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Q&A with Kit Foster: February 2, 2012

Q. Is there anything one must do when charging or jumpstarting a car with a six-volt positive ground system, as opposed to a negative ground car?

Alan Schachman, via e-mail

A. Just make sure that you connect positive to positive and negative to negative on the battery terminals. In this case it is imperative, if jumping from one car to another, that the two cars do not touch one another except through the cables. I believe the preferred sequence would be to connect to the grounded battery terminal on the “helper” car last.


Q. Does anyone make six-volt battery jump starter boxes? For six-volt car batteries, I know you are not supposed to use the 12-volt jump starters (I think), so is there a six-volt starter box out there?

Rick Schenkenberg, via e-mail

A. At first I thought you were asking about some kind of converter that would allow jumping a six-volt car from a 12-volt battery (I’ve cautioned in the past against doing this directly). Such a box would have to contain a DC to DC power converter. These devices do exist, but one for starting a car would have to be fairly large to handle the high currents involved. On second reading, I think you mean the type of emergency boosters that you can buy in auto or department stores. They contain a small 12-volt battery to give your car battery a quick boost — useful when a car will almost start but the battery has given up its last ampere. It would not be difficult to build such a box for six volts — the same principles would apply, but the components would have to be sized appropriately. It’s “just” an electrical circuit design problem, not rocket science. I am not aware of any commercial product for six-volt cars. The potential market is simply too small. Who drives six-volt cars? Only “us.”


0202qa-Eagle Radiator Cap

Q. I can add to the long-running discussion about the eagle radiator cap/mascot (Q&A Oct. 20, Dec. 1 and Dec. 29). I have quite a large collection of radiator caps and MotoMeters. In 1959 I was helping cleaning out a very old automotive parts store in Sacramento, Calif. In one area there were several displays of caps, and assorted parts to go with the caps. Customers could select a cap of their liking, and then select the bushing (sleeve) that would adapt the cap to their radiator. The bushings were available to fit most popular vehicles. The proper bushing’s outside circumference would screw into the mascot/cap and the inside of the bushing would be of the correct diameter and thread size to screw onto the radiator. In addition, one could select a medallion to attach to the front of the cap. The medallion assortment contained all the letters of the alphabet, plus many others depicting fraternal and civic organizations, city names, etc.

For my cap I picked out two letters that matched my name and one for my wife’s. As you can see by the accompanying picture, the letter medallions fit the front of the Eagle cap. The medallions were attached either by very small machine screws or small “drive screws.” And yes, the eagle’s head is spring loaded.

There were many manufacturers that did the same thing in quite a few different sizes and themes. There were medallions that were designed to fit different manufacturer’s caps. Some attach with four fasteners while others attach with two or three. Conclusion: The cap in question is an aftermarket accessory. The eagle has landed!

Steve Ledbetter, Fair Oaks Calif.

A.Thank you for summing up this issue so completely. I think that finally puts a cap on it.

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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