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Lost Knowledge, Old Catalogs, And Thinking Outside The Box...

Posted on 12/20/17 with No comments


This is my 60th entry into the Garage Tech portion of the website. Many of you reading these entries, have sent me an email to say "thanks" for explaining how things work, and thanks for helping me solve my fuel, electrical, cooling etc, problem. To all of you I say..."you are more than welcome", and there will be more to come.

I have also received a few emails asking "why are you giving all of this information and tech advice away for free...?" Simple. If you know how something works or is supposed to work, then fixing it or operating it is much easier.

When you call me to order parts, you will know exactly what parts you need and why. That makes my life easier as well. makes owning an antique vehicle much more fun, and that antique vehicle is more likely to get preserved and passed on to the next generation to enjoy.

By now most of you have experienced what it is like to visit a modern auto parts store. Everything is on computer and they look up parts by application. Many of the people behind the counter are much younger than we are, and have little or no mechanical experience, especially with antique vehicles, or auto parts installation in general. As a result they do not have the ability to "think outside the box" and look at a part and know exactly what it does, how it functions, making the part number and application secondary.

Here is an example of what I mean... I needed a mechanical brake light switch for my Fairmont railroad motorcar after it was finished. There were not any brake lights or taillights on a Fairmont railroad  motorcar originally from the factory, because only one car was operated at a time, and mostly during daylight hours. But I needed a brake light switch that would activate a brake light when I moved the manual brake lever forward. That way, when I ride with a group of motorcar owners they know when I apply the brakes, and can follow me after dark and not run over me.

I knew from working on various antique vehicles growing up that a brake light switch from a 1951 Chevrolet pickup could be made to work. That same brake light switch was used on dozens of different applications besides automotive, including my 1958 Cushman Truckster. It was also sold back in the day as a "universal brake light switch." I knew how it worked, and I knew how it mounted, and was sure I could make it work on my motorcar.

Going to the local auto parts to get one proved more difficult than I could have imagined. I went in and asked for a brake light switch for a 1951 Chevrolet pickup...(knowing they look things up by application) "it has been discontinued" was the reply after a 20 minute computer search. So I asked for a "universal" mechanical brake light switch.  "For what application...? " came the reply..."doesn't matter it's universal fit..." I reply. Look in your illustrated parts catalog under brake light switches it will be in there..." Then came the deer in the headlights look.

One advantage of living in a small town is that you can go back behind the counter and look up things for yourself. I did and there it was on page 167 of the catalog. Together we went back to the parts shelf and they had two in stock. I grabbed them both to save myself some aggravation in the future.

Those of us that are older, can remember going into an auto parts store and asking the guy behind the counter for a universal brake light switch and the counterman would immediately go get one off the shelf without looking it up. Same when I used to go get tune-up parts for my old Chevrolet pickup. I could just go the counter and say points, plugs, condenser, cap, and rotor for 1951 Chevrolet pickup and it was on the counter in five minutes or less. The counterman knew without looking up in the book, exactly what I needed.

Part of that came from the fact that most every counterman "back in the day," was also a mechanic on the side and had personally tuned up a Chevrolet and knew first hand the job I was going to do.

That vast knowledge of parts and procedure has disappeared for the most part. That older generation of parts countermen have long since retired and have been replaced with a counterman (or woman) that is good with a computer but often times does not know a water pump from a spark plug, has never actually installed either, and does not know what function they provide, and could not point out either part under the hood of an automobile.

 So...if you are lucky enough to find and auto parts store with a counterman who has the knowledge of your antique vehicle, be nice to him and capture all of the knowledge you can get from him, while he is still around.

Most auto parts stores today also do not have any paper catalogs, everything is on the computer, but you may find a long established auto parts store that has a bunch of old catalogs stored in the basement or upstairs that they are willing to get rid of... "because they are obsolete..." Load them up and take them home. Study them during the long winter nights and you might be surprised at what you learn.

We as antique vehicle owners have to be more self sufficient today than ever before. We are at least three generations away from when our antique vehicles were a daily driver.  With the increased lack of general "hands-on" knowledge, it becomes more of a challenge to get what we need at a modern auto parts store.

The modern full line stores like NAPA and Carquest carry a large selection of mechanical parts for antique vehicles, you just have to share your knowledge and help them find the parts they did not know they had in stock, or could order.

