Q&A with Kit Foster: March 7, 2013

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Q. I was told this tail light is for an old Indian motorcycle. Then someone else told me that he believes it is for an old automobile. I have no idea and am wondering if you might be able to help me. The only writing I can find says: “ROSCO” AW POSEN & CO.

— Gary W. Lawing, Tampa, Fla.

A. It looks more like a motorcycle lamp than one for a car. However, it turns out that A.W. Rosen & Co., founded in Jamaica, N.Y., in 1907, now operates under the Rosco name. Through the 1950s, it produced all sorts of lighting equipment for the auto industry. After purchase by Sol Englander in 1961, it began to focus on products for commercial vehicles. Today the company supplies a number of components, principally mirrors, for military equipment, including the Army’s HMMWV (Humvee) and the civilian Hummer H1, and school buses. The possibilities are many. Does anyone recognize it?


Q. I found 10 of these aluminum chrome trim pieces in an old garage that I was cleaning out. The owner had passed away recently. He had mostly Ford parts, so I am assuming these are Ford. Could they bolt onto a grille? There seems to be undercoating on the nuts. The only numbers I can find on the chrome pieces is 4667682. I have had no luck in identifying them. Any information would be very helpful.


— Ron Durkey, Clintonville, Wis.

A. It seems reasonable to assume that they all came from the same car. The undercoating suggests that were removed from a car, and that they mount to the body, not on the grille or interior. At first I thought they might fit the sculptured “spear” on the door of a 1958 Thunderbird, which has five hash marks on each side. However, they don’t look wide enough. I’m wondering if instead they go on the tail lights of a 1958 or ’59 Mercury. The Park Lane model seems to have had five semicircular chrome fins to a side. Readers, any other ideas?


Q. I have a 1958 Edsel. Portions of the seat are upholstered in an off-white vinyl that is dirty or stained, mostly on the front seat where the folding seat was handled. I have exhausted my resources in trying to brighten it. I have tried all types of cleaners like 409 and other highly recommended cleaners to no avail. I resorted to trying full strength bleach without getting any effect on the discoloration. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.

— Tony Hambach, Warrenton, Mo.

A. It sounds like the discoloration is not merely a surface stain, but has managed to etch itself deeply into the material. In that respect, white and off-whites can be the most frustrating vinyls, as any type of stain or soil shows. You might have some luck with a mild solvent like WD-40 (if you read Bill Anderson’s article in the Jan. 24 issue you know that WD-40 is more solvent than lubricant). If that doesn’t do it, perhaps you’ll need a stronger chemical like acetone, that will actually remove a layer of “skin,” but you’ll need to be very careful. Try the solvent on a hidden section of the vinyl first, to see whether it badly disfigures the surface. If the vinyl is textured, such a chemical will probably leave an obvious scar. Readers, do you have any advice for Mr. Hambach?

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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