Lincoln Zephyr Club 1992

Lincoln Zephyr Club 1992

A Visit to Walter Miller’s

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ferent names for their product before they settled on their final choice. They thought they would call them Dry-Wees, and then they thought they wouldn’t. They considered Winks as a name, but turned it down. They thought of Solos and Tads, too—and rejected them. And they gave some thought to calling them Zephyrs. (Oh, mercy!) Aren’t you glad they finally picked Pampers?
This intelligence comes from a book, What’s in a Name, by Leonard Ashley, Genealogical Pub., 1989, according to the Press-Telegram.
oug Courtney, LZOC #2342 and chief factotum in the establish­ment of LZOC-Central, the parent club’s newest chapter, wants it understood that members are welcomed from all the cen­tral states. It’s true that Doug lives in Texas, and that many of those signing on earliest were Texans, but there are now 55 members, some hailing from as far away as Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Colorado. In fact, the Texans are outnumbered (like they were at the Alamo?). There’s 22 of them, and 33 members living elsewhere. If you live east of the Rockies and west of the Appa­lachians, you’re a candidate for mem­bership.
"If you ever find yourself in beautiful upstate New York and anywhere near Syracuse, please stop and have a look in­side the building that houses Walter Miller’s Automobile Literature business. After looking through the literature of your particular interest, you will most certainly enjoy our personal collection of original automotive posters, artwork, toys and other automobilia …"
hat’s how the ad in Hemmings Motor News starts. It’s among the regular classified ads, not in the full page or double page ad that offers an incredi­ble array of old auto literature at hefty prices in tiny type in each issue.
I did find myself in beautiful upstate New York last June, enroute to GOF XXIV, and very near Syracuse, so I availed myself of the invitation. I fol­lowed the directions in the ad—off Inter­state 90 at Exit 35—drove a block or so north on Thompson Road to Brooklawn
That’s Walter Miller himself sitting in the parking lot in front of his store, negotiating a deal with the fellow in the plaid shirt who brought a load of literature and collectibles in that van to sell.
Parkway and hung a left. I was halfway hoping I would find #6710 to be a three-and-a-half-story Victorian with a car­riage house out back, and that Miller himself would be much older than I, with thinning white hair and a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches. Thus I was taken aback to find the only building on the even side of the parkway was a large rectangular flat-roofed slumpstone busi­ness building set amid lawns. (If there was any brook around, I missed it.) Then I noticed the odd sortment of automo­biles parked out front—an ancient Stu-debaker ambulance, a double-ended car that was a ’50 Chevy heading one way and a ’50 Pontiac the other, and other such rarities—and I saw a mock-up of a World War I-type aircraft sitting there on the grass. Three big posters of old rac­ing cars adorned the east wall, and I spot­ted an auto-related circus poster near the front door. Even with no sign to verify it, I knew this had to be the place.
I had arrived shortly after 9 a.m. when the place opens. A clerk greeted me; I told her my name, and she invited me to look around. I asked if Walter was there.
"Oh, no," she said. "He’s hardly ever here this early. He’ll be down later." She showed me where the Ford V-8 and Lin­coln-Zephyr sales lit were filed, but before I sifted through all that, I had to check out the premises, for the rooms I had been ushered through were abso­lutely packed with the widest and wildest assortment of collectible automobilia that I had ever seen. Anyone interested in such stuff just can’t walk past it with­out trying to look at everything.
The building was intended to house two tenants, each with a large sales room and several smaller offices adjoining it, with both suites opening off a common entrance where the restrooms were also located. Walter Miller’s business fills it all—at least ten rooms. I didn’t count them. And lining the walls of each room are five-drawer filing cabinets just packed with auto sales literature ar­ranged chronologically by make, in alphabetical order.
One would expect this, but it was all the other stuff that knocked me off my perch. The ad said I would enjoy the col­lection of auto posters, artwork, toys and automobilia, but I was hardly prepared for the amount of it, or the variety. A col­lection a tenth the size of this would be dazzling, fascinating, stunning. What words are left to describe this accumula­tion?
