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The Adventurer Motor Home and Three Other Intriguing Vehicles

The focus of today’s feature is either unusual vehicles or those used for hire, on a stage line or as a bus from the Michael J. Semas Collection. Perhaps the most distinctive vehicle in the lot is the early Model “T” Ford in the lead image converted into a motorhome.

Light-duty-low-priced early trucks had not been developed by the early teens, although a number of enterprising firms built truck conversion kits for the popular Model “T” Ford. “The Adventurer,” a circa 1913-’14 motorhome was based on a chain-driven kit with a longer wheelbase than the standard Ford.

This machine is very unique because it is quite likely that the cab and coach combination was a one-off constructed by a truck body builder. In addition, it was equipped with an aftermarket larger capacity radiator and a tapered and louvered hood. Henry Ford built his first Model “TT” Ford truck in 1917.

thomas flyer delano ca garage 1

  • Circa 1904-’05 Thomas-Flyer touring car; note the luggage and top held down by rope.

This early Thomas-Flyer appears to be a car for hire operated by the two gentleman wearing chauffeur caps in the front seat. Note that in front of the passenger in the rear seat, there may be rounds of large caliber ammunition in leather belts located just in front of him? The pair of American flags attached to the stay rods for the windshield and the ammo might signify that is Thomas might have been on government business? The image was taken at the Delano Garage in Delano, California.

packard auto bus 1

  • Circa mid-teens Packard “passenger stage” that operated out of Truckee, CA. 

This postcard image shows a circa mid-teens Packard with an extended wheelbase converted into a “passenger stage” or “auto bus” as they were called at the time; it originated from Truckee, California. Michael J. Semas believes that it ran the route between Truckee and Reno, Nevada. Note the roll-down side curtains, “California Top” with a bell and lamp, Westinghouse shock absorbers, and a blanket keeping the radiator and engine warm.

1920s motor transit co. bus 1

  • Circa mid-1920s White bus operated by the Motor Transit Company in California.

According to Michael, this White bus was operated by the Motor Transit Company, and was part of the “El Dorado System.” No. 501 operated on the San Diego to Sacramento, California bus line. This publicity image of a sharp-looking coach taken on November 29, 1925, gives a representative view of a bus of that period. The images are courtesy of the Michael J. Semas Collection.

9 responses to “The Adventurer Motor Home and Three Other Intriguing Vehicles

  1. The passenger in the Thomas Flyer might have been a hunter. The bandoliers are loaded with what appears to be a large caliber round and are not belts in the sense of a belt fed machinegun. The group appears to have a load of supplies and even a spare tire. Delano was probably a very rural area at that time and not far from the mountains. Just a guess though.

    • There is an image of a smarter 3rd series Packard Twin six similarly converted on the penultimate membership list of the Packard Club, that can also be found on the web in a Michigan library collection. In the case of this apparent first series, the wheels look as though they have been rebuilt somewhat inelegantly; and I think I can see a truss rods on the rear axle – Twin six motor cars did not have truss rods. Also there are the wrong number of nuts for a first series bolted through the wheel spokes that locate the brake drum (one per spoke is standard). I’d hazard a guess that for this mountainous route the Packard with 12-15 persons on board needed a lowered final drive ratio and maybe the rear end had been modified (also Packard seem to have had more trouble with the diff than with almost anything else on these early twin sixes, to judge by the number of versions developed). Westinghouse shocks these days are often left in a non-functional state ; but there appears to be a shiny patch on the sliding tube above the front spring bolt on this Packard, indicating these Westys were working shocks. It was very wise to keep them pumped up with air if spring breakages were to be avoided on the rough roads of the time. These shocks can be made to work again – mine were in great condition internally with nothing worse than perished seals, easily replaced.

  2. The “Deland” garage in Delano (1904-05 Thomas-Flyer). I suspect that it’s really the Delano garage. That last “D” looks more like an capital “O” to me. Enjoy the photos, as always.

  3. These bus pictures bring memories of working on Checker Cab Company Aerobus products, as an Assistant Shop Foreman For Checker California Sales. One Customer utilized their (longest version) Aerobus on trans-continental Band tours, circa 1971. Edwin

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