My Shaw Vehicle

| January/February 1998

  • Shaw Vehicle
    This unusual photo was taken by Norm Stuckey of 4777 Upper Valley Pike, Dayton, Ohio 45424. The scene was captured in Budapest in September 1997.
    Norm Stuckey

  • Shaw Vehicle

400 Parkway Circle, Montevallo, Alabama 35115

After reading the very interesting article on the Shaw Manufacturing History by David Beattie in the August '97 issue of GEM, I began to look back about 65 years. I don't recall any article on Shaw ever before, mentioning a vehicle.

I owned a Shaw built vehicle, but whether it was a Shaw mobile or a Speedster I don't know. I was 12 or 13 years old then, and am almost 78 now, so everything I say must now be qualified with, 'as I remember.'

The steering was conventional. The clutch was hand-lever operated. The Shaw used four 20' bicycle type wheels and tires. There were no springs, but the frame/floor being composed of a number of 1'x4' boards with a gap between them, afforded some degree of cushion effect. The two bucket-type seats were made of sheet metal and low to the floor, such that your legs protruded forward.

The air-cooled Briggs & Stratton engine was protected by a hood. One side was raised to wrap the pull cord to start the engine. The front of the hood was supported by a radiator shroud which was covered by wire mesh or hardware cloth, and the rear by the cowl.

The engine and clutch were mounted on an angle to avoid the need of universal joints. They were also lowered so that the open drive shaft could disappear beneath the floor before entering the passenger area or shortly thereafter.

The vehicle did not have a true differential, as only one wheel had power. It did have an aluminum oil-filled housing that enclosed the angle gears.

The axles were open shafts of perhaps ?' diameter. The outer rear wheel bearings were 4-inch pieces of 2' x 4', oil-soaked wood with holes for the axles.

With the purchase of the Shaw, my popularity increased immensely. The engine had been disposed of, but I had no problem securing adequate, free help to push the vehicle several miles across town to its new home.

My mother took me in our Model 'T' Ford to purchase the original engine from a different owner and bring it home.

We installed the engine, but found that the clutch would not work. My thanks go to a kind neighbor, a Mr. Pennington, who, being a machinist, made the necessary part and fixed the clutch. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

How did I fund this project? I had no money, credit, or regular allowance.

The desire of young people to have a set of 'wheels' was as prevalent back then as it is today.

Near our home was an old trash dump that was now covered with trees. It harbored many old discarded metal objects, and much high quality topsoil. My brother and I had a goat and wagon that we used to haul scrap iron and other items. We sold top soil to the neighborhood flower gardeners by the wagon load. The iron had to be hauled several miles to a scrap dealer. This brought 10 cents per hundred pounds. If we found a metal item too heavy for the two of us, we formed a joint venture with other boys we knew.

Every family usually has a benevolent uncle or aunt, and also some that are less benevolent and more frugal. The latter, already feeling a little guilty for not helping, make good sales prospects.

The GRIT newspaper, white Cloverene salve, and several flower and garden seed companies have introduced many a young entrepreneur to the real world of economics.

There was a time frame on the Shaw sale first party with the cash was the new owner. By using all the various methods I've listed to make money, I was finally able to claim the Shaw.

Like the first pop or cough of a newly restored engine, you know then that it was worth all the effort.

I appreciate my parents allowing me to 'try my wings' for encouraging me, but not doing it for me and not buying it for me.

I've enjoyed looking back in time and I hope you have, too.

Robert Messenger
4/16/2012 11:59:38 PM

I have come across what sounds like the clutch, driveshaft, rearend and rims of the shaw mobile. Are there anymore pictures or builders plans around? I can send pictures


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