Q&A with Kit Foster: January 24, 2013

Publish date:

Q. I have a 1946 Chevy cab-over-engine dump truck that I am starting to resto-mod using the original frame, engine (261-cubic-inch) and ram. I intend on changing out the huge 20-inch tires and rims and replacing them with 16-inch [rims]. In order to keep the original heavy-duty frame, I am using a dually axle from an older Dodge motor home, which allows a good fit from the outside of the frame leaf springs to the inside of the wheel, giving me an original look but with 16-inch wheels.

For the front axle I’m working a couple of possibilities, but I feel strongly about using the original drop-down axle to achieve the total lowering of the COE. The only issue I have, which I hope you can help me with, is the spindle change-out to adapt disc brakes and 16-inch rims. I don’t know if it can be done or what is involved in a simple change-out or if the existing axle can be bored or sleeved to receive updated spindles. I also plan to update the steering column and change to power steering. I have already had the ram overhauled and plan on changing the current four-speed transmission to a NV4500 five-speed, which also has the power take off that operates the ram, unless there is something better out there to pick from with the PTO built into the transmission.

I have seen that most people do not keep the original frame unless they perform a complete restoration. They will usually go with an updated frame, engine, driveline, etc, keeping the original body and mounting it on the newer chassis. Again, I want to update as much as possible using the original frame, engine and ram, since I would like to turn it into a cool-looking contractor-type dump truck.

— Frank Martin, South Jordan, Utah.

A. As I’ve said before to other questions about modifying vehicles, the street rod community has much experience with adapting new technology to old cars. Perhaps our readers have some ideas on this resto-mod truck project.


Q. Regarding the question on inside/outside vehicle hood releases (Nov. 22), I always wondered what prompted each car manufacturer to choose inside or outside, or change from inside to outside every few years, as with Ford. At GM, some brands of the same year had the hood release inside and some had it outside. I do know from working in a full-service gas station in the early 1960s there was no consistency in any brand as to the location of the hood release. What sticks in my mind is when the inside hood release cables got rusty and dry on older cars, they were really hard to pull, sometimes causing challenges and alternative methods to open the hood. [For] a full-service gas station, the outside hood release was much preferred. For what it is worth, my 1985 Ford Econoline van has the hood release on the outside. However, when this generation Econoline van was introduced in 1976, I believe it had a inside hood release and some even had a locking inside hood release with a key, as did some other Ford vehicles of that time. Ford, as well as others, went back and forth, and I always wondered as to what their reasoning was. Of course, I often wonder what they were thinking with many other features on vehicles of all brands over the years (“they” being the automotive design engineers).

— Eric Lundgren, Wichita, Kan.

A. You point out what I had suspected: that there’s been little consistency, even within given makes, of inside or outside hood releases. Since the initial question was published, we’ve heard from Bob Mellon, who says his 1941 Pontiac has an inside release, and Orin Fietz writes that his 1978 Plymouth Volaré has an outside release, but that an inside release was available as an option. Joseph Bell reminds us that Buick introduced an “either way” hood for 1941, which could be released to lift left or right, or even removed completely. The releases were on the side. With new “C bodies” in 1949, the releases moved inside, operated by cables. New Specials for 1950 used a special removable handle, inserted into the latch through the Venti-Port “porthole.” This was soon discontinued, since it relied on a tool that might be easily lost, and cables were re-instituted. I remember Packard using a similar arrangement in the 1948-’50 period, although I think it operated with levers, not cables. Finally, Joseph mentions Hudson’s forward-hinged hood that was released from inside. My 1939 Hudson had this arrangement, and I believe it continued through 1947.

Some of the cleverest releases are those incorporated into the hood ornament. Ford did this in 1937, as did the Lincoln-Zephyr from 1936. Cadillac used this technique in 1941. The same year, Cadillac hid the gas filler in the left rear tail lamp. Over the years, this developed into an art form with some manufacturers. Was the 1941 Cadillac the earliest to “camouflage” the gas cap?

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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