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Q&A with Kit Foster: September 13, 2012


Q. I just read the letters on Ford flathead rear main seals (Q&A, Aug. 23). I installed a Kevlar rear seal from Speedway Motors in my 8BA motor. It was a strange-looking seal (as compared to the rope seal); it was a loosely woven material. I was a little skeptical at first, but followed the instructions and have not had a leak in almost four years. My motor has a Mercury crankshaft and is bored 0.125 over, with aluminum heads (and Speedway Kevlar head gaskets), and a 90 percent flow filter system using 15w50 Mobil 1 oil. Oil pressure is 60 psi at cruise and 45 at hot idle. I don’t know if this seal could be installed with crank in place, as it is very loosely woven. I might also add that if the main bearings are worn this will put the crank out of alignment. My motor is also completely balanced.

— Bill Thacker, Whiteford, Md.

A. Thanks. We had advice on rope seals, lip-type seals and now we know that the Kevlar seal is an alternative.



Q. I just picked up this hood ornament from a yard sale. I have many, but this one is new to me. The number inside is SM (in a circle) followed by 5762 and some concentric circles. Can anyone help?

— Bob Baker, Klamath Falls, Ore.

A. “How difficult could this be?” I asked myself. It’s Art Deco-ish, so certainly late 1930s or early '40s. Then I spent countless hours leafing through the spotter’s guides and googling up images online. I found lots of near misses, but nothing with that exact profile. I even considered non-U.S. cars with an American connection, like Opel. No joy. Then I realized I had to think outside the box. Maybe it was not from a passenger car. After some wider research I’m pretty sure it’s from an early (1941-45) M-series Studebaker truck. Readers, I’m sure one of you must have one. Am I right?


Q. Perry Anthony’s photo of an old unidentified wood-spoke “artillery” wheel and tire (Q&A, Aug. 2) looks like a 1920s Chrysler product to me. The tires on my 1929 Plymouth Model U are 4.75-5.00 x 19. Dodge, DeSoto and Chrysler wheels were similar. The rims are held on the wheels by four clamps. My Plymouth wheels have 12 wooden spokes, just like Mr. Anthony’s wheel, and the hub seems to be of a similar diameter (mine is 2-1/2 inches). The car was equipped from the factory with four-wheel hydraulic brakes.

Mr. Anthony’s photo is too dark to see the detail, but my rim has a latch that allows you to compress the rim with a special tool, then pull the tire off. Pulling off the rear hubs requires another special tool (see my articles on both topics with photos of the two tools in past issues of The Plymouth Bulletin: “On the Rim,” Mar.-Apr. 2001; “Gimme a Brake,” Jul.-Aug. 2006, available on CDs from the Plymouth Club –

— Ed Sapp, via e-mail

Q. What you have looks like a front wheel from a Willys-Overland Whippet. Here’s a photo of our 1927 Whippet wheel. Tire size is 4.75-5.00 X 19. They used the same style until 1930.

— Al Hiller, via e-mail


A. Jerry Bond of Clara City, Minn., also thinks it’s a Whippet wheel. His 1928 cabriolet has four-clamp, 12-spoke wheels like Perry Anthony’s, and he reports that it has an 11-inch brake drum. Whippets from 1927 to 1930 all had 11-inch drums, and so did 1929 Plymouths. I’m even wondering if the wheels would interchange. Mr. Sapp’s photos are too small to reproduce well, but on close examination I see both Anthony’s and Hiller’s wheels are of the “split rim” type that Sapp describes. Releasing the latch allows the rim to collapse on itself, after which the tire can be removed. The proper tool for this is called a “rim jack” or “rim spreader.” It’s particularly necessary to “jack” the rim back into position after the tire and tube are re-installed. It’s a three-legged affair, and operates with a crank.

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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