Q&A with Kit Foster: February 28, 2013

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Q. Some years ago, I purchased a mirror at a garage sale for a few dollars. I bought it because the back of the mirror was stamped “Boyce MotoMeter Light & Parking Lamp.” I searched for any info on this mirror and found nothing. Could someone tell me where this goes on a car and give me some information about it?

— Sam Klavir, Huntington, N.Y.


A. The Boyce MotoMeter was a simple temperature gauge used by many cars during the 1920s. It consisted of a thermometer mounted in the car’s radiator cap, which placed it at eye level and made it easy to read except at night. The “Boyce MotoMeter Light,” was obviously intended to solve that problem, but how it relates to your mirror was not apparent until I did some research. Motor Age for Aug. 4, 1921, carries an announcement for the “Boyce MotoMeter Light and Parking Lamp.” The light mounted to outside of the driver’s windshield pillar, and shone a beam at the MotoMeter to make it readable in the dark. The back side of the lamp had a shutter affair that could be opened to show a red light to the rear (the “parking lamp”). The whole affair cost six dollars; for an additional dollar, one could add a rearview mirror that bolted to the light fixture. That’s what you have, the optional mirror. “The entire device is made of brass and nickel plated throughout,” says the article. I have seen references to MotoMeters with a light bulb inside the gauge itself. Does anyone have one? I’m curious how the electricity was supplied.


Q. In the Model T Museum in Richmond, Ind., is a 1927 T coupe with a serial number near the last ones that were built. It is fitted with a 1928 Model A-style three-speed transmission. It looks as it if was installed at the factory. I would like to know if it was a prototype. Were the last few Model T’s built with three-speed transmissions?

— Walter Martin, Huntsville, Ala.

A. I have never heard of such a thing, but I contacted the Model T Ford Club of America, which operates the museum. Jay Klehforth, the CEO, said, “The 1927 coupe has a Muncie transmission in addition to the planetary transmission. There were several aftermarket transmissions that could be fitted to Model T’s. Warford was one of the most popular, but there were several others, too. This coupe did come with a story that it had been an experimental model. However, I have found no evidence in Ford’s archives that can verify this story.” Another approach to supplementing the two-speed planetary transmission was the Ruckstell two-speed axle, which gave much the same result as a Muncie or Warford transmission. The Ruckstell’s control lever looked very much like the shifter for a Model A three-speed and could easily be mistaken for one.


Q. I have a trailer with a solid axle. I think it is from a Buick because of a “B” on the hubcaps. It has wire wheels with split rings on them and 6.50 x 19 tires. The hub caps snap onto the wheels. I would like to know if you could date the axle for me.

— Fred Hammann, Plymouth, Wis.


A. You’re right about the “B.” The hub caps match the type used on 1930-’32 Buicks with wire wheels. Nineteen-inch tires were used in 1930 and on 1931 Series 60, 80 and 90. The 1931 50 Series and all 1932s had 18-inch tires, so your axle is either 1930 or ’31.

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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