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First Offered In 1940...Still Available 77 Years Later..And Still Made In The USA!

Posted on 1/23/17 with No comments

You are no doubt wondering what this antique hand soap dispenser has to do with an antique auto parts store...? Read on and you will wonder no more.

I have always been a detail guy and knew that the inside of my store would someday look just like those antique auto parts stores that were in business during the 1940's and 1950's. I have been in hundreds of older auto parts stores, car dealerships and repair garages in the past 40 plus years, so I knew the "look" I wanted.

I also knew it is the little things that matter, and one of the things I always saw in an older auto repair garage and car dealerships was some sort of hand cleaner dispenser. Most were made of sturdy cast aluminum and had clearly been mounted in the same location for years. Those hand cleaner dispensers had art deco styling which gave them character... and I knew if they were still on the wall after 20 plus years, they were built tuff.

I have tried to buy a few of those older style hand soap dispensers from garages and dealerships over the years with not much success. Most were still being used. I wanted one because it made little sense to me to have a store full of antique automotive advertising and related memorbilia... and then have a modern plastic hand cleaner dispenser. It was just one of the details that was important to me. I wanted to keep everything in the same era.

Eventually... I picked up an original 1940's "Whisk" Brand hand cleaner dispenser in an antique store, put it away for safe keeping, then forgot I had it. It has been in storage for more than twenty years. Recently, while cleaning out a corner of the warehouse there it was, hidden in a cardboard box. The one good thing about the modern Internet is that it makes it easier to look up the history of things, something that was more difficult to do twenty years ago.

So I looked up my Whisk brand hand cleaner dispenser on the Internet and found out much to my surprise, that the Whisk company is still in business in 2017, and is still headquartered in Wentzville Mo. So I immediately sent them pictures of my dispenser via email. A day later I got an email back with a phone number to call customer service at my earliest convenience.

Seems the pictures of my early Whisk hand soap dispenser caused quite a stir at the company. One employee had worked for the company for 35 years  knew a little of the history. Between that and old company records we determined that my hand soap dispenser was designed in 1940 and was patented in 1949, the delay in the patenting was caused by the war. Because mine was cast aluminum with the "pat pending" on the lid, dates it to pre 1949.

Now we are getting somewhere. So my next question was..."do you have any of the leftover refills for my dispenser or anyway I can fill it and use it...?"

More good news....They STILL make a refill for my dispenser (the originals were a metal can, today they are cardboard)...AND...they still make that same 1940's design dispenser, (like mine) with a few very minor changes, and it is still made in Missouri along with the hand cleaner!

So I had to ask the 2017 cost of both, and then what a distributorship cost to sell their products, specifically that 1940's design hand soap dispenser and the refills...? A deal was struck... and that is how I got into the hand cleaner and dispenser business. So... if you want to hang up a real 1940's art deco design hand cleaner dispenser in you garage or shop instead of the cheap looking modern plastic dispenser give me a call.

I now have the original 1940's Whisk hand cleaner dispenser for sale (as shown in the picture) $54.00 along with the 32 oz refill for $15.00. Adjusted for inflation that makes them slightly less than they cost in 1949 dollars. A best guess estimate from company records is that my original dispenser would have sold for $6.50 in 1949 dollars which is equal to $65.21 in 2016 dollars.

Oh..and the best part is the hand cleaner is the same formula from the early days (it works well) and is waterless so all you need to dry your hands is a shop towel. No water required.

Sometimes...the surprises in life are good!

Here is a side by side comparison of the 1949 Dispenser compared to the 2017 dispenser. Not much has changes in 77 years, which is a good thing!

Here is a comparison of my 1948 Dispenser beside the 2017 edition.

If you go to the "Parts" section of the website you can buy this setup today !

Here is an early Whisk brochure advertising the early PD-2 Dispenser. 


Borg Warner R-10 and R-11 Overdrives Part Two

Posted on 1/11/17 with No comments

In part one of this series I covered the top ten things you need to know if you have a B-W overdrive transmission in your antique vehicle. If you missed part one it is still available you can look for it in the Garage Tech index. Meanwhile with the basics covered this article is a little more in depth and covers some of the operation, troubleshooting and maintenance of the B-W overdrive transmission. So pay attention here and you are guaranteed to learn something.

Driving a B-W overdrive vehicle starts off with the cable pushed in and the vehicle pulling away in first gear as normal. As the vehicle accelerates the driver shifts into second gear.

At approximately 28 mph (BTW - nobody knows why 28 mph and not 25 or 30 mph) a click will be heard from under the hood (which is the activation of the relay on the firewall by the governor) the driver then backs off on the gas briefly, and the transmission automatically shifts into overdrive. The shift is smooth and feels exactly like a shift from an automatic transmission.

The driver must release the accelerator completely so the overdrive transmission does not have to engage under engine load. In an automatic transmission a shift will occur (eventually) even if the throttle is held open. For mechanical design reasons in a B-W overdrive set up, the driver MUST let off the throttle completely to allow the shift to happen.

With the vehicle in second gear overdrive, the overall ratio is not quite as high as third, but higher than second. This is a perfect ratio for in town use. Between stoplights you don’t need to shift into third. However, if you continue accelerating and shift into third (from 2nd overdrive) and you will then be in third gear overdrive, the perfect ratio for the highway.

A common question is… “Can I use overdrive first gear?” The answer is maybe, but you would have to exceed and maintain 28 mph or higher for the overdrive to engage and stay engaged. 28 mph is pretty fast for first gear so 1st gear overdrive is rarely achieved. This means that while a B-W overdrive transmission has sometimes been called a six-speed, it technically provides only five usable forward ratios.

