Smoke damaged interior

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    Last month both of our Pierce Arrows were involved in a serious fire. This is every car collectors worst nightmare. Fire started in the business next door, spread to my building and destroyed my office, shop, and tool room. Everything burnt to the ground. Unfortunately, the 1930 Victoria and the 1931 sport coupe were in the adjoining garage. The ceiling caught on fire but the firemen put it out with great effort. When I told them there were two Pierce Arrows in there, they worked very hard to control the fire and did manage to save them, although the Victoria got a bit roasted, suffering from a burnt roof insert, heat damage to the hood, roof , and fender. Hundreds of gallons of water in both vehicles and lots of smoke damage.
    To make matters worse, I was in the middle of a brake relining on the Victoria, so it was up on jacks with all the parts cleaned and ready for installation safely laid out in the shop, or so I thought. It took me two weeks of digging through three feet of fallen debris to locate all the pieces. No heat damage because they were buried when the building collapsed on them. During those weeks, both cars were frozen in a dark smokey building, so the drying process was slow, which may have been helpful.
    Now I’m not looking for sympathy or condolences, but a calamity like this can happen to anyone through no fault of their own. My only comment is make sure you’re well insured, and keep your title and paperwork off site. I’ve got Hagerty, and they’ve been cooperative.
    My question to the experts out there is what comments or suggestions do you have in cleaning wool broadcloth interiors that have been smoke and water damaged. The Victoria has a light grey broadcloth fabric that will be especially difficult to clean. I have been unable to find any fire damage company in the northern Ohio area that is willing to tackle the job. Their reply is “we don’t do car’s anymore”. I’d hate to hang an interior replacement on Hagerty, but I’m not optimistic on the Victoria. The sport coupe isn’t quite as bad, and I’m planning to bring to to Hershey for the annual meet if I can get it cleaned up successfully.
    So that is my tale of woe. Comments welcomed.
    Tom Barrett


    Wow, Tom, I’m shocked. I really feel bad for you. I don’t know of anyone offhand, but I’ll ask around in the Chicago area for you!

    Ken Muellner


    Thanks for the ozonator link. We just got one. Cleaning the soot will be the first step. Looks like I’m in for an education on the subject as no one wants to take on the job.


    I contacted PAS Member Bob Lederer of CPS, who did quite a lot of work on my car. I was highly satisfied with the results although most of my work was mechanical. He can handle this type of job. His shop is located in Elk Grove Village, IL, near Chicago O’Hare Field. I copied your message and sent it to him and he replied in the affirmative. You can contact him at He currently has a 1914 Packard damaged in a similar situation in his shop. It would involve trailering the cars to Chicago, but he does do excellent work.



    Very sorry to hear this happened to you, as you state, the worst nightmare.

    I’m going to be the naysayer on this, and say get a new interior.  That’s what you have insurance for, to pay for losses, and in my mind the interiors are lost.

    Even if you cleaned the broadcloth, and even if you were able to get the smell out, there are still springs and seat frames that will rust, and padding that will probably mold from the moisture.  If cardboard paneling was used in the interior, even if it was “water resistant”, it will warp, doors and quarter panels.  You have water all in the doors and behind panels, anyway, so all that mechanism and structure will rust or rot or develop mold,  so panels need to be removed regardless.

    I had an engine fire once that damaged my phaeton, took a settlement and fixed it myself.  Big mistake.  If it were to happen now, I’d take the car straight to a restoration shop which was approved by my insurance company (also Hagerty, I like them), and say call me when it’s finished.

    Just my two cents.  By the way, people need to start signing names and cities when they post, for some reason the forum isn’t showing who’s doing the posting.

    David Coco Winchester Va.


    David, I noticed that names and towns of posters do not show up if you read the posts without signing in.  They show up for me if you do sign in.  This is probably a safety thing so non members can’t contact members over certain things.


    Kenneth, you are correct about the names and towns.  The Message Board is set up so that they don’t show if a non-member views the Message Board. That information is not available to anybody outside of the Society. You have to be logged in to see that information or to post.



    Yes, signed in works, thanks dc

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