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Q&A with Kit Foster: July 18, 2013


Q. Recently a friend said to me that he was going to paint his rims. I asked him why he was not going to paint the entire wheel. He said that was what he was going to do. I guess as an owner of a Model T Ford with wheels having demountable rims, I was confused. I have noticed that many people refer to wheels as rims. Online sales list wheels as “rims and wheels,” and sometimes only as “rims.” It seems to me that a wheel comprises a center and a rim and it is technically incorrect to refer to wheels as rims. Is there any explanation as to why people call car wheels rims?

— John Koskela, Robins, Iowa

A. You’re right: it’s confusing. With demountable rims there is no question. The wheel is the spoked part (with felloes) that stays on the hub, and the rim is the part to which the tire mounts. Strictly speaking, with modern steel wheels, you have a “rim” and a “center” or “hub,” but since you usually can’t take them apart, the terms rim and wheel tend to be used interchangeably. The word “wheel” can be the most confusing, as it often refers to hub, rim and tire, as in “front-wheel drive.” My dictionary defines “wheel” as “a circular frame or disk arranged to revolve on an axis.”


Q. I purchased this clock from a garage sale this spring in Pulaski, Wis. I would like to know some information on it if you can find it. The man I purchased it from didn’t know anything about it. He said he got it out of a car he found in the woods while hunting.

— Jim Scray, via e-mail


A. A close look at your photos shows it was made by the Ansonia Clock Company, one of many Connecticut clockmakers back in the day. It is clearly meant for an Oldsmobile, and would mount to the dashboard of a car from the ’teens. Since the winding key is on the back, you would have to be able to reach underneath to wind it.


Q. Mr. Carpenter has a problem with the heat in his 1991 Caddy (June 13). I may have another avenue to pursue. I had a ’91 Olds Custom Cruiser wagon with similar issues. While driving it would get pretty warm, but while standing at a stoplight it would cool down. The hoses were hot and the core flowed coolant well. The problem was that it would not flow air. For reasons unknown to me or my friend that has a radiator shop, the heater core as well as the AC evaporator had some type of oily substance on the exterior which held all the dirt and dust, forming a dirt blanket making it almost impossible for the fan to blow air through them. We were able to access most of the core and evaporator through the fan resistor opening, and by removing the bottom of the heater box in the passenger footwell to spray them down with an aerosol degreaser (plenty of towels to catch the residue). After removing the dirt blanket the car had more heat than we knew what to do with and it also made a slight improvement in air conditioning performance. One hint was that we heard the fan blowing as we increased the speeds but felt no difference in air flow out of the ducts. Had a bit of an odor for a short time, but the benefits far outweighed the odor.

— Thomas Florek, via e-mail

Q. Dale Carpenter’s question in the June 13 issue about the lack of heat on his ’91 Cadillac is what I encountered years ago. Even though I had the heater core flushed and checked, my mechanic said I needed a new core because it was aluminum. Although I questioned that I replaced it and it was fine. Luckily, the heater core is fairly easy to change. By removing the glove box it is very accessible. A few years later I did have trouble with the heater control cable.

— Hal Ritchie, Clarkston, Mich.

A. Thank you both. More possibilities for Mr. Carpenter to consider.

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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