While you are in overdrive if you back off the gas you will feel engine braking in both second and third gear. Because the transmission is still in overdrive, the engine braking is not as strong as if the transmission were in 2nd or 3rd direct drive but the transmission does not coast. If the transmission does coast, the overdrive transmission is not operating properly.

Third gear overdrive is great for gliding along at highway speeds but it can lack power for passing or hill climbing. To get the transmission out of overdrive, push the gas pedal to the floor. The engine will rev up and the pedal will engage the kick down switch, the ignition will be grounded out for about two engine revolutions, (so the overdrive transmission does not have to shift under engine load) and the overdrive will disengage and the transmission will be back into direct drive. This shift feels exactly like the kick down of an automatic transmission. Complete your pass or top the hill in direct drive...then let off the gas completely for a moment, and the transmission will shift back into overdrive.

If you begin slowing down and shift from third overdrive to second overdrive, then slow down further as if approaching a stop light, as soon as the speed falls below 28 mph the power to the overdrive will be cut and the transmission will shift back into direct drive.

This automatic loss of overdrive is a designed in safety feature because you must start out from a complete stop only in direct drive. To try to start out from a standing start in overdrive, you will crush all of the needle bearings inside of the sun gear. That would cost you dearly!

Some owners have rewired their overdrive to by-pass the governor by adding a manual switch to turn the system on & off. If you do this remember…it is very easy to forget and attempt to take off from a stop in first gear overdrive. I have had customers remember for two or three years only to forget… and hear the crunching sound followed by a loud pop! They of course know immediately what that sound is… but by then it’s too late!

Meanwhile… as you slow down below 28 mph, you are automatically put back into second gear direct drive. However, because the sun gear is no longer being held (transmission no longer in overdrive) the transmission will freewheel. This event can be very surprising to someone who is not familiar with the operation of an overdrive transmission as suddenly there is NO engine braking! Since this occurs only below 28 mph there should not be much need for engine braking and using the normal brake pedal to stop the vehicle should work just fine.

But this is also where another novel aspect driving with a B-W overdrive transmission becomes apparent. All B-W overdrive transmissions (in all years of manufacture) used a non-synchronized first gear. They never built a B-W overdrive transmission with a synchronized first gear.

By the 1960s full syncro transmissions were fully available, so why didn’t they make a fully synchronized overdrive transmission? Turns out a B-W overdrive transmission doesn’t need to be synchronized! Drive in second gear overdrive, slow down below 28 mph, and the trans falls out of overdrive and into freewheel mode. Step on the clutch and pull the shift lever into first and you will find it slips into first gear as easily as if it were synchronized, even if you are rolling.

This ‘synchro effect’ happens because the free- wheeling clutch prevents power from being transmitted from the driveshaft into the transmission. Push in the clutch, and there are no forces on the gears. When you pull the shift lever into first gear it slips in easily. The most clashing you get when shifting into first gear at a rolling speed, is a slight “ratcheting” of the gear teeth that you would expect if you were shifting from neutral into the low granny gear of a truck 4 speed or the reverse gear in any transmission.

The freewheeling feature also makes clutchless shifting possible. Start in first, pull away and then WITHOUT depressing the clutch pedal, back off the gas and shift into second as easily as if you had pushed the clutch!

If you shift into third gear before 28 mph (and engaging the overdrive) again there is no need to depress the clutch pedal to make the shift.

If you have allowed the transmission to engage the overdrive in second (backing off the gas) then depressing the clutch is necessary to shift from 2nd to 3rd. These operational features are what made the B-W overdrive transmission very desirable in the days before fully automatic transmissions. No clashing shifts into first; No clutch necessary to shift into second; Automatic shift into second OD around town.

Parking and Pushing

Pulling out the overdrive cable on the dash operates a lever on the side of the transmission that mechanically locks the sun gear to the planetary gears. The cable should only be pulled out while the vehicle is stopped.

When the overdrive cable is pushed in then the transmission freewheels. This happens as long as the vehicle is below 28 MPH (or the system has no electrical power) the overdrive will not engage.

This means that to push start an overdrive equipped vehicle, the cable needs to be pulled out (to lock the transmission out of overdrive) so the transmission will send power to the engine when the clutch is released.

Parking is the other situation that pulling out the OD cable is necessary. If you park pointing downhill and put the shifter into first, second or third without pulling out the cable, the vehicle will freewheel and roll away. To overcome this you can either pull the overdrive cable out or place the shifter into reverse.


In order for the B-W overdrive transmission to back up, the freewheeling clutch MUST be locked out.

There is a shaft/rod built into the overdrive transmission that automatically accomplishes this whenever the transmission is put into reverse. So to park safely (set the brake) and then either pull out the OD cable OR place the shifter into reverse. This locks up the driveline and prevents all rolling.

How The Overdrive Transmission Affects Rear-end Ratios…

All B-W overdrive transmissions function at a 0.7 overdrive ratio. Since all standard transmissions use a 1:1 ratio in high gear, to find out your final drive ratio in overdrive, simply multiply the rear end ratio by 0.7. For example…a 4.11 gear set becomes 2.87. A 3.70 gear set becomes 2.59. A 4.56 gear set becomes a 3.19 ratio.

An overdrive transmission can also compensate for small diameter wheels & tires. Smaller wheels & tires spin an engine faster. 16” wheels turn the driveline slower than 15”, which spin the driveline slower than 14” (as the wheels/tires get bigger they carry more weight and lower the engine speed but they also reduce the available power.

