1910 Burg Touring Car

Owner: Loren T. Utsinger

Webmasters Note: I grew up looking at this car every year at the Old Threshers Reunion. This is one of the cars that instilled in me a great love for antique cars. I spent many hours sitting with Mr. Utsinger at Old Threshers Reunions over the years talking to him about this car. I remember the thrill of cranking it for him one time. I also remember the cars last appearance at the reunion and I got the honor of steering the car as it was pushed into the trailor. I will always remember Mr. Utsinger and thank him for his contribution to this hobby in the restoration of this amazing automobile. Though he passed away several years ago now, may this web page be a tribute to Mr. Utsinger and his 1910 Burg that all may enjoy - John M. Daly.
1910 Burg before pic 1910 Burg After pic
1910 Burg as found on the farm in western Illinois. An almost unimmaginable project for even the best restorers.
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The completely restored Burg being driven in the Cavelcade of Power at the Old Threshers Reunion.
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The Case of the Half-buried BURG

By Loren T. Utsinger

The battered, rusted parts we saw half buried in the dirt of an Illinois farm would have been passed up as worthless junk by anyone but an antique car fan. But as it turned out that day back in 1955, my friend Keith King and I became the discoverers of a car (or at least the pieces of a car) that had first appeared on U.S. roads some 45 years before. The skeletal auto remains were those of a 1910 Burg.

Front End Burg Shot
The Burg Radiator.
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Had the car remnants been one of the commoner makes, even I might have given up the idea of buying and restoring it. But this was a Burg. Only about fifty of them were made and this might well be the only survivor of a long-forgotten marquee which had been manufactured in my hometown of Dallas City, Illinois.

The Burg was found between Dallas City and Lomax, Illinois on the farm of its owners, the Lloyd Mohr family. Keith and I canvassed the farm trying to locate all of the Burg's parts. The transmission and rear end, universal joints, shaft and other items were found behind a barn, half covered with dirt and mud. (At one time. the Mohr sons had planned to make a garden tractor from some of the old car's parts.)

The magneto, coil box, steering wheel and carburetor had been placed in a shed where they were protected from the weather, which made subsequent restoration of these sections comparatively easy. The main parts of the car, with the engine, were located in a pasture about a quarter of a mile away. The wood wheels and body had rotted or rusted until there were only a few scraps left, The hood was still over the motor, but had been punctured by a rifle

The flywheel was half buried in the mud and the aluminum cone clutch had decomposed into a white powder. Assisted by the Mohr family, our search continued for the smaller parts, which were scattered throughout the farm (Occasional parts were still being found seven years later!).

Right side of Burg
1910 Burg in the car building at the Old Threshers Reunion.
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The car was duly purchased from the owners and the parts transported to my garage in Dallas City for restoration. When I began to work on it, I saw that the motor in fairly good shape. After taking it apart, cleaning it and grinding the valves, I found that it started easily and ran well without any major work.

But the rest of the Burg was a different story. The wheels were a problem, being 34-inch lock rim type. Two were located in the Tri-cities. The rear wheels were taken the Standard Vehicle Company in Indiana where new wood installed.

Tires were as hard to find as the wheels used tires of the odd size. They were finally purchased from Firestone and were 36 x 4 inches instead of the original 34 x 31/2. As mentioned, the cone clutch was completely gone because the aluminum had sunk down in the ground and had disintegrated. But with Keith King's help, I was able to make a wooden pattern and then had an aluminum casting made. Keith machined it to size for me; we placed a leather facing on it and it worked as well as the cone clutch ever did.

Left side of Burg Shot
The Left side of the Burg on display at the Old Threshers Reunion.
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Although most of it had rotted away, there were still sufficient remnants of the body left from which a pattern could be made. The body was then constructed with considerable help from a surviving factory photo of a Burg demonstrator car.

Restoration work continued in my spare time for a number of years. By 1967 there was still much to do, but the main part of restoration was completed and the Burg ran well under its own power. I was able to drive it in the annual Dallas City Fall Festival parades.

Original Ford Sedan Add
1910 Burg and the Utsinger Family in the 1971 Dalas City, IL Fall Festival Parade.
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The body has since been given its final paint job and has been upholstered in black leather. With its red and gold striping, it looks just as it must have when new. The only project which remains to be done is reconstructing the top.

And so, after a lot of work, but also with much satisfaction for me, another bit of automotive Americana has been restored to life and a forgotten marquee recalled to memory.

History of the Burg

Original Ford Sedan Add
A 1908 photograph of the L. Burg Carriage Company buildings and employees in Dallas City, IL. The two stroy building in the foreground is still in use today.
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Original Burg Photo
An original photo of the 1910 Burg with Homer Burg at the wheel. The picture was marked "demonstrator" and Mr. Utsinger thinks this might be the original of his restored Burg, which also was a demonstrator model.
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The Burg automobile had at least three points of similarity, with many of the early cars. (1) Its sponsors were longtime carriage manufacturers before they turned to auto making. (2) It was an "assembled" car with the mechanical sections put together from parts obtained from outside sources and (3) the company's venture into auto making was of fairly brief duration and only a small number of cars were made.

