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Q&A with Kit Foster: May 16, 2013


Q. I am looking for any information about the Murty Four-Wheel Drive Company. My wife and I have a 1948 Dodge half-ton truck woodie that was retro-fitted with Dodge Power Wagon running gear when it was new by the Murty Four-Wheel Drive Company. During the late 1940s and early ’50s, there were a number of companies that were installing new WWII-surplus 4x4 running gear in two-wheel-drive trucks.

I am having no luck finding any information about the Murty Four-Wheel Drive Company, which was in business in Oregon, or somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. The only references I have are the stories from the previous owner and an emblem that is mounted on the grille, just below the Dodge name badge, which reads “Murty Four-Wheel Drive Company.” I am hoping one of your readers may be able to share more information about this company and help me fill in some history of this great old woodie. I have included a picture of our woodie that we have named “Murty.”

— Charles Furman, via email.

A. I’ve scoured what Dodge and truck information I have, without success. The Murty Four-Wheel Drive Company is certainly less well-known than Marmon-Herrington, which converted early Fords to four-wheel drive, and NAPCO, supplier of same for Chevrolet and GMC. Can anyone help?


Q. This is an explanation for the question about the mystery carb cleaner posed by Paul Pakan in the April 4 Q&A. From 1966 thru 1972, I was a garage mechanic at my hometown Chevrolet and Buick dealer in Beaver Dam, Wis. Once in awhile, I would be asked to repair an older Buick that had a serious knock in the engine, caused by a large piece of carbon that had broken off on an intake valve and fallen into the combustion chamber, causing a sound that seemed like a loud bearing knock. The early Buick V-8s had an interesting head design in that the valves were positioned high up on the head and the valve covers sat upright instead of at an angle like other V-8s. When these cars were driven slowly, they had a tendency to build up carbon on the intake valves, sometimes so much that it was necessary to remove the intake manifold and remove the carbon with a hammer and chisel. Knowing that this carbon situation existed, General Motors offered a powerful carbon remover to its dealers to help remove carbon without having to tear down the engine. If the engine was treated regularly with this cleaner — say at every tune-up — carbon buildup problems could be avoided.

The carbon remover came as a foam in an aerosol can instead of a liquid, because a foam can be compressed by the pistons without damaging the engine. The [method] to remove the offending chunk of carbon was to set the choke fast idle cam up on a fast setting, then start the car and spray the foam cleaner into both sides of the carb at a rate fast enough to cause the engine to load up without stalling the engine until the can was almost empty, then pour in the remaining material fast to stall the engine. Then you would turn off the ignition and allow the car to sit for about 30 minutes. The car would then be started and driven on a quiet street until the smoke coming out the back died down, and then driven out of town at a high rate of speed. Whatever carbon that was bouncing around in the engine would be softened up and blown out the tailpipe. The problem was solved without tearing down the engine.

When doing a tune-up, some of us would spray some of this cleaner down the carb when the engine was not running, to clean the soot and carbon out of the carb throat. The reason the other mechanics did not know about this cleaner is that they did not service the older Buicks and never had to use it. Otherwise, the foam carbon remover would have been available at any GM dealer back in the day, but may or may not be available anymore. I hope this helps Mr. Pakan with his search.

— Allan Kruger, Beaver Dam, Wis.

A. Thank you. This is clearly the foam product that Mr. Pakan remembered. Since there are few “nailhead” Buicks on the road today, it may have gone the way of so many other old things.

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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