All things are a compromise) All these factors need to be considered when outfitting a vehicle with a B-W overdrive transmission. If you use a rear axle ratio that is too high (numerically low) and/or couple it with wheels/tires that are too big in diameter a vehicle can actually slow down or use more fuel when it is operating in overdrive


The Borg-Warner overdrive transmission (R-10 and R-11) combines both mechanical and electrical components. The mechanical components are very well built and proven reliable and as long as the transmission and the overdrive unit are kept filled with gear oil (see maintenance below) with most of the problems being electrical, which are very easy to trouble shoot.

Take an overdrive vehicle out for a test drive with the overdrive cable pushed in, if the overdrive transmission freewheels above 28 mph (and you don’t feel the automatic shift) the trans is OK but there is an electrical problem.

The overdrive transmission electrical system is protected by just one fuse clipped to the relay on the firewall. This fuse gets power whenever the key is turned on (four post relay). Begin your diagnosis by checking for power at both sides of this fuse. 

Because the relay is under the hood, the fuse and it’s mounting clips easily become corroded due to the environment that they live in. Remove the fuse, and clean all the contacts thoroughly and check for voltage. If there is no battery voltage present, trace the wire back to the key switch to find the break in the wire.

If you have good power on both sides of the fuse at the overdrive relay, the next check is made under the vehicle. At the back of the transmission is the governor. This is a cylinder shaped device that is driven by the speedometer gear with ONE wire coming out of it. Inside the governor are weights that spin with the driveshaft. When they reach the magic speed of 28 mph, the wire going into the governor is grounded which engages the overdrive.

For some reason the governor wire coming off the governor was always made using the old cotton cloth insulated wire from the 1930s. This wire always seems to have a frayed spot along the insulated coating. It is also a good idea to remove the lid on top of the governor and check the points inside to make sure they are not stuck together or coated with oil caused by transmission oil leaking into the governor from the transmission (bad seal)

With the ignition key turned on, jump the governor wire to ground. You should then hear a click from the relay on the firewall. That means the signal from the governor is reaching the relay on the firewall.

Power comes from the fuse through the relay, which is then activated whenever it is grounded. Power from the relay to the governor does pass through the kick down switch. If there is no relay click when grounding the governor, check for battery voltage at the battery wire and trace it back to the kick down switch and then back to the relay to find the open circuit.

If you have battery voltage at the governor and you hear a relay click when you ground the governor, then the relay should be sending power down to the solenoid. As soon as the solenoid gets power, it too should click. If the solenoid does not click, check to see that it is receiving full battery voltage from the relay. A faulty relay can sometimes reduce the amount of battery current delivered to the solenoid so check to make sure the solenoid has full battery voltage at the number (4) terminal.

Which Solenoid Terminal Is Which…?

There are two wiring terminals on the overdrive solenoid. The number (4) terminal on the solenoid gets its power from the relay, and activates the solenoid plunger shaft. With the solenoid shaft pointing away from you (just like it is in the car) and the two solenoid terminals on top of the solenoid at the 11:00 and 1:00 positions…the RH terminal is always the number (4) terminal.

You can apply battery voltage directly to the number (4) terminal using a car battery or a 10 amp battery charger) and then by grounding the negative jumper wire (or lead from the charger) to the case of the solenoid, the solenoid should engage. If it does your solenoid is good.

90% of the time all the electrical problems are nothing more than loose and dirty connections. Remove the wire connections at the relay and the kick down switch and ensure that they are clean.

I have had to carefully spray the terminals with electrical contact cleaner and polish the contacts using steel wool or a scuff pad to restore the connection.

On a rare occasion you might have to bend the tabs on the bottom of the relay cover so you can remove the cover and gain access inside the relay to file the contact points, but that is rare. We have new solenoids, relays and kick down switches available if yours are defective.


Maintenance of a Borg-Warner overdrive is pretty easy. The most important thing to remember is that there are two places to add GL-1 gear oil into the transmission. There is the normal plug/hole in the side of the transmission but another plug/hole is in the tail shaft area. Fill both to the bottom of the hole with GL-1 gear oil (which was factory fill) as you would for any standard transmission. 

It will take about a gallon to fill both the 3-speed transmission and the overdrive transmission. You will have about a pint left of your gallon when you are done, depending on how much you dribble on the floor during installation.

Lubing The Dash Cable

In a functional system you will find that you rarely need to to lock out the system. If you are restoring an overdrive equipped vehicle you will most likely find that the overdrive cable has not been used and is stuck.

The cable must be removed completely to free it up. A big nut behind the cable secures it to the bracket under the dash. A 1/2” nut & bolt secures the functional cable end to the lock out lever on the transmission.

The upper bolt on the solenoid (in some applications) secures the bracket that holds the outer cable. (Once unbolted, this sheet metal bracket is spread apart to remove it from the cable) Unbolt everything and pull the cable out through the firewall into the interior.

By twisting the outer cable you should be able to break loose the inner cable enough to remove it. Use sandpaper to clean all the corrosion from the inner cable. Then use a wire wheel/brush to remove all the crud from the outer cable. Next insert the inner cable back into the outer sheave and spray the entire assembly with WD-40 or similar lubricant. The outer cable is composed of wire tightly twisted around the inner cable.

This design allows the lubricant to easily seep inside. Reinstall and work the cable back and forth and it should begin to move easily. If it is too far-gone we have new cables available in the parts section of our website.