That is why I include things like a bulb crossover number chart in the 6/12 Conversion Guide. If you were to take your 1154 tail light bulb into the local auto parts store and ask for an equivalent in 12-volts...most of the time, nobody in the store would have a clue how to figure out, that you need an 1157 bulb.

Many of the old bulb catalogs gave specifications such as candle power rating, type of base, (bayonet straight pin or offset) and single filament or dual filament for each bulb. With the paper catalogs and the counterman knowledge both gone, it is much easier if you go into the local auto parts store knowing the part numbers you need, and walk out smiling.

That is where collecting all of those old paper parts catalogs from the auto parts stores, comes in handy. You can learn a lot from them, and the older ones were much more detailed than the modern day computer catalogs, and worked much like an interchange catalog. As you study them you will begin to recognize the same part number used on a host of applications.

That is exactly what a counterman did in the old days. That is how he eventually knew what fit what, without looking it up. He had studied those catalogs long enough, that he knew all of the applications that used the same part number.

So all of this is some food for thought. Think about gathering up some old auto parts catalogs and start a notebook that you can write down part numbers as you discover them. The part numbers do change over time but the part seldom does. Many times an auto parts store can go back a couple of number changes to find the part is still available.

If you keep current on your part numbers and write them down as you buy them, then going to the auto parts store will be much less painful, and you might be able to teach the younger generation a thing or two in the process. Better yet drive your antique vehicle down to the local auto parts store and show them what you are working on. That will surely blow their mind!


Borg Warner R-10 and R-11 Overdrive Tech Tips...The Odds and Ends

Posted on 11/28/17 with No comments


OK...if you have been paying attention to the tech stories in the Garage Tech section of the website you know I have written two tech articles about the Borg-Warner R-10 and R-11 overdrive.

You should know by now they these two transmissions are basically the same except for the number of cluster gears inside of the sun gear, with the R-11 having four while the R-10 has three. Both transmissions have proven to be plenty durable in normal use. The R-10 is the most common with the R-11 transmission used in the heavier cars like Packard, and in the higher horsepower applications in various brands in later years. The electrical is the same for both in that a solenoid, relay, kickdown switch, of the same voltage will work on either transmission.

It is not uncommon to find the Borg-Warner overdrive transmissions installed in all sorts of non factory applications. These transmissions were cheap and plentiful in the 1950's and 1960's and and easy to adapt in all types of drive lines.  Complete transmissions could be purchased from a salvage yard for twenty dollars...back in the day. That is what they were selling for in the 1960's when I was growing up.

When you upgrade a 6-volt vehicle to 12-volts you will also need to upgrade the solenoid and relay to 12-volts. The kickdown switch and the governor will both work fine on 12-volts.

Because of the demand for solenoids, both for production and the aftermarket, there were three different companies that manufactured solenoids, Delco,  Autolite, and Borg -Warner. Borg-Warner had sold over two million of the overdrive transmissions by 1954. All of the solenoids will interchange with each other physically, you just need to match up the voltage of the solenoid to the voltage of the vehicle's electrical system, and check the shaft length.

What this means is... when you go to the next swap meet... pay attention to the overdrive solenoids for sale. Often times a Ford solenoid will be $125.00, and two rows over you will see a Studebaker Solenoid for sale for $75.00. Now you know those are both the same solenoids.

Solenoid Shaft Lengths...
The most common shaft length by far is the 1" long shaft as measured with a ruler placed on top of the solenoid shaft and slid up next to the flange of the solenoid.  Convertibles and Station Wagons sometimes had longer shafts if there was an extra cross member in the frame. Typically these were shaft lengths of 1.5 or 1.75 in length.

Another common application that had a longer solenoid shaft was the 1946-48 Lincoln. Those applications typically had a shaft length of 1.5 inches. Lastly the solenoids used in 1968 thru 1972 Chevrolet pickup applications had a shaft length of 2.0 inches.

There were about 1500 Chevrolet pickups sold with overdrive option... so they are somewhat rare. Chances of finding a replacement long shaft solenoid for this application are almost slim to none. In some cases you can rebuild your current solenoid.

So the point is...DO NOT ASSUME all of the solenoid shaft lengths are the same or that yours is the most common one inch solenoid shaft. You need to physically measure your solenoid shaft so you know for certain what the lengths is.

