February 15th, 2009
Whenever i get the chance, being that i both love hot rods and love history, i try to put in some more research on an original hot rodder relative of mine– Lee Frayer.
- I’ve written about his auto company and racing antics, such as in the first Indy 500, here.
- Explained an adventure with his young apprentice, Eddie Rickenbacker, here. As a matter of fact, the story of Lee giving Rickenbacker his first big break is told time and time again, as one of the most popular sermans in modern history.
As i try to find information in the later years, it seems that ol’ Lee ran into tougher and tougher times:
- His own company went bankrupt, he jumped between a couple others.
- While he was in all the biggest early races he was never able to make it to the top of the podiums.
- While Lee gave him his first shot, Rickenbacker excelled after he left Lee’s side.
Between 1915 and his death in 1938, the only thing i’ve been able to find about Lee is his involvement making the Frayer Wire Wheel.
The Frayer Wire Wheel were designed and marketed by Lee. It appears that they were first manufactured by his own company, named Frayer Demountable Wheel Company in Columbus, Ohio,) and subsequently manufactured by F&H Wire Wheel and Phelps Manufacturing Co., also both in Ohio.)
Most notably, in 1917-1919 the Frayer Wire Wheel rolled as part of the Silver-Apperson car. Apperson’s were build from 1902-1926 out of a factory in Kokomo, Indiana and the company was founded by Edgar and Elmer Apperson after they left Haynes-Apperson. The Silver edition that featured Lee’s wheels was designed by Conover T. Silver, a coachwork builder who also ran Overland Sales, Manhattan NY’s most prestigious auto dealership.
Unfortunately, Frayer’s business failed (again, sigh) after being sued by the Wire Wheel Corporation of America for patent infringement. In addition, any firm found using the Frayer Wire Wheel products (including C.T. Silver and Apperson) were included in the legal action.
Currently this is where i lose track of Lee’s life. While i have suspicions, I have no real idea of what occurred during the last 18 years from 1920 until his 1938 death.
Any anyone has more info on Frayer Wire Wheels (i’d love to own a set) or more info for my research, please contact me via email at: notebooms at yahoo . com
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