Checking the Governor

When the transmission gets “stuck in overdrive” you already know what to do first, if you read the tech tips and related information in the front of this book. Besides the careful rocking motion and solenoid service discussed earlier, there is one other thing you need to check if you are still having trouble… the governor.

First remove the cover of the governor and then hold the governor contact points apart. Next ground the cover of the governor by touching it against the transmission case. If that causes a  “click” to be heard, the “click” indicates a short circuit in the governor cover assembly and the cover assembly wiring connections or the wiring itself  is “shorted out” and needs to be repaired. If there is NO click, the governor is ok and you need to look to the solenoid for your defect.

Removing and Replacing The Governor

To remove the governor from the transmission, first disconnect the wire at the cover (or wire end connector) and loosen the governor housing using an (1-3/8”) open, end wrench to turn the nut at the base of the governor. To replace the governor insert the governor into the transmission housing and engage the teeth of the governor drive gear into the teeth of the speedometer drive gear. Next, tighten the nut located at the base of the governor housing using an (1-3/8”) open, end wrench. Reconnect governor wire and check for proper transmission operation.

Reverse Lockout Switches

If your reverse lockout switch fails there are not any new ones available so your best bet is to remove the defective switch and connect the two wires together that were connected to either end of the switch. Reverse lockout switches were discontinued on BW overdrive transmissions beginning in the early 1950s. Your BW overdrive transmission will work fine without one.

Don’t forget to read the other Garage Tech entry on overdrives…that covers the top ten things you need to know if you have a B-W overdrive transmission in your antique vehicle. Between this entry and the other one you should have a pretty good idea how an overdrive transmission works and how to troubleshoot it. 

And last but not least don’t forget to order a copy of Randy’s book “The Official Guide to the Borg-Warner R-10 and R-11 Overdrive. The book includes history interchange information, tech tips and a complete illustrated service guide. The book is available in the overdrive section of the parts pages.


Now You Can Follow Along...

Posted on 12/8/16 with No comments

Now you can follow along with both of the Fifth Avenue blogs...The "Garage Tech" blog and the "Mr. Haney Specials" blog without having to keep checking the Fifth Avenue website to see if there is a new posting.

As of today, you can sign up using your email address, and you will get an email anytime there is a new posting on the blog you are following. You need to sign up separately for each blog, the sign-up is free, and you can subscribe to one or both, and you can unsubscribe anytime. You are signing up only to be notified of the blog updates. We will NOT sell your email to one of those junk mail bandits who fill up your inbox with junk mail. If there is no will get NO email. You will also notice there is no advertising in Randy's blogs, is is that way on purpose. Randy started his blogs to help you understand how things work and to make you a better informed customer.

You will find a sign up link on the home page (in the upper right hand corner) of the blog that looks like this. Enter your email, and follow the directions from there. When you are done you will receive an email to confirm that you have signed up as a follower to the Blog. Simple as that!

As for the Mr. Haney Specials...
Randy has been collecting antique auto related collectibles for more than 40 years. "I knew I would have an antique auto parts store someday, and I wanted it to look on the inside, just like those I remembered as a kid, those auto parts store established in the 1940's that seemed to have a personality all of their own, with the squeaky hard wood floors, and the automotive related advertising memorabilia on the walls that us cars guys collect. I wanted that kind of store..."

"In 1993 I bought a building (half a block long) in downtown Clay Center Kansas that was built in the 1930's, originally as a commercial laundry. By the time I bought it in 1993 it was an empty shell used for storage. I moved my business downtown and started in adding things little by little from my collection, and buying more in my travels. Now some 30 years later the store is fully decorated, and so is the finished basement in my house..."

So...what to do with all of the leftovers...? With the store done and his house done, Randy still has almost enough to do another store. Remember he has been collecting for more than 40 years.

Instead of storing all of this memorabilia in a warehouse Randy has decided to sell it and give someone else a chance to decorate their garage or shop. So that is how Mr. Haney Specials came about. Randy will list items he has for sale along with pictures and descriptions. If you see something you like send him an email and make him an offer. He will keep adding more items as time allows so signing up as a follower will let you know when another item or items have been added. Like" Garage Tech" the sign up is free and you can unsubscribe at any time.

You will find a sign up link on the home page of the blog (in the upper right hand corner) that looks like this. Enter your email, and follow the directions from there. When you are done you will receive an email to confirm that you have signed up as a follower to the Blog. Simple as that!


Gates Power Grip Radiator Hose Clamps Are Coming To Fifth Avenue...

Posted on 12/2/16 with No comments

The Gates Power Grip Hose Clamps are coming to Fifth Avenue. The Gates Power Grip hose clamps are far superior to metal band clamps and they never need re-tightened! Let's learn more...

Conventional metal band hose clamps have been around for nearly a hundred years in one form or another. They have a few inherit defects, one being they tend to become egg shaped if they are overtightened. They also tend to damage the radiator hose they are clamping when the clamp is over tightened. We have all watched car owners tighten a metal clamp until little pieces of rubber squeeze up between the slots on the metal hose clamp. That shortens the life of the radiator hose for obvious reasons.

Part of the reason for the coolant leaks in the winter months, is that rubber coolant hoses shrink in diameter when they get cold, while the clamping force from the metal clamp does not change. The result is a slight coolant leak that appears on the garage floor. Then the big tools come out and that clamp will get squeezed to within an inch of its life just like the radiator hose before it.

The fix is the new Gates Power Grip hose clamps. They are a heat shrink fit, and when it gets cold they shrink along with the radiator hose. As a result there is no leaks. You install them using a heat gun, the same one you use to heat shrink a wiring connection. The writing on the clamp turn color, from green to gray when they have had enough heat.

