Q & A with Kit Foster: December 9, 2015

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Q.

We recently picked this up at a swap meet. We are hoping that your readers might be able to identify the vehicle it came from. It is distinguished by a noticeable concave dish. 
               — Jon Cumpton, Roberts, Wis.

ModelTSteeringWheel

A.

That noticeable concave dish is your answer. It’s one of 15 million Model T Ford steering wheels and when installed on the car, the dish points upward, toward the driver, not down like later “deep dish” steering wheels. They changed a bit over the years, the early ones having wood rims and later examples a synthetic material called “Fordite,” which we explained in the Jan. 15, 2015, issue. Early wheels were 14-1/4 inches in diameter, and they grew in stages to 17 inches by 1927.

Q.

I have a 360 engine out of a 1999 Dodge Durango that I want to put in a 1965 Barracuda. I know there is someone out there who can redo the old wiring harness and computer so that I can have a one- or two-wire hook up, or three or four.  I read in Old Cars Weekly that someone two or three years ago took everything out of a Dodge pickup, motor, transmission and dash, and put it in a Barracuda. If you can be of help, please let me know. 
    — Sherwood Donovan, Farnham, Va.

A.

I don’t recall the article you mention, but I suspect many in the street rod community have worked out a way to do this. If your engine was built with any form of computer control, you need to provide that function in its new home. In the early 1980s, I bought a Dodge pickup that had had its original 360 V-8 replaced with a later 318. After driving it for a month or two I came to the conclusion that is was severely logy under acceleration. Looking closely at the installation I noticed that it had a distributor designed for electronic spark advance, but there were no electronics to go with it. A junkyard distributor with mechanical advance solved my problem.

Q.

In regard to the ethanol debate article in Vol. 44, No. 32 Old Cars Weekly [Club Clips, Oct. 8]: My state (Missouri) has several stations that sell ethanol-free gasoline, mostly around lake areas for boaters. All high-test pumps are ethanol-free in our area. I seem to recall an article in Old Cars Weekly about mixing one ounce of off-road diesel with each gallon of high-test ethanol-free gasoline, and using it in old cars. I have been doing that for some time now with no problems in my restored Jeep and old Jeepster.
       — John J. Brown, Kansas City, Mo.

A.

Since we last debated ethanol in “Q&A” a few years ago, the availability of ethanol-free gasoline seems to have improved. At that time there were apparently no sources in southern New England, according to the website pure-gas.org. In checking today, I see there are 13 in Connecticut alone, one of them not ten miles from my home. They all seem to supply 94 octane or above, and are generally marine or small engine shops, or speed shops. I’m going to investigate, as it will make maintenance of my power equipment much easier. As for putting some diesel in your gas tank, some claim that reduces the likelihood of vapor lock. In any case, administered in small doses, like the upper-lube we used to use, it shouldn’t do any harm.

Q.

Bill Vandever (Apr. 9) asked about the effectiveness of using a stock radiator with an updated engine. Several years ago, I built a ’37 Chevy sedan street rod using a 350 crate motor. My radiator man said as long as I was going to put in an electric fan I shouldn’t have a problem. So far I have been able to run it with no problem except when I was in a community parade on a hot day last year and the temperature stayed up, but didn’t overheat. I would think the key would be a properly prepared radiator (cleaned and all leaks repaired).
        — Jon Hunsicker, Cleveland, Ohio

A.

Good point. If you’re going to try to use your original radiator after an engine upgrade, at the very least you should have it cleaned, tested and repaired as necessary. You don’t don’t say whether your Chevy street rod has air conditioning, but the fact that it showed a hotter temperature during a summer parade suggests the stock radiator may be marginal.

To submit questions to this column: E-mail oldcars@krause.com or
mail to: Q&A, Old Cars Weekly, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990-0001

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