Q&A with Kit Foster: December 15, 2011

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Q. Regarding Phil Pfersching’s question (Oct 20 “Q&A”) about Martin Tyres, I started in the tire business in 1953. My recollection is that they were referred to as the Martin five-ply tire. They were indeed a premium tire, and had a green inner liner and a small red emblem on the sidewall that stated “5-ply.” They were a heavy tire, and could have been successfully recapped several times. They started to disappear in the mid-1960s, at which time I assume they discontinued making them. My experience with tires of this era is that if properly maintained, kept dry and out of the sunlight, have no weather checking, are pliable and have sufficient tread depth, I wouldn’t hesitate to run them on my car. I can vouch for this through experience, as I’ve run them on my own car since 1965.

George Goodwin, Prescott, Ariz.

A. As I said when answering Mr. Pfersching’s question, I have some 1946 tires that appear like new. I’m still reluctant to recommend that readers drive on tires this old, so let us just remind everyone that this does not constitute an endorsement by Old Cars Weekly, its staff or contributors.

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Q. I’ve recently purchased the instrument cluster pictured. I’m trying to figure out what car it would have come in. They are ornate Stewart Warner gauges, and have the date 1929 stamped on them. Any help would be appreciated.

Karl Kuester, Monroe, Wis.

A. The Hudson Motor Car Co. Qproduced ornate instrument panels in 1929. What you have is the “pine cone” set from a ’29 Essex, Hudson’s companion car. If you look carefully, you’ll see the fuel gauge is marked “Gasoline or Oil.” Pushing a button would cause the gauge to measure crankcase oil rather than fuel. You may also notice that the oil pressure gauge seems unusual, in that it only goes to five psi. That’s because Hudson products didn’t really have oil pressure, since most lubrication was by a splash system. A reading of three to five psi on the gauge simply indicated that the oil pump was working. In 1932, the new Terraplane model replaced the pressure gauge with a warning light.

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Q. Per Mr. Novack’s comment on turning wheel covers (Oct. 27 “Q&A”), I’d like to say that his ideas for holding the cover from damaging the valve stem are good, but the metal stem doesn’t always remedy the real problem. Eventually the cover will probably pop off. I’ve lost a few this way. A better fix is to adjust the holding tabs on the back of the wheel cover that make contact with the wheel. Most covers, especially from 1950s cars, have a series of tabs that grip the inside of the rim. Take a pair of pliers and bend each of the tabs so that the serrated points that contact the wheel (sometimes not serrated, but merely thin and sharp) firmly contact the wheel at a 90-degree angle. Over time and with numerous removals, the tabs get bent away from the wheel. Although the cover may remain on the car, it will be loose enough to rotate while the car is driven. Don’t be fooled by the appearance of a good seal, that this will prevent creeping. The contact should be at the 90-degree angle or near it. Since doing this, I’ve not lost any covers, or had them creep onto the valve stem. Another hint is that when your tire is balanced, have the weights put on the inside of the wheel. Many shops will do this on request. This creates a smooth  surface for the cover to fit better.

Mike Mawhirter, Derby, Kan.

A. Thanks for the hints, but my experience is that sometimes even bending the tabs doesn’t completely solve the problem. When I was in high school, I had a 1951 Nash Rambler convertible that persisted in throwing the left front wheel cover. It did so regardless of what wheel or cover I put on that corner of the car. I also tried bending the tabs, to no avail, although I don’t think I bent them as far as 90 degrees.

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Q. The mascot pictured (Oct. 20 “Q&A”) is, I believe, from a Case automobile. They were manufactured by the J.I. Case Threshing Machine Co. from 1911 to ’27. They used an eagle on a globe emblem at the time. The back cover of Old Cars Weekly’s Oct. 27 issue has an example of this.

Charles B. Arnold, Newark, Del.

A. Steve Hayes of New York City also sent an example of this Case mascot, but I’m not convinced it’s the same one. The Case eagle does not have its wings spread. Ray Geweke of Sherwood, Wis., believes the mascot is an aftermarket accessory type.

To submit questions to this column: E-mail angelo.vanbogart@fwmedia.com or mail to: Q&A, c/o Angelo Van Bogart, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990-0001.

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