If you have one of the longer shaft 6-volt solenoids... from a 48 Lincoln for example, you need to keep in mind that there is no 12 volt equivalent of that solenoid, and you cannot exchange shafts inside of the solenoid without a lot of effort because the early shafts were held using an "e clip" while the later solenoid shafts were held in place using a roll pin. Apparently there was a problem with the "e clips" falling out as internal parts began to wear, so that was the reason for the change.

The Flat Spot On The End Of the Solenoid...
The position of the flat spot on the end of the solenoid shaft is there to allow the pawl to slide by so you can then turn the solenoid to lock the pawl into the end groove on the Solenoid shaft. Does it matter where the clock position of the flat spot is...?

NO IT DOES NOT...if you install the solenoid correctly. The best way is to apply battery power to the number four terminal on the Solenoid and ground the case. That will make the solenoid shaft extend out. Now rotate the Solenoid until the flat spot is at the 12 o'clock position. Slide the solenoid shaft into the transmission and rotate the solenoid so your bolt holes line up. 

Next remove the battery power from the solenoid. If the pawl is in the groove at the end of the solenoid shaft, when you remove the battery power... the solenoid will be drawn in towards the transmission housing. That will confirm for certain that you do indeed have the pawl in the groove.

This is by far a much better way to install the Solenoid. If you just stick it into the transmission without extending the shaft you will not know for certain that the pawl is in the groove. Often times the pawl gets pushed back and forced up inside the transmission which is not a good thing. Once you energize the Solenoid it will be two late if the Pawl is not in the groove, the damage will be done.

Checking the Governor
When the transmission gets “stuck in overdrive” you already know what to do first, if you have read my overdrive 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 no 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 B-W overdrive transmissions beginning in the early 1950s. Your B-W overdrive transmission will work just fine without one.

Borg-Warner Company History
To tell the story of Borg-Warner Automotive, you have to trace the formation of several manufacturing companies in the United States and abroad. The first of these was Morse Equalizing Spring Company of New York, founded in 1880, which patented the rocker joint. In 1901 Warner Gear of Muncie, Indiana, was formed, and the next year, Marvel-Schebler Carburetor Company began operations in Flint, Michigan.

A fourth company, Long Manufacturing, came on line in Chicago to manufacture automobile radiators, while a fifth company, Borg & Beck, was organized in 1904. All of these companies figured in the development of Borg-Warner Automotive.

By 1906 Morse manufactured a line of automobile chains that were soon licensed for sale in England and Germany. Then came the production of automotive timing chains, followed quickly by Warner Gear's development of the industry's first manual transmission.

In 1910 Long Manufacturing moved from Chicago to Detroit. While a sixth company, Mechanics Machine Company of Rockford, Illinois, began producing transmissions in 1911. Over the next several years, Morse built a new facility in England as Warner Gear fashioned a growing reputation for quality.

By the 1920s, Borg & Beck's sturdy yet inexpensive clutch was mass-produced in millions of cars while Mechanics Machine Co. developed a universal joint with continuous lubrication, an innovation that rendered the former model (which had to be greased every 500 miles) obsolete.

At the same time, Warner Gear standardized its manual transmissions and introduced the T64, at nearly half the cost of its predecessors. In the young yet burgeoning auto industry, each of the aforementioned companies was busy developing a specialized product line, unaware that they would be united under the banner of Borg-Warner in a sweeping merger in 1928. 

Borg & Beck, Marvel Carburetor, Mechanics Universal Joint (renamed from Mechanics Machine in 1925), and Warner Gear became the Borg-Warner Corporation. The following year, Morse Chain (an auto timing and industrial chain producer at this time) and Long Manufacturing joined the new company at the same time that the Norge firm (including its Detroit Gear subsidiary) was acquired.

1930-50: Firsts and Innovations
The next decade brought several technological firsts for both Borg-Warner and the industry: Warner Gear pioneered the 'synchronizer,' a device that made a manual transmission's gear teeth mesh together with ease for smooth shifting; Morse Chain brought out its first roller chain; and Borg-Warner's self-contained overdrive transmission was introduced to immediate success as Chrysler and 11 other automakers quickly placed orders.

Borg-Warner Automotive Service Parts Division was also launched in the 1930s, and in 1936, to emphasize Borg-Warner's commitment to and enthusiasm for auto racing, the company commissioned a sterling silver trophy for the Indianapolis 500 (the first was presented to Louis Meyer). 

