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Q&A with Kit Foster: June 7, 2012

Q. I have a 1960 Chevy Impala with a 283 engine. It appears to have stock 1960 heads, but the block serial number is F1007E. The manual states that the F code is a special fuel-injection engine built only in 1959. Could you give me any information on this engine and what it was originally installed in?

Jerry Skipworth, Kernville, Calif.

A. I believe what you’re looking at is a date code, rather than a serial number. Date codes also include information on the plant at which the engine was built and its application. The extensive chart at decodes your number as follows: F designates the Flint assembly plant, 1007 corresponds to the 10th of July (10th day, 7th month), and the suffix E shows it’s a 1960 283 configured for B-body or truck use with a Turboglide transmission and two-barrel carburetor. It was rated at 170 bhp. If that describes your car I’d say it’s the original engine. The suffixes can be confusing, as many of them were re-used over the years.


Q. I have a complete DeJon generator, with a complete DeJon distributor that is driven from the back of the generator. The distributor is eight-cylinder. Can anybody identify the unit? The model numbers are not readable.

Ben McAdam, Wheeling, W. Va.

A. DeJon electrical equipment was used by some prestige makes in the late 1920s. I see references to Locomobile, Stearns-Knight, Springfield Rolls-Royce and Pierce-Arrow on line. Since those makes used mostly six-cylinder engines, your distributor would have to be from a Junior Locomobile (1925-28), 1927-29 Stearns, a post-1928 Pierce or the like. The model number and/or a good photograph would be necessary to identify it for sure.


Q. I recently purchased a 1974 Firebird Formula. The speedometer reads 45 mph at 35, and 80 mph at 60. The car is equipped with a 400-cubic inch engine, Turbo 400 tranny and 3.08 rear end. I replaced the speedometer gear, removed the 36-tooth and replaced it with a 39-tooth. There was no change in speedo readings. Next I replaced the speedometer, still no change. Any ideas on how I can correct this problem?

David Wegner, Shawano Wis.

A. The problem is in the gearing, not the speedometer. It’s reading about 30 percent fast, so changing the gearing by less than 10 percent, as you did with the gear change, is not enough. It sounds like the transmission is set up for a 4.11 axle, probably in a truck. You need different speedometer gears. You would need something like a 48-tooth driven gear. I’m not sure if those are available. There are also external adapter units for speedometers, which can theoretically change any ratio to any other, without changing the internal gears. They are common in off-road applications, and come in several standard conversion ratios. They can also be custom ordered to any specific application.


Q. I have noted with interest the correspondence in recent issues regarding the removal of brake drums. I did a brake job on my 1947 Packard last year and had the removal problem. I had a puller on the back drums and cranked it down until I thought the puller would break, but there was still no movement on the drum. I called a local man of my age (79) who had worked on these cars as a mechanic and he advised me to use a large hammer and rap the tightening bolt on the puller. I did as he suggested and off came the drum with no problem.

Jim Murray, Egg Harbor, Wis.

A. The original question concerned front brake drums, which is why I didn’t mention the different techniques needed at the rear. Rear drums that are keyed to a tapered axle resist removal mightily. Use a hefty three-leg puller that bolts to the drum. Crank the puller wrench down as tight as you can, and take a hand sledge (a three-pounder works well), and smack the big screw, repeatedly if you have to. Eventually the drum will let go and pop off in one move. Make sure you stand to the side when swinging the hammer.


Q. I have a 1949 Ford. I rebuilt the flathead motor and dressed up the engine area. It’s mildly hot-rodded, with a four-inch Mercury crank, bored 80 thousandths over, updated to a full flow oil system, and running two Ford 94s. It’s period-looking. I would like to add air conditioning without compromising the look of the engine compartment. I am wondering if there might be an electric unit that would not have to use pulleys and all the other assorted hardware under the hood.

Ron Brumka, via e-mail

A. I have seen electric power steering installations for old cars, but I haven’t come across a fully electric air conditioning system. Air conditioning consumes quite a bit of power, so it might require an oversized alternator, which itself would alter the appearance of your engine compartment. A larger battery would be a good idea, too. Do any readers have information or experience regarding Ron’s question?

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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