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Q&A with Kit Foster: March 6, 2014


Q. I have shown this to several area old car experts and some antique car clubs but no one can identify it. One guess was an early Cadillac V8. It has two commutators. A stamped number on one side (75-373619) may be a part number. The layers of belting material on the one end of the shaft appear to be an owner modification to drive it as a generator for a use other than the car that it came on. One of the tin covers is missing. A small oval metal tag reads DAYTON DELCO OHIO, PATENTED IN US AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES, U.S. PATENTS NOV 24, 1903, JAN 29 & OCT 8, 1912. OTHER PATENTS PENDING.

— Marv Hunger, via e-mail

A. My “Dyke’s Automobile and Gasoline Engine Encyclopedia” (Sixteenth Edition, 1932) shows two drawings of starter-generators like yours. I believe the motor commutator is on one end (left in this photo) and the generator commutator is on the other (right in this case). The left side is meant to engage the flywheel, via a sliding gear and overriding clutch, and the shaft on the right is gear-driven from the water pump. Yes, Cadillac first comes to mind, but Dyke’s identifies it as for a Hudson 6-40, 1915-16. However, in 1916 no fewer than 13 makes used Delco starting, not just GM cars but also such companies as Cole, Moon, Pathfinder, and Westcott.


Q. The picture in the Jan. 30 Q&A shows a 1929 Chevrolet instrument panel. I know because I’m in the middle of a ’29 restoration. The picture is of the back side, which confuses the order. I think it could be used in a ’28 but in a ’27 the ignition is on the steering column. The 1930 Chevy was a complete change. The ’29 placed knobs identified with just a letter: G was throttle, S spark detent (you pulled in case of spark knock), C was choke. Also they were nickel plated. The picture shows they have the guides that also attached them to the instrument panel. The three oval holes were (driver side) engine temperature and headlight switch, (center) speedometer, and (passenger side) oil pressure and ammeter. There were studs on the back of the dash that the instrument panel attached to. The wiper vacuum switch was on the dashboard, to the left of the steering column. Any extra switches were clamped on the bottom edge.

— Bill Andrew, Mich.

A. Thank you very much. I was sure someone would be able to spot it. When you say the 1930 Chev was a “complete change” I believe you’re referring to the instrument panel. Externally they were quite similar, to the extent that I’ve been told the easiest way to tell a ’30 from a ’29 is to look inside. The 1930 cars had small round instruments.


Q. I am currently looking for a source for a windshield for a 1956 Plymouth hardtop. It could be either NOS or a newly made one. I know that on eBay there was an outfit that was selling them in Oregon, but I didn’t get their contact info. Thank you for any leads.

— Douglas Taylor, via e-mail

A. I remember hearing about, or reading an advertisement from, a company that specializes in old auto glass, especially windshields. I don’t remember the name, but think it might have been in the southwest. Does anyone know?


Q. Chevrolet made Corvair Rampside pickups from 1961 to 1964. There is a rumor that Chevrolet made a few dual-Rampsides, with ramps on both sides – maybe a special order? Are there any records of this or would one of your readers remember such a vehicle?

— John K Koll, Colorado Springs, Colo.

A. I have not heard this rumor, let alone seen a dual-ramp Corvair pickup. “The Standard Catalog of Light Duty Trucks” mentions an optional left-side door for the Corvan, but not a left-side ramp. Pickups could also be had without a ramp and with a level floor, called “Loadside.” I’ve read that the Rampside could also be had with a level floor, which created a compartment under the front section that could be accessed when the ramp was lowered. It would seem, however, that it would negate much of the advantage of having a ramp. I also think having ramps on both sides would result in a weaker body structure. Although the Rampside was much more popular than the Loadside, it sold barely 10,000 units in its best year. A friend who owned a chain of laundromats had one, and he told me it was ideal for moving appliances around. Has anyone seen or heard of a double-ramp Corvair pickup?

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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