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Electric Fuel Pumps 101...What You Need To Know

Posted on 10/28/15 with No comments


Electric Fuel Pumps and Modern Gasoline...

Based on the phone calls I receive on a daily basis a lot of you reading this are having trouble with the modern gasoline damaging your electric fuel pumps. The old Stewart Warner electric fuel pump that we have used for close to 30 years no longer work with the modern gasoline. The alcohol in the gasoline causes the diagram to swell and tear, which in turn causes the electric fuel pump to fail. 

I experienced this first hand with Great Race cars nearly 25 years ago. The Great Race teams were experiencing constant electric fuel pump failures. So I went looking for a solution. I needed to find a dependable replacement electric fuel pump that would pump alcohol and all fuel additives. (Remember this was back in the gasohol days...) 

If you have read my gas book I tell you to stay away from the alcohol gasoline but depending on where you live that may not always be an option. If you are a Great Race entrant you do not have time to shop for gasoline,  you buy it at the closest gas station next to the hotel or somewhere along the race route. You have to buy what is available and hope for the best.

I learned that most all of the electric pumps that "chatter" and make noise, are diagram pumps, and the alcohol in modern gasoline will attack the rubber diagram inside the electric pump causing it to swell and tear.

 I also learned that the rotary vein pumps are not reliable either as the alcohol fuel is a drier fuel and with a lack of lubrication once carried in the gasoline (lead) the alcohol gasoline causes the wafers inside of the rotary vein pump to literally grind themselves to pieces...much like when you sawed your gram crackers in kindergarten. 

End result is a pump failure with the wafer filings ending up in the fuel filter (you do have one...right?) or worst case,  under the needle and seat in the carburetor or... plugging up you main jet in the carburetor.

The technology that I found to work the best is an electric fuel pump with two stainless gears inside that work much like the fuel pumps in modern vehicles that have the fuel pump located inside of the fuel tank. 

     This is my electric fuel pump taken apart so you can see the two stainless steel gears inside.

I found a source and started buying these pumps and modifying them for use with antique vehicles in 1992. We have used them on the Great Race vehicles every year since and they have worked like a dream. No more fuel pump issues.

These electric fuel pumps are the same working pressure as your mechanical fuel pump so no fuel pressure regulator is needed for most applications. They will work with both positive and negative ground applications and they come with a 30-micron fuel filter installed.  Also included is the mounting bracket and hardware.  The best place to mount these pumps is back by the gas tank, inside the frame rail. 

Always use a 30-micron fuel filter with your electric fuel pump

Best of all you can change the fuel filter without any tools. That was a feature the Great Race teams wanted so when they got into some bad gasoline they could change the filter in a hurry and be back on the road. 30-Micron replacement fuel filter part numbers are included in the instructions so you can buy them locally.

I have the pumps available for both 6-volt and 12-volt applications. If you are into the technical numbers, the 6-volt pump has an output of 2.0 pounds of  fuel pump pressure and delivers 15 gallons an hour which will take care of most any single or multi-carb applications.

 This is the electric fuel pump complete minus the fuel filter

The 12-volt version has an output 4.0 pounds of fuel pump pressure and delivers 30 gallons an hour of fuel. Both pumps have a pressure check valve inside so they will shut off when your fuel line is full. These pumps work just like the oil pump inside of your engine so they are quiet, which was another request of the Great Race entrants. "What ever pump you sell us had better be quiet we are not going to listen to a fuel pump chatter for 8 hours a day...! "

Most important  to that because this electric fuel pumps is the same working pressure as the stock mechanical fuel pump no fuel pressure regulator is needed in most cases. 

Today's modern gasoline has a lower boiling point than the gasoline of the old days. That does not affect the modern fuel injected cars because they typically have between 40 and an 100 pounds of fuel pump pressure. IT DOES affect our antique vehicles that typically have between 2 and 4 pounds of fuel pump pressure.  As a result these electric fuel pumps have become more popular today than they were when I introduced them in 1992.

So here is the deal. To keep everybody on the road with the modern gasoline...if you call and order one of these electric fuel pumps for $95.00 each (the same price they have been for the past ten years...) Fifth Avenue will pay the priority mail postage on your electric fuel pump order. In order to get the free freight you need to tell me how much money the Fifth Avenue Antique Auto Sponsored 1916 Hudson Great Race team won in the 2015 Great Race. The answer is fifty thousand dollars. When you call and order your electric fuel pump(s) (you can order more than one so get with your friends) say "Howard Sharp fifty thousand dollars..." and the priority mail postage will be free on your electric fuel pump order.

To Order Use the part numbers below....

  6-volt - 92415EFP6      6-volt electric fuel pump
12-volt - 92415EFP12  12-volt electric fuel pump

Don't forget to add a pint of diesel fuel to ten gallons of gasoline. It will raise the boiling point of modern gasoline and lubricate the gaskets in the carburetor to keep them from shrinking resulting in a leaky carburetor.


A Family Legacy, Jimmy Doolittle, and A 1942 International Fire Truck

Posted on 10/26/15 with No comments


A Family Legacy
The memories we have of our childhood growing up are something we cherish. Those early memories often influence us later on in life, and help to shape us into the adult we become. It is also true that sometimes the simplest of things or events will stick with us forever. 

