View topic - Who drove the 1923 Dodge Roadster

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2021 1:31 pm 
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Last year I bought a basket case, partially assembled 1923 Dodge Roadster on little more than a whim. I have never seen a 1923 Dodge Roadster up close, in real life, and had no idea what the jigsaw puzzle of boxed and loose parts would look like when assembled into a car. The learning curve leading from the time the Roadster was trailered to my garage door, and today, which has the body, suspension, electrical, fuel and engine nearly complete has been really steep. The car was essentially a rolling chassis with a partially assembled engine and a stripped body shell setting on it. Imagining how these parts fit together is impossible until the mechanism they connect to or operate is installed. For example, there are three different lengths of steering column and the steering shafts used for the various models of Dodges manufactured in 1923. The steering column cannot be measured for being the correct length until the steering gear box angle is properly adjusted and the floorboards made and installed. The throttle and spark advance levers attach to the steering column and are seated into a tiny hole atop the steering gear box, through the floorboards, which were missing. The length, or appearance of the rods which extend between the base of the steering column and the distributor and carburetor cannot even be imagined until the steering column, it’s shaft, the floorboards and levers are properly installed and adjusted. I think most of you can figure out where I’m going from here, so I’ll cut to the chase.
Having done all of the above, completed only after some major modification of existing parts, and fabrication of some whose existence is doubted, I can now sit in my 1923 Dodge Roadster, drink a beer, and talk to all its previous owners.....and my question is “Who on earth were they”?
This car was made for a person whose physical characteristics were more those expected to be found on a long, tall, skinny space ship built for Martians.
Is it that I have big feet, a huge butt and a short arm, or were the people who drove these cars just naturally deformed? Is anyone reading this post, truthfully able to get into the car through the drivers door without some contortions, and related pain more expected to be seen in a circus side show. And, are my feet humongous, as compared to 1923 vintage feet, or are the clutch and brake pedals so close to the accelerator pedal, and the steering column that it may be easier to accelerate while shifting gears than just stopping the car.
Just wondering if I am odd, or have I created a Frankencar?


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2021 2:59 pm 
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The quick answer is YES, it is you. Take a look at old pictures from the '20's. Everyone was 5' some thing single digit, weighed about 125., may have had a size 8 shoe. I can't get in a roadster from the driver's side and haven't tried for years to get in from the passenger's side. Once in it is comfortable, but not worth the effort for me. Is it driving yet? Not many '23's around for some reason. Glad you saved it, good luck with it.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2021 9:33 pm 
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HA Doug is right... Jack, I own a 1923 Touring Car, I'm 5'6", I enter the driver door but I have to duck under my top, slide my hips between door opening and the steering wheel to sit down. My short legs are just right on my pedals.
Most of us know the movie "its a wonderful life", tall lanky Jimmy Stewart climbs into his DB Touring and he's all legs & knees.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2021 11:12 pm 
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Hi Jim. When I bought the 1923 Dodge Roadster a couple of months ago it had no seats, dash, floorboards or steering wheel. Since that time I have installed the dash, steering wheel and roughed in seats. And, the car had no running boards so getting up into the car was a gymnastic thing where a bounce is started while standing facing the drivers door. By grabbing the door sill with your left hand and using your right hand as a tool to convert your bounce into vertical movement, you could land on the space left vacant by the seat missing. Now, I have the top irons installed and a faux seat that affords some springs to sit on. No problem there, but the clearance between the steering wheel, and it is a big one, and the rear of the door jam is probably less than 18”, and the seat takes up the lower part of that. I am getting used to only being able to use the passenger door for access to the under dash wiring, transmission uppers and whatever I need to do on the east side of the steering column. Surprisingly, the Dodge Roadster is not a small car. It is taller, with the top irons installed, wider and longer than the newer KIA Sportage I drive daily. I am super curious regarding how the car handles, and am really anxious to get it ambulatory.
Jack


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2021 9:44 pm 
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DougWalters wrote:
The quick answer is YES, it is you. Take a look at old pictures from the '20's. Everyone was 5' some thing single digit, weighed about 125., may have had a size 8 shoe. I can't get in a roadster from the driver's side and haven't tried for years to get in from the passenger's side. Once in it is comfortable, but not worth the effort for me. Is it driving yet? Not many '23's around for some reason. Glad you saved it, good luck with it.



Hi Doug. I am not thoroughly convinced that buying this 1923 Dodge Roadster was one of the soundest decisions I’ve ever made. The car creates problems from oil leaks from parts which have no oil in them to fuel leaks from a newly installed line that has been perfectly sealed. It eats my tools, and to drop something near it is to surrender it forever. I have worked on the car nearly every day since I bought in October, and almost everything I’ve done to it I’ve had to undo and redo several times. No, I don’t have the car drivable yet. I can get the engine to snort and puff smoke, But I have yet to get it to hit more than a few licks before it stops even trying. I suppose I’ll stop tinkering with the engine finish up the paint tops and upholstery so I can bolt the body down and see if I can pull start it. When I get it on the road to start pulling it, I’ll turn in the direction of the nearest junkyards, and maybe just drop it there.
Jack


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2021 8:47 pm 
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Location: maine
It sounds about the same as my 24' touring car.
Perhaps the idea was that the steering column would stop the driver's heart before the windshield sliced them to bits.


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PostPosted: Sun May 23, 2021 3:02 pm 
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natbradshaw wrote:
It sounds about the same as my 24' touring car.
Perhaps the idea was that the steering column would stop the driver's heart before the windshield sliced them to bits.


I am getting a bit more familiar with the idiosyncrasies of my 23 Dodge roadster, and I am thoroughly convinced that this car was built for 100% imaging, and 0% practicality.
When I bought the car it was little more than a bucket, sitting on a running gear, with a partially assembled engine sitting in the frame. The remainder of the car was stored in coffee cans, a little wooden box with compartments, and a trailer full of stuff. The other day I took the car out for its first shakedown in probably half a century, and the thought crossed my mind “Oh my GOD! What have I done”! The brake and clutch pedals are tiny and located within inches of the steering column. The gas pedal is located a few inches to the right, and a few inches below the brake pedal. When I try to move my huge feet (8 1/2’s) from the gas to the brake, they get tangled up under the brake pedal, and what should be a uneventful, and totally unremarkable stop turns into a real drama. The steering column in the roadster is intentionally 2” longer than the touring, and I think, 4” longer than some columns used in other 1923 DB cars. I have roughed in a seat to get measurements for the actual upholstery job, and I can barely reach the brake pedal to full application. Thusly, I get the feeling that this car was made for the guy who was spaghetti thin, very tall, and absolutely loved to profile in a roadster with a huge steering wheel, and no way toe it the drivers door. You can buy a (pardon to political incorrectness) “fat man’s” steering wheel which folds upward to allow one to fit between the steering wheel and door frame while entering or leaving the car. I will add one of these to my wish list, and make sure to note its low priority for purchase.


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