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Q&A with Kit Foster: May 21


Q. [This ad] was found in the November 1950 Mechanix Illustrated magazine. What was the Ardun Conversion Unit?

— Cec Breyfogle, Storm Lake, Iowa

A. It was an overhead-valve conversion for flathead Ford V8 engines. Ardun was a contraction of Arkus Duntov, and the company was an enterprise of Zora Arkus Duntov, later director of high performance at Chevrolet. His name subsequently became synonymous with Corvette. Born in Belgium to Russian Jewish parents, he emigrated to New York with his family in 1939. He and his brother Yura set up Ardun, a company to supply parts to the military services. They also came up with the Ardun heads, which were aluminum ohv units with hemispherical combustion chambers. Originally intended for commercial use, where flatheads had a serious tendency to overheat, they soon became popular for competition and performance upgrades. Some claimed to achieve 300 bhp with an Ardun Ford, much more than the 175 claimed in the ad.


Original Arduns are rare, but more recently engineer-enthusiasts have made improvements to the pushrods, valve seats and metallurgy of Ardun-type heads. Don Ferguson Jr. purchased the tools, drawings and dies, and with modern materials, now produces Ardun head kits, which retail for less than $14,000. Ardun Enterprises is located in Wilmington, Calif., 323-775-6803,

Q. I am in the process of restoring a 1947 Ford coupe and I’ve run into a few problems with the wiring, but have managed to fix all of them but one. When honking the horn, if you’re touching any metal, you’ll get an electrical shock. I’ve tried running new grounds, new wiring to the horn relay, a new relay and I still get a slight shock. Any solutions? Also, can you use an eight-volt battery in the older six-volt systems without any problems?

— Paul Medlen, Lisbon Falls, Maine

A. This rings a faint, distant bell. My second car was a 1947 Ford, and I vaguely recall this phenomenon. I remember developing a strategy to avoid the shock, and based on your description it must have been to keep away from metal when blowing the horn. I see from the wiring diagram for 1946-’48 Fords that the horn button (or ring) applies a ground to the horn relay coil, which is “hot.” I would look to see whether the horn ring is hot or grounded. If it’s hot, see if there’s a way to reverse the connections so that it’s grounded at all times, or insulate it in some way.

We have covered eight-volt batteries several times in the past. At the very least, you would need to adjust the voltage regulator to produce at least 9.3 volts at full charge. Some readers who have tried this report short lifetime on their six-volt light bulbs. There was considerable sentiment for converting to twelve volts instead, but a growing number of folks, myself included, favor renewing wiring and cleaning connections, particularly grounds, to make six-volt systems work as they did when new.

Q. I’ve got a friend who has a 1931 Nash Victoria, Model 899 with body number 899-544 and serial number 514179. He would like to know the production for that model. Can you help him?

— Alain Gilbert, St-Côme Linière, Quebec

A. Not as much as I’d like. Nash does not seem to have preserved production information for posterity. The most detailed data I’ve found show 38,616 cars built for calendar year 1931. Grace Brigham’s Serial Number Book for US Cars 1900-1975 allows calculation of production for Models 890-899, the long-wheelbase eight cylinder cars, as 6,199, but gives no breakdown for individual body styles, each of which had its own model number.

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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