Q&A with Kit Foster: July 4, 2013

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Q. I have recently acquired a nice barn find. Unfortunately, the glass-belted radial tires have taken a permanent set from sitting in one place for 20 years, resulting in that old thump-thump-thump going down the road. Aside from that, the tires are perfect, so I’d like to use them. I have run them on the road for several weeks, but the set has not worked out. Is there any way to get rid of that “permanent” set?

— Les Warner, Bethany, Conn.

A. If it hasn’t come out after “warming up” for a few miles, it probably won’t. In any case, many will tell you that you shouldn’t be driving on 20-year-old tires no matter how “perfect” they look.


Q. In the “Q&A” of June 6, Mel Foehse asked about fuel filler placement. I was always told by the “old timers” (of which I am now one) that the fuel filler was placed opposite of where the automobile’s exhaust pipe exited, as a safety measure. I don’t know for sure if that was the case, but it appears that way on many autos to this day.

— Duane Miller, Eldridge, Iowa

A. Interesting. I’ve never heard that, nor thought about it, either. I think in the 1930s and ’40s, more manufacturers made cars with exhaust on the right, which would favor left-hand fuel fillers. Chevrolet, however, was always the outlier, with exhaust on the left. Indeed, 1937-’48 Chevys fueled on the right, but from 1949 to 1954 they fueled the left, where the exhaust was located. Other readers concur with your story, however. Paul O’Toole points out that Pontiac’s G6 and Grand Prix both adhered to this not-on-the-exhaust-side rule, as do Fox-body Mustangs (1979-1993). Donald Rogus says that Ford put fillers on the right-hand side to comply with a German law requiring right-hand fillers for safer refueling if one had to do it on the highway. Still, there are plenty of counter-examples for each of these, so I doubt the existence of a hard-and-fast rule.


Q. It’s not often that OCW readers would be inclined to consider an “Italian tuneup” on their precious old iron, opting instead for something more akin to a “Mennonite tuneup.” But here is the story told to me a number of years ago by someone in the fuel additive development business.

They found the overhead-cam four-cylinder engines found in the Mustangs and Pintos of the late 1970s and ’80s to be ideal cheap test mules. They paid about a hundred bucks each at the wrecking yards. These engines would usually be clapped out dogs by the time they got them. But here’s what they did to get them useful for testing the fuel additives they were developing: The engines were set up on stands in their shop and hooked up to coolant and fuel. Exhaust was piped straight out of the building with no mufflers. Fresh oil was put in crankcase. Air cleaners were removed. The engines were started and warmed up, then run with no load for 24 hours at WOT — “Wide Open Throttle!” Yes, you stand way back when doing this. Very quickly, the manifolds glow red hot. The only limiting factor is the breathing ability of the engine design. After 24 hours, they were shut down. When cool enough, the fluids were changed and the engine put on a dyno and restarted, warmed up, and tested. Incredibly, the horsepower, torque, and even the compression were all above original manufacturer’s specification, sometimes by as much as 20 percent, to my recollection. And he never mentioned losing an engine, as exciting as that might have been.

What this did was give their shop a fairly cheap and plentiful supply of test mules that had most other variables worked out of them. If nothing else, it is a testament to the stunning ability of modern metallurgy and oil quality. They figured this process cleaned and reseated the rings and cleaned out the whole intake and exhaust pathway.

— Brian Neuschwander, Santa Cruz, Calif.

A. I’ve heard that the 2.3-liter Pinto engine is pretty robust, and your story bears it out. And the old “Italian tuneup” (head out of town and drive very fast) is known to blow out cobwebs and other maladies of sedentary engine life. From your description, though, it sounds like it’s more effective than the magic ring-and-valve-job potions we discussed some months ago.


Q. In the June 13 “Q&A” column, Don Deetz was looking for identification of four bumpers. You supplied possible answers for the bottom three bumpers in the picture, but did not recognize the top one. It appears very similar to the Bullard bumpers on my 1925 Dodge Brothers Type B sedan. The Bullard bumpers of this description were available from 1924 through 1927.

— Dennis Pitchford, via e-mail

A. Thank you. They indeed look like the bumpers in factory photos of 1924-’27 Dodges. They were, no doubt, optional, since not all photos show bumpers.

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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