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Q&A with Kit Foster: April 12, 2012

Q. Can you tell me what car this dashboard is from? I think it’s from a foreign car. The face of the wind-up clock says “8 Days Jaeger.” On the back is “JAEGER Watch Co., New York, Made in Switzerland.”

Eugene Lyptak, Ringwood, Ill.


A. While the clock has a Swiss movement, I think the fact that it has a New York address suggests an American car, not an import. I believe it’s from a higher-priced make, since clocks did not come as standard equipment in low-priced cars until the 1940s and ’50s. Cadillac, LaSalle, Lincoln and Packard all used Jaeger clocks in the 1920s and ’30s, but I haven’t been able to match up this dashboard with any specific model. It looks like there was a drum speedometer with trip odometer at the upper left, and various gauges in the right panel. Do any of our readers recognize it?


Q. Some time back there was a question about bending axles for alignment. Bending is the only way to correct camber in Ford Twin I-Beam axles. Bend cold. I was doing alignments on cars and trucks when the Twin I-Beam came in 1965. It took some trial and error, but we figured out camber settings to get good tire wear. Ford’s specs were way too lenient. Ours worked. Pickups also benefited greatly from Monroe 500 shocks to stiffen the front.

Gus Harrington, Bryan, Ohio.

A. Thank you for sharing that information.


Q. To answer Bob Faunce’s question about replacement of a rear main seal (Q&A Mar. 8), when I was still turning wrenches, I changed many of these rope seals without pulling the engine. There is actually a tool kit to do this. The kit has a corkscrew-type puller and a “chinese finger” installer. This is not an easy task and requires a lot of patience. It would be wise to check the rear main bearing clearance with Plastigauge. If there is too much clearance, it will allow too much oil to flow to the seal and it will leak. If this has a neoprene-type seal, it requires a LOT of patience and skill. Good luck.

Henry D., Ft. Myers Beach., Fla.

A. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.


Q. Regarding the Buick starter activated by the gas pedal (Q&A Mar. 8), some years ago I bought a 1959 Buick at an auction. I towed it home and proceeded to try to get it running. The engine was frozen, but a day of soaking in oil and a good twist with the breaker bar freed it. With some new gas put through a gas can attached to the carburetor and a new battery, I decided to give it a try. The key was not the secret and it did not start. There was no push button? I could turn it over by jumping it under the hood but did not want to continue that. Watching that, my wife said “If it doesn’t start, are you stepping on the gas?” Dumb question. I couldn’t even get the engine to turn over. To make her happy, I stepped on the gas, the engine turned over and started after a couple of revolutions. The moral of this story: Never argue with your wife, even if she has no idea what she is talking about.

Tom Pope, Franklin, Wis.

A. Good advice. Hidden in Tom’s message is another piece of wise counsel. When reviving an old car, use an auxiliary gas tank or can, with new gasoline. Whatever is in the car’s tank, unless it was filled last week, is bound to be bad, and will cause headaches you really didn’t want to have.


Q. I have a 1963 VW Karmann Ghia. It came new with 165 x 15 bias-ply tires. The owner’s manual recommends tire pressures of 17 psi front, 23 psi rear. I have replaced the bias ply tires with radials, and am currently running 185-65R x 15s. Should I adhere to the originally recommended tire pressure? The car weighs about 2,000 lbs.

Stan Zubel, San Diego, Cal.

A. I’m not sure what you should do. I would be inclined to use higher pressures, even with bias plies. Tire pressure, after all, is a tradeoff among ride, handling and tread life. I would try something in the mid-20s and see how they perform. To get a better sense of the effects, you might start with the old recommended pressures, driving on all types of roads, then repeat in the mid-20s, then try something around 30 psi.

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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