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1909 Brush, single cylinder car

July 11, 2010

IMG_3902At the 2010 Alturas rally, Sam and Anne brought their 1909 Brush auto.  It is quite a (little) car, complete with acetylene headlamps as well as kerosene cowl lamps, a full windscreen and top, Jones speedometer, and seating for three.  What caught my eye were the axles, made of hickory wood.  They were suspended with coil springs, instead of the more common leaf springs.


As Sam cranked the hand starter on the front of the car, that single cylinder spun around, started and settled into a quiet idle.  There was more vibrations than the 2 cylinder cars, and of course more than than a 4 cyl, but it motored down the road just fine.  The Brush is good for 16-18mph or so on level ground.


One special feature is the mother-in-law seat on the rear of the auto.  She’d have to be short-legged to fit in there, and her view forward would be looking through the rear window!


“The car is so simple even a boy can operate it”

  brush advert

In 1910, two young boys aged 6 and 9 drove a Brush 2512 miles from New York City to Oklahoma.  They had already ridden horses from OK to Washington DC and then to NYC where they bought the Brush.  They went to visit President Taft, and also to see former President Teddy Roosevelt.  The story goes that Roosevelt was a family friend, and the kids liked adventures, so…  


In 1913 the Abernathy boys bought an Indian motocycle and rode it from Oklahoma to New York City.  The boys were famous in their day, with many press clippings still available on the interweb.  Check the links in the previous paragraph.

Abernathy boys

 Abernathy 1913 indian


Back to the Brush auto.  More pics of Sam and Anne’s car.  Note the red hose, supplying acetylene gas to the headlight.  The triangular rubber stopper above the axle softens the blows over large bumps.


Wooden axles, wood wheels, wood firewall, wood above the frame rails surrounding the engine/radiator, wood steering wheel.

IMG_3906 IMG_3907 IMG_3908 IMG_3909 IMG_3910

 Brush 1910

One Comment leave one →
  1. Michael Abel permalink
    August 26, 2014 5:46 am

    My grandfather restored a 1909 brush very similar to this one. I am trying to get it in operable condition for my wedding. It has been several years since this car has ran and I have been trying to gather information to find to correct person or persons to help get this beautiful car running yet again. If you can help get me in touch with someone please contact me.

    cole.abel11 at

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