The L. Burg Carriage Company made buggies in Weaver, Iowa from about 1870 until misfortune struck at the turn of the century when their plant was destroyed by fire. The firm then moved to Dallas City, Illinois, constructed a three-building factory, and resumed making the fine quality horse-drawn vehicles they sold in a territory extending as far west as Kansas.

With the coming of the automobile, the Burg Company, while still making buggies, decided to keep up with the times and, around 1907, started experimenting with a highwheeler with tiller. After several years of preliminary work, the firm came up with the workable design for a four cylinder car with a Rutenber engine and a number of other excellent features for that time. The car was the 1910 Model K, a 30 hp, five passenger touring on a 114" wheelbase and with a right hand drive. A 1910 Burg pamphlet lists the price as $1750.

Original Burg artist rendition
Burg illustration from a 1910 trade magazine. The car differs from other Burgs in that it has no back doors.
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The cars were offered in a choice of four body colors - red, dark blue, purple and black, striped in gold. Chassis colors were Brewster green, purple or dark red. Buyers could choose leather, broadcloth or plush upholstery.

While the car's major mechanical parts were purchased from outside sources, workers at the Dallas City plant made the bodies, did the assembling, upholstering and painting, fabricated certain small parts and added the tops.

A reporter who visited the plant and then wrote a short item for the local newspaper, commented that he saw "40 men working on automobiles, buggies and surreys." He further stated that every Burg auto was taken out in skeleton form, for trial on the roads, then brought back and remodeled where necessary. After a second road trial, the car was painted. Finished cars were once more thoroughly tested before being put on the market.

During these years, company officers were Louis Burg, president and F.W. Burg, vice president. Oscar Burg (Louis' son) was engineer and Homer Burg was in charge of the top and upholstery, operations.

Original Burg Photo
This 1910 Burg had not yet been completed at the factory when it was pressed into service to haul workmen to help quell a fire in a building seven miles away. The crew of volunteer fire fighters was photographed on their return to the plant. Oscar Burg (with bucket), son of Louis, was the company's engineer and was largely responsible for the firm's auto making activities.
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For the 1911 and 1912 model years, the Burg Company went to a six cylinder engine and this, according to some people, brought about their downfall as auto makers. The six cylinder engines allegedly were not sufficiently perfected and in the opinion of some critics soon managed to "shake themselves or the car to pieces." The cylinders were individually bolted to the upper frame of the crankcase. This required a long motor and crankshaft which was not successful.

The Burg cars were apparently little advertised. However, one advertisement (all in German) did appear in a German newspaper in Nebraska in 1913. A translation reveals that the Burg illustrated in the ad was a large vehicle called the "Six-50": That it had a six inch stroke, six cylinder motor which developed 50 horsepower; a 112" wheelbase and vanadium steel springs. Also Stewart magnetic speedometer, Prest-O-Lite gas tank and Disco self-starter. The car was upholstered in tanish leather over hair and the top was mohair. Price was $2450 complete with the accessories, pump and tools.

This same ad also stated that when purchased by a Nebraska farmer, the Burg Six-50 "proved itself so satisfactory... that three neighboring farmers also ordered Burg Six-50's." The advertisement said further that "the powerful six stroke, six cylinder 50 hp motor makes the car go steady, without the continuous shaking so noticeable in four cylinder cars, that it seems more like you are floating than driving." All of which seems to conflict somewhat with the complaint that the Burg Six engines shook themselves or the car to pieces.

Original Burg ad
This advertisement appeared in the local Dallas City newspaper in April, 1910.
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With the Burg family's entry into auto manufacturing, the years from 1910 to 1913 were stormy, ones at times. In addition to their difficulties with the six cylinder models, too many cars of other makes were appearing on the market at the time. This rough competitive situation aggravated the company's problems and they lost considerable working capital. As a consequence, manufacture of the Burg automobile was discontinued in 1913 after a total production of some 50 cars. The family continued to make high quality buggies for another six years before changing times resulted in the final closing of the factory.

1910 Burg Specifications

ENGINE: 30 hp Rutenber 4" bore and 4" stroke. Aluminum crankcase with four individual cylinders bolted to the crankcase. Bronze bearings throughout.
IGNITION: Twin; Bosch magneto.
TRANSMISSION: Standard pattern; three speeds forward and one reverse. Right hand drive with shift lever on right running board.
SUSPENSION: Semi-elliptic front springs. Three spring rear suspension with stabilizer.
OIL PUMP: Gear driven to keep a constant level in four wells below rods.
WATER PUMP: Gear driven.
WHEELS: Artillery hubs with 1-3/8" hickory spokes.
TIRES: Regular Diamond quick-detachable tires. 34 x 3 1/2 on Goodyear Universal rims.
GAS TANK: Main tank and built-in auxiliary.
SPEED: 55 mph.
PRICE: $1750.

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   Address: John M. Daly
P.O. Box 244
Millington, IL 60537
   Phone: 815-695-9451
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