Gates Power Grip clamps will fit and seal any shape radiator neck, even one that is slightly out of round, which is quite common in antique vehicles that have been around for fifty plus years.

We will stock the Gates Power Grip hose clamps for the (1.50) and the (1.75) inside diameter radiator hoses, which are the two most common sizes.  Once you have tried them for yourself you will decide to buy them by the box (10 to a box) which is the cheapest way to buy them anyway.

Here is a size chart that explains what size of Power Grip clamp you need for your application...

And Here Is A Copy Of The Official Installation Instructions

The Gates Power Grip hose clamps are perfect for antique vehicle applications, because they can make allowances for out of round radiator hose necks and uneven surfaces. They are easy to install and are resistant to gasoline, brake fluid, engine oil, and all types of antifreeze coolant. Finally... there is a radiator hose clamp that will seal up our antique cooling systems once and for all, and stop those pesky leaks we can all identify with.


What Is "Killerglass"... And What Is It Used For...?

Posted on 12/1/16 with No comments

What is Killerglass...?
“Killerglass” is a patented product (proudly designed and manufactured in the USA!) that is exposed to a three-step chemical hardening process that makes standard Pyrex glass 400 percent more impact resistant. The result makes "Killerglass" glass the ideal product for severe duty automotive and industrial applications. The patented three-step hardening process was developed and is owned by the largest scientific glass apparatus design and manufacturing company in the United States. One of their largest customers besides the US Government is the Gates Rubber Company of belt and hose fame. When you have car guys working in a company like this along with the Gates engineers who are also car guys...and this is what happens.

Pyrex History...
Pyrex glass came about thanks to a railroad glass scientist who created a lantern lens that when in use, did not shatter when exposed to rain or snow. He named his new glass lens "Pyrex" Glass. The word Pyrex comes from the Greek Word “pyro” or fire, and “ex” which refers to the type of glass. Pyrex glass does not expand or change shape when heated. (If you drop it, it will shatter.) That is why Pyrex glass was used in the 1960s and '70s in the construction of the windows of the Apollo and Gemini spacecraft. Killerglass is like Pyrex glass on steroids!

How Is Killerglass Used In Automotive Applications...?
Killerglass has become very popular with engine builders. When you run an engine on a dyno or test stand you can easily watch for things like bubbles in the coolant, or traces of motor oil in the coolant which are signs of head gasket or other engine sealing issues. Killerglass can also help identify issues  such as water pump cavitation, and a stuck thermostat.

Common sense is better to find out you have engine sealing issues early on... instead of after it is too late, and the antifreeze has washed down the cylinder walls and the engine oil has become diluted with antifreeze. Killerglass will help you easily identify engine sealing issues.

I know what you are thinking...and YES you can install Killerglass in your antique vehicle to watch for the same symptoms. Most everything we drive is fifty years old or older so the use of Killerglass becomes cheap insurance. In some cases... besides the cost, it is the difficulty of finding replacement engine parts that becomes the issue.

The Job Of A Head Gasket... A Simple Review
The Job Of a Head Gasket is to form a seal between the engine block and the cylinder head. This seals both the combustion chamber, and the coolant passages in the engine.

The Head Gasket has to seal extremely hot high pressure combustion gases as well as engine coolant which can range in temperature from outside ambient temperature (below freezing in the winter months) to engine operating temperatures at or above 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Do to the wide range of temperatures and the large surface areas, along with age, and the technology of the day, it is not uncommon for antique engines to develop Head Gaskets leaks over time.

And... as we know from experience some engines were more prone to Head Gasket leaks than others, many pre-war engines for example. Also, technology and the head gaskets materials were not as far advanced as they are today which makes watching for head gasket leaks all the more important.

Leaking Head Gasket Symptoms...

* Visible Coolant Leaks Between Cylinder Head and Engine Block.

* White Smoke Coming Out Of Exhaust (Engine warmed to operating temperature)

* Bubbles In the The Radiator or Overflow Tank. (Killerglass eliminates the danger of removing a radiator cap under pressure to check for bubbles in the coolant (which will occur after the thermostat has opened and the pressure has built up inside of the radiator) You will be able to easily see the compression bubbles in the coolant with the Killerglass installed.

* White Milky Oil (Once your engine is turned off the coolant still left in the engine cylinder will seep past the piston rings into the engine oil. Coolant mixed with engine oil will result in a white milky substance on your engine oil dipstick or a ring around your oil cap. If you have Killerglass installed you will also be able to see the oil contaminated engine coolant inside of the cooling system.

Engine coolant mixed in with your engine oil greatly reduces the lubricating properties of the engine oil. which will affect things like engine bearings and camshaft bearings. In addition the coolant mixture can cause corrosion to form inside of the cylinder walls as it mixes with the water and exhaust gases.

If you are having overheating issues...Killerglass can also help identify water pump cavitation, (are you Flathead Ford owners paying attention here...?) poor coolant circulation issues (from air trapped in the cooling system from not having a coolant recovery tank) even something as simple as a stuck thermostat.

Installation of Killerglass Is Simple...
Simply lay the Killerglass on top of the straight portion of the top radiator hose and mark both ends with a piece of chalk. Next you will need to drain about a gallon of coolant from your radiator. Cut your radiator hose and then install the Gates Power Grip clamps (provided) onto the ends of the radiator hose.