In the prewar 1940s Borg-Warner created its Spring Division (to supply automatic transmission parts), began working on transfer cases, and soon directed its attention to World War II production needs. Among its contributions were Morse Chain's drives for Navy tugboats and jeeps built with Warner Gear's transmissions. After the war, Warner Gear's technology briefly lent itself to the medical field in 1949, producing iron lungs.

It then returned to auto parts in 1950 with three revolutionary developments--the torque converter, a three-speed automatic transmission (the 'Ford-O-Matic'), and a newfangled clutch that would become one of the company's biggest sellers worldwide. 

Automotive sales for the company reached over $200 million. Among the first automakers to jump at Borg-Warner's newest innovations were Studebaker and Ford. The latter was so enamored of Borg-Warner's transmissions that it signed a five-year exclusive contract with Borg-Warner in 1951 for the production of automatic transmissions.

As the 1950s continued, Borg-Warner expanded its operations in several new directions. Not only did the company venture into South America, creating Borg & Beck do Brasil, but it also built new facilities in Simcoe, Ontario, and Letchworth, England. The English facility was soon producing Warner Gear's overdrive units and the Model D.G. automatic transmission.

In 1956 the T10 four-speed high performance manual transmission was introduced in the Chevrolet Corvette to wide acclaim. As Marvel-Schebler tinkered with a fuel injection system, Borg-Warner built (and patented) the first retractable seat belt restraint system and developed a line of paper-related wet friction components.

To broaden its international operations, Borg-Warner acquired Coote & Jurgenson, an Australian transmission producer for autos and tractors in 1957. Three years later, Brummer Seal Company was merged into Borg-Warner's Spring Division. In 1962 Borg-Warner expanded into Mexico, and into Asia in 1964 and 1965 with two Japanese joint ventures (NSK-Warner and Tsubakimoto-Morse).

As the company's varied units continued to devise new product innovations (the 'Hy-Vo' chain, Flex-Bands, and the aluminum Model 35 automatic transmission), Borg-Warner diversified into chemicals, plastics, industrial products, financial assistance, and eventually even into security and armored car services, its automotive division had remained a constant, usually contributing upwards of 50 percent of Borg-Warner's total revenue.

The Studebaker Hill Holder Option

Another common transmission option you may encounter is what Studebaker advertised as the the "Hill Holder." Because virtually all cars and trucks were standard transmission in the early days, it was sometimes difficult to start out on on an incline without the vehicle rolling backwards. The "Hill Holder" device was designed to prevent the vehicle from rolling backwards as the clutch was being released.

The device that Studebaker called the “Hill Holder” (which eventually became the generic name for the device) was developed not by Studebaker (or by B-W as many assumed) but by the Wagner (no doubt part of the confusion (Wagner vs Warner) Electric Corp. of St. Louis. Wagner copyrighted the “NoRol” name and made it commercially available beginning in January of 1934.

Wagner approached numerous auto companies to try to interest them in considering it for production vehicles. Studebaker was the only one that showed a serious interest in the device. It was tested at the company’s Proving Ground extensively in 1935 and due to the favorable results of these test the company decided to offer it on its new line of 1936 cars and trucks. It became standard equipment on all the 1936 Presidents and a $10 option for the Dictators.

Other manufacturers offered the device as an option up thru the 1960's where it gradually faded from popularity with the introduction of automatic transmissions.

Is This The End...?
As I dig thru my 40 plus year collection of technical literature and notes, I will post more information on the Borg-Warner Overdrive transmissions. You can find all of the information from the three tech articles and more in "The Official Guide To The R-10 and R-11 Overdrives, available in the technical book section of the "Parts" section of the website. 


Glass Cylinder Heads For A Flathead Ford ...

Posted on 11/26/17 with No comments


I have always wanted to build a coffee table out of an engine block. I have seen hundreds of them over the past 30 years, and knew I wanted something different and unique.

I rounded up a well used Flathead Ford block that had spent it's golden years outside in the elements in a salvage yard. It was not cracked but the cylinder walls had some serious pitting and the valve seats were totally gone. It was the perfect candidate.

After the tear down, cleaning, sandblasting and putting the engine block up on wheels, I delivered the block to the local grain auger manufacturing company who has a state of the art powder coating line. They will coat most anything you want any color as long as it is red.