Piled on top of the files, arranged on shelves, heaped upon the floor or hang­ing from the ceiling are automotive toys, models, gas station artifacts, road signs, racing trophies, auto accessories and the boxes they came in, ash trays, radiator emblems—any and everything automo­tive small enough to fit through the door, all of it old and much of it ancient. All available wall space is taken up with automobile posters, most of them Euro­pean and very old, all of them fascinating and highly collectible. Even the floors are lined with automobilia—rugs that picture automotive scenes are scattered along the aisles. How do you look at so much stuff and appreciate all of it prop­erly?                                     Continued
Soon more people arrived, none of them Walter. They were more employ­ees. Telephones were ringing, and their job is to answer those calls from all over the country and beyond and take orders, or to file and catalog the stuff that comes in. I think I counted at least half a dozen people working there. This is a good-sized business!
Finally I settled down to paw through the Ford V-8 and the Zephyr sales litera­ture. It’s pretty obvious which bro­chures, folders and catalogues are most common for each year model—there may be six or eight of them together in the file. Rarer pieces are proportionately fewer, or not there at all—either you or I already bought them, or somebody else beat us to it. It’s educational going through such files as these.
It was well after 11 when a beautifully restored red ’64 Porsche convertible pulled up out front. "Oh, here’s Walter now!" someone exclaimed. The driver unfolded from behind the wheel and strode in—a young guy, thirty-some­thing, about six-foot-four, with longish hair down to about here, and wearing a George Bush T-shirt and Levi’s. This is Walter Miller? The largest dealer in col­lectible auto sales literature in the world? It is.
Seeing him in action dispels all doubt. He can buy, sell, converse, negotiate, entertain and direct almost simulta­neously; keep track of his visitors for the day and what their names and interests are, instruct and counsel his troops who labor in his behalf, and do it all swiftly with acumen and enthusiasm. He gives the appearance of one who can do more in an hour than someone else might do in a week.
I stayed at Miller’s until well after 3, as Walter kept thinking of other boxes of literature and paper I might find inter­esting. He was right. I found some won­derful additions to my collection of early auto road maps and motoring guides in one or another of those boxes, but oddly enough, I bought no Ford or Zephyr lit. I guess my collection of that is better than I thought.
This was a great way to spend a day, and I’m certainly glad I got to do it. No reason you can’t do likewise, if you like. Just follow the directions in that ad in Hemmings. I
HE H-5292 INSULATOR (exhaust pipe bracket) is a decep­tively simple looking thing. It’s little more than a round rubber grommet, 1%" in diameter and yj6" thick, with a bolt hole in the center. It takes four of them, plus a bunch of steel parts, to sup­port the exhaust pipe at each of three or four locations on the underside of a 1936 or ’37 Lincoln-Zephyr.
If the H-5292 were nothing more than what is described above, it would be easy to reproduce them. As it is, there is one additional feature that makes reproduc­tion very difficult—a circular groove that goes about half-way through the rubber, concentric with the center hole. A pair of these insulators are used on each side of each exhaust pipe bracket with a short steel sleeve nestled into that circular groove in each insulator, and a smaller sleeve, plus a bolt or stud, skew-
ered through the center hole and into the frame of the car. All this stuff, plus a big flat washer, is used to insulate the ex­haust pipe from the rest of the car by live rubber, so that transmission of vibration and noise from the pipe to the car is elim­inated, or at least minimized. It’s a very neat, workmanlike arrangement, and one advantage is that even if the rubber fails, the rest of the hardware will pre­vent the exhaust pipe from falling out in the road.
One disadvantage of this design is that the insulators don’t last forever. They melt or get squashed or they rot away, and anyone restoring one of these cars needs new ones. However, NOS insula­tors are exceedingly rare, and a restorer must resort to some sort of replacement or reproduction. This brings us back to the statement made in paragraph 2 above about the circular groove. This one feature of the H-5292 removes its re­production from the "no problem" cate­gory and puts it in the "nightmare" classification.
The H-5292 has been reproduced, however. If you’ve kept up with "The Saga of Black Beauty" in this magazine, you know that author Ron Souders is deeply involved in the meticulous restor­ation of a 1937 Lincoln-Zephyr Coupe, and he takes no shortcuts in his zeal for perfection. You may even recall his ago­nizing over the difficulties of reproduc-
Reproduction of the H-5292 exhaust pipe insulator offered by Ron Souders.

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