Q&A with Kit Foster: June 13, 2013

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Q. I have a 1991 Cadillac DeVille, but I cannot find the problem with the heater. I’ve had it to three shops. They tried the blend air door part and the programmer. These were used parts from a junk yard, but no help. The blower fan works, but temperature is only lukewarm. The heater hoses are hot on the firewall. Any hint to help?

— Dale Carpenter, McGregor, Mo.

A. There are two possible reasons for your symptoms: not enough hot water through the heater core, or too much cold air in the ducts. You say the heater hoses are hot. Regardless, I would start with flushing the core, unless that’s already been done. Air control is a little more complicated, since you have both the blend door and its controller to worry about. In addition, with junk yard parts, you have to consider whether they were working when they were taken off the donor car. When a particular model has an “Achilles heel,” there’s a greater probability that junk yard parts may be defective, too. Can you tell if the blend door is moving when the temperature control is operated? I’m not familiar with the operation of your system, whether the blend door is electrically operated or uses vacuum. If it’s electrical and you have, or have access to, a wiring diagram, you may be able to find an access point to “jump” current directly to the blend door operator. That will help isolate the trouble to either the door motor or the controller. Do any readers have familiarity with the heating system on the 1991 Cadillac deVille?



Q. I’m in need of help identifying items bought at a recent auction. Is the one at the bottom a 1935-’36 Ford bumper? The irons don’t look right. The middle ones are of the same length, but one is built heavier than the other. Could they be front and back bumpers? Two bolts hold the neatly-bent “straps” together. There are no other holes. A “HALLADAY” badge is placed under each carriage-like bolt. The bumper at the top weighs about the same as the one second from the bottom. Would you have any idea of their value?

— Don Deetz, Stone Creek, Ohio.

A. The bottom bumper does look like those of ’35-’36 Fords (and ’33-’34, too). I’m pretty sure the brackets are for a rear bumper. The middle items are reminiscent of those on 1925-’29 Lincolns. Automobile Journal for March 1921 contains a short item about a “Twin-Bar All-Steel Truss-Spring Bumper” by the L.P. Halladay Company of Streator, Ill. With nickel plating, it sold for $18. It seems to be the same as yours. In the early 1920s, bumpers were usually optional equipment, which led to a huge aftermarket industry. In fact, Lincolns prior to 1925 were illustrated in company literature without bumpers. Halladay may well have supplied those for later Lincolns, but I’m not sure of this. The top bumper doesn’t ring any bells with me, but perhaps some readers recognize it. It is vaguely reminiscent of those on Model A Fords, but the details, particularly the brackets, are wrong. As for the bumpers’ value, it depends very much on the application and finding a customer who needs one.


Q. Dr. John Booth’s comment on hood ornaments (May 9) reminded me of my father-in-law (now deceased) who had, I believe, a 1980s Cadillac with a spring-loaded emblem. It was stolen, probably by some punk who wanted some bling for a necklace. When he replaced it, he rigged up contacts so that when it tipped in any direction, the horn would sound, hoping to scare off any further theft. All was well until his wife took it to the car wash and listened to the horn blow during the trolley ride through it. A switch was installed and they had no further thefts or embarrassing moments.

— Ken Henderson, via e-mail.

A. Ah, the exciting moments of car alarms. Thanks for that.

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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