Being an alumni of that fine institution during my high school years years, helped make the arrangements to get the block powder coated. The idea was not to spend a million dollars on this project but still end up with something unique.  Having a Flathead Ford block show up on the powder coat paint line normally reserved for grain augers and related hardware caused quite a stir with the employees.

With the block back it was time to figure out the cover for the intake.  I rounded up a piece of 3/8" tempered aluminum and delivered it to the local machine shop who drilled the holes to match the intake gasket. Next up, I polished the aluminum to a mirror finish and fitted it to the Flathead block using stainless button head cap screws. So far so good!

One of my dealers had this pair of Flathead headers that were customer returns. They worked perfect for this project with only a slight modification.

Because this is a build it as I go project, I have gotten a lot of "supervision and input" from the locals. It is also amazing how a project like this draws out a lot of hidden talent.  One of my best friends from High School,  Daryl Klataske was back visiting his mother when he stopped down and saw the project. After I explained what I was doing and why... he got kind of a twisted look on his face then began to smile...

"What if you put LED lights in the cylinders and made them fire in the correct firing order..." Wow that would be cool I say... but how in the heck could you do that...? I was secretly hoping I was asking the right guy for the answer.

I was.  Daryl is an electrical engineer and also builds model railroad circuits and has more than a little experience with LED circuits and controls. "I think we could even make it so than if you had a small accelerator pedal we could make the light speed up and slow down with the movement of the gas pedal and we could hide all of the circuitry under the intake cover..." That was an offer I couldn't refuse. I honestly had not thought of using LED lighting.

So now I need to find a way to show the LED lighting off. That is when I came up with the idea of glass cylinder heads. My original plan was to make plexiglass cylinder heads, but then with the LED lighting inside of the cylinders, I realized glass would be much more impressive. Now comes the "How am I gonna build glass cylinder heads...?"

Enter one Gary Jones, president of Manko Glass in Manhattan Kansas. I have known Gary for many years, even back when his glass manufacturing company was less than 6 employees. Needless to say the company is much bigger now with plants also located in Denver Colorado and Des Moines Iowa.

There is not much Manko cannot make in glass, including sky scraper windows, custom glass shower and storm doors and custom table tops. The question was... could they make glass Flathead Ford cylinder heads? I was hoping to find out!

I took a head gasket down to Gary and explained what I wanted. There was a pause and hesitation. I said  "you no doubt get bored making storm windows and shower doors all day along with a few custom glass table need a challenge, here is one...."

" Leave this with me and I will work on it and call you in a few weeks..." True to his word, Gary did just that, and said "Your project will be a challenge because you are wanting 24 holes drilled in a piece of glass with some of those holes less than a half inch from the edge of the glass...we will try it and see what happens."

I said I wanted to be there to witness the event and to see how this was going to happen.. He explained that he has a very large (and expensive) CNC machine for glass that can accept a glass sheet  96 inches wide x 144 inches in length.  I had no idea there was such a thing.  "When we get it scheduled, I will call you."  I also wanted to see how they were going to hold the glass in position while they machined it and drilled the holes. That would be worth the price of admission.

I arrived on G day (glass day) with a dozen donuts and watched them machine out the heads. I was totally blown away. I had no idea you could do that to glass with such precision.

This is how they hold the glass in place while it is being machined. Think tongue on metal hand railing in dead of winter... only 100 times stronger!

If you have ever wondered how they drill holes in glass, now you know...

Here is the finished product ready for polishing. Who could ask for anything more.

Rob and Nathan  made the process look easy which it was clearly not. Rob on the left wrote the program and did the actual machine work. Nathan on the right did the polishing to the mirror finish. Just as working with metal... the glass has some rough edges after it has been machined. The polishing of glass is much more difficult,  and the end result can make or break the project...literally. The glass cylinder heads came out perfect!  10/18/17.

Update - 11/5/17
During final fitting of the glass cylinder heads it was discovered that there were two extra holes in the glass cylinder heads that didn't need to be there. So after some discussion it was decided to make a second set which actually required the making of three sets (It is very difficult to machine glass and drill 24 holes in each piece and get each of those holes exactly centered, which they eventually did) to get things just right. Rob and Nathan are clearly perfectionists...and "good enough" is not in their vocabulary.

Machining glass is always a challenge and drilling 24 holes in a single piece of glass is asking a lot and really tempting fate! But happy to say the third set fit like a glove. During the making of the third set I also got to watch more of the polishing process which I will share with you here.

