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By now, subscribers of our storied Hemmings Motor News title should have their copy of the June issue, which includes a feature – of sorts – on a 1903 Grout Model J found for sale at Hershey (see Car Corral, page 16). Before composing the brief story, I dug deep into my private archives to see what I could learn about the vehicle itself, rather than the company (1900-1912), which was based in Orange, Massachusetts. I got lucky and found more than space would allow.
Among the numerous Floyd Clymer motor scrapbooks that have been printed was one edition devoted entirely to steam powered vehicles (Steam Car Edition Vol. 1) – no less than six pages were listed as containing Grout material within the index, including two different ads for the 1903 Model J. Seen in the images provided, one is clearly equipped with wire wheels, the other with wooden wheels. Clymer’s book also contained a page from a 1903 edition of the Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal that listed the specifics for said car:
For two or four passengers; drop front seat; front seat 12 inches below main seat; height, 5-feet 4 inches; width, 5-feet 2 inches; length, 11-feet 2 inches; wheelbase, 72 inches; 30-inch wood or wire wheels; 3-inch detachable tires; 7hp boiler; fuel tank, 50 miles capacity; water tank, 35 miles capacity; condenser if desired; steam air pump; forced draft; price, $1,200.
On Grout Steam cars, 6 1/2 and 10hp engines are used, capable of developing as high as 10 to 20hp; they have double cylinders, slide D valves, Stephenson link motion, either horizontal or vertical; eccentric consists of only one piece, combining 13 pieces generally used; all parts interchangeable; burner started with a match in 3 to 5 minutes; everything controlled from the seat; either kerosene or gasoline burner is furnished.
If you look close at the 1903 ads, little information is included as to the exact location of the Orange assembly plant and/or offices. That was provided by ads that appeared in 1905, which also included three other east coast “branch” offices.
Grout Brothers Automobile Company was located at 285 East Main Street, and by the looks of it, the original building still exists. Current maps show a rail line behind the complex, so it’s quite possible that there was a means at their disposal for circulating their vehicles outside of the immediate area. In 1905, the Boston branch was located at 151-153 Columbus Avenue – warning: type in the address and Street View dumps you on the Mass Pike – while the New York City office was at 308-310 West 59th Street. Finally, there was a location listed in Washington, D.C. at 1310 Staunton Court – the proprietor’s name (we’re assuming) was Clarence Pittman. This last address is coming up as a blank in the D.C. area.
Grout, as an automobile, was no slouch. According to published results of the 1905 Worcester Hill climbing Contest, Mr. George C. Cannon raced his special-ordered/prepared 50hp Grout steamer to a third place finish in the class for cars weighing from 1,423 to 2,204 pounds with a time of 1:23, and later to a second place run with a time of 1:21 in the Free For All event.
I’ve seen only one other ‘03 Model J in my lifetime, and that was a number of years ago at a steam power show in Rhode Island. But what amazed me was that a second Grout – a 1904 two-passenger model – was also for sale at Hershey. How many other Grouts – steam or conventional power – remain is anyone’s guess. Have you seen any?
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Tagged alt-power cars, dealerships, factories, Grout, Hershey, Matt Litwin, steam-powered, vintage ads