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Q&A with Kit Foster: November 17, 2011

Q. The trim that wraps around the rear of the car (Sept. 1 “Q&A”) was also used on the late-1941 Plymouth Deluxe four-door. I owned one and have seen one other.

Duke Miller, Saraland, Ala.

A. Thanks. If I’ve seen one of those I’d forgotten it. In looking further, I see it on two-tone ’41 Plymouths, both two- and four-door. There’s a slim wrap-around molding below the windows, in addition to the wider trim used on single-color cars.


Q. The best way to get 12-volt starting power in a 6-volt auto is to use a series-parallel switch that connects two 6-volt batteries in parallel until one wishes to start the engine. At that time, the batteries are connected in series to the starter only. All components of the auto are left at 6 volts (generator, voltage regulator, gauges, etc.). The series-parallel switch can be set up to engage automatically with the starter, or by a push button on the dashboard. I use the push button method, which allows the starter to engage at six volts. I then activate the series-parallel switch to direct 12 volts to the starter. This method is easier on the starter Bendix spring. One manufacturer of the series-parallel switch is Orpin; there may be others. One caution about this system is that if two six-volt batteries are connected in parallel the weaker battery will slowly discharge the stronger one. One battery should be disconnected during long-term storage. If one wants 12 volts for an accessory, an inverter can be used to change 6 volts to 12.

John K. Koll, Colorado Springs, Colo.

A. Thanks for that advice. An additional consideration is that you must find a place to put the second six-volt battery, which may be problematic in some cars.


Q. In regards to the Sept. 1 “Q&A,” I recently changed my car to 12 volts. I installed a Chevy 235-cid six in my 1951 Chevy. I did some research as to the issues involved in achieving a successful conversion. However, I was caught by surprise with one serious problem. I kept the three-speed manual transmission and 6-volt starter, but I changed the starter solenoid to a 12-volt unit. The increased voltage caused the starter to slam the starter shaft to the ring gear much faster, making it difficult for the starter gears to mesh with the teeth on the ring gear. The starter gear would simply grind away on the ring gear teeth. Fixing this problem was a real challenge. I went online to see if others had similar problems, with little success. I managed to contact a few experts, but their ideas didn’t solve the problem. My brother-in-law suggested that I modify the starter mounting so that it could be moved laterally, so that the starter gear is pulled away from the ring gear. This required slotting the two mounting bolt holes. This did work for a while, but the torque force that the bolts had to hold down eventually caused them to loosen, which caused the starter to come loose.

Lynn Sutton, Stockton, Calif.

A. Your Chevy uses the starter solenoid to engage the starter pinion with the flywheel ring gear, as well as to close the electrical switch. In the first place, a 12-volt solenoid should not cause the pinion to engage faster than a 6-volt solenoid, and even if it did, it should still mesh properly if the starter is aligned correctly. It could be that the ring gear, which I presume came on the replacement engine you installed, isn’t correct for your old starter, and there’s a basic mechanical mismatch. If the 235 is from a 1955 or later car, try finding a starter for it, which will already have a 12-volt solenoid. And if the starter has been grinding away on the ring gear, as you say, you may have to replace the ring gear itself. I’ve been there and done that. On Chevrolet V-8s, shims are often used to properly align the starter, but I don’t think that’s the case on your Stovebolt six.


Q. I read about the “Mark 60” emblem (Sept. 8 “Q&A”) with interest. Growing up in the Akron, Ohio, area in the 1950s and ’60s, I remember going with my dad to see the new cars each year. Many dealers had some special models created to entice sales. The dealer I bought my 1967 Ford Fairlane 500 convertible from was one of those. (Yes, I still have it.) I remember in 1959, they made some models called “CONN-TINENTALS.” They were Ford Custom 300s in black with extra bird emblems on the side and continental kits installed, and chrome emblems that read CONN-TINENTAL. The dealer was Conn Ford. They were part of the million-dollar mile on Front Street in Cuyahoga Falls.

Tom Ciccarelli, Hudson, Ohio

A. Thanks for that reminiscence. We also heard from Ed Kotowski, of Bedford, Ohio. He has two Mark 60 emblems that he bought from a vendor in Hartville, Ohio. The seller said that one prototype car, sold at Greenwald Plymouth, is still in the Akron area. As for the emblems, Mr. Kotowski says, “now there are three.”

To submit questions to this column: E-mail or mail to: Q&A, c/o Ron Kowalke, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990-0001.

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