 1939 OTC series 2 cylinder-horizontally opposed Onan which worked out much better. This engine, from a World War II generator, is a four cycle L-head, with a 25/8' bore x 2' stroke. It has a 5 :l compression ratio.

The car is tiller steered and the tiller also serves as a gear shift by an up and down movement the same as the original car. The clutch and brake are all on one pedal which works out nicely. The seat box and top are buggy material. The headlights are Deitz kerosene which are assumed to be buggy lights. The brass bell, as we are told, came from a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, street car.

The car was finished in the fall of 1996 and we were able to take it to a couple of engine shows before bad weather. This year we have attended one so far and everyone enjoys getting a ride in 'the old buggy.' We get a lot of favorable comments. In fact, a lot of people ask where we found the old car in restorable shape, or how bad was it when we bought it, not realizing that the car was built from scratch from a picture. We hope to take it to many more engine shows in the future and are sure we will have a lot of fun doing it.