So it was with Fee Stubblefield, a boy who grew up in Oregon loving his Grandma. He watched her work hard in the family business and take great care of her family. From her, Fee learned love, kindness, dignity and caring well for others. As the years passed Grandma would tell him..."When I get old promise me you will not put me in an "old folks" home. He would never forget those words.

One day while grandma was mowing the lawn, she had a heart attack. Even though she eventually recovered, the family knew she needed additional help. The family started spending more time at grandma's mowing her lawn and doing chores around the house. She would mention almost daily during these years ..." Whatever happens I want to stay in my own home..." Fee listened carefully to her words.

Then the day came when the house was too big, the chores to difficult and grandma became a little overwhelmed. Hearing her words echo in his mind Fee had an idea. Why not create a place that was like grandma's home, A place where life would be a little easier for his grandma and those like her. A place dedicated to those simple and important values passed down from the older generation. A place where Grandma would want to live and her family would want to come visit. No such place existed, so Fee decided to build one.

The result is "The Springs Living" a community dedicated to the values Fee learned from his grandma. The Springs Living is a warm and friendly place full of caring people, the food is good, the rooms nice, and the lawns well manicured, just like grandma house. The Springs Living community turned out better than anyone could have imagined.

So...if you have gotten this far you are no doubt wondering what this story has to do with a fire truck, and Jimmy Doolittle's Raiders. Read on the best it yet to come.

The Lehman Hot Springs Resort
The family business that Fee Stubblefield grew up in was the Lehman Hot Springs Resort. Founded in 1871 the Lehman Hot Springs is in a timbered setting 4,300 feet above sea level, deep in Oregon's scenic Blue Mountains. For over 138 years people of all walks of life have enjoyed the largest natural collection of hot springs  pools in the northwest. The Stubblefield family owned the resort for 55 years of those 138 years, selling their interest in the 1980's. Fee named his retirement community after the Springs Resort that he literally grew up in. 

The Lehman Hot Springs Resort

It was during the mid 1960's that Fee's Grandfather bought a retired 1942 International fire truck from the city of Pendleton Oregon for use at the Springs Resort. As a young man Fee rode in that fire truck with his father and grandfather, and would take his first driving lessons in that fire truck. The picture below shows Fee sitting on the running board of the truck shortly after it was purchased by his grandfather.

        Fee Stubblefield  on the running board of the 1942 fire truck in the early 1960's

The Fire Truck
The fire truck itself had quite a famous history. It was bought new by the Army Corps of Engineers in late 1941 during the expansion of the local airport into what would become Camp Pendleton Army Airbase. It was on this airbase that Jimmy Doolittle began training the men selected for the upcoming secret mission to attack Japan by air. The air base remained a flight training base during the war with 2500 men stationed at the base.

                   Camp Pendleton Air Base during construction in May 1941

When the airbase was decommissioned after the war, the Army gave the 1942 International fire truck to the city of Pendleton Oregon. Sometime in the early 1960's Fee's grandfather bought the now 20 year old fire truck from the city of Pendleton. In the 1980's when the family sold their interest in the Springs Resort, the fire truck was sold to Woodpecker Truck Sales, the local International truck dealer. Woodpecker Truck Sales would own the truck for the next 30 years eventually restoring it to running condition. In 2012 Fee had the opportunity to buy the 1942 International fire truck, the same one he literally grew up with. He did with the idea it could be used for for parades and special events at the Springs Living community.

Dan Upshaw Director of Maintenance for The Springs Living called upon Fifth Avenue Antique Auto Parts to see if Randy had a way to make the now restored fire truck run as good as it looked. Randy sent a Fifth Avenue alternator and mounting bracket kit to upgrade the fire truck from a generator charging system to a more modern alternator type charging system. The benefits would be brighter lights easier starting and no more dead batteries. 

This is the Fifth Avenue Alternator Installed On the 1942 International Fire Truck.

The alternator did the trick, the fire truck is much easier to start and is more reliable and fun to drive. Now the Springs Living community can take residents for a ride on the fire truck which has become a very popular pastime. The 1942 fire truck truly runs as good as it looks. 

                   This is What The 1942 International Fire Truck Looks Like Today

The Jimmy Doolittle Connection
In June 1941 the U.S. Army Air Forces' 17th Bombardment Group was transferred to Camp Pendleton for training for the upcoming Japanese Raid. The most highly skilled pilots were stationed at Pendleton Air Base. The Japanese raid was conducted in April 1942 in response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.The Doolittle raid was the first Bombardment of Japan by American forces.

The Mitchell B-25 Bombers
Originally built in 1938 the Mitchell B-25 bombers had the most range and load capacity of any bombers available for the mission, and were also the fastest and most agile. However the B-25 bombers were not designed to take off from an aircraft carrier. The average carrier deck at the time was only 450 feet long and the Mitchell B-25 bombers needed 750 feet for takeoff. Doolittle studied the engineering drawings and consulted with engineers and determined that he could teach pilots to takeoff from a 450 foot long carrier deck. He needed 80 volunteers for 16 five men crews. He chose the 17th bombardment group stationed at Pendleton Oregon because of their advanced B-25 flying experience.