Install the Killerglass into the radiator hose and slide the gates clamps in place. Heat the clamps using a heat gun on the high setting, keeping the heat gun in motion around the clamp. When the letters on the clamp turn gray you are done. Let cool, add back your engine coolant and enjoy. Complete detailed install instructions and a pair of Gates power grip clamps will come with your Killerglass kit.

Besides the obvious technical benefits there is a "cool" factor to watching the coolant circulate thru your engine. It is like being inside the cooling system and watching it work. It clearly takes the mystery out of how the cooling system works.

Word Of Caution...
As with most innovative products that become "game changers" the knockoff products soon appear. So it is with Killerglass. There is a product being sold thru Ebay that at first glance looks to be the same as Killerglass, but is priced much cheaper. This is a clear case of buyer beware! Here is the differences...

The Killerglass With The Barbed Fitting Ends...

The Knockoff Example from Ebay With The Single Raised Ridge

There are vendors, especially on Ebay and other places that are selling laboratory grade Pyrex glass tubes as clear glass radiator tubes. Those glass tubes are not tempered glass like the Killerglass and are not designed for automotive use. The company that makes Killerglass has a patent on the chemical hardening process that makes Killerglass so durable. 

Here is one example of a source for the glass tubes sold for scientific use... 

If you are thinking those look like the same glass tubes you worked with in Physics class during High would be correct. Do you still want to trust one of those glass tubes as a radiator hose...? 

Look how much smooth the radiator hose ends are with the Killerglass. Also notice there is no coolant leakage, clearly a better sealing surface with the Killerglass.

The Safety Factor...
Looks aside the other important factor to consider is safety. There is quite an extreme temperature change in a cooling system, especially when you consider the outside temperature may be below freezing while the coolant temperature inside the engine may exceed 250 degrees. 

Imagine what would happen... if the knockoff glass coolant hose shattered because of the sudden temperature extremes, the outside of the glass being below freezing but the temperature on the inside of the glass suddenly being close to 250 degrees when the thermostat opens and the hot coolant rushes in.  Killerglass is the only chemically hardened glass available.  You are not working on a science experiment.

Sizes Available...
For the antique vehicle applications I have worked with the engineers at Killerglass to develop a Killerglass for antique, classic, and Hot Rod applications. The Killerglass for our applications will be 8" overall length with 6" of exposed glass, so the amount of straight space you need is 8" total. Sizes offered will be for radiator hoses with an inside diameter of 1-1/2" and 1-3/4" the two most common sizes. Feel free to call 785-632-3450 or email with any questions... 

Killerglass is now available in the "Parts" section under "Cooling Products. " 

Now you know what Killerglass is, and the differences between it and the knockoffs. The Killerglass costs more because it is a superior product that costs more to manufacture, and is way better engineered. It is lifetime guaranteed against breakage. The hose ends seal better and being chemically hardened it will clearly stand up to the most severe automotive applications. 

How Tough is Killer Glass...?

Killerglass came about because the engineers working at the company are car guys. They took an established patented product and applied the technology to automotive applications. They didn't do it for the money, they did it because they the can, and they are car guys. We get the benefits. The engineers made a video early on for themselves, to document strength of the Killerglass product. You can watch it below.

Disclaimer... Don't try this at home and definitely don't try this with any of the knockoff products on the market. Prepare to be impressed. 


History of Bumper Cars And How They Work...

Posted on 11/29/16 with No comments

"Two brothers Max, and Harold Stoehrer, of Methuem Massachusetts spent two years developing a car they proudly named the Dodgem. Soon after the Dodgem was introduced to the public, the Scientific American Magazine did a test on one of the cars. The review was less than flattering…stating that the cars were "highly unmanageable, with the steering only relative". The two brothers later admitted that with their cars…." until you have learned how, you often try to go someplace, but often may not end up where you intended on going". . . Never the less, the cars became extremely popular, despite their bad reviews.

The success of the Dodgem cars caught the attention of Joseph Lusse and his brother Ray who together owned the Lusse Brothers Machine Shop Company. The Lusse Bros decided to design and build, their own car and fix, the defects in the design of the Dodgem Cars. The bothers would spend the next nine years working on their car during which time they were awarded eleven patents.

The Lusse Bros. introduced their "Auto-Skooter" car to the public in the Spring of 1930 and the cars were an immediate hit, in part because they had truly solved most all of the problems associated with the Dodgem cars. The Lusse Bros Auto-Skooters quickly established themselves within the market and easily outsold the Dodgem cars.

A 1940's Company advertisement for the Lusse Bros Auto-Skooter proclaimed that "Our cars are built to exacting Lusse standards, which means built-in quality and stamina to spare…"

Among the improvements the Lusse Bros. perfected in 1928, was to mount their engine vertically in the front of the car.

Power could then be transmitted through two couplings to a ring-and-pinion final drive that had a small wheel attached with the rim keyed to each end of the output shaft. This design was much like that used by BWM for the Isetta.

The advantage to this design was that the whole assembly could be mounted on bearings and could be aimed in any direction by turning the steering wheel. There were stop locks installed that prevented the steering from going to far in either direction. Soon enough, young drivers would discoverer that the Auto-Shooter could travel just as fast in reverse as it could forward!

From 1935 on the Lusse Bros., Auto-Skooter Company experienced strong growth and prosperity. A minor interruption during World War 11 only made the company more secure. Improvements continued including updated headlights, fiberglass bodies, and air-filled bumpers instead of solid rubber bumpers.

