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The Orient Buckboard Roster

Between 1903 and 1908 they made approximately 2,500 Orient Buckboard Cars at the Waltham Manufacturing Company on Rumford Avenue. The cars were sold all over the world and today they are a big part of America's history on cars. Recently a survey was taken throughout the world of all Orient Buckboards in existence today. There are a total of 57 Orient Buckboard owners today; 45 are in the United States and, of course, one of these is at the Waltham Museum.

THE ORIENT BUCKBOARD

We always thought that the Orient Buckboard in the Waltham Museum was the oldest one in existence with its serial number of 495B. A check of the Orient Buckboard Directory shows that the Car & Carriage Museum in Virginia has a 1903 Orient Buckboard with number 478B. Chris Bamford who compiled this directory estimates that the first Orient Buckboard number was 450. The serial numbers from 1 to 450 were on other Waltham vehicles such as the Orient motorcycle, Orient tricycle, autogos, and Orient Runabouts.

    Bamford estimates that the last Orient serial number was 3700 and concludes that 3,250 cars were built by the Waltham Manufacturing Company between 1903 and 1908. This is based upon the serial numbers of the last Orient Buckboards made. The question is, why did Charles Metz start his Metz car serial numbers at 3000 when he took control of the company in 1909? Metz car serial numbers run from 3000 to 55100. [Side Note: The Waltham Museum also has a 4-horsepower Orient engine with serial No. 2691. This would have been on a 1905 Orient vehicle based upon similar numbers in the directory.]

The Waltham Steam Cars of Piper and Tinker

 

For six years (1898 to 1903) George M. Tinker and James W. Piper made steam cars in Waltham. They started at the American Manufacturing Company at 165 High St. in Waltham. This was between 1898 to 1899 and the car was known as the “American Steamer.” From 1899 to 1900 they worked at the Waltham Manufacturing Company on Rumford Ave. and this car was called the “Waltham Steam Buggy.” The High St. company made Comet bicycles and the Rumford Ave. company made Orient bicycles as their main products.

         Between 1900 to 1903 they ran their own company at 130-136 Newton Street, which was known as the Waltham Automobile Company; manufacturers of high-class steam carriages. In 1902 two models were made, the Waltham Victoria Top Vehicle for two persons, and the Waltham 1902 Model for 3 or 4 persons where passengers could face the operator.

            The treasurer and general manager of the Waltham Automobile Co. was James W. Piper who lived at 60 Cushing Street. George M. Tinker lived at 87 Hall Street and was a machinist. Very few of these steam cars were ever made. The company survived during these years by doing other machine shop projects for customers.

On December 10, 2000, Arthur Funai of Lynnfield visited the Waltham Museum. He has a Waltham Victoria Top Vehicle that was made in 1902. It is in need of parts and repairs and he plans to restore it. This is the only known Waltham steam vehicle in existence.

More on Piper and Tinker

The American Machinist Magazine of February 23, 1899 wrote about the Orient Electric Carriage of Waltham. It was on exhibit at Madison Square Garden in New York City from January 21 to 28, 1889. Piper and Tinker made the electric carriage when they worked at the Waltham Manufacturing Company on Rumford Avenue. The car weighed 1,000 pounds and sold for $1,000. However only one car was made.

The Abner Doble Steam Automobile Company

When they were still teenagers, Abner Doble and his younger brother John experimented with making steam cars. A picture of them in Waltham with their first steam car has been shown on our cable TV shows for many years. It was taken near High Street in 1912 and shows a Model "A" which they converted to a steam car.

The A. Doble Company was located at 157 High Street according to the 1914 and 1915 Waltham directories. This was the old Mass Hardware warehouse that was torn down about seven years ago.

From Waltham, the Doble brothers moved to Detroit, California, and then to Europe making steam cars, steam buses, steam trucks, etc. One of the last Doble steam cars to be manufactured was in 1931. For awhile, what happened to the Doble brothers after that was unknown.

The 1999 spring edition of "Inventions & Technology" says on page 4 that in 1946 the Nordberg Company of Milwaukee contracted with Mr. Doble to design and manufacturer a steam engine to replace the diesel engine in the rear of a bus.

In 1950, Doble was engaged as a consultant by McCulloch Corporation in their endeavor to build a steam sports car. A Ford car was converted to steam power and this prototype sports are and was driven several hundred miles around Los Angeles before the project was abandoned due to insufficient condensing capacity. This is believed to be the last steam effort by Abner Doble who was in his sixties. Many years ago he was selected for the Waltham Museum Hall-Of-Fame.

Another Metz Owner

In 1915 the Metz Company of Waltham manufactured the Metz 25 Roaster (a two-seated vehicle), and the Metz 25 Touring car (a four-seated vehicle).

They also made these cars in 1916 with anticipation of having good car sales. Unfortunately, the Germans had sunk the Luisitania in 1915 and the public was furious with anything German. All German named cars had a drastic drop in sales in America, including Metz. This eventually caused the Metz Company to go out of business in 1922. In their last year they realized this problem and changed the name of the car to the "Waltham," but it was too little too late.

On November 22, 1998, Morgan Dunnigan of West Haven, CT, visited the Waltham Museum and showed us pictures of two Metz cars which he owns. They are 1915 and 1916 Metz 25 Touring cars. He is currently making improvements to these cars and needs some parts.

Automobile Quarterly has a story about METZ

Automobile Quarterly, the most prestigious antique automobile magazine in America, had a 16 page article on the Metz Company of Waltham in their January 1994 hardcover edition. The article contained 32 pictures, many of them in color. Two of the pictures were provided by the Waltham Museum.

The company is located at 15040 Kutztown Road, Kutztown, PA 19530, and the magazine/book sells for $19.95.

The Waltham Museum has ordered 25 of these books for resale to its members first. The remainder will be sold in the gift shop. For a copy please send $19.95 to the Waltham Museum. All postage and handling fees will be waived for the members discount.

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