It took Jimmy just 4 weeks to teach the pilots how to master the short takeoff. The shortest distance they practiced was 500 feet. The B-25 Bombers used in the raid were highly modified and carried nearly twice as much fuel on board as a standard bomber. These planes, 16 in all, were the first to be flown off the deck of a ship. On the fateful day the ship was traveling into the wind at 20 knots and the wind was blowing 30 knots for a combined 50 knot headwind. The pilots followed Doolittle's lead (he was the first to takeoff) and timed their takeoff during the upsurge motion of the ship. It worked... all 16 pilots managed to takeoff safely.

Lt. Col. James Doolittle earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for leading the attack, and all the crewman five of whom were from the state of Oregon received distinguished Flying Cross. The Camp Pendleton Army Air Base served as a training base for fighter pilots until August of 1945 when it was then converted back into a civilian airport. It still serves as a airport today as is known as Eastern Oregon Regional at Pendleton.

The Doolittle Raid on Japan
If you watch the video below carefully you will notice the planes are very tightly packed in order to get all 16 of them on on deck. They were literally packed wing tip to wing tip and nose to rudder, with the back and sides of the planes hanging off the ship. Jimmy himself was the first to takeoff and he made it, so the rest of the pilots knew it could be done and each one gained a plane length in runway. 

All the pilots made it off the ship and all but three pilots returned home. Ironically none of the planes themselves made it home. The Japanese discovered the bombers about 400 miles and ten hours short of their takeoff destination. The decision was made to launch the raid early and ditch the planes when they ran out of fuel, which is exactly what they did, but not before all of the targets were hit. The mission was a success.

Jimmy himself at first... thought the mission would be considered a failure because he lost all 16 planes on the mission. He was coming home and preparing for the worst and thought he might end up facing a court-martial. Instead he came back a hero along with all of his men, declared heroes as well.


                                                          Click Arrow to Watch Video

The Springs Living Veterans Take Flight
After watching the above video you come to appreciate all of the things the veterans have done for our country, The Springs Living community has a number of veterans living in their communities. They began looking for a way to honor those veterans and found Ageless Aviation Dreams a not for profit group that provides rides in World War II vintage aircraft for retired veterans. The Springs Living made the arrangements for the group to come to the Springs Living communities and provide rides to their veterans. To say the project was a success would be an understatement. Watch the video below to see for yourself. 

Click The Arrow To Watch The Veterans Flight Video

I always try to learn a little something about my customers to find out what their passions are and what they do for a living or what job they retired from. Every once in a while I get more than I bargained for and I get to be part of something that is truly spectacular that makes you feel honored and humbled to be a part of it. This project was one of those. This became much more than fixing an antique fire truck which I have done literally hundreds of times over the past 30 years. This project was about somebody making a difference in the lives of the people around him and sharing a vision that he got from his grandmother as a young boy over 60 years ago.  It is projects like these that make my job fun!

Thanks to The Springs for their video footage of the veteran pilots flights, the history of Lehman Springs Resort, and the history of their community. 


How Come My Antique Vehicle Won't Run On This Modern Gasoline...?

Posted on 10/16/15 with No comments


I have been getting lots of questions lately about modern gasoline, and why it is causing antique vehicle owners so much grief. is a little insight into the problem.  As with most things you first need to understand the problem in order to understand the solution.

Two major things in modern gasoline cause us the most problems. The first one is alcohol. Most all gasoline sold in the United States contains ten percent alcohol as per federal law. Alcohol is a good cleaning solvent and will clean out all of the varnish and corrosion on the inside of your fuel tank. All of that "gunk" ends up plugging your fuel filter (you do have at least one right?) and eventually ends up in the carburetor where it plugs up main jets and the needle and seat in the carburetor. That leaves you walking.

Modern gasoline is also is a dry fuel so it will cause the gaskets in the carburetor to dry out and shrink. You experience this as a leaking carburetor. DO NOT follow your instincts and get the big number twelve flat screwdriver out to tighten all of the screws on the top of the carburetor. One of two things will likely happen. You will strip out the screws  in the top of the carburetor or you will crack the carburetor housing.

The alcohol in modern gasoline has more oxygen, which causes your engine to run lean. Sometimes adjusting the carburetor will help. Ideally you want an air fuel mixture of 14 to 1, fourteen parts air to one part gasoline. When you get down to below 12 to 1 you will experience poor idle stumbling upon acceleration and sometimes a high rpm engine miss under load. we understand the problem what is the fix...? First off stay away from the alcohol gasoline. Try to buy non-alcohol gasoline from a farm service station or in a station that sells off road gasoline, or sometimes it is called farm gasoline. Depending on where you live, places like boat marina's also sell non alcohol gasoline. Most small airports sell non-alcohol gasoline for  single engine general aviation. Ask around and you can usually find some.

Watch the gasoline pump you buy from and try and buy from a station that has an individual hose and nozzle for each grade of gasoline. The pumps that have just one hose for all the different grades means that you will get up to 3/4 of a gallon of whatever the last customer bought before you get what you selected. This is true even if you selected non-alcohol gasoline. If your tank happens to be only four to five gallons, the concentration of alcohol in your fuel tank could be pretty high.

