1911 Flanders motorcycle refurbished

A 1911 “Flanders 4″ motorcycle, manufactured in the Chelsea Clocktower complex in the early 20th century, was returned to the collection of the Chelsea Area Historical Society (CAHS) on July 26, 2017.

CAHS President Bill O’Reilly accepted the newly refurbished antique, which was made possible by many generous local donors who have contributed to the project over the past year.

The bike, one of less than two dozen remaining examples, was located in California by a small group of Chelsea-area motorcycle enthusiasts who completely disassembled it, rebuilt the motor, and put it into rideable, but unrestored, original condition.

It was given to CAHS in honor of Chelsea native and vintage motorcycle racer, Art Farley and Chelsea car and motorcycle restoration specialist, Elliott Andrews, who worked tirelessly to see the project completed in time for the Chelsea Classic Car Showduring last weekend’s Sounds and Sights Festival. A picnic dinner was held at the CAHS Museum and the motorcycle was happily run up and down Jackson St. in the shadow if its birthplace.

The Flanders Motorcycle Co. occupied the Clocktower manufacturing complex on Main Street in Chelsea between 1909 and 1913. Founder, Walter Flanders, originally Set up Henry Ford’s first moving assembly line at the Detroit Piquet Model T plant and then started a series of companies in the heyday of the automobile’s early “silicon valley era” in Michigan. Flanders went on to build automobiles and to help the Studebaker brothers move from Conestoga wagons to the automobile market.

In addition to the many individual and business donors who made this gift possible, recognition must go to Elliott Andrews who, despite serious health concerns, touched virtually every nut and bolt of the Flanders during the rebuild. He collected over 900 photographs of the process and created a parts list document which will be archived by the Antique Motorcycle Club of America.

Special mention is made of the work done by Dave Strauss, Jac Brown, John Chamberlin, George Fisher, and Pinckney’s Joe “Make-It- Go” Gardella who finally got the 106-year old motor to fire up just two hours before the unveiling.

Contributions for the preservation and maintenance of this unique piece of Michigan history can be made to the Chelsea Historical Society, 128 Jackson St., Chelsea, MI 48118 or though their website: chelseahistory.org. Questions: President@ChelseaHistory.org or 734-476- 2010.

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