Q&A with Kit Foster: September 1, 2011

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Q. You were questioned (July 7 “Q&A”) about an Olson hubcap for a Model T. I’ve never heard of them either, but your reference to “Bool” hubcaps, I believe, is really a “Fool” cap, looking a lot like original Ford script. I’ve owned several of these “Fool” caps for Model T’s and A’s over the years.

Don DeGroat, Princeton, N.J.

A. Thanks for the correction. It certainly Fooled me!

Q. Gerry MacDonald (July 14 “Q&A”) changed the carburetor on his 1984 Chevy Citation, so I assume this is the V-6 engine, as the four-cylinder was throttle body-injected and the ’85 V-6 was also fuel injected. There’s a small solenoid on the carburetor to increase the idle speed when the air conditioner is on, and this could be a source of the problem. There’s also an idle screw adjustment on the carburetor, like most cars, so the idle should be adjustable even with a malfunction in the air conditioner circuit. The idle speed on the four-cylinder fuel-injected engine is not adjustable, but could still have a problem if the air conditioner circuit is not working properly. The other suspect is the choke pull-off vacuum chamber, which does affect the idle speed. This choke pull-off is similar to the carburetor-equipped cars for many years, and simple to inspect. Assuming the throttle cable and carb linkage are not binding, the only other thing would be the carburetor itself. I have an ’81 Citation X-11 with 300,000 miles on the original engine. Other than belts, hoses, fuel pump, water pump, brakes, batteries, a clutch and two carburetor rebuilds, it’s original and still runs and drives great. These were good cars and got a bad rap by the media. Early ’80s Citations with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder had an EPA highway rating of 42 mpg. (I have a copy of the window sticker.) The four-cylinder had decent power. Try and find a new car today with an EPA rating of 42 mpg. Everyone I know that had one of these cars had a positive experience, but like most people, just wanted something new after a few years. Also, the Chevy Celebrity was actually a Citation with a different body. They both used the same service manual. I credit my long engine life to Slick 50. At 125,000 miles, oil pressure was lower and I began using Slick 50 on occasion, and it has held steady ever since with no engine problems. Slick 50 and “snake-oil” engine treatments are a popular pro/con topic in the car culture world, but anything that increases lubrication performance has to increase engine performance and life span.

Eric Lundgren, Wichita, Kan.

A. We also heard from A.R. Lewandoski, who suggests that a bend or crimp in the linkage might be the cause, or possibly dirt and varnish buildup. He recommends spraying the linkage with carburetor cleaner and working it slowly back and forth. He also sprays the choke plate on the carburetor. Eric Lawrence was surprised that Mr. MacDonald was looking for an “old-time Chevy mechanic.” It made him feel old. He considers an “old-time mechanic” as someone who worked in a dealership in the 1950s and ’60s. However, I understand it’s hard to find anyone working in the repair business today who has experience with carburetors. As for Slick 50, yes there are many opinions. My own preference is to stick to recommended lubricants and change them regularly. I use “snake oils” as a last-ditch effort to deal with other people’s poor maintenance, not as preventive measures. As they say, of course, your mileage may vary. It’s not a fair comparison, but the Toyota Prius is EPA rated at 48 mpg highway.

Q. I was recently driving near my home, when I saw an old car that was unique to me. It was a four-door sedan with suicide rear doors. I couldn’t see the grille, but was thinking 1947-’48 Plymouth or Dodge. The unique part was the chrome beltline molding that started at the hood and went all the way to the back and continued around and back the other side. It looked strange, but completely original. I’ve never seen one of these and I’m a ’43 model.

Bob Moeller, Brooklyn, N.Y.

A. That rings a bell. It sounds like a car driven by the librarian in the small Connecticut town where I grew up during the 1950s. I’ll bet it was a 1940 Dodge, as pictured. The treatment was, as you say, unique to Dodge in ’40.


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

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