If you see the transport delivering fuel at a service station drive on by...when they dump a load of gasoline into the underground storage tank it will stir up the sediment and water in the bottom of the storage tank and some will get delivered thru the nozzle. Modern fuel systems will filter that out... our older vehicles...not so much.

One of the simplest things you can do is add a pint of diesel fuel to ten gallons of gasoline. Modern gasoline has a lower boiling point to help with emissions and to make it a cleaner burning fuel. Modern fuel systems have 40 to 100 pounds of fuel pressure and we have 1 to 4 pounds in most cases. That is why you are experiencing vapor lock more today (where the fuel turns to vapor before it gets to the mechanical fuel pump) than you have for many years. The diesel fuel will raise the boiling point of the gasoline and keep the gaskets from drying out in the carburetor.  Accuracy is not critical a little more or less is ok. The engine will not smoke if you add the diesel. There are dozens more gasoline tech tips in " The Official Guide to modern Gas and Oil for Antique Vehicles" available in the technical publications section of the website.


Micky's Gas Station... What You Missed All Those Years Ago...

Posted on 10/15/15 with No comments


When I was growing up ...about grade school age in the early 1960's, I watched cartoons in the mornings before school as did most of my friends. Most of what I watched were Walt Disney cartoon reruns, but at that age I didn't care how old they were, I just watched then for the characters that I knew. I especially enjoyed the cartoons that involved automobiles or motorcycles as most of you did who are reading this now. Life was pretty simple in those days.

For those of us in the older generation,  we often say we have little or no use for computers and most of the time I would agree. However there is some good in everything and everyone as my grandmother used to say...and so it is with computers, you just have to find something they are good for. One thing I have discovered... is that with a computer you have the opportunity to relive parts of your childhood over again. On You Tube recently,  I found one of the old Walt Disney cartoons from my childhood that was one of my all time favorites. I had not seen it in fifty years, but as soon as I saw the opening scene it was as if I just watched it yesterday.

After watching it a couple of times to refresh my memory, I suddenly realized I was so engrossed in the story that I hadn't paid attention to the background details. Funny how your adult mind requires you to pay attention to the details while your adolescent mind allows you to watch the cartoon for what it is... simple entertainment.


              Click the Arrow Above To Watch The Cartoon

Released in 1935 the background details, including the layout of the gas station, the tools they used, the  outside lift were all accurate for the era. When I watched it again with my adult mind in charge, I saw the tow truck parked in the shed in the background along with another car and a stack of new tires on display next to a shed, all things I had never seen before.

 It was like the test they gave you in college where they showed you a five minute movie of a bank robbery then asked questions about the color of the getaway car,  license tag number, how many people were involved, which one drove the getaway car. Everybody in class watched the same movie but everybody saw something different.
I have come to appreciate this cartoon more as an adult than I did when I was younger in part because my adult mind appreciates the detail of the engine parts, the tools, the signs on display, and the way cars were worked on in that era are all accurately displayed.  My adult mind also appreciates all of the time and trouble the animators went to to include the correct details.  They had to know how those things worked in order to be able to illustrate them accurately.  Even the things in the background that most people do not see if they are the least bit involved in the storyline are well detailed. The could have just as easily drawn a shed with nothing in it and nobody would have known the difference.  It is that extra effort that makes this cartoon great. Maybe the animators were car guys...? Have a look and see for yourself.

Fuel Stabilizers and Winter Storage

Posted on with No comments

As the leaves start to turn colors some of us begin to think of fall and having to put our antique vehicles in storage for the winter months. One thing we need to think about is the gasoline in the fuel tank and what happens to in over the winter. Modern gasoline typically has about a 90-day shelf life starting at the refinery. The gasoline you buy at your local station is most likely 30 days old when you buy it.

The point here is the gasoline in your fuel tank will turn sour before the birds and the flowers greet you in the spring. You need to add a fuel stabilizer to the fuel in your tank to prevent fuel problems in the spring.

Most of us have experienced gasoline that has turned sour. It plugs up fuel filters, gums up mechanical fuel pumps, plugs up main jets and idle circuits in carburetors…and the list goes on.

I started researching fuel storage additives about ten years ago. When modern gasoline began adding alcohol to the mix it changed how I prepared the cars entered in what is now the Hemming’s Great Race. The alcohol in modern gasoline especially affects cars put in storage for the winter. Modern alcohol gasoline can absorb up to 13 oz. of water in a twenty-gallon tank.

What I also discovered was that not all fuel stabilizer additives are created equal and that nearly 40 percent of the fuel additives sold contained alcohol as their primary ingredient! Good Grief! That is what we are trying to get rid of, why would you add more alcohol to your fuel tank!

If you have read my gas and oil book you learned how to read a MSDS sheet to figure out what is in a fuel stabilizer additive.

Meanwhile…after I figured out what should and should not be in a fuel stabilizer additive I looked to see if there was anyone worse off than we were.

Here is a short video from Briggs and Stratton on the affects of alcohol gasoline.

