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Q&A with Kit Foster: November 24, 2011

Q. The accompanying photo is of a retractable cigarette lighter and lamp. The cigarette lighter unscrews, and the light removes from the holder and screws in its place. It belongs to an elderly uncle and he’s interested in knowing what it’s from. Is this aftermarket or, as he believes, from a Studebaker?

Bill Diehm, Gouldsboro, Pa.


A. I’ve seen these “corded” cigarette lighters before, usually as accessory items. The heating element remains on an “umbilical cord” during use, rather than being “cordless,” as are more recent lighters. I’ve never seen one with the alternative light fixture, though. I suspect it’s from the 1930s. Does anyone have further information?


Q. I’ve owned a 1974 Lincoln for many years. The electric windows stopped working, all at once. I’ve looked for a broken ground wire, have replaced the relay switch (I hope the right one), have taken the control switches out of the driver’s side door panel, but still haven’t found the cause. Can you help?

Harold Marvin, Cincinnatus, N.Y.

A. Since they all stopped working at the same time, you should be looking at parts of the circuit common to all windows. Since all the windows are controlled by the master switch in the driver’s door panel, the problem must be at or before the switches you examined, or in a common ground wire or connection. It could be as simple as a blown fuse or circuit breaker. You say you haven’t found a broken ground wire, but the ground connection could still have corroded and broken the circuit. I don’t have a wiring diagram for your car, but I’m sure one or more of our readers do. A diagram is essential to diagnosing the problem. It may be in the shop manual for your car, or perhaps in a separate electrical manual. Can any readers help?


Q. Last year I purchased a 1971 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 W30. It appears to be an all-original survivor, based on the VIN and my inspection of key component part numbers of the car (head, block, carburetor, transmission, etc.). Unfortunately, no original documentation came with the car. I’ve called the GM Heritage Foundation and other organizations, but none has any information dating back that far. Any ideas how I can document my 4-4-2 with a window sticker or other information?

Tom Eberline, Peoria, Ill.

A. Unfortunately, with the “defrocking” of the Oldsmobile marque, the former Oldsmobile History Center was closed. According to the Oldsmobile Club of America website, its functions have transitioned to the GM Heritage Center, and you’ve already contacted them. While historic archives exist for Pontiac and Cadillac-LaSalle, I’m not aware of any such resource for Oldsmobile. If any readers can help, I’m sure we’ll hear from them.


Q. I have a loaded 1987 Chevy El Camino Conquista that I’m restoring. My emission decal attached to the fan shroud is in fair shape, but I’m trying to make my car better and have been trying to find a new decal. Mine has ZCT in the upper left-hand corner and the part number is 10051429. I’ve contacted all the El Camino and Monte Carlo parts suppliers and even GM. They all tell me it’s been discontinued and they can’t get it. I could replace it with a decal that’s close, but I want everything numbers correct like it left the factory. What do you do in a situation like this?

Dave Tonger, Apopka, Fla.

A. I’m not surprised you can’t find an NOS decal for a 1987 car. I’m having trouble getting the correct decal for a 2005 car that’s had recent body work. I’m sure if any readers have what you’re seeking they’ll be in touch, but you might try reproducing yours. Take as good a digital photo as you can of your existing decal. You can probably find a graphics business near you that can retouch the photo and print it onto a durable decal material that can be cut to the shape of the original. It won’t be cheap, but with today’s technology it shouldn’t cost a king’s ransom either.


Q. In your debate over whitewall cleaners, no one mentioned the best: SOS pads. They do a super job.

Tim Theurer, via e-mail

A. Ah, yes. I used to use SOS pads on a bicycle I had with whitewalls. I don’t currently own vehicles with whitewalls. Peter Bookman, of Tucson, Ariz., likes Westley’s Bleche White, especially for cleaning raised white letters on tires.

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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