Q&A: April 25, 2019 Edition

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Q. I have some air conditioning vents that I’m trying to figure out, year-wise. I think they’re 1961 [Cadillac]. Any idea?
— Gary Noubarian, via email

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A. Indeed, they do look like the vents on 1961 and ’62 Cadillacs with factory air. The grille section looks identical, but the mounting surface is somewhat different. No doubt they are from another GM car of that period. Can anyone ID them?

Q. Just read about Fred Allen, Union, Maine, regarding his ’37 Buick Special grille repair (Oct. 25 and Dec. 13, 2018). Just a thought: a laser welder may be able to help him. They can do some pretty amazing things and the heat is very restricted to a small area. I’m not sure what it would cost.
— Joe Yager, via email

A. Interesting thought. A little web searching revealed that laser welding is used in production involving some die-cast materials, particularly aluminum and magnesium alloys. I’m not sure just what the composition of 1937 Buick grille “pot metal” is, though.

Q. In regards to Fred Allen’s quest for a grille for a 1937 Buick, a quick internet search came up with a gentleman that makes reproduction grilles made from 304 stainless steel and polished. His cost is $1,300 for a pair and they look great! There were several good comments on this guy and he has a money-back guarantee.
— Scott G. Peterson, Duluth, Minn.

A. I think you’re referring to a 2014 post on an AACA Buick forum by member bobj49f2: https://forums.aaca.org/topic/234643-new-reproduction-1937-buick-grills/. Contact info on the AACA forum leads to http://www.fatfenderedtrucks.com. Indeed the photos of his work look very impressive. It’s not clear from the forum comments that any member has actually purchased a grille, but this source could be worth looking into if that price is within your budget.

Q. I recently came across these items while sorting my car parts. l have no idea where or when I obtained them. They are 3 inches in diameter, while having a 3/16-inch dish. Any ideas as to what they were used for? Kind of a minor item, but I thought you would like a challenge.
— Dale Thompson, Janesville, Wis.

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A. They look like horn buttons, and I think the upper one tells the story. You may have noticed that United Parcel Service trucks are “unbranded,” in that they don’t have a maker’s name on the outside. The familiar brown vans have remained nearly the same for decades, built, I believe, to corporate specifications from UPS. The chassis come from truck manufacturers, but may differ in some ways from trucks you can buy from a dealer. I have been told that some 20 years ago, UPS trucks were on Chevy chassis; more recently others may have been used. I doubt, however, that the current generation of Ram vans, which are front-drive Mexican-built Fiat variants, are among them. Diamond REO was formed in 1967 by merging Diamond T and Reo, both of which were then owned by White Consolidated Industries, a legacy of White Motor Co. The Diamond REO brand petered out in the mid 1970s, so that bounds these buttons to approximately 1967-’75. Our readership includes some of the most knowledgeable people in the world. Which one of you is an expert on UPS trucks?

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