1922 Autocar XXVI Coal Truck

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Lot 870
1922 Autocar XXVI Coal Truck

Sold for US$ 49,140 inc. premium
1922 Autocar XXVI Coal Truck
Identification No. 2H535

Established in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by the Clark family in 1897 to build automobiles, Autocar soon moved to Ardmore and before the commencement of hostilities in World War I succumbed to the attraction of building rough, rugged, elemental industrial trucks. The Pittsburgh area and through the valleys of the Ohio River and its tributaries was rough, rugged, industrial territory where coal mining, oil drilling and steel making kept the wheels of commerce turning and fueled America’s rapid transition from an agricultural economy to an industrial and commercial powerhouse. Autocar’s opportunities in meeting the needs of this ready-made market on their front doorstep were substantial and the company made the most of them

Autocar kept its independence as more and more truck makers went out of business until it was absorbed by White in 1954, then passed through several other hands. Today it is independent again and building heavy duty trucks especially configured for refuse collection applications in Hagerstown, Indiana.

The Paine Collection’s 1922 Autocar XXVI truck is typical of the heavy duty applications which made Autocar’s reputation. It is powered by a 312 cubic inch side valve four-cylinder engine with rated horsepower of 28.9. Its crankshaft had only two main bearings but they were heavy duty ball bearings with pumped lubrication. The engine used magneto ignition and had water cooling with a centrifugal pump which circulated water through the massive radiator which became an Autocar symbol.

The engine drove through a mechanical clutch to a separate four-speed gearbox and then through a high strength driveshaft to a double reduction fully-floating rear axle, putting Autocar early in the evolution of heavy duty trucks from double chain drive to shaft drive. All the weight on the rear wheels was carried on separate tapered roller bearings to minimize strain on the axle shafts.

At the time it was built this truck would have rolled on massive wood spoke “artillery” wheels mounting solid rubber tires, singles on the front and duals on the rear. They have been changed at some point for the steel wheels with pneumatic tires now on it. Both the front and rear axles are suspended on semi-elliptical leaf springs with an impressive number of leaves. Two sets of expanding shoe drum brakes are provided only on the rear axle, a foot-operated service brake and a hand-operated emergency brake.

The layout was literally cab-over-engine, an instantly recognizable characteristic of these early urban haulers. The engine sat just below the driver’s seat with the nearly vertical steering column set well in front of the front axle centerline. The driver’s enclosure was aptly described as a “C-cab” since it usually had no permanent windshield or sides. The Paine Collection’s Autocar has been given at least a little weather protection with a wooden front with two flat glass windshield panes in it, but it has never gotten doors.

The business end is a typical urban coal dump bed on a complex, chain and gear driven, lift and tilt mechanism. A small opening in the back of the box to discharge the contents indicates its coal-delivery function, which was funneled through a series of chutes into basement coal bins. Other bulk cargo hauls didn’t require this system and would have had a wider discharge gate. Another characteristic touch is the access ladder which is tilted at an angle so the operator could climb straight up to push the last few pounds of coal out of the bed while it was raised and tilted.

The cosmetic presentation of the Paine Collection’s 1922 Autocar XXVI is remarkably good. The cab and bed are green while the lift mechanism and undercarriage are red. The paint is old and peeling but for a working vehicle the condition is surprisingly sound and presentable. No evidence of an owner/operator’s markings are visible. The chassis has several coats of paint.

These old trucks were so rugged and effective it was not uncommon to see them still in commercial operation into the Fifties. It and its counterparts were an essential part of the urban scene for two or more generations. They were usually worked into the ground and the Paine Collection’s example is a surprising survivor which is in remarkably good and original condition. For a working truck subjected to the daily pounding of coal delivery this Autocar is in remarkable condition, awaiting only a sympathetic new owner to return it to operation.
1922 Autocar XXVI Coal Truck
1922 Autocar XXVI Coal Truck
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