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Q&A with Kit Foster: April 30, 2015

Q. I have a stock Model A Ford engine which lacks the external oil drain tube. Nor is there a provision for one. I hope you or your readers can tell me why that pipe is lacking.

— A.D. Drake, Portland, Ore.

A. I’m pretty sure it’s because you have a Model B engine, as used in 1932. The oil return tube, as it was called, was eliminated in the “B,” but a small port was added to the block on that side, on which to mount a fuel pump. Model B blocks can be used in Model A’s by blanking off that port. According to the Model A Ford Club of America online Technical Q&A, the Model B oil pan must also be modified to clear the Model A flywheel.


Q. I am researching my great-grandfather’s funeral business, and I have a copy of finance papers where he purchased a Rock Falls hearse in 1913. I am looking for a photo of a similar hearse. I have the model and serial number of this vehicle. If you or any of your readers know of a source that I could go to for this information please let me know.

— Charley Seward, Virginia Beach, Va.

A. The Krause “Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks and Commercial Vehicles” explains that the Rock Falls Manufacturing Company, founded in 1877, began building hearses at Sterling, Ill., in 1909, and ambulances from 1912. They were “assembled” vehicles, using components from various manufacturers, including Buda engines. From about 1915, they used Velie chassis on their higher-priced models. Hearses in this period often used elaborate carved bodies, as on this circa-1914 Rock Falls unit. Production continued until 1925, during which time 1-1/2 ton trucks were part of the product line.

Q. Using old car and truck frames for trailers (Q&A, March 5), in the tradition of farming, makes good use of what’s available. Upon purchasing my farm in Brown County, Ohio, in 2006, I found such a trailer at the local implement dealer – for $75. It appeared to be made from the front end of an old solid-axle Chevrolet. The wood siding and floor, though very weathered, looked to be poplar. I gave the wood a thorough coating of linseed oil and then re-packed the very dry wheel bearings after cleaning them in naphtha. One hubcap was made from a cut-down pop or beer can – I replaced it with a fresh Coors can. The trailer has been perfect for hauling gravel, wood and, when filled with straw, grandkids – behind my ATV, a 1948 Willys CJ2 Jeep.

— Chuck Klein, Georgetown, Ohio

A. I’ve had a couple of those Chevy-derived trailers myself. One used a solid front axle from a 1932-’33 car, judging by the 18-inch wheels. Rather than cut the tie rod and weld the ends to the axle, as many people did, the builder of this one merely fashioned a clamp to hold the wheels in a straight-ahead position. The other trailer, with 17-inch wheels, used the rear axle and suspension from a 1934-’36 Chevy. It had somewhat more unsprung weight, but was probably sturdier overall. The wood cargo sections were pretty rotten, so I parted them out to a couple of interested Chevrolet collectors in my area.


Q. The item in the photo appears to be a trunk latch. I found it on my uncle’s work bench. He passed away 15 years ago, so I have no history. I know all of the cars he owned back to the forties. He was a GM man and owned Chevys and Buicks. I thought the emblem was interesting and was curious of the manufacturer. On the back of the casting is a number that starts with W&C, probably the maker of the part.

— Mark Linville, Kansas City, Mo.

A. I don’t recognize it as an automaker’s emblem. It might be for a fraternal or religious organization. Can anyone help?

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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