1903 St Louis Standard SN 519

Owned by Timken
Car came from Arkansas
Piston to front

The Auto Channel

CANTON, Ohio, Feb. 8 — On February 4, The Timken Company unveiled a restored 1904 St. Louis car, one of the oldest cars originally equipped with Timken(R) tapered roller bearings, to attendees of the company's Centennial Community Dinner in Canton. For the remainder of the year, the car will travel to Timken Company Centennial events and be displayed in the lobby of the company's Canton headquarters as a symbol of innovation and industry leadership.

Fifteen current and retired Timken Company associates spent more than a year restoring the vehicle. The car was stripped down to its bare frame and all parts were either repaired or replaced. Care was taken to restore the car's functionality and to enhance its condition to better than its original state.

"At the dawn of the century, Henry Timken envisioned the potential of the automotive industry and eagerly accepted the opportunity to produce axles with his tapered roller bearings for the St. Louis Motor Carriage Co.," said Robert L. Leibensperger, executive vice president, chief operating officer and president — bearings. "This renovated vehicle is a symbol of both Henry Timken's ingenuity and his enduring contribution to society."

Mr. Leibensperger orchestrated the purchase of the St. Louis car. An avid collector of antique cars, he arranged the purchase through his contact with Charles Rhoads, an Illinois-based automotive historian. The Timken Company bought the car in February 1997 in anticipation of the Centennial celebration.

During the restoration process, W. R. Timken, Jr., chairman, president and chief executive officer, and his brother W. J. Timken, vice president, removed and inspected the original Timken bearings from the car's rear axle.

"I was amazed at the condition of the bearing — it was still operational — as well as its design, which was similar to the company's UNIPAC(TM) bearing design of the 1970s," said W. R. Timken, Jr. "Our Research associates are carefully inspecting the bearings to learn more about manufacturing at the turn of the century."

Less than a year after Henry Timken and his two sons founded The Timken Roller Bearing Axle Company in 1899, Henry sold three sets of bearing-equipped axles to his neighbor, George Dorris, then chief engineer of the St. Louis Motor Carriage Co. Approximately 360 St. Louis cars were manufactured between 1899 and 1905. Only eight St. Louis cars are known to exist, and The Timken Company's car is one of the three 1904 models that have been located.

"This vintage vehicle is interesting," said Dick Mautz, principal quality advancement analyst, who was the restoration team's historian. "The body is made entirely of wood, and the car weighs only 1,400 pounds. It has only one brake, and the brake shoes were originally made of wood. Each St. Louis came with a set of wrenches, a spare can of oil, an extra spark plug, matting and a gong, the 1904 equivalent of today's horn."

The St. Louis was known for its durability. The car's advertising slogan, "Rigs that Run," reflected the vehicle's reliable service and its ability to travel on a variety of surfaces, from city streets to country roads. Timken bearings helped the vehicles run smoothly and carry heavier loads.

"Henry Timken told his sons never to put their name to anything they would have cause to be ashamed of," said W. R. Timken, Jr. "I believe he was proud of his alliance with the St. Louis Motor Carriage Co., and he would be equally impressed by the company's current associations with leading organizations around the world."

Concept Carz

An early automotive application of Timken roller bearings. The Timken Company's ascent to become the premiere supplier of roller bearings to the automobile industry began wîth an inauspicious sales call in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1900. Henry Timken, president of the Timken Roller Bearing Axle Company, sold three sets of axles featuring his newly-patented tapered roller bearings to George Dorris, vice president and chief engineer of the St. Louis Motor Carriage Company. Following his purchase of a Cleveland-built Winton automobile, Dorris had decided to manufacturer his own car, the St. Louis. Between 1899 and 1905 his factory produced 360 cars, and by 1903 Timken axles and bearings were standard equipment on St. Louis vehicles. In addition to the early inspiration from Winton, this story has another northeast Ohio connection; in 1901, Timken relocated from Missouri to nearby Canton Ohio on the advice of a key supplier, the Cleveland Axle Company.
Seeking to celebrate the Timken Centennial in 1999, company executives hit upon the idea of obtaining a St. Louis car. Automotive historian Chuck Rhoads arranged the purchase of a 1904 model, one of only eight known to exist, but the rare find needed work. From the company came a volunteer team of current and retired associates who, wîth the help of Dick Cocklin, a Canton Ohio-area antique car restoration expert, restored the car to better-than-new condition in just 14 months. Rhoads and George Dorris III, grandson of St. Louis Motor Carriage Company founder George Dorris, imparted valuable knowledge to the restoration team. Hundreds of hours were then spent in disassembling and stripping parts. A brand new body and top, as well as wheels, lights and fenders were built from scratch. The engine, transmission and suspension were rebuilt wîth many specially-fabricated parts.
During the restoration, Timken Company leaders inspected an original bearing from the 1904 St. Louis rear axle assembly and were amazed at its condition. Study of this early bearing provided insight into early 1900s materials and manufacturing. The cutaway displayed next to the car shows the large, original bearing and the smaller, more efficient version that would fit a similar application today. Although current Timken technology has resulted in a 60% smaller and 90% lighter bearing, the 1904 units bears a striking resemblance to the company's ÚNIPAC bearing that was designed in the 1970s.
This St. Louis automobile is a powerful symbol of Henry Timken's ingenuity traveled to Timken Company Centennial celebrations around the world in 1999, and it was also shown at several automotive concours d'elegance. But this car is far from a pampered 'trailer queen;' it participated in several antique car races such as the prestigious London to Brighton Run. St. Louis cars were known for their ability to withstand hazardous turn-of-the-century roads, Timken bearings helped them live up to their promise both when they were new and nearly a century later.

This St. Louis Motor Carriage car Company runabout was restored by the Timken Company because it was the first automobile company to use Timken bearings (1899). The rear axle of the car was built by the Timken Roller Bearing Axle Company.
Prior to its restoration by a dedicated team of Timken employees, the car was stored in an Arkansas barn. It is powered by a nine horsepower, single cylinder motor and features a two-speed transmission. Since its restoration the St. Louis has appeared at many Timken plant locations around the world during the company's centennial celebration and participated in the 1999 London to Brighton Run in England.