1912 Flanders 20 Runabout - Model T Competitor

Royce, I don’t know if you’ve been following it elsewhere, but I’ve pretty much finished the cosmetic spruce-up of my 1912 Flanders 20 runabout. I’m waiting for R.V. Anderson to finish the restoration of the coil box so that I can finish up the wiring and get the car ready for fire-up.

Based on electronic copies of original factory literature, the car would have originally been dark blue with cream wheels and undercarriage. A prior owner apparently dolled it up with its current maroon paint job. It has its original 155 cubic inch four cylinder engine and leather cone clutch. The transmission is a three speed transaxle. Ignition is a dual system using batteries for starting and a Splitdorf low tension magneto and a step-up coil on the dash. Starting is by hand crank only, no starter or generator.

The Flanders 20 was built in the old Deluxe Motor car factory just down the street from the Ford Piquette plant. Unfortunately, the factory burned to the ground in 2005. The fire was so big that there was some concern that the Piquette plant might be damaged, but fortunately the fire was brought under control before that happened.

Walter Flanders worked for a while as production manager for Ford at Piquette but resigned just prior to the introduction of the Model T to join William Metzger and Barney Everitt in the creation of EMF. EMF had a tempestuous business relationship with Studebaker, eventually resulting in Studebaker’s purchase of EMF and all EMF and Flanders cars being rebadged as Studebakers starting in 1913.


Looks very nice! I think EMF / Flanders cars were quite interesting. Studebaker was wise to purchase that company. The Bakersfield swap meet had more EMF / Flanders stuff than any other that I know of the time I was there in 2016.

Success! After much work and troubleshooting, my friend and I were able to get the Flanders started yesterday. The engine runs well on battery and magneto! I was able to work the clutch and work the transaxle through all three forward gears and reverse. :slight_smile:

Update - the Flanders now runs and drives! It was backfiring through the carb at first, but a small turn of the air valve screw to richen the mixture fixed that. I need to adjust the service brakes and fix a couple of minor fuel drips, but it will be on the roads more often soon. After the first drive, a friend and I lit the kerosene and acetylene lamps. One headlight wouldn’t light, but it turned out to be a plugged elbow fitting at the bottom of the light, an easy fix. :slight_smile:

It looks great! Now the real question - how does it compare with a 1912 Ford?

Good question! I took it for its second drive a couple of days ago:


My first impression from this drive is that the Flanders won’t be quite as fast a a Model T. It pulls hills well in third, though. I definitely need practice shifting it, especially from first to second. First is so low that I think I can start off in second most of the time. The second to third shift goes smoothly.

The brake linings are contaminated with rear axle grease, so I need to remove the rear wheels and clean the drums and linings. I may replace the linings with “Green Gripper” woven material.

The steering box is very stiff, the box may be adjusted too tight. I’m going to loosen the adjusting nut until I get some slop, then tighten it up just enough to take the slop back out.

Update on the steering - I did loosen the box a bit, it was definitely too tight. That said, after looking at the front end geometry, there doesn’t appear to be much if any “self centering” built in. The caster is less than 2 degrees negative, and there isn’t any kingpin inclination, so there is a significant scrub radius.

Looking at the user manual, Flanders actually brags about the fact that the steering wheel will hold whatever position the driver leaves it at. Apparently James Heaslett (the designer) didn’t have a firm grasp of front end geometry design at the time. :slight_smile:

What a beautiful car!

On the wheel alignment, I meant to say 2 degrees positive caster, not negative. The top of the front axle is leaned back 2 degrees, I would prefer more like 5, but the only way to adjust it would be to install wedges between the axle and the leaf springs.

Royce, is there a way for a user to edit his posts? If there is, I couldn’t figure out how to do it. :slight_smile:

Just click on the three dots, then the pencil.

I suspect some wedges could be placed between the springs and the front axle to add some camber?

Beautiful automobile. Looks like you have E&J acetylene and kerosene lighting all the way around. Great to see these cars “lit up”! Do the headlights have a “Flanders” or “E&J” tag on the bonnets?

The car came to me with headlights that have an “E&J 366” tag on the bonnets. The car was missing the correct E&J side lights and tail light, as well as the E&J acetylene generator. Luckily, another EMF and Flanders owner had spares of all those items set he was willing to sell to me for fair prices. They aren’t perfect, but they work and they match the patina of the rest of the car very well. The side lights and tail light have “Patent 1908” tags on their bonnets. :slight_smile:

Yes, I have a pair of 4 degree aluminum wedges I could install if needed. So far, the car shows no signs of shimmy or other instability, so I’ll hold off installing them.

Positive caster will cause the car to “like” going straight. It’s not about shimmy, it is about the steering wheel returning to center by itself.

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Yes, you’re right, of course. The car has a worm and sector steering box that was adjusted too tight, so I loosened it up as far as I could without introducing any slop.

I was told that the car had been on display in a museum for 40 years before I got it. When I got the car it had 1/2 inch of toe-out on the front wheels, you almost couldn’t push the car. It now has 1/4 inch toe-in and tracks fine. I haven’t driven it enough to see if the front tire tread will feather from too much toe-in.

The headlamps are the same size as used on the Model T. The last “6” in “366” indicates the lamp has 6-inch Mangin mirrors and would use 3/4-cubic foot burners. It seems like E&J used the “4” in the model number “466” when they put a brand on that size lamp tag like “Ford”. Very nice looking set of lamps. Does the acetylene generator have any E&J markings? None of the Black & Brass generators are marked except some of those supplied by Victor.

The 366 Lamps are smaller than the 466 lamps. Also the all brass generators often have a plate designating the manufacturer.
Ford used the 366 lamps on the 1908 Model S (optional). Not sure if they said Ford on them.

This shows a good comparison of the differences between the 366 and 466 E&J lamps: E&J Lamps

Here is a picture of the generator on my Flanders, it does not have any badging. It has three sockets near the base that slip onto tabs in the steel base plate that bolts to the running board. The sockets have knurled nuts that tighten down onto the tabs. I had to drill the orifice in my water valve a little larger to get a one drop per second drip rate, which provides a good flow to the burners. My water valve was missing the little handle, but Kim Dobbins kindly turned a new one for me out of brass rod.

I do have 3/4 cubic foot burners in my lights, they work well. :slight_smile:

Looks like an E&J carbide generator from 1912.