I discovered the small engine people (landscapers especially) were having a terrible time, much worse than we were… which makes sense considering how easy it would be to plug up a jet in a small engine carburetor for example. So I called and talked to the engineers at Briggs and Stratton and Stihl numerous times and almost wore out my welcome both places, but I found out what I wanted to know. I called most all of the other companies for input but either got no response or no return phone calls, and one who said, “That’s not our problem …” and hung up!

Then I worked on shell life of the additives. Some additives are good for three months and some as long as three years. That is quite a difference. If you have more than one collector vehicle or lawnmower, weed eater, chainsaw, snow blower, who wants to have to treat them more than once during the winter?

So in the end here is what we use for the Great Race cars and is what I use in my own vehicles.  It is made by Briggs and Stratton, one ounce treats five gallons (it is concentrated obviously, no use buying filler) and one 16oz bottle treats 80 gallons. Cost of a 16 oz bottle is $21.00 plus shipping. And the best part, one treatment is good for up to three years, by far the longest of anything else on the market, AND…it contains no alcohol. It is available under the "FUEL" heading in the "PARTS" drop down link.or by calling 785-632-3450. I hope this helps keep your antique vehicle on the road and saves you a little heartache and aggregation in the process. 


Buying a Fairmont Railroad Motorcar

Posted on 10/14/15 with No comments


I have collected traditional hot rods of some sort for most of my life. But about ten years ago I decided (mid life crisis) it was time for something different. After a year of hunting want ads and sale bills I bought a 1946 Fairmont Railroad Motorcar on a surplus auction. What did I know about a Railroad Motorcar...? Exactly Nothing!

I got it home, got it running found some abandoned track to try it out on and rode it (actually...pushed it more than I rode it) for a year. It was clear the motor was tired and needed an overhaul. Compression was about half of what it was supposed to be and the oil leaks were numerous.

The hunt was on for somebody that knew something about Fairmont 2-cycle engines. That somebody turned out to be Richard Canaday who along with his brother Jack ran a machine shop in Lathrop Missouri. Richard had a motorcar himself and understood all of the principles of how a Fairmont 2-cycle engine was designed to work and more importantly how to improve the efficiency (read increase horsepower and torque). He understood my logic that this was an opportunity to squeeze a little more torque and horsepower from this 2-cycle engine.

The bottom end was rebuilt and left alone with not room for much improvement there. Like most things designed in the early days it was over built for the job it had to do. With that portion of the engine in good shape it was time to move forward. The cylinder head was next.

This was the part Richard had been waiting for. I knew by the grin on his face he had a plan in mind and that my cylinder head was never going to be the same. I knew something was up when Richard chucked the cylinder head in the lathe then fired up the welder. This I had to see...  First the cylinder head was built up to increase the compression. Richard did this by hand with the head mounted in a lathe. There is some obvious talent there.

Hardly recognizable, this is the same head with the machine work done. That center section, was raised, about 5/16 of an inch. Richard knew exactly what he needed for a finished measurement. Not satisfied with a simple port and polish job Richard did a complete redesign of the cylinder head combustion area.

I was like a kid in a candy store having not watched somebody this good in more than twenty years. Richard is not a theory guy, he is an “absolute 100 percent know how something works” guy. “You can’t make something better ‘till you know for certain how it works!.” he often said.

This is the head reinstalled on the engine with the engine back in the motorcar. The Factory engine had steel head nuts and steel studs, which were seized to each other so when it is time to remove the cylinder head, all of the head bolt studs broke off in the block.

Richard made a tool to get the broken head studs out of the block. He also machined this set of brass head studs on the lathe as replacements. No more seized head bolts.

The engine would almost pass for stock except for the head bolts…and until you start it. The original cylinder compression in a new stock Fairmont engine is 65 pounds.  This one was down to 36 pounds. This one today is just shy of 85 pounds. The exhaust note “Barks” a sharp crack every time the engine fires, gone is the mellow putt putt sound.  These are hand crank start engines so cranking the engine is now a little more difficult, but well worth the trouble.

This is a stock piston out of a 1946 Fairmont 2-cycle engine. Looking at that dome and the fact that the piston weighs over a pound presented a few challenges.  These engines remained the same design from their introduction in the early 1920’s up into the mid 1970’s when they were discontinued.

 This was the part I was looking forward to. I had built speciality low rpm / high output alternators for many customers over the years it was time to build one for me. These engines are 2-cycle and have an idle speed of about 150 rpm and a maximum rpm of 650.  I needed an alternator with about 20 amps starting at 200 rpm That would run the headlight taillight and ignition with some amps to spare. I built a mounting bracket for the engine and installed the alternator. Happy to say it worked like a dream.  And I found yet another market for my alternators.

This is my Fairmont Motorcar stopped in the Rail Yard in Blue Rapids Kansas, only four miles to go until the end of the line. This rail line has 12 miles of track and has some great scenery. I also ride this line at night a couple of times a year which is quite the adventure. Night time is when all of the animals are out and about.  This railroad line has two sections of track that are two percent grades about a half a mile long each. My track speed used to be as slow as five miles an hour by the time I got to the top of the grade. Now I run 20 mph all the way up and over the hills. Not bad for an engine design that is over 90 years old.

