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Q&A with Kit Foster: June 4, 2015

Q. I have converted the 6-volt system in my straight-eight 1954 Pontiac Star Chief to 12 volts. Along with the conversion I installed an electric windshield wiper motor, which fit perfectly and works great. Not being a real mechanic, I placed a hex-head screw into the end of the vacuum hose which originally connected to the old vacuum wiper motor, then put a small hose clamp on to keep the bolt in place. It was necessary to send out the double-action fuel pump (after 15 years) to have it rebuilt.

The folks who rebuilt the pump said I should not close off the vacuum side of the fuel pump at the pump, but that I should do it at the manifold. I removed the bolt in the vacuum line after installing the fuel pump and re-started the engine. As long as I covered the end of the vacuum hose, the engine ran smooth as ever. However, when I uncovered the hose the engine ran very rough. The bolt was re-installed and the engine runs great. I am wondering if I have done the wrong thing, and am also curious whether what I did could damage the fuel pump or something else.

— Ed Orr, Lynden, Wash.

A. You haven’t damaged anything. The reason the rebuilder told you not to block the vacuum line at the pump is because trying to pull vacuum from a blocked source will prematurely wear out that section of the pump. Let the “wiper” section of the pump run “free,” with no hoses or plugs on either side. Also, you could replace the double-action pump with a single-action one.

The manifold connection, however, cannot run “open.” That will lean out the mixture to the engine, and is what was happening when you took the plug out of the hose. Put a short piece of hose on the manifold connection, and plug it with the bolt you’ve been using. A “cleaner” way to do it would be to remove the hose nipple from the manifold and replace it with an ordinary pipe plug, probably 1/8-inch.

Q. I have a 1969 Chevy Impala Sport Coupe two-door hardtop that I have owned since 1973. I would like to know how many were built like it. It has a 350 engine (vo 228 HG), four-speed Muncie transmission and limited-slip rear end. The VIN is 164379J300632. It has black vinyl interior, bench seat, AM radio, no air, no power brakes, no power steering, manual windows, manual seat, premier perforated black headliner, and the sun visors are rubbed vinyl. The body tag on the cowl reads ST69 16437 Jan 377883 BDY TR806 71 71 pnt 07c. If you could find out any information for me I would really appreciate it.

— Earl Gill, via e-mail

A. Your VIN tells us it’s a 1969 Impala V-8 Sport Coupe built at Janesville, Wis. The body or trim tag on the cowl also decodes as a 1969 Impala V-8 Sport Coupe built at Janesville. It appears to be in the “late 1969” format, and tells us that it was built with a black vinyl interior and was painted in LeMans Blue, the repeated number corresponding to single-tone paint (top/bottom). The number 07C is a date code, which corresponds to the third week of July 1969 and confirms the “late 1969” format of the trim tag. This is the date for completion of the body, not the car’s final assembly and delivery off the line.

There were 768,300 Impala V-8s built for 1969. Chevrolet was not very rigorous about keeping statistics on individual model production, let alone options, so the number of cars built exactly like yours has been lost to history. The selection of accessories is quite unusual, so there were probably few, if any, just like it. If it were Canadian-built there might be more information available, but for a Janesville car that’s all we know.


Q. Can you or your readers help me with information about this item? Is it a factory item you bought at a dealership through the parts department, or is it aftermarket? Any ideas on what year it is? The bottle is 6-1/2 inches tall.

— James Ackmann, Ashippun, Wis.

A. The car looks like it’s from the 1910s, and while it has a “Dodge” air about it, I don’t think it’s actually a likeness of an early Dodge. The hood is too long. I think it’s an independent aftermarket product hoping to capitalize on the name. Have any Illinois readers heard of the Dodge Auto Polish Co. in Galesburg?

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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