It was built 111 years ago in Miamisburg, and with a little luck, it just may cruise the same streets this summer during the Miamisburg Bicentennial Parade.
More than a decade ago, the Miamisburg Historical Society was able to purchase a 1907 Kauffman Hatfield Buggyabout from California, one of only three that still exist, and get it shipped back home. In the time since, it was moved from garage to garage, with some work done, but the restoration just never really going anywhere. Then along came Miamisburg native Greg Wartinger.
“The story goes clear back to me helping the guy across the street with his old 1918 Overland when I was a kid, and we have that car here in the shop, but I just decided we needed to try and get this Buggyabout running before the parade,” he said, standing in the spacious work area donated by the Mound Development Group. “It was built right here in Miamisburg – our only local motor vehicle – so we need to make this happen and drive it in the parade.”
According to Curt Dalton’s book, “Miami Valley’s Marvelous Motor Cars”, the Hatfield was originally built in Cortland, New York. The Hatfield Motor Vehicle Co. moved to Miamisburg in 1907 and built the mechanicals at 20 Main St., then had the Kauffman Buggy Co. produce the chassis and bodies.
The buggy was powered by a two-cylinder, air-cooled, opposed engine producing about 14 horsepower and used a friction drive transmission connected to the rear wheels by sprockets and chains. The vehicle had a top speed of 25 mph and sold for between $600 and $750. No one seems to know how many of the buggies were built. The company failed in 1908.
With the Miamisburg buggy mostly intact, new wheels in place, drive gears and chains working, the issue was the engine wouldn’t run. Wartinger dove in, and soon realized he needed to restore what was there, because no parts exist.
All of the plumbing for fuel and oiling was a mess. He had it all sand-blasted and cleaned and found a wonderful set of brass pieces.
“I was amazed how well this all survived and cleaned up, and it all went back together real nicely. Even the muffler is made of brass,” he said. “I also got my buddy Phil Wilcher from Phil’s Auto and Tire in Carlisle to lend a hand, and now he’s also fully committed, so we’ve made real progress.”
Real progress indeed, because several Saturday mornings ago, a group of about six gathered in the Mound shop. After a couple of very precise examinations, they decided to give the engine a try.
Wartinger grabbed the crank and heard a pop on the first crank, and then on the second crank, the little engine rumbled to life – albeit with a pretty dense cloud of smoke and cheers from all in attendance.
“Now we know it runs, we just have a lot of other things to get in place, especially the brakes,” Wartinger said. “We have already sent the seats out to an Amish fellow who specializes in this type of restoration. We’re on our way, after all, to Miamisburg, this buggy is priceless.”
To learn more about the Miamisburg Bicentennial or the Miamisburg Historical Society, go online to www.historicalmiamisburg.org or call 937-859-5000.