On this rail line is a railroad bridge that is 90 feet about the Big Blue River and is about an 1/8 mile long. As you can see is has no railings and you can look down between the ties as you ride over it. It truly takes your breath away the first couple times you cross over it.

This is the same bridge at sunset. If you ride across this bridge about dusk you can often see the deer walking out onto the sand bars to drink out of the river. There is a lot to see along the railroad tracks that you cannot see from a road or the antique cars stashed in the back of farmsteads away from public view, or so they thought.

I now have my "something different" hot rod. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that it would be a railroad motorcar of 1945 vintage, that you could hot rod a 2-cycle engine designed in the 1920"s, and that I would be riding the rails for fun. You never know what life has in store so enjoy every day.

Here is a short video of my 1946 Fairmont  Motorcar in action. For comparison, the yellow motorcar that goes by first is a stock motorcar and has the typical putt putt exhaust note that all of the early 2-cycle motorcars are known for. Mine is the one following.

The exhaust note is quite different between the two. This is on the Central Branch Railroad in Waterville Kansas. You can stay in that hotel in the background, it has been restored. The caboose in the background is one of two surviving wooden cabooses left in Kansas. The Central Branch Railroad is now owned by the Marshall County Railroad Historical Society and is the oldest continuously operating Railroad in Kansas.

Thanks to Ed Hoover for his video services...


Borg Warner R-10 / R-11 Tech Tips

Posted on 10/8/15 with No comments


Borg Warner Overdrive Tech Tips

The Borg Warner Overdrive R-10 / R-11 electrical overdrive was first introduced in 1940. Prior to the R-10 / R-11 overdrive there was the R-9 overdrive which was a part mechanical part electric overdrive. In this discussion all of the information I give you here is for the R-10 / R-11 overdrive models. I will explain the difference in the two models in this pay attention.   

The Borg Warner overdrive would become an option for 22 different makes and models. Ford was the last to offer the Borg Warner overdrive in 1972 as an option for the Ford F-150 pickup. Ford was also the last one to offer it as an option in a car for the 1967 model year. Studebaker sold the most overdrives options. There were over four million Borg Warner overdrive transmissions sold between their introduction and the last ones sold by Ford in 1972. 

1) Their were 11 different wiring diagrams for the Borg Warner overdrive transmission BESIDES the simple one I provide to you in my overdrive book and in the instructions that are included with the overdrive parts you buy from me. I believe simple is good so that is why I include the original Borg Warner wiring instructions. They are the simplest and least complicated to understand. 

2) The Difference.  The R-10 and the R-11 overdrive models are exactly the same with one exception, the difference is the number of gears inside of the sun gear. An R-10 had three gears while the R-11 had four. The R-11 was used on heavier cars, most typically Packard's and in later years, in higher horsepower V8 applications. The R-10 is by far the most common  and will be plenty strong enough for most antique vehicle applications.

3) Model Identification You can look on the transmission housing next to where the solenoid goes into the transmission and there will be some raised casting numbers cast into the housing. It will say R-10 followed by the transmission identification number which also tells you the application of the transmission. If your transmission is an R-11 it will say R-11 followed by the identification numbers of the transmission. 

4) All of the electrical...Relay, Solenoid, Kick down switch, and most all of the internal parts will interchange between the transmissions. In other words a Ford solenoid and a Studebaker solenoid will interchange with a Willy's or a Hudson. Keep that in mind when you go to the next swap meet.

5) Solenoid Shaft Lengths...MOST but not all shaft lengths of overdrive solenoids measure about one inch in length, if you lay a ruler on top of the shaft and slide it back to the housing of the solenoid. There are a few exceptions...most notably station wagons and convertibles of which some had an inch and a half long shaft due to an extra cross member being present on the frame. Also some Chevrolet pickups from the mid to late 1960's had a two inch long shaft. There were only about 1500 of those made which is good and bad. Good because your odds of ending up with one is slim. Bad because if you end up with one you odds of finding another is not good.

6) Things that wear the most. The two most common things that wear out on a Borg Warner overdrive transmission are the Relay and the Solenoid, which makes sense as they are used the most. A 6-volt and a 12-volt solenoid and relay will not interchange so you need to buy the one that matches you electrical system voltage. Kick down switches are the next most common wear item and they WILL work on either 6-volts or 12-volts. Governors seldom go bad and seldom need replacing, and will work on either 6-volt or 12-volt applications. 

7) Solenoid wiring terminals...with the solenoid in your hand with the shaft facing out in front of you...the right hand terminal is number four and connects to the relay. The left hand terminal connects to the kick down switch. A small amount of solenoids had a third wire that was a ground if yours is one of those check your shop manual and it will confirm where the third wire goes. Finally...most solenoids had screw in terminals, a few had internal connections with wires coming out of the solenoid. Wiring connections for both are the same.

8) There were two solenoid manufacturing companies, besides Borg Warner, both Autolite and Delco manufactured solenoids. All will interchange and as long as the shaft length matches yours and the operating voltage is the same.

9) Checking Solenoids...The best way to test a solenoid is to apply battery power directly to the number four terminal and ground the case. As soon as you touch the case with the ground, the solenoid shaft should snap out. You can do this while the solenoid is in the vehicle OR while on the bench. Either way should make the solenoid work.