Just like when polishing metal they start out with 100 grit to polish all of the edges. That first polish is the tricky polishing, because that is where their are the most rough edges and the easiest to snag the polishing belt. it is also the most critical, if you do not lay down a good foundation,  the next two polishes will be a lot more work, and will not come out well.

Next up they go over all of the same surfaces with 250 grit. Finally they finish up with 400 grit. There is a knack to polishing glass and not snagging the polishing belt on the rough edges or burning the glass by polishing in one place to long and getting the glass hot. Here Nathan shows how it is done.

The Master At Work.

The 250 Grit Comes Next...

And Finally The 400 Grit For A Mirror Finish.

They Apply This To The Polishing Belt To Help Prevent Snags...

This is the finished product. It is kind of a strange view and plays tricks with your mind. Common sense says you should not see that head gasket exposed but it is there. The glass has just a slight green tint to it so in your mind you know something is there, but something in the overall view is not quite right. I got my unique and different.

Here is a close up view. now we are ready for the lighting. Daryl has been working on that and he sent me a link to what he thinks we should use. The more that I get into this project the more I realize this build could not have happened five years ago. The technology to mill and drill holes in glass with the accuracy needed for the cylinder heads has not been around all of that long. Also the LED lighting we need for the cylinders has also not been around that long. So the old adage is true...timing is everything.

Finding the hardware for the glass cylinder heads also proved to be a challenge. I needed 50 rubber washers no bigger than 3/4" in diameter (so as not to end up covering part of the cylinder opening)  with 3/8 diameter holes in the center to go over the stock studs in the engine block...and then 48 more washers to go under the stainless acorn nuts that also had a rubber washer on the back side to protect the glass. 

The plain rubber washers came from an electronic computer supply house. They are used as insulators to mount circuit boards. Another outside the box event.

The washers on top, (which had to be the same diameter as those on the bottom. came from a company that supplies hardware to assemble grain bins which need a water tight seal on the roof.  I bet neither company had any idea where their washers would end up.

I also got really good at installing helicoils... as there were eleven stripped threaded holes in this block,  seven of the head stud holes, and four of the exhaust threads were stripped. The block has clearly had a hard life and somebody had gotten a little carried away when tightening bolts. 

The Lighting
Now it is time to work on the lighting in the cylinders. The plan is to put LED lighting in the cylinders and have them light in the same order as the firing order of a Flathead Ford engine. You can blame that idea on the first CARS movie. Their are pistons supporting the canopy at Flo's Cafe which is lit with neon using the firing order of a Flathead Ford V8. Having done numerous projects for the movie studios I watch for the little details like that. 

The red rings around the pistons and spark plugs on the roof flash on and off in the firing order of a Flathead Ford V8.

Here is the type of LED lighting we plan to use. It comes with an adhesive back that we can stick directly to the walls of the cylinders. Because the walls of the cylinders have been powder coated and are smooth the LED's should stick really well. Daryl is working on a controller and the related software that we will hide underneath the intake cover. The closer this project is to being done the more exciting it is...stay tuned for more updates.

This is the LED lighting we plan to use. It is a special high output LED lighting and comes in multiple colors. We will experiment and may use a mixture of the red and yellow to simulate the firing inside of the cylinder. This is an example of the YELLOW color.

Here is an example of the High output LEDs in RED. They are definitely bright and should do the trick. I cant wait to see this at night.

Update - 2/11/18
Things are progressing along. Daryl is working on the software and related circuit boards. We tend to think alike in that when somebody says..."hey, you can't do that..." it becomes a challenge for us to prove them wrong. We also get to have a lot of fun in the process.

So the next step in this project is to build the circuit boards and write the computer software program that will control the LED lights in the cylinders and also the intake and exhaust valves.

So for the purpose of the circuit board, the lights on the board will be red and be in the same position on the circuit board as they are on the engine block. So on the circuit board we need the lights to flash exactly as they will in the cylinders.

We also want to be able to control the rate of flash so when we add an accelerator pedal, the speed of the flash in the cylinders will match the accelerator pedal.

Also... we are going to use smaller LED lights in the intake and exhaust holes that will light just before and just after when the cylinder fires

So there will also be lights on the circuit board to represent each of the intake and exhaust LED's.

