Mar 29 2011

In Search of Alcos: #7 1912 Alco Touring Car Owned By Andy Oldman

Over the last 25 years, it has been widely written that there are only 12 original, rebuilt and restored Alcos that exist in museums and private collections. As requested by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I have been attempting to track down the Alco "12". As noted by Roberto Rodriguez of the Seal Cove Auto Museum located on Mount Desert Island, Maine, Alco #7 is owned by Andy Oldman of New London, New Hampshire:


As reported by Roberto Rodriquez, this 1912 Alco four cylinder touring car is owned by Andy Oldman of New London, New Hampshire. The car was previously owned by Dr. Sam Scher and, then, Richard Cushing Paine Jr., the founder of the Seal Cove Auto Museum. As shown in these photos, this Alco is on loan from Andy Oldman and is now back on display at Seal Cove.


I reached out to Andy Oldman for information on his beautiful Alco and its unusal cream color. Andy graciously provided this information:

Andy Oldman: "I don't know about the color. I think the body has never been removed from the car , so at least I think the frame was red. It was repainted. I have no idea about the body color. I suspect the original color was close to the cream color that is on it now . Very old nitro lacquer. I would assume the beautiful red leather was replaced around that time. I believe it was "restored" by Dr. Scher. There is a plaque on the dash for a 1957 tour in New England, and I found a bunch of maps of Sicily in the rear door storage compartments.I doubt any serious motor work was done on it, judging by the valve springs which were a bit rusted and very weak. Someday I might pull the motor for a look, but it runs great. There is no evidence that the car was ever involved in a serious collision, etc. The fuel system, Lunkenheimer exhaust pressure valve to send gasoline along after manual pumping works perfectly. I dont think the car ever had much use, as the bronze brake and clutch pedals are more or less as new.

I found an original wicker basket last year to mount on the rear luggage rack, and I have an original Besnard generator for the Besnard headlamps, but it is not mounted. I also have an original manual and original Besnard catalog for the lamps. You may have seen some old photos of this car, with incorrect electric headlamps.

I did throw a driveshaft when the original coupling bolts on the front universal flew out and the four big drive pins followed on a trip from Boston to New Hampshire. I had new universals made and saved all the original stuff. Thank God the driveshaft was too short to hit the ground. The car would have been destroyed along with me, as we were going around 55! I could have prevented this by checking the miserable little bolts that hold the unit together. They were probably never tightened since new.

I did a little work on the clutch, 48 discs of alternating high strength steel and bronze units. Its brilliantly designed. The huge spring becomes totally relaxed before the unit is unscrewed, thus preventing a "explosive" mixture of springs, parts and human finger parts travelling across the shop at high speed. The discs were warped, but an old timer I know patiently pounded them out on a large anvil, much the way old saw mill blades were straightened. It now shifts like butter. Its an exposed dry clutch, the 6 cylinder ones were enclosed, thus much more difficult to service. This is spite of the boastful ads, one of which said "It never wears". It was not designed for today's awful in town stop and go. Besides, in 1912 I am sure an Alco chauffeur or owner, after paying $6,000 in those old dollars would just lean on the horn and keep going.

There is no starter. After priming and using the decompression handle to scatter the fuel, the car usually starts "on the spark" by switching the Bosch coil to Bat. If not, a simple 1/4 turn of the hand crank with the compression handle out, it starts. Push in the handle, advance the spark and off you go.

Its a great running car and very comfortable for long distance driving- you have to be very careful about the brakes as the car will not stop on a dime! I always downshift to descend a long hill. The loud electric klaxon and the lovely bulb horn are always at the ready! On rare occasion a special finger gesture needed too!

I'll be using the car on a one week tour in late September and do a demo for Roberto some Tuesday when I go to start it for the first time in 2 years.

Best regards,


Thanks Andy and Roberto for contributing to !

Links to related posts on and the Internet:

Seal Cove Auto Museum

Archives: In Search of Alcos

Film "Alco Cars 1908-1913"

Archives: American Locomotive Company


Apr 05 2011 Frank Femenias 12:27 AM

WOW! It’s amazing how that ALCO 12 can be kept in that condition with original parts after a century. True restoration. I’d imagine that would take some hard and tedious work. Loved the Andy Oldman description and adventures with the vehicle. Thank you Mr. Rodriquez and for the post Howard.

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