Even the setting is appropriate to the enterprise.
You cross a "moat", actually a 10-foot-wide, granite
walled stream, on a heavy plank bridge (alas, it doesn't swing up
on chains!) in a complex of historic buildings, itself in the process
The enterprise is Narragansett Restoration and Coach Company, one
of the most respected specialty automobile restoration operations
in the nation.
Its home is an ancient three-story mill building in the venerable
Hazard Mill complex in Wakefield.
In existence just under five years, NRCC is owned by brothers Edward
and John Pease, natives of the area who organized the business from
a hobby. They bought the mill because it is well adapted to their
business and because it was not too expensive, since it needed a
little restoration itself.
They've restored the plant to the extent necessary for their operation,
creating an office and adapting several areas to mechanical body,
painting and other facets of car restoration.
All their work on whole vehicles is on customer order and because
you don't always know what problems you're going to run into when
you restore any old object, particularly a mechanical one, they
can make only the most general of estimates of cost or time.
The quality of the work turned out by this small firm of less than
a dozen craftsmen has become so well known that they've been working
on as many as 25 vehicles at one time, which Ed Pease feels is far
Now, there are 10 in various departments, including a Raymond Loewy
Continental, a 1934 Mercedes 500K, a Pagaso, a 1940 Ford town car
with glass partition between, chauffeur's and passengers' compartments,
and a little doll of a Model A truck.
All the restoring operations are on the first floor and the other
two stories are used for storage. At present, Mr. Pease said, there
are about 30 cars on the upper floors awaiting work.
A big convenience of the old mill is that it is on a steeply slopping
site and cars can be driven or towed right into each story.
As they gained experience the Pease brothers learned that some
components, while slightly different in detail often presented very
Consequently, while real mass production will never be possible
for a business like theirs, Ed and jack Pease have been able to
set up several types of operations that can be used to restore or
actually build authentic replicas of original components.
A good example is the working harnesses. While they all have to
do essentially the same tasks, every harness is approached from
a different viewpoint and is made in its own way. It would be much
easier to replace original wiring with stamped or printed circuits,
simpler and more efficient wiring and modern synthetic materials.
But then the car wouldn't be authentic. When an old harness is
brought in, it is first dissected an analyzed to see what does what.
Every time particular car's harness is in the Peas shop for the
first time, it is then blue printed and after the new harness is
built, the print is filled so that if the same kind comes in again,
they can follow the blueprint rather than unravel the original.
New harnesses are made from the ground up. NRCC makes its own wire,
braiding, color-coding and lacquering the insulation so that it
exactly duplicates the original, except that it works better.
Early Lincoln Continentals are so popular that Pease keeps a stock
of wiring harnesses for them. Advertising in antique and classic
car publications, the firm receives orders for many parts from all
over the world.
They make, on custom order, all the wiring harnesses for the cars
owned by Bill Harrah, a Nevada casino operator who probably has
the largest collection of rare vehicles in this country.
Mr. Harrah buys cars, through his personal full-time representatives
at the most renowned auctions all over the world, and is known for
his selectivity. When he buys parts for them from such a young firm,
it's proof enough of its nature.