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Q&A with Kit Foster: January 2, 2014

Q. Bill Clarkson mentions a four-speed Ford Econoline van in the Nov. 28 “Sound Your Horn.” Could this be the British “Dagenham” transmission used in some six-cylinder Falcons, Comets and Mustangs?

— Bob Smith, Albany, N.Y.

A. I believe it is. If I’m not mistaken, that unit, originally for larger British Fords, became available in Falcons and Comets in 1963. The Standard Catalog of American Light Duty Trucks shows a four-speed Econoline in 1965, when the only engine offered was the 170-cid six. The Dagenham gearbox was a side-shift type, with a three-rod linkage locating the shift lever on the tailshaft for passenger cars. In the first-generation Econoline, the driver sat next to the engine, so the linkage had to run forward. Connecting it to the existing column shift arrangement was probably the most expeditious way to engineer it. If the Standard Catalog is correct, it was a one-year-only feature on the Econoline. Has anyone else ever seen one? I wonder, too, following from the “last three-on-the-tree” question (Dec. 5 Q&A), whether any other U.S. car or truck had “four-on-the-tree.” I know a number of European cars had that feature in the 1950s.


Q. I have a honeycomb radiator and am not sure what year it is from. I was told it is from a Maxwell. It has a tag soldered on it saying it was repaired in 1912 in Fargo, N.D., and measures about 18 inches from bottom tank to top tank and 2 inches thick. The top tank is 4-1/2 inches high and 5-1/2 inches thick, the bottom tank about 1-1/2 inches high and 3 inches thick.

— Jim Spenst, Thief River Falls, Minn.


A. Nothing looks more generic than a radiator without its shell. According to the website of Daimler AG, parent company of Mercedes-Benz, the honeycomb radiator was invented in 1900 by German engineer Wilhelm Maybach. Its virtue was that it provided better cooling with less water. Today, it is renowned for being hard to fix. Soldering leaks is difficult and rodding out congested honeycombs is impossible. I’m skeptical that yours is from a Maxwell. Until 1911, Maxwell radiators were almost square and had exposed brass tanks top and bottom, with brass side members. In 1912, the year yours was apparently repaired, they went to a tapered top design in a steel shell. Does anyone recognize this one without its “clothes on”?


Q. Some years ago, I purchased a set of beauty rings for my 1996 Mercedes E-32 with 16-inch wheels. I have lost one rim and cannot find a set anywhere. I purchased the set I have now from JC Whitney. The only ones I can find now are for 15-inch rims. If anyone knows where I might find a set of 16-inch beauty rims or may have a set sitting on a shelf somewhere, I would surely appreciate a contact. They have to be the type that clips between the rim and tire.

— Charles Chesmore, via e-mail

A. I don’t know of a source. Can anyone help?


Q. Let’s see if this vintage side mirror rings a bell for you. Check out in particular the dog-bone-type joint at the head end and the solid steel and nickel plating. The glass is somewhat beveled, too. What I would like to know is what make, model and years this was made for. The mirror face is about 5 inches across.

— John Rice, via e-mail


A. Well, it’s certainly unusual, but there’s only one feature that hints at any specific make or model and that’s the mounting surface. It looks like it attaches to the driver’s door hinge. Fords often used this method, but the OEM Ford mirror had a gracefully arched arm to hold the mirror. Do any readers recognize this one? I suspect it’s one of many aftermarket items available over the years.

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

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