The cars were driven by an electric motor powered by a curve shaped piece of metal with a copper or brass metal lining called a "spoon". The spoon is firmly attached the end of a wooden pole. These spoons provided electricity to the motor in the bumper car when they rubbed on the underneath side of a series of metal grids located in the ceiling.

 These same spoons could be made to arc and spark (which was cool to watch) when the cars were involved in a multiple car pile-up. Learning how to innocently create a multiple car pileup was an art into itself.

Watching the cars in action while waiting your turn to ride, you could easily spot the faster cars, the ones with the best connection between the spoon and the wire grid in the ceiling. The fastest car would give you a slight advantage, which you could then put to good use.

Turning the steering wheel to full right or left would cause the car to go into reverse. With a little practice, you could become very good at creating havoc on the bumper car highway

Now...For The How They Work Part
First up, the bumper cars need electricity to work. That makes it complicated because bumper cars are one of the few rides that is able to travel forward and backward, side to side, and in circles all at the same time, and are not attached to any controls directly ran by the ride operator.

The better the connection between the spoon and the grid the faster the car will go. A clean shiny contact between the spoon and the grid is what made the fastest cars. Sometimes you would get a really, slow car and the operator would have to take some steel wool and polish the topside of the spoon that had accumulated a corrosion film on top of the spoon That could turn a slow car into a fast car.

The remaining electricity is discharged through the metal floor to ground. So, if there is electricity on the floor… why don't you get shocked if you touch the metal floor while the ride is turned on? Because…the voltage present in the floor has "potential" but not enough amperage to do any work or any harm to you.

Electricity can do work, (turn a motor to power the bumper car for example) when the voltage goes from a higher voltage to a lower one. Most of the amperage, which is what does the work is used up by the bumper car motor, so what electricity that is left, has no amperage. You might get a slight tickle but that is all. The odds of getting shocked were reduced even more if you are wearing tennis shoes, which most kids wore in the summer.

Using the garden hose analogy the voltage is like the pressure in a garden hose and is what forces the current thru the wire. The amperage is like the volume of water present and what actually does the work. You can still have voltage present even though the amperage present is minimal having been used up to do the electrical work, as in this example powering the electric motor in the bumper car. you get it now...?

To make the bumper cars slide around more and to prevent the cars from getting to much traction and hitting to hard, powdered graphite was sprinkled on the floor.

So…What Became Of The Two Original Companies…?

The Dodgem Company lasted up into the early 1970's and continued to make both portable and permanent design rides, all the while holding onto their original 110 volt design when the industry had switched to a 90 volt DC standard. Competition from three different Italian companies eventually proved too much for the company and it was closed in the early 1970's.

As for the Lusse Company, Ray Lusse Jr. ran the company after his father's death in the 1960's. In 1989 Ray Jr. got into financial trouble with the IRS but managed to shuffle money and assets around until 1994 when the bank accounts were finally empty. He died that same year. The rights to the Auto--Skooter were then sold to Designs International located in Dallas Texas. The remaining inventory of original parts and pieces, were sold off, by the Lussse''s last landlord to recover back rent.

And there you have it...the history and the "how it works"...of Bumper Cars. If you have ever thought about buying and restoring an old Bumper Car and put it on display in your office or basement here is a little incentive. Start looking!


Playing The "Diggers..."

Posted on 11/16/16 with No comments

Most of us growing up had the opportunity to visit the traveling carnival when it came to town during the summer months. I went because it was fun to check out all things mechanical. I studied how the rides worked and how they operated. In our small community we got the older carnival rides and equipment that had often seen better days. One of my favorite stops on the midway was the mechanical digger game. For a quarter I had a chance to use the crane to try and pickup a prize buried in the gravel. To me the prize was almost secondary, I just enjoyed the challenge, and eventually got pretty good at picking up "the good stuff." As I look back now seldom was the "good stuff" worth even the quarter. For me...the satisfaction was "making the machine pay out" when others tried and failed.

By the time, I began playing in the late 1960's…I had to pay the attendant every time… to get him to start the crane. To me…in my young mind… it would seem more logical to just install a coin mechanism so kids like me could take care of ourself, and not have to bug the attendant every five minutes for a game.

Now… all of these years later, I now know why it did not work that way. Let me share a little digger crane history with you. Then like me, you will understand that things were not as simple as they first appeared, even in those days.

The first "digger" crane was built in 1896 from a child’s toy and was intended to be a penny candy vendor. The miniature steam shovel was encased in a solid oak cabinet with glass windows on three sides. It was all mechanical, and did not use any electricity, not even an electric light.

During the 1920s and 1930s, many other manufacturers began producing their own version of a digger game. By 1939, there were over 35 companies building and selling digger games. Many of those companies offered the so-called "modern" digger games, which were electrically operated, and had virtually no element of skill. Two of the most popular manufactures of electronic diggers were the Exhibit Supply Co. of Chicago and International Mutoscope Reel Co. of New York.

With the emerging popularity of coin-operated slot machines, tavern owners soon figured out that the digger machines could easily be converted into gambling devices. Clever operators offered silver dollars, paper currency, and little bundles of coins wrapped in cellophane tape as the reward for lucky play.

During this golden era, some models were designed to fit into the décor of the fine upscale hotels and railroad stations. These deluxe models quickly became known as "hotel" models and are highly sought after by today's collectors.

After World War II, the federal government began taking notice of the digger games being used as possible gambling devices. Digger game operators began placing large quantities of Japanese novelty items in the prize field to cover-up the coins and currency that was still being used as the real lure to attract players.

