Old Cars Q&A: 2020 no. 6

Kit Foster answers all of your old cars questions
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Answer Man

Q. I am in the process of adding air conditioning, with heater and defrost, to a 1940 Hudson. I have contacted the major air conditioning kit suppliers (Vintage Air, Southern Rods and Old Air Products). None of them have a kit that has a compressor with a wide belt (i.e. 5/8”) like Hudson and early Fords used. I have also checked Midwest Early Ford, but they only have restoration products. I did this upgrade to another Hudson years ago and don’t remember having a problem. Can you help? 
— Steve Holz, via email

A. I have come across air conditioning retrofits to old cars, but most often in street rods or custom cars. These almost always have modern drive trains, in which small-block Chevy V8s of recent years are the most popular. That’s probably why the vendors do not offer wide-belt applications. Without further knowledge, it occurs to me that since the obstacle is a single pulley, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a wide-belt pulley of the proper diameter that could be adapted, perhaps with some machine work. Readers, who has experience with this?

Q. The Mar. 26 Q&A fielded a question about tire dressings. I helped clean and detail cars and trucks at my dad’s Ford agency in Upland, Ind., during the 1950s and ’60s. We used “rubber lubricant” to dress up tires and rubber floor mats. All you had to do was to rub it into the rubber and rub it dry. Everything comes out looking like new, and it is not sticky. For the whitewalls, we used Comet with a scrub brush. I still use all this on my new and antique vehicles. — Ed Miler, Upland, Ind.

A. Thanks. Brillo soap pads were my preferred sidewall scrubbers, back in the day when I had whitewall tires. I think the last were on a 1970 Chevy that was my daily driver in the late 1980s, and they were pretty narrow. The end result, though, is no different from your Comet cleanser. You just don’t need the scrub brush.

Q. [Regarding the query about Ford emblems (Feb. 6 and Mar. 19)], neither my 1976 T-Bird nor my 1979 T-Bird have the Ford blue oval. 
— Mike Herold, via email

A. Thanks. Subsequent to answering the original questions (Q&A Feb. 6 and Mar. 19), I’ve done some more research. In the case of Thunderbirds, I’m not sure any of them, right up to the 11th generation 2002-2005 “two-seat revival” models, had anything other than a Thunderbird emblem. A similar situation is true for Mustangs up to 1982. It seems that the blue oval first returned on the new Escort model in 1981. From then on, new or re-designed models received it on their first appearance: EXP in 1982, Crown Victoria in 1983, Tempo in 1984 and Taurus in 1986. The Mustangs were an exception to this “rule,” as the oval appeared for 1983 in the Fox-body generation’s fifth year. F-Series light trucks got the oval in 1982. Thereafter, it seems to have become pretty much universal.

Q. On a cement floor, in a dark garage in Los Angeles sits a 1999 Mercedes-Benz convertible that I can only drive in December. While it is in storage, should I do anything to protect its top? 
— Mark Clinard, Florence, Colo.

A. Short answer: yes! The exact method is dependent on the conditions where it’s stored. It sounds like you do not need to protect from sun, rain or wind, but if the location is not climate-controlled, you will want a cover that allows “breathing.” From a quick survey, it looks like the humidity in L.A. varies from about 20 percent to more than 80. Is the space secure, or is there foot traffic or other vehicles going in and out? If the space is secure, clean and not humid in summer months, it will probably be OK without further protection. Do you check on the car between those December outings, or is it entirely dormant and devoid of human intervention? Without further information, I would suggest a full-car cover in heavy-duty breathable fabric.

Q. In response to the question posed by reader Mark Bartow of Waupun, Wis., in the Apr. 16, 2020 Q&A, [I have] learned that as of Dec. 19, 2019, the entire LeBaron Bonney upholstery inventory was legally transferred to Ecklers Industries, Inc., the well-known car parts catalog people. Their service people can be contacted by phone at 800-284-3906 or e-mail at custsvs@ecklers.net.  —Don Moore, Salem, Mass.

A. Many thanks, Don. Over the years, Ecklers Industries has grown from a Corvette parts supplier to embrace a wide range of Chevrolet models and, with the acquisition of MAC’s Antique Auto Parts of Lockport, N.Y., Model T, A and many V-8 Fords as well. The MAC’s website has links to Cartouche upholstery, which I believe was a competitor to LeBaron Bonney. It’s not clear from their websites whether they have the 1955-’56 Ford interior items sought by Ernest Hart back in the Feb. 20 Q&A. It’s probably best to call Ecklers to see just what they have and can offer for any specific car. 

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