The beat goes on at Stahls Automotive Foundation despite the COVID-19 closure of the Chesterfield Township museum.
Daily demonstrations of museum music machines on social media and a recent video chat with Jim Edelman and Tom Daldin of the television show “Under the Radar Michigan” are helping keep the museum in the public eye.
Stahls Automotive Foundation is a nonprofit that preserves, restores and exhibits vintage vehicles, music machines and memorabilia of the 20th century. It is located at 56516 N. Bay Drive in Chesterfield Township.
Due to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations regarding COVID-19 and also governmental executive orders, the museum closed on March 17 according to Stahls Automotive Foundation’s General Manager Terri Coppens. The museum’s normal hours are every Tuesday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and the first Saturday of the month 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Coppens said that shortly after the museum was closed, she offered an online virtual tour walk through and played a few of the music machines. The tour can be seen on the museum’s Facebook at facebook.com/stahlsautomuseum/.
“Some people were asking about some of the music machines that they had not heard,” Coppens said “So I started doing one a day, every day. At 1 p.m. I would put up a new video of something.”
This led to requests from the public to see specific museum cars or hear certain music machines, which Coppens provided on YouTube or Facebook.
The online video chat with Jim Edelman and Tom Daldin of television’s “Under the Radar Michigan” took place on April 1, and is currently on Facebook for both the show and museum, Coppens said. Facebook for “Under the Radar Michigan” is at .facebook.com/UTRMichigan/. The show was scheduled to visit the museum the week of April 6 but due to the COVID-19 “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order, the visit was rescheduled as a video chat.
One item featured during the video is the museum’s 1919 Pierce-Arrow 66 A-4 touring car, which was built for silent film star Roscoe C. “Fatty” Arbuckle. It was meant to be available for public viewing after its recent appearance at the 2020 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in Florida, and the public will be able to see it in person at such time when the museum is able to reopen.
The car was custom built for Arbuckle and the coachwork was an early design by Harley J. Earl for Don Lee Coachbuilders of southern California. Earl moved on to become a designer for GM. The vehicle’s chassis has a 147.5 inch wheelbase and the vehicle has 36 inch tires.
The gas tank holds 32 gallons and the car seldom got more than four miles to the gallon. Coppens said that the vehicle had been held for the museum by someone else, but that it was specifically requested to appear at the 2020 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, which was held March 8. The car was shipped back to Michigan and arrived at the museum after the closure, Coppens said.
The museum also recently acquired within the last few month a second dehumidification system. The new dehumidification system is for the museum’s main room, which helps with preservation of the museum’s items and allows them to be fairly dust free, according to Coppens. Coppens said that the museum has been sanitized and will be sanitized again before reopening. She also said that the museum will continue its donation only admission policy upon reopening.
Nicole Tuttle is a freelance reporter for The Voice