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Q&A with Kit Foster: May 8, 2014


Q. I have been unable to identify this puller. It was made by Cook Corp. of Buffalo, N.Y. The patent date is 1926 or 1928. I have not found anyone who knows what it’s intended to remove. It was purchased as part of a box lot from an old garage. As the screw is turned, both the ends move, which either extends or retracts the clamps.

— Thomas Cline, via e-mail

A. My first impression is that it’s a sophisticated form of what I call a rim jack, for removing and installing tires on split-type demountable rims. However, I’ve never seen one of this type. The ones I’m familiar with have a simpler mechanism, with three cradles that have less grip than these clamps, and a crank rather than a fine-thread screw. Readers with more experience in auto repair may be able to tell us more.


Q. A recent issue of OCW had an ad for a 1946 Lincoln-Zephyr for sale. It stated it had “power windows.” How early were power windows available as a factory-installed accessory? I know that the whole GM line had them available as early as 1954.

— George Peltier, Menomonie, Wis.

A. I haven’t yet found a prewar example of power windows on American cars, but certainly the wood-bodied Ford Sportsman convertibles of 1946 to ’48 had them. They were hydraulically operated, along with the power top. Photos of Lincoln Continentals from the same period show them as well. Cadillac, too, equipped convertible models with “Hydro-Lectric window lifts” as standard by 1947. Chrysler offered electric window lifts as an option on eight-cylinder cars in 1950. Can anyone point out earlier examples, particularly pre-war?


Q. Adding my three cents to the column-shift mail. Being one of the company drivers while stationed in Germany in different locations with the Army, I never knew what vehicle I would draw from the motor pool: a Benz van, five on the floor; a VW van, three on the column. The most unusual was a Mitsubishi minivan with five on the column! Underpowered would be an understatement. The seats were 2-2-2 for medium-sized troops, no sumo types. I hope this helps the great debate.

— Tom T. Wishart, Abilene, Texas

A. Thanks. We’ve had two examples of five-on-the-tree. Has anyone seen a column-shifted six-speed?



Q. Can you identify this 1929-’30s car trunk? I’d like to sell it in “Kenny’s Klunkers,” but I don’t know what vehicle it possibly came from. The lid lifts up and is hinged so it will not hit the back of the car when sitting against it. Inside the lid it says “Steel Kraft – Luggage Carriers. American Steel Products. Indianapolis, Indiana.”

— Dennis Boss, Fayette, Mo.

A. I agree that it looks like it’s from the early 1930s. Automobile trunks were usually made by specialty concerns such as American Steel Products, but the only traces I find of companies by that name or “Steel Kraft” today are not in Indianapolis and don’t seem related. The important factors in auto trunks are whether they fit the trunk rack and don’t interfere with the spare tire or rear contour of the car. Factory photos seldom show trunks because they were accessories, not standard equipment. This one seems to say “General Motors” to me, but it will undoubtedly fit other cars. If the trunk will fit your rack and you like the looks of it on your car, go for it! For that reason, if you advertise it for sale be sure to mention the dimensions. That will help prospective buyers ascertain whether it will fit their cars.

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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