By the end of the 1940s most diggers were working for 10 ¢ per play and were still very profitable. The new trend was for large independent operators to own dozens of machines, and have them operating at multiple locations in units of 10 or 12 games, each. Lee Moss, and Tommy Wells, of Hot Springs Arkansas were two well known large operators of the carnival style diggers.

The commercial operation of diggers changed abruptly, and forever, in 1951 with the implementation of the Johnson Interstate Transportation Act. This new law made it a Federal crime to transport gambling devices across state lines, and all diggers were automatically placed in the gambling device category. Thus, the business of operating traveling commercial diggers ended in 1951

Lee Moss, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, had purchased the Erie Manufacturing Corp. back in 1946 along with his brother-in-law Tommy Wells. During the 1940's they had been operating over 35 traveling units of 12 diggers each, but now, were suddenly out of business.

Moss and Wells immediately brought their equipment home. The FBI quickly began raiding other operators who did not cease their operations. Those operators now in violation of the new federal law, immediately had their machines seized and destroyed.

Lee Moss then organized a small group of former digger operators in an effort to establish a lobbying campaign to have the gambling classification removed.

After two years,  the group was finally successful in changing the "classification" of certain types of digger games from "Gambling Devices" to "Amusement Devices". Diggers could again operate, but only under new and very strict rules. No electrically operated games were allowed after 1951.

Starting in 1953 the diggers began their new life as carnival games exclusively, and only the mechanical (Erie type) were allowed under Federal laws. Gone were the coin slots. Instead, the player was required to pay for each game "over the counter", and the attendant had to manually activate the machine by pulling a string on the back of the cabinet.

In addition, no cash money could be offered as prizes, and no prize could have a value of over $1. The charge to play could not exceed 10c, and the diggers were only legal to operate at agricultural fairs and celebrations.

With the relaxation of Federal laws in the 1970's, mechanical coin slots began to reappear on digger games. Starting in the late 1960's, the cost to play was raised to 25c. Finally, the twenty-year moratorium on coin-activated diggers was over.

By the late 1980s however…the digger business was gone for good. The original mechanical digger games were replaced with more modern computer controlled games.

So...where did all of the original Erie Digger cranes go...?

There were such large numbers of digger cranes produced from 1924 to 1946 that it is puzzling to many collectors as too why so few of them have survived.  The answer lies in coin-op history. Erie Diggers were a favorite of the early traveling operators and remained so up to, and even well past, the Johnson Interstate Transportation Act of 1951.

Most of the original cabinets were used and abused during years of carnival service, and when the machine parts wore out they were often crudely repaired by the carnival operators who owned them.

When Lee Moss and Tommy Wells purchased the remains of the Erie Manufacturing Corp. in 1946, that cut off the source for replacement parts.

The final destruction of most originals came with a mass re-modification by digger owner/operators following the Johnson Act.

The operators who owned Erie diggers were frantic to get back into operation so to be in compliance, they immediately began scraping the coin entries, the intricate mechanical coin mechanisms, and removing the cabinet backs.

They cut-out parts of the cabinet backs in order to reach into what was once the coin mechanism area to manually start the machine using a piece of heavy string. Those are the ones I grew up with.

Some operators even blocked-off the prize chutes to make the game appear more 'legit'. With some cabinets already in sad condition the owners just threw them on the burn pile and built new cabinets of their own design, often in multiples to mount on trailers.

As a result... few originals from the traveling carnival era survive. The survival rate of the deluxe machines was much better because of the surroundings they operated in, and many have been restored. Here are a few sample pictures of some of the deluxe models. Until I decided to do a little homework after seeing an Erie Digger in a museum, I had no idea these fancy models even existed.

The Johnson Act said in part...

(1) any so-called "slot machine" or any other machine or mechanical device an essential part of which is a drum or reel with insignia thereon, and (A) which when operated may deliver, as the result of the application of an element of chance, any money or property, or (B) by the operation of which a person may become entitled to receive, as the result of the application of an element of chance, any money or property; or (2) any other machine or mechanical device (including, but not limited to, roulette wheels and similar devices) designed and manufactured primarily for use in connection with gambling, and (A) which when operated may deliver, as the result of the application of an element of chance, any money or property, or (B) by the operation of which a person may become entitled to receive, as the result of the application of an element of chance, any money or property; or (3) any subassembly or essential part intended to be used in connection with any such machine or mechanical device, but which is not attached to any such machine or mechanical device as a constituent part.

Not much wiggle room there... and there is more....this part covers the transportation of so called gambling devices..

(a) It shall be unlawful knowingly to transport any gambling device to any place in a State or a possession of the United States from any place outside of such State or possession: Provided, That this section shall not apply to transportation of any gambling device to a place in any State which has enacted a law providing for the exemption of such State from the provisions of this section, or to a place in any subdivision of a State if the State in which such subdivision is located has enacted a law providing for the exemption of such subdivision from the provisions of this section, nor shall this section apply to any gambling device used or designed for use at and transported to licensed gambling establishments where betting is legal under applicable State laws:
Provided, further, That it shall not be unlawful to transport in interstate or foreign commerce any gambling device into any State in which the transported gambling device is specifically enumerated as lawful in a statute of that State.

The new laws were very specific and to the point. They were written
to be easily enforceable with no wiggle room. It worked. The digger
business would never be the same. I clearly got in the the end of an
era. Hope many of you also have fond memories of the digger cranes
and as Paul Harvey used to say..."and now you know the rest of the


About Me

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Since 1987, Fifth Avenue owner, Randy Rundle, has been making antique, classic and special interest vehicles more reliable and fun to drive.