1919 American LaFrance

Engine before work began
Engine before work began

After a recent acqusition in April 2009 by a client, we were asked to inspect and make this 1919 (14.5 litre) American LaFrance road worthy, after taking part in the 2007 Peking to Paris rally. Coolant was leaking from various places, the main leaks from the” T” shaped cylinder block top covers and the water rail, new gaskets were made and fitted.
The ignition coil and magneto timing were reset and a road test carried out.

After taking part in the local Festival of Transport rally it was decided to take the vehicle off the road and start the preparation for the 2010 Peking to Paris rally.

Rear cylinder barrel showing broken two rear fixing lugs and gudgeon pin score marks in the bore
Broken rear cylinder barrel

The engine was stripped for inspection, all the three cylinder blocks were cracked, the rear fixing lugs were broken, two piston gudgeon pin retaining bolts were missing allowing the pin to float and cause deep scores in the cylinder wall, the engine was removed and stripped, the gudgeon pin bolts were found in various pieces in the sump.
The gearbox top cover was removed and gears inspected, it was found that all the gears had teeth missing and were badly worn, new gears had to be made.

Rear axle shaft where (seized) radius arm should pivot
Seized rear axle shaft

It was decided that after going this far the whole vehicle should be completely stripped and inspected, all the spring hanger shackles and pins were badly worn, the radius arms were seized in the rear axle, the rear chassis cracked and bent, the alloy engine timing cover and crankcase were cracked and had been plated, rear chain drive sprockets badly worn, radiator bottom tank cracked and badly repaired, the wooden body needed redesigning, fuel system upgrading from gravity to a pumped system.

Chassis repaired & painted ready for rebuild
Chassis repaired & painted ready for rebuild

After contacting several engine builders it was decided to use the services of Jim Stokes Workshops for the rebuild and Cast Iron Welding Services to repair the blocks, all engine parts were crack tested and new pistons, various timing gears, valves and valve guides were made, modifications were carried out to the water pump, carburettor and other engine components for more reliability. The body was redesigned to give more useable space with several compartments for easy access to spares and personal belongings, the middle compartment can be removed (after the rally) and the original rear seat can be refitted.

The LaFrance completed the Peking to Paris rally and came 5th in the pre 1921 class, most entrants suffered problems along the way, the LaFrance with broken springs and a holed radiator which were repaired along the way.

“This has been beyond doubt the hardest event we have ever staged” said organiser Philip Young.

Rear lugs welded back onto block, ready for machining, note score marks in bore
Rear lugs welded back onto block, ready for machining
All 3 blocks removed, note one rear lug (blue piece) on crankcase
All 3 blocks removed, note one rear lug on crankcase
Worn front spring shackle bushes
Worn front spring shackle bushes
Transaxle and brake compensator fitted
Transaxle and brake compensator fitted
very badly worn gears
Very badly
worn gears
front and rear axles fitted, all springs have been reset, note twin coils fitted, (one a spare)
Front & rear axles fitted, all springs have been reset
Engine back after rebuild ready to fit
Engine back after rebuild ready to fit
Engine back after rebuild ready to fit
Engine back after rebuild ready to fit
Engine back after rebuild and re-fitted
Engine back after rebuild and re-fitted
Engine back after rebuild and re-fitted
Engine back after rebuild and re-fitted
Relined inner and outer rear brake shoes
Relined inner and outer rear brake shoes
Redesigned body being made
Redesigned body
being made
Ready for testing
Ready for
testing
Packed and ready to go, note route map on bonnet
Packed and ready to go!
Note route map on bonnet
Celebrating in Paris
Celebrating in
Paris


Finished - Complete with hood, and now waterproof

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