10) Solenoid Installation...This is the most important tech tip of all so play close attention! The first thing you need to do is replace the seal in the transmission housing. That way you won't have any transmission oil leaking into the solenoid and ruining the solenoid.

When you get ready to install the solenoid the first thing you want to do is line up the solenoid shaft so the flat spot is at the 12 o'clock position. Next apply battery power to the number (4) terminal on the solenoid. Then ground the case of the solenoid which will make the solenoid shaft extend out. Now carefully slide the solenoid shaft past the seal  (a little white grease or Vaseline in the center of the seal and on the end of the solenoid shaft works wonders) until the shaft engages into the pawl in the transmission. Once it is engaged turn the solenoid to secure the pawl into the grove of the solenoid. Release the ground and the solenoid shaft should retract... and if you got the pawl into the groove at the end of the solenoid shaft correctly the solenoid itself will be pulled towards the transmission. If you always install your solenoid this way you can be 100 percent sure the solenoid is installed correctly. Line up your bolt holes and you are done.

This method also works if the flat spot on the solenoid shaft is clocked at a different location than the original. The rule is you always want the flat spot on the shaft to be at 
12 'clock position when you insert the shaft into the transmission. Once the pawl is in the groove rotate the solenoid as necessary to line up the mounting holes.

11) Overdrive Lockout Cable. Remember when the cable is pushed in towards the dash, the car will go into overdrive at about 33 mph. If the cable is pulled all the way out away from the dash, the overdrive is "locked out" and the transmission will not go into overdrive at 33 mph. If you are having trouble with overdrive engagement check the cable at the transmission to be sure the shift lever is being moved all the way back towards the rear of the transmission. Kinks in the cable can reduce the travel at the transmission shift lever causing the transmission to not engage properly.

12) Don't Cheat !! It is tempting to connect the solenoid to a toggle switch and by-pass the relay, governor, and kick down switch. If you do that you have to remember to NEVER start out in first gear or reverse in overdrive or you will crush all of the needle bearings in the sun gear. That will be really expensive. You will know when you do it because of the sound it makes but by then it is too late. You are looking at a $400 to $600 repair bill if you can find the parts which will have to come from another overdrive transmission because there are no new parts available.

I have had dozens of customers over the years say "I can remember" or "I put a light on the dash..." or any other of a dozen excuses. Eventually they all forget and have the repair bill to prove it!

14) What About Gear Oil?  You want to use GL-1 gear oil in your overdrive transmission and in the front transmission. When you buy a gallon of gear oil you will have about a pint left over after you fill both transmissions. depending on how much you spill on the floor filling the transmission. There is a passageway between the two transmissions but you must fill BOTH transmissions. Do not use tractor oil or any GL rated oil higher than GL-1 as the detergents in the modern gear oils will attack the bronze bushings and parts in the overdrive. And most important of all DO NOT use synthetic gear oil. It is two slippery and the sun gear will not engage. You will have to disassemble the transmission and get all of the synthetic residue off of the internal parts. That is not a fun task!

If you want to learn more about the Borg Warner Overdrive order my Overdrive Book available in the "parts" section of the website. It will be money well spent.

The 1939 Chevy Krazy Kar

Posted on 10/6/15 with No comments


The Krazy Kar built by Henry and Wilfred Abels of Clay Center Kansas  in 1960

It was the Thanksgiving dinner of 1959. While most of the Thanksgiving dinner table conversation revolved around how the children and grandchildren were doing, two brothers Henry and Wilfred Abels had their own private conversation going on.  The Kansas State Centennial celebration was coming up in 1961 and they decided they should build something for the occasion.

Henry remembered he has an old 1939 Chevrolet car parked out behind his barn. The brothers decide to use that car, find another one like it and build a car with two front ends welded together that would steer from both ends. It would take a little more than the usual “farm” engineering they were used to, but the brothers were always up for a challenge.

So in their spare time they got to work. They started by taking the body off of the 39 Chevrolet car chassis. The next job was to locate a front end that was the same width as the stock Chevrolet car front end that also steered. In 1959 the choices were limited.

After a few Saturdays spent visiting all of the local salvage yards in a 100-mile radius, they determined that a Dodge Power Wagon front end was within a couple inches of being the exact same width. That would be close enough.

Because this was a low budget “fun” project the rest of the car was built using what they already had on the farm. That included replacing the bad sections of the original wiring harness with the wiring they had saved from tearing down old houses and barns.

With the Dodge Power Wagon front end installed onto the 1939 Chevrolet car chassis it was time to build the body. Turns out that 1939 Chevy cars were not an easy find locally in 1960. They found lots of 1937 models and lots of 1935 models but no 1939’s. After three months of intense searching they finally located what they needed in a salvage yard in Manhattan Kansas.

They had to shorten the bodies of both cars quite a bit more than they originally planned, in order to get both front ends to fit onto the stock length frame. With the bodies mounted and welded together it was time to build the doors. They ruined two complete sets of doors trying to figure out how to cut and section them to fit the openings. No matter what they tried nothing worked.

