Q&A with Kit Foster: April 25, 2013

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Q. I have set of old wooden spoke wheels that I cannot identify. I have looked at hundreds of pictures of old wheels and cannot find a match. I’m just wondering if anyone here would be able to identify them. The odd thing about them is that they have 15 spokes and six lugs. Most old Dodges and Chryslers have only 14 spokes and five lugs. Any help that you can give or referral would be appreciated.

— Keith Stoltenberg, Coon Rapids, Minn.

A. The six lugs suggest a General Motors make, but I’m not sure you’ll spot them in photographs. The metal plate surrounding the center hole indicates that a snap-on hubcap covered the lugs when the wheel was on the car. Does this wheel ring a bell with readers?


Q. Any chance of identifying a GM manual transmission with the following numbers on the case: 3731311 and 3847122, also L148 or 146? The only other identifying marks I have so far is that the shaft has 10 splines. I’m looking to possibly fit this transmission to a ’66 Buick with the 300-cid engine.

— P. Kaltenborn, Fair Haven, N.J.

A. I don’t have much in the way of GM part number information. My 30th Edition Hollander interchange manual (1964) does identify a number of transmission cases (both three- and four-speed) with seven-digit part numbers beginning with “37” and “38,” but I don’t see yours. Can anyone help?



Q. I found this in my father’s garage as we cleaned it out. He had many cars over the years. Can you tell what car it came from? It shows “Delco Radio Division.”

— David Czarnecki, via e-mail

A. Well, that makes it a General Motors product, and “Radio Division” or not, it looks like a heater/vent/air conditioning control. Editor Angelo Van Bogart says it looks very much like the one on his 1962 Cadillac. Can anyone pinpoint it more precisely?


Q. I have a 1964 Corvair truck with a six-cylinder, 110- bhp engine. The engine had not been run for more than four years when I bought it 2-1/2 years ago. I have driven it about 1,000 miles a year since then. The engine uses one quart of oil in about 400 miles. The compression varies from 120 to 170 psi. Is it possible to improve the oil consumption and cylinder compression without rebuilding the engine? In your Feb. 28 issue, Mercedes-Benz owner Bob Hughes says he removed the spark plugs and filled the cylinders with WD-40 and let it soak for a week. “Then, four times a week, the engine was turned over by hand a quarter of a turn first, then a half and so on. The WD-40 was then removed and the oil and filter changed.” I presume this was done to free the rings. Is this considered a successful procedure? Is there a better fluid to use besides WD-40?

— Finn T. Halbo, Davis, Calif.

A. I expect the procedure described was, as you say, to free the rings. As readers know from Bill Anderson’s recent article on WD-40, it comprises mostly solvents, making it useful for the purpose. As for whether it will help your Corvair, I’m not sure but I see no harm in trying it. You will probably find it more cumbersome to get the solvent into the cylinders on a flat engine, but the spray can of WD-40 will help. Some people swear by Marvel Mystery Oil for cases like this. Whatever potion you use will not be as effective as it would be in an upright or slanted engine, where gravity would help the solvent reach the full circumference of all the rings.

If the engine runs well otherwise and doesn’t smoke, I would not be hesitant to drive it 1,000 miles a year at moderate speeds without further work, even with its current rate of oil consumption.

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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