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Q&A with Kit Foster: January 26, 2012

Q. In the Sept. 15 Q&A, you mentioned a Truckstell overdrive. I have never heard of this. Can you explain?

Bill Barnes, Hilton Head, S.C.

A. The Truckstell Manufacturing Co., with general offices inClevelandand manufacturing plant inDetroit, made overdrive units for Chevrolet cars and light trucks. Similar to the familiar Borg-Warner overdrives, it was mechanically operated, in contrast to B-W’s electric operation. Made to fit into Chevrolet’s torque tube, it was a dealer-installed option. The Truckstell Tip-Toe-Matic Model 101 was for Chevys through 1948. Model 103 was for 1949 and later vehicles. When engaged, the overdrive gave a 0.72 to 1 ratio for long-legged cruising. Not surprisingly, they are sought after by Chevy enthusiasts.


Q. In the Nov. 10 issue there was a question about the last starter button. The last dashboard starter button I am aware of was on the 1962 Rambler Classic and Ambassador models with Flash-O-Matic transmissions. These were push-button controlled, used on all 1958-’62 senior Ramblers with automatic transmissions. One of the buttons was the “Neutral-Start” button. Pushing the button until resistance was felt put the transmission in neutral. Pushing harder against a spring activated the starter. As far as I know, manual-shift Ramblers used key-turn starting, as did the Rambler American.

Gerald Knutsen, Seattle,Wash.

A. Right you are. In naming the 1955Lincoln, I was referring to a button that was for starting alone, not in combination with another function. Keith White, fromSterling Heights,Mich., also remembers his father’s 1962 Rambler with the neutral-start button. Dan Taylor, ofJensen Beach,Fla., wrote in to remind us that 1958 Dodges with automatics also started with the Neutral button. I think this began in 1957, and may have been used by other Chrysler Corp. makes, as well. Jim Lape, vice president of the Kaiser Frazer Owners Club, fills in another part of the push-button starter history. Henry J’s had push buttons to the end of production in 1954. 


Q. Regarding Lynn Stockton’s problem with the starter in his Chevrolet (Nov. 17 Q&A), perhaps this is the problem: If a 12-volt starter is installed, a flywheel from a 12-volt engine must also be used. The ring gear has a different tooth count and diameter in a 6-volt application. The original flywheel was not mentioned in the question.

Gene Schneider, via e-mail

A. I did suggest that he use a starter of the original type for his engine, since I surmised that he used the flywheel-ring gear combination that came with it. However, he did not supply enough information to be sure. I agree with your assessment that some basic mechanical mismatch is at fault, not the starter solenoid. Slotting the mounting holes only made things worse, since the torque of the starter and the force of the solenoid engaging will loosen the starter mounting very quickly.


Q. In response to Russell Finnie’s search for a hood emblem for a 1942 Ford six, C&G Early Ford Parts (800-266-0470) has it, part number 2GA-16607-A, on page 196 of their catalog.

Tom Keck, via e-mail

A. Thank you very much, and I’m sure Mr. Finnie does, too. I never cease to be amazed at the resourcefulness of our readers.


Q. I have a 1959 Ford Ranch Wagon. I want to replace the three-speed stick with a three-speed overdrive. What years of Ford are compatible with this ’59 model?

Tom Wishart, Abilene,Texas

A. There is a lot of commonality among Ford manual and overdrive transmissions from 1949 to 1963. However, your best and easiest option would be from a 1958 to ’63 car, with the same engine as in your Ranch Wagon. The gearing differs, depending on the engine used. I’m not sure if you’ll have to change or shorten the driveshaft.


Q. In reply to Harold Marvin’s power window trouble on his 1974 Lincoln (Q&A Nov. 24), the window section of the 1974Lincolnshop manual should contain electrical circuit diagrams. As I recall, circuits like power windows were protected by circuit breakers, but fusible links were also used. The fusible link protects the circuit only in the event of a short circuit, and will usually be seen as a brown color or a broken wire. The links were located in the engine compartment.

Bob Witt, Howell, Mich.

A. Thanks. Dave Stanton had a similar problem on his 1977 Mercury Cougar station wagon (the only year the Cougar name was used on a high-end wagon, he reminds us). His problem was a relay, but it took a call to the dealer to locate the correct one. He found it behind the kick panel on the driver’s side, and water had leaked in, perhaps through the windshield seal, and destroyed it. He made an emergency repair by bridging the contacts, but if that’s your trouble, you would do well to replace the relay.

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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