Part of the USA Today Network

Restoring a 1909 Pullman Model 4-40 Roadster

I visited Paul Vaughn to see his restoration underway on a 1909 Pullman Model 4-40 Gentleman’s Roadster. In keeping with my continuing series of posts on the 1908 Philadelphia to Savannah Race, he had the automobile decked out in advertising covers; just like those utilized by the 1908 Pullman Model 4-40 Gentleman’s Roadster during that endurance race.

A 1908 Pullman Model 4-40 was also the big winner in the inaugural auto races at Pimlico Racetrack on July 4th, 1908. The visit with Paul Vaughn evolved from his comments to my post about the Pimlico race:

“The 4-40 Gentleman’s Roadster has been my ‘holy grail’ since the mid-1950’s when I first became enamored with Pullman Automobiles. It was offered three years by Pullman, each year the wheelbase grew by two inches. The 1908 model was 108”, the 1909 model was 110” and the 1910 model was 112”. Back in 2000 I purchased a Pullman chassis that had a second life as a farm wagon in Colorado. There wasn’t much there to work with, but eighteen years later I’m getting close to completing a dream – a 1909 Pullman Model 4-40. Paul Vaughn.”

Paul submitted two photo of the 1909 Pullman Model 4-40 with those comments; both appear in this post. The other two photos were taken during the visit. Click on this LINK for a yorkblog.com Full View of the original four photos in this post if details are cut off in the cropping of the photos, or if any have been removed from the ydr.com site.

Paul Vaughn shared the tale of retrieving the parts to the 4-40; as scribed by George Wagman III. I’ll quote a few paragraphs from that adventure:

“Once in awhile grown men get to have a little fun with their time. The weekend of November 10-12, 2000 would be a weekend that six men would not soon forget. In this scribes humble opinion, this was history in the making. For we were on a mission that would never be duplicated again.”

“The goal: to retrieve the remains of a 1909 Pullman from the ubiquitous collection of Wayne Coffman.”

“The reason: so it can be rebuilt and raced around the world to fame and glory in the 2008 recreation of ‘The Great Race’, by the indomitable Paul Vaughn, a man on a mission.”

Side note: Paul Vaughn got so busy restoring other peoples’ automobiles, including a Thomas Flyer, the make of automobile winning the 1908 New York to Paris Race, that the restoration of his 1909 Pullman Model 4-40 Gentleman’s Roadster lingered.

“The retrieval team on this pilgrimage consisted of Fred Rosenmiller, Paul Vaughn, Jim Gemmill, Randy Hespenheide, Jeff Beard and George Wagman III. Saturday morning came cold and clear, and we were all anxious to get on with the main job of retrieving the Pullman parts from Wayne’s cache.”

“The parts we were after were hiding up in the loft; fortunately Wayne built a beautiful overhead crane system to haul heavy parts up and down. We were looking for the front and rear axle assemblies, the steering column, the hubs, the transmission, the front hood and the radiator.”

“The gang all pitched in and we managed to free all the components from their resting places and carefully lowered them to the eager team waiting below. Once we were satisfied we had all the Pullman items, we loaded them in Paul’s van and headed over to yet another storage facility to pick up the biggest part of all, the frame.”

“As the huge garage door rolled back, staring us in the face was a 1926 8-cylinder Huppmobile rumble seat coupe, and a 1946 International Tow Truck. Once Wayne cleared these vehicles away, there it was, like a fine trophy buck hanging on the wall. We all stood and stared for a moment and I could tell we were all having visions of Paul experiencing the adventure of a lifetime, sitting on those frame rails.”

Paul was able to purchase an original Pullman 4-40 battery box; from which a copy is shown on the running board in the above photo. Thus he had a pattern to fabricate the toolbox on the opposite side running board and also had a pattern for creating the script leatherwork on the top of these boxes.

The Sheet Metal Stamping Division of The York Corrugating Company, in York, still had the original tooling to make the Pullman fenders. Paul had access to this tooling to make the fenders on the 4-40; however it was a learning experience, since the tooling was practically worn-out.

Earliest Pullman, and other make, automobiles utilized substantial wood, as does this restored 1909 Pullman 4-40. Ash was the wood of choice. The firewall and storage boxes upon which the seats sit were wood in the original 4-40’s. When painted, I’ve never before noted this fact in restored early vehicles.

Now for a quick update on the 1908 ‘Philadelphia to Savannah’ race. After passing through the square in York on March 4, 1908, as reported in part 2 of this series, the automobiles proceeded through Abbottstown and after passing through the square in Gettysburg, the cars turned south to Frederick, Maryland. It was front-page news in the March 5, 1908 issue of The York Daily when they reported:

“According to information received by officials of the company last night, the Pullman car had a lead of three-hours and 20-minutes on the Studebaker car at Frederick, in the race from Philadelphia to Savannah. The York car left Frederick last night at 6:10 o’clock and the Studebaker left at 9:30 o’clock.”

In coming weeks, I’ll utilize a combination of newspaper articles, from Philadelphia, from York, from Savannah, from newspapers along the race route and from newspapers around the country; even as far west as the Los Angeles Herald, which reported on this race. The ‘Philadelphia to Savannah’ series of blog posts will share the ongoing adventures in the race to Savannah over the dirt (and mud) roads that dominated town-to-town travel in 1908.

Links to all posts chronicling the 1908 Philadelphia to Savannah race:

Part 1—Epic auto races sell newspapers in 1908. This introductory post provides reasons why the race occurred and covers the start of the race in Philadelphia.

Part 2—Racing through the square in York. This post reports on the section of the race between Philadelphia and York.

Part 3—Restoring a 1909 Pullman Model 4-40 Roadster. This post reports on the restoration of a 1909 Pullman Model 4-40 Gentleman’s Roadster by Paul Vaughn.

Links to other related posts include:

Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts