Q&A with Kit Foster: June 27, 2013

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Q. Last fall I purchased two auto-related items at an antique fair. They look to be tooling for automobile parts. Maybe some of your readers would know more about them and how they were used. The first measures about 14 x 22 inches. It consists of a wooden base and two wood models of what appear to be a set of rear fender stone guards, although they could be for an appliance such as a refrigerator. One model is labeled on the back with an L and the other with an R. I have not been able to identify what car these would have been used on. I have always thought that most stone guards were made of stamped steel, not pot metal using molds to produce, so this item puzzles me.

The second measures about 14 x 24 inches. It looks to have been used to make the grille nameplate for 1939 Chevrolets. It is made up of three parts: a wood base, a bronze nameplate model and a hand-shaped web made of metal. The bronze nameplate appears to have had the Chevrolet name cut into it by hand. The holes in the back are not tapped for the attaching screws. The metal web could have been used to form the die-cast metal pouring channels.

I am wondering if this could have been the master tooling for this nameplate? Who would have manufactured these items? The vendor said he had found them on the upper floors of an old foundry in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are both quite heavy and seem to be impregnated with an oil black film.

— Jerry Giermann, Holland, Mich.

A. Very interesting. That certainly seems to be the nameplate used on 1939 Chevrolets. I don’t immediately recognize the “hockey sticks.” GM’s corporate trim subsidiary was the Ternstedt Manufacturing Co., which was acquired in 1926. They had plants in many cities, although I haven’t come across a specific reference to Cincinnati. A good friend of my father’s used to work for Ternstedt in New Jersey. I wish they were both still alive so I could ask him. When I was a boy, every once in a while he would send me a box of reject trim items from his plant. I was in Heaven!


Q. In response to Ron Sprecher, who was recently looking for an assembly manual for a 1978 Chevrolet El Camino (June 6), I, too, am restoring an El Camino, a 1977 model. I have found all the manuals necessary for restoration between www.rockauto.com, Amazon, and eBay. He can also purchase less-expensive CDs of the same information. Also, used bookstores (such as 2nd & Charles) are great resources for vintage automobile literature.

— David C. Wilson, via e-mail

A. Thank you. Hopefully that will help Mr. Sprecher.


Q. In your “Q&A” column for June 6, reader Richard Symon of Glendale, Ariz., asked if an ammeter could cause a starting problem once in a while. The answer is yes, very much so. While working in the auto electric business for 42 years, I have by-passed or replaced many an ammeter in 1960s and ’70s Chrysler products. All the current that runs the car, less the starter, runs through the ammeter and through age they can loosen or overheat a loose connection. He can temporarily run an 8- or-10 gauge wire from the battery to the alternator until he can locate an ammeter.

— Robert Hayden, Smith Auto Electric, Pittsfield, Mass.

A. Thanks. We also heard from Jim Johnston in Santa Ana, Calif., who had the same problem on his 1966 Chrysler 300. A new ammeter fixed it.

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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