When George Deel sits in his downstairs room and watches television, it is easy for his eyes to wander. It has nothing to do with the show he is viewing.
The numerous Boyce Moto Meters and hood ornaments that are nearby capture his eyes. The pieces come from a time when the automotive industry was still in its infancy.
Deel started collecting hood ornaments in 1987 and the Boyce Moto Meters a few years later. His collection of more than 200 Moto Meters and 100 hood ornaments makes up a large portion of what he calls his museum, which takes up two rooms in his basement.
“I have often been asked what is all of this worth.” Deel said. “I don’t know, and I don’t care because it is not really mine. I am saving this for people to be able to see it. It gives me great pleasure to sit in there and watch TV, and I look over there and I see my glass hood ornaments. I derive pleasure from that more than looking at a checkbook.”
Most people born in the last five or six decades probably have no idea what a Moto Meter is, particularly a Boyce Moto Meter. Today’s cars have instruments in them to let you know if the engine is overheating.
Back in the 1910s, that was an accessory, unless, said Deel, you were buying a Rolls Royce.
Harrison Boyce patented the Moto Meter in 1912. It was an instrument that read the temperature of the radiator.
“They were very important,” Deel said. “You need to know if the car is overheating. He did have a good idea.”
Although the Boyce Moto Meter was made for its functionality, many of them came in unique designs. Today, they look like museum pieces. It is why Deel searches eBay, always looking for a Boyce Moto Meter he doesn’t have.
“They are so fascinating,” Deel said.
Deel said Boyce was smart to come up with this instrument back in 1912.
“And Mr. Boyce manufactured the Boyce Moto Meter until 1929,” Deel said. “He sold his company in June of 1929. The stock market crash was in October. He was already out of it.”
Deel is always in search of another Boyce Moto Meter, hood ornament, car clock and even the paperwork that went with a Boyce Moto Meter.
“This is some of the paperwork for the Moto Meter,” said Deel, showing the different aspects of his collection. “The paperwork is so difficult to find. I have been fortunate and lucky to accumulate this much.”
For Deel, the Moto Meter is part of the automotive history that should be preserved.
“We, as a society, are a throwaway society,” Deel said. “We don’t save things. To me, this is our history. I am saving history. Thank God I have the facility and the ability to find the stuff and save it.”
Deel is able to spend hours talking about the Boyce Moto Meter, hood ornaments and other car accessories from automobiles made early in the 20th century.
Recently, he gave a presentation in St. Joseph for the Northwest Model A Car Club. Deel has spoken to other car clubs and church groups.
People from as far away as England have come to his Blue Springs home to look at his collection of Boyce Moto Meters and hood ornaments.
“It is my private collection that I share with other people,” Deel said. “I have a sign-in book. I have had people from Canada, Mexico, California, the East Coast come and look at my collection. They know about it through word of mouth.”
Expect Deel’s collection to continue to grow.
“I never do anything halfway,” he said.