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Q&A with Kit Foster: March 5, 2015

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Q. In the Jan. 15, 2015, issue, “Arizona Hot Picks,” it is said that the Olds featured “is a near-perfect 996-point car.” What is the 996 referenced to? I’m guessing a classic car rating system, but would like clarification. Also, how does one become qualified to be a car show judge?

— Clark Mefford, Ottumwa, Iowa

A. Yes, it’s a score earned in show judging, obviously a 1,000-point system. The Antique Automobile Club of America uses 400-point scoring. The Classic Car Club of America and many other clubs adhere to 100 points for perfection. Among the clubs using a 1,000-point scale are the Veteran Motor Car Club of America and the Early Ford V8 Club, but I think this refers to the Oldsmobile Club of America, which also scores up to 1,000 points.

As for qualifying to judge, it depends on the sponsoring organization. AACA has a judging school, from which one can graduate as an apprentice judge to work with a team of experienced judges before earning additional certifications. CCCA has training courses, after which one becomes a Judge-in-Training, again working with experienced teams. Your opportunities to judge will depend on your location, the clubs you belong to and your familiarity with makes and models of the cars you wish to judge.

Q. Regarding the rare Badger car frame found in Tucumcari, N.M. (Nov. 13), it was common in the 1930s for people to strip down large old cars from the teens and ’20s in order to make farm wagons. My father used to tell stories of taking the train into Chicago from the farm in southwest Michigan with his brother and purchasing large, old cars for their scrap value. They would get at least one that ran and tow the other back home, stopping frequently for gas and, especially, oil. The bodies were then removed and trashed (ouch!), the drive trains became stationary power plants for cutting firewood, pumping water, etc., and the frames became wagons for hauling wheat, corn and whatever. It’s possible that the frame in New Mexico was a wagon and became part of the westward migration during the Dust Bowl/Great Depression era. It could have been loaded with personal belongings and have been slowly towed across country. For some reason, breakdown maybe, it stayed in Tucumcari. Tucumcari is on old Route 66, a very popular road for migrants, and remembered by its billboards: “Tucumcari Tonight! 2000 Rooms!”

— Bruce Thomas, Rapid City, S.D.

A. That’s certainly a possibility. Even today one can see wagons and trailers made from some kind of automobile or truck chassis. A familiar sight is the utility trailer made by cutting off the rear half of a pickup and folding the side rails inward to make a tongue. All you need to do is weld on a hitch and put a connector on the stop-taillight wires. There’s probably even a bracket for the license plate. A straight-rail truck frame makes a dandy four-wheel wagon, with Ackermann steering, even. All you have to do is hinge a tongue to the solid front axle and attach it to the tie rod.

Q. In regard to Philip Wolfe’s concern about 455 engines in 1968 and 1969 Cutlass Olds models (Dec. 18), I have had both years with the 455 engines. The first one was a 1968 Cutlass S coupe with an automatic transmission. This car came from central Florida and was a one-owner car that was ordered with this engine. I bought this car from the widow as her son was a friend of mine. The car had a single exhaust system with a bench vinyl seat/interior and steering column shifter with just standard dash gauges. The 1969 was also basically the same coupe only with a console automatic shifter. I wish I had never sold these cars as I knew they were special and both were low mileage.

— Scott Peterson, Duluth, Minn.

A. Thanks, Scott. While not widely promoted in Cutlasses, this seems to indicate the 455 could be ordered. The otherwise ordinary specification of the 1968 car certainly shows the original owner knew exactly what he wanted.

Q. In the Dec. 4 issue Paul Tigge had a question about welding sheet metal. As an electrician who welds a lot on the job, I minimize warping and blow-throughs by putting a piece of quarter-inch copper behind the weld to carry off the heat. I carry several sizes of copper on the job, and it works for me. Get ahold of a construction electrician for some copper plate.

— Mike Hudak, Monaca, Pa.

A. Thanks. I wonder, though, how well that works on curved surfaces, like Mr. Tigge’s door skins. Quarter-inch copper can’t be easily conformed to door contours, and he says he’s tried Eastwood’s copper heat sinks. In my limited experience, soldering and welding is as much technique as science. If it were me, I’d try to find someone in the auto body field to whom I could “apprentice” myself, or perhaps take a course in sheet metal welding.

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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