~ Road Test
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A genuine road test was in order after the long weeks of burner refitting, plumbing updates and fine-tuning on Channel Wassons very fine 1924 model 750-b 7 passenger touring car. A labor of love for Roger McGuire and Chris Roberts. The annual picnic at Sonoma Lake is an informal tour of about seven car clubs around the North Bay area and happened to coincide with with the prescribed "Trial by Fire" of the freshly installed burner assembly. So at 9:00 am Sunday, this large open touring car fitted with a removable "California Top" slipped quietly into the roadway along with several "not so silent gear changing" members of the Peteluma antique auto tour, and we were off for the "Wine Country" of Sonoma County on a pleasant August morning.
The car seemed to behave quite well, with no problems. We had no trouble keeping up with the pack. In fact by the first few miles it became apparent that the burner was producing more than enough horsepower and emitting a substantial howl, characteristic of robust flame activity in a steamer. I gradually convinced Roger that a nice quiet medium flame was indeed sufficient to maintan 300-400 lbs of steam pressure for this leg of the tour. This proved to be adequate fire for the majority of the day with an average speed of 35mph. There were no hills of any length so this worked out well. We did "do the grade" after the picnic and went up to the lookout which was a long steady slow climb, but had no problems. The downhill proved much more challenging and the brakes went away as expected. They cooled off very quickly upon finally stopping at a level spot, and the down-hill was completed after a brief rest and re-gathering of nerve.
All other driving demands
produced no objectionable events. A successful road test and and a very acceptable level
of overall performance. If I had to make a comparison with Chris Roberts 1922 Brougham
w/30hp boiler/burner upgrade, I would have to say that there would be no contest for
climbing power or sustained power steaming. There was a thermocouple fitted over the pilot
and powering a small led in the dash to indicate pilot flame and it often falsely reported
a dead pilot. The pilot performed well and it sure seemed like a
"one-match day". There were no light-backs.
We used one tank of water getting to the lake and one returning, although we did stop to take on water at half-full twice. Almost a full tank of fuel was used in roughly 110 miles. We started with #59 jets, tried 57s, and ended the journey with 58s. The car rides very good and is quiet and tight over bumps, although the back seat will heave you into the air going over RR tracks. This can come as quite a supprise if you happen to be fully reclined with feet supported on the jump seats. As if relaxing on a trampoline suddenly possessed by demons, you are horizontal, and suddenly lofted into the air about a foot.......whoooope!
I really like this Stanley. It is one of the last cars produced, and has some features and beefyness not present on earlier, including condensing, models. I do question the reason for the change from full-eliptical to semi-eliptical springs in the rear, but I do like the roominess in the front seat, and the fully enclosed engine. I would love to travel in this car in the winter time as it has a full set of fitted side curtains.
Channel is a lucky man to own such a fresh Stanley with many years of touring miles ahead.
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