Q&A with Kit Foster: April 4, 2013

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Q. Back in 1973, I took my new Chevrolet to the local dealer for routine service. While working on the car, the mechanic cleaned the black carbon buildup from the throat of the carburetor. (Back then they let you watch and talk to the mechanic who worked on your car.) He sprayed a cleaner into the carb that had the consistency of shaving cream, but with a slight silvery color to the white foam. The foam completely filled the carburetor throats. He left the foam in the carb while he did other work, oil change, etc. After about 15 minutes he fired up the engine and the foam was sucked down the carburetor. Amazingly, 100 percent of the black carbon was gone. I’ve used many different carburetor cleaners over the years that worked well, but not to the extent of this foam cleaner. The carb looked like brand new, right off the assembly line.

Stupidly, as amazed as I was, I never asked the mechanic what the product was named. A year later, when I went back to that dealer the mechanic was gone. None of the other mechanics, nor even the service manager, knew what product he had used. He figured it was something the mechanic had brought in on his own, as it was not what the dealership supplied to their mechanics.

I’ve spent the past 40 years trying every kind of carb cleaner available through local sources, but have never been able to find this shaving cream consistency cleaner anywhere. I’ve asked friends, mechanics and at repair shops, but no one seems to know. Do you?

— Paul M. Pakan, Schenectady, N.Y.

A. I have never come across such a product. Thinking that the key word “foam” might feature in its name, I tried an Internet search. That led me to Amsoil Power Foam Engine Cleaner and Degreaser, which is claimed to clean intake valves, intake manifolds and throttle plates and “keeps carburetors and injector systems properly tuned.” I’m not sure if this product was available in 1973, but apparently the first Amsoil synthetic oil dates from 1972. Does this foam product ring a bell with anyone?


Q. I bought a two-owner 1936 Studebaker Dictator coupe in San Francisco 25 years ago. I hauled it home and drove it some. It has been parked for a while. These stickers are on the glass, the pennant one on the windshield and the war dog type on the side glass. They must be from World War II? I’m looking for information.

— William Teply, Bismarck, N.D.


A. Dogs have long been used in warfare, at least from 600 BC. The War Dog Fund sticker on your car, however, dates from World War II, as you suspected. A little Internet searching taught me that the War Dog program was organized in 1942 by the American Kennel Club and a new organization called “Dogs for Defense.” The program’s purpose was to encourage dog owners to donate “quality animals” to the Army’s Quartermaster Corps. The informal “K-9 Corps” trained new recruits into fighting “soldiers,” which then served as sentries and scouts for U.S. Forces. The program continued after the war, through several reorganizations, and dogs have served heroically in Korea and Vietnam. The U.S. Army Quartermaster Museum at Fort Lee, Va., has extensive information on the War Dog program. You’ll find them online at http://www.qmmuseum.lee.army.mil/.

I interpret your sticker to mean that a previous owner of your car donated a dog to the program. I don’t recognize the pennant sticker. The triangular “pennant” has red and white stripes, on a blue background. Does it ring a bell with any readers?

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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