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At 102 years old, classic REO still chugging along

September 8, 2011
By J.T. Whitehouse
Not many can claim they are cruising around in a 102 year-old vehicle. Bill Dodgson of Boardman can as he makes appearances at car shows in his 1909 REO.

Dodgson said he acquired the vehicle 45 years ago. It was restored by a fellow in Newton Falls and was ready to roll when he was done.

“All I’ve had to do was polish it,” dodgson said.

Since taking ownership, Dodgson has made a few trips in it, but not on the freeway. The top speed for the vehicle is 26 miles per hour.

“I’ve taken it to Dearborn, Mich. and Hershey, Pa.,” he said. “That’s the furthest I’ve driven it.”

The REO power plant is a simple one-cylinder engine that has a choke and carburetor control that is accessed through holes in the floorboard. The hand crank starter is located on the left side of the vehicle, which is the driver’s side.

The REO does have a hood, but the engine is mounted under the seat. The hooded compartment houses the gas tank and water tank.

“The gas tank holds six gallons and the water tank holds four gallons,” Dodgson said.

Before leaving on a road trip, Dodgson said the owner would have to check the gas, oil, and water as well as the lamp oil. The vehicle has two large brass oil lamps facing front, and one smaller red oil lamp in the rear.

The REO has no windshield or top, both of which Dodgson said were options when the vehicle was new.

“If you wanted a top, it was $30 extra,” he said. “Windshields were also extra and cost an additional $25.”

As with any historic vehicle, original plates from the vehicles year of manufacture can be legally used. Dodgson was lucky enough to find an original 1909 license plate, which contained five numbers.

“The first license plates came out in 1908,” he said. “They had three numbers on them. In 1909 the plates went to five numbers.”

The one thing that Dodgson has the exclusive on is being the oldest vehicle at the local car shows like Sunday’s Cars in the Park in Boardman. He did say there is one other functioning 1909 vehicle in the immediate area, but it is not driven as much.

As for the car company, REO stands for its founder Ransom E. Olds. It was based in Lansing, Mich. and produced automobiles and trucks from 1905 to 1975.

Article Photos

Bill Dodgson of Boardman enjoys driving his 1909 REO to car shows in the area, but he is often wary of the weather, since his restored classic didn’t have the optional roof or windshield.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse



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