Most people would have scraped the whole project about then. Not these two! Finally after three weeks of working with door number five… they figured it out, then, all they had left to do was build a second door for the other side.

They used the stock outside door hinges and pins on one end of the doors and a large bent gutter nail for the door pin on the opposite end of the doors using the original outside hinges.  They used old movie theatre seat cushions mounted on wooden box frames for the seats. They went to great pains to be sure the interior was the same inside for both ends.

Matching the steering columns, meant matching steering wheels, and same 3-speed shifters and making sure all of the linkages and pedals on the floorboards, were present and working on both ends. Matching the Dodge Power Wagon front-end to the 1939 Chevrolet Steering box turned out to be one of their biggest challenges.

When it was completed in 1960 there were eleven horns on the car. Today the car still has seven horns including the original mechanical Bull Horn.

The brothers took the “Krazy Kar” to the 1961 Kansas State fair where it was a big hit. The car then appeared weekly at dozens of county fairs and parades throughout the state for the next dozen years. In 1973 the brothers decided the Krazy Kar had “made the rounds” so into the barn it went where it remained for the next 39 years. 

I grew up and went to High School with Benny Gibbs the grandson of Henry Abels. One January day in 2007 I got to thinking about the Krazy Kar and wondered what happened to it. I called Benny who explained after the grandparents died the car was gifted to Wilfred's oldest son Barry who lived in Denver. After Barry died it was gifted to Benny who by now was living in Austin Texas. Benny went to Denver and got the car and hauled it to Austin where he put it into storage.

 I tried to convince Benny to fix it up or I would buy it if it was for sale. He did not have much time to fix it up, he was plenty busy at work. Benny said he could not sell the car as it was a family heirloom. Not willing to give up so easy I called on Benny's younger brother Kenton who lived in Arkansas City Kansas and convinced him to ask Benny if he could come get the Krazy Kar so we could get it running. Benny happily agreed. 

Kenton was to young to ever drive the Krazy Kar it but had fond memories of it. Benny and I did get to drive it a few times around the farm when we were in High School with strict orders not to wreck it. That was in the early 70's after the newness had worn off. 

Kenton went and got the Krazy Kar and it took most of the winter to get it running. New tires a little work on the brakes and a paint job later it looked better than it ever did. Ironically, Kenton was about the same age when he started working on the Krazy Kar as his granddad and his uncle were, when they started building it.

Its first trip out after its long hibernation was in the annual Piotique Parade in Clay Center. The car had not seen the light of day in 40 years. It was the Clay Center Piotique Parade in the fall of 1960 where the car was first driven...." to test it to be sure everything worked..." Kenton and I did the exact same thing 40 years later. Who would have thought? 

Kenton and I have driven The Krazy Kar in about a dozen parades and it is a lot of fun to drive. Communication is of the essence or you will end up on the curb before you know it. We practice for about 20 minutes before every parade so we can check the width of the streets and intersections...normally if the streets are wide enough we do complete circles at intersections and crab walk down the streets. It is a handful making sure you do the opposite of what the other driver says he is going to do and watch out for kids at the same time. 

In the updated version the Krazy Kar got an actual spray paint job instead of the brush paint job it had originally. Everything else is true to the original design with no other changes made. The only addition was a 1961 Kansas Centennial License tag installed on the front the car. The goal was to capture the nostalgia and experience what it was like to drive the car when it was first built. Today we can do that. Henry and Wilfred would be proud.

The Krazy Kar As It Looks Today. 

The Blue End Is The Dummy End

The Red End Has the Engine And Transmission

This Is The Drivers Side

This Is Also The Drivers Side

 The Dodge Power Wagon Rear End That Drives The Car. 

The Krazy Kar appeared in the 2017 Clay Center Piotique Parade for only the third time since it was revived in 2008. The original 1939 generator breathed its last during its last parade appearance two years ago. Time for an upgrade to a Fifth Avenue 6-Volt Alternator. Boy did that make a difference. Better starting especially when the engine was warm and while we sat for 20 minutes getting lined up in the parade the battery stayed up for the first time ever.

It also got a gear driven electric fuel pump to help out the tired mechanical pump. That combined with one-gauge replacement battery cables made a huge difference in the cranking power of the car. it was an obvious upgrade to me but the family had to weigh the decision of changing the car from the way it was originally built. In the end they decided that if the two brothers had known of these upgrades, they would have used them.

None of the changes are permanent, everything is bolt on and can be put back at any time. We have had to push start the Krazy Kar in the past and we always knew better than to shut it off at the end of a parade, unless we could park on a hill. I had been campaigning for these upgrades for a while. Finally it was time.

Now the car is much more fun to drive. We had a film crew from Wichita KS. come to Clay Center for the friday night cruise night and yes we drove the Krazy Kar in cruise night. It was a first drive in the dark. Doing the circles in the street and watching the headlights shine off the buildings is kind of an erie sight. We had no idea we were being filmed until the next day at the car show, they tracked us down for an interview and a demonstration. We even put the camera man on the running board and he filmed us doing circles... figure 8's... and crab walking. He said that was a first in all his years filming car shows. Guess he has never hung around us Krazy Kar drivers before.



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.