Q&A with Kit Foster: August 22, 2013

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Q. You all remember “top coating” on your new car and supposedly protecting your paint. My 1983 Mustang has the top coating that is peeling. This is primarily on the hood and trunk lid. It looks bad. Any idea how to repair or remove the top coating? The paint underneath is excellent. Since it’s a convertible there’s no problem with the roof.

— Oliver Jergensen, Soap Lake, Wash.

A. By “top coating” do you mean what is commonly called “clear coat,” the final coat in modern two-stage paint application? Or was it an aftermarket treatment that dealers tried to sell to customers? The 1980s were not a happy time for auto paints. The industry was transitioning to more environmentally friendly mixtures that, unfortunately, were less durable than time-tested lacquer and enamel. From what I read, factory clear coat came in circa 1985-86. GM cars seemed to fare worst, with peeling right through to primer, and resulting surface rust. I’m sure we have readers with experience who can counsel on ways to salvage a peeling paint job or, failing that, the best way to approach a repaint on your ’80s automobile.


Q. Can you give me any information on this bumper? The wheels turn, and the ends pivot.

— Howard Bender, Severance, Colo.


A. Could it be from a bumper car? It’s probably not heavy enough, though. Readers, what are your ideas?


Q. I have a 2006 Chevrolet Impala that gets poor radio reception. I thought it was the factory radio, so I bought a Sony radio and I still have the same problem. What can I do?

— Bob Cook, via e-mail

A. It sounds like the antenna is the problem. I have seen comments that Chevys with rear-window antennas have poor AM reception. J.C. Whitney sells an external antenna that is said to work “with minor modifications.” Actually, this holds true for any car, new or old, with this type OEM antenna. That said, I’ve had cars with embedded windshield and rear window antennas and never had poor reception, but I almost never listen to AM.


Q. The clock pictured in the July 18 Q&A comes from a 1916 Oldsmobile. I had one identical to it in my 1916 Model 43 touring car, four-cylinder overhead valve. It also had a slotted shaft in the center of the windup key for setting the hands. The clock was mounted on a wood dash and you could reach underneath to wind it, and set the hands if need be.

— James Hastings, Ironwood, Mich.

A. Thank you for helping to narrow down the original application of Jim Scray’s clock. I wondered about setting the hands, as there was no obvious stem for that purpose.


Q. I recently lost storage for my 1962 VW, so it will have to sit outside. In the up-to-$400 or $500 price range, what would the best car cover be for all seasons in Minnesota?

— Monty Notts, Minneapolis, Minn.

A. Never having lived in Minnesota, I’m not familiar with the extremes of temperature, humidity, snow and ice in your region. You don’t say whether you’re in an urban or suburban location (I don’t think any part of Minneapolis can be described as “rural”). Given that I had the space and legal ability to erect one, I think I’d opt for a portable garage. They are available for less than your $400-500 threshold, and offer the convenience of driving in and out. Additionally, they do not physically contact the car, so you don’t get “unauthorized buffing.” There are many types of covers, and I’ll let readers comment on their favorites and their experiences with them. A third option is a bag-type enclosure, which fully envelops the car and can be sealed. Best results are obtained by using a desiccant in the space to absorb condensation. In-and-out usage is cumbersome, so this type is best reserved for long-term winter storage.


Q. I was reading recently about the lighted MotoMeters. I have something along that line, called Lu-Min-Us-Cap. It was made in Chicago and is new, in the box. It is heavy chromed metal and has a spring-enclosed wire coming from the rear side. It screws onto the radiator like a regular cap. On top is a heavy hinged lid secured by a thumbscrew. The center says “Remove to install Boyce MotoMeter.” There are two arms angled to the rear with bulb sockets. The original bulbs in the box are red and green. Both are complete with chrome shields.

— Gene James, Morocco, Ind.

A. Thanks. I’ve never heard of that accessory. The red and green bulbs suggest “port” and “starboard.”

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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