Q&A with Kit Foster: September 11, 2014

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Q. Regarding the “knock-off” badge emblem in the July 10 Q&A, you should get lots of answers from Wisconsin Classic Car Club members. The badge was designed by Brooks Stevens back in the 1970s for the Wisconsin Region. As I remember, Brooks was a member of the Region at the time and was the one with that talent to do the design for the club. There was a threaded stud on the back so that it could be mounted on a corner of the rear license plate.

— Jack Hoffman (Wisconsin Region member since 1967), via e-mail

A. You’re right, we did get several answers to this, and it explains why there was no hub thread on the one that Herb Stuesse acquired. I imagine it could also be attached to a badge bar on the front of a car. George Beyer wrote in to say it appears on the masthead of the Wisconsin CCCA Region’s newsletter, The Hubcap, as well as on all other club materials. He believes that Herb’s was produced during the 1980s.


Q. My Plymouth Hy-Drive is leaking oil where the manual transmission mates to the bell housing. It is a very slow leak. Is there an internal seal there that needs to be replaced? If so, do you have a recommendation as to where I might purchase the seal?

— Ed Sherwood, Lake Charles, La.

A. We’ve mentioned Hy-Drive in this column before (July 19, 2012). It was Plymouth’s stopgap measure to counter Ford and Chevy’s automatic transmissions. Available in 1953 and ’54 only, it used a torque converter mated to a three-speed manual transmission, in short, a high-tech version of the earlier Fluid Drive as offered by Dodge. The transmission did not have semi-automatic shifting. For shiftless driving, one could select third gear and go. Acceleration, of course, was not sprightly. Mid-year in 1954, Hy-Drive was superseded by the fully-automatic Powerflite. The torque converter in Hy-Drive took its oil from the engine. Behind the torque converter was a conventional clutch, with an oil seal between them. I believe there’s also an oil seal at the front of the transmission (the diagram I have is indistinct), and that seems to be your problem. Major parts jobbers may have a listing for this seal. Failing that, the old seal may have a number that can be cross-referenced, and as a last resort, a good parts house can usually measure a seal and come up with an equivalent. You should take care not to mangle the old seal while removing it, in case you need to measure it.


Q. I am trying to identify a car I saw in “Massacre,” a 1934 movie starring Richard Barthelmess that I saw on Turner Classic Movies recently. The star is shown several times driving a beautiful convertible sedan, but the camera never stays on the car long enough for me to identify it. It appears to be the size of a Chrysler, Buick, Auburn, etc. of that era. I tried your Internet Movie Data Base but no luck. Another website gave a synopsis of the movie plot, actors, etc. but did not mention the car. I’ll appreciate your or anyone’s help.

— Bob Barnard, Liberty, Ind.

A. Well, you’ve got me with this one. Although “Massacre” appears in the Internet Movie Data Base (imdb.com), there’s no corresponding entry in the Internet Movie Car Data Base (imcdb.org). I was similarly unsuccessful in finding any stills from the movie online. Did any other readers see it on TCM? Could you ID the car?


Q. I recently sent for a new header panel over the windshield of my 1926-’27 Model T coupe from Howell’s Sheetmetal Co. It is a well-made piece, but upon inspecting it, I noticed there were no fasteners installed. I found the clinch nuts for sale in Mac’s catalog and ordered them. No installation info came with them. I called up and they “didn’t know how they were installed” and said good luck and to let them know if I found out. A body man thought I should set the nut in place and heat it with a torch, stick it over flat bar on the inside and hammer the nut on the outside. Any ideas from your readers?

— Terrilyn Piquet, Hermiston, Ore.

A. The clinch nuts in the Mac’s Antique Auto Parts catalog are intended for Model A dashboards and gas tanks. Some users report wedging them into place; others suggest tack welding. Penn Engineering (www.pemnet.com) of Danboro, Pa., makes a different kind of “self-clinching nut” with a serrated collar that grips the sheet metal and prevents it from turning. They are installed by “placing them in properly sized holes in sheets and applying a parallel squeezing force to the head of the nut.” The company makes tools that simplify installation, but a deft craftsman should be able to do it manually. Your body man’s advice is pretty much the way I’d do it, although I don’t know if you really need the heat.

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

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