Daryl is clearly on a roll and keeps coming up with more ideas and enhancements which then allows me to offer more ideals from the mechanical side. This project is becoming waaay to much fun!

From Daryl I learned... it is easier to build a small scale circuit board to test your software and formulas, then build the full size board after you get the bugs worked out of the test circuit board.

We are at the test stage of a circuit board now, so here is the sample Daryl sent to me. The green light will be ignition key on. The Red lights represent the cylinders and the order in which they fire. They will be in the same circuit as the large LED lights located in the cylinders. The upper left is number one.

The green and yellow lights (lower right) represent the LED lights that will be in the intake and exhaust. They too will be in the same circuit as the actual LED lights in the intake and exhaust.

While this is not the final product is gives you some idea how things will operate and it gives Daryl a way to check out his software writing, and circuit board building skills.

Look closely under the circuit boards and you can see part of the massive formula's Daryl had to work out to get to this point.  Clearly this takes a little more that a few dinner napkins from McDonald's. Little doubt, Daryl is the right man for the job!


Cooling System Clean Out - What To Use And How To Do It.

Posted on 10/19/17 with No comments


Removing the rust, scale, and hard water deposits from the inside of a cooling system can be a challenge. Most of the antique vehicles we drive are at least fifty years old.

Depending on where the previous owners lived, the cooling system was filled with well water, tap water, water from a farm pond, or from a hydrant, but seldom was distilled water used (water with the minerals removed).  So with all of those minerals floating around and attaching themselves to the inside of the cooling system, then being baked on in numerous heat cycles, it is no wonder the inside of the cooling system looks like it does.

Not only does the rust, scale, and hard water deposits reduce the overall capacity of your cooling system, it also restricts the flow of coolant thru the radiator core and the water passages inside of the engine block. When their becomes enough of a buildup, you start to have overheating problems, not just in town but on the highway. That is your first clue the cooling system needs attention.

If you have any doubts about how clean your cooling system is on the inside, simply remove the radiator cap (engine cool) and have a look inside. What do you see? Does the underside of the cap look like... the radiator on the left or the radiator on the right...?

Now look down a little further at the top of the radiator their is rust and hard water deposits around the tubes? If there is rust , scale, and corrosion in the radiator, what do you think the inside of the engine block looks like?

So...just removing the radiator and taking it to the local radiator shop for a good cleaning is not the answer. While it may help, you can bet that if the radiator is full of rust and corrosion, the engine block is the same. You need to clean out the whole system to fix your problem.

I have tried about all of the cooling system products over the past 25 years as I prepare the cars entered in the Great Race. The cleaners that seemed to work the best were also the most toxic, and were hard on radiator hoses and head gaskets.  So I have always kept looking for something better.

I finally found something better, it is called Thermocure. It is non toxic, non corrosive, more than does the job, even for some pretty nasty cooling systems. Best of all it is manufactured in the USA!

Here is how it works. You first need to drain your cooling system, including the radiator and engine block. Be sure to dispose of the old coolant properly as it is toxic to pets.

Next up... close all of the petcocks and add the 32 oz bottle of Thermocure, and then refill the cooling system back up with clean tap water to the level shown in your owners manual.

Now go drive your vehicle. The Thermocure needs to circulate thru the entire cooling system a minimum of four hours, at full engine operating temperature. If your cooling system is really dirty inside and has not been cleaned in a long time, drive your antique vehicle more. Like two weeks... or a months worth, every day. Remember it took years for the cooling system to get this dirty so it will take a while to get the inside clean again.

Your car will not overheat with the Thermocure but it WILL freeze... as you have no antifreeze in the cooling system. In some cases, I have had customers drive every day for six weeks, with the Thermocure in the system. It will not hurt anything, and the longer the Thermocure is in there, the more gunk that will get cleaned out.

Then it is time to drain the cooling system once again. Be prepared... depending on how dirty your cooling system is, the stuff coming out of the engine block and radiator will be a brown or even a black, rust colored sludge. When you get everything all drained out, flush out the entire cooling system with clean tap water. You will want to do this from both directions top down, and from the bottom up.

Next refill the cooling system with clean tap water and get it up to operating temperature for an hour or more, then drain the cooling system again. What comes out should be a little more clear in color. Keep repeating the process until you get clear coolant from the radiator and engine block.

Here are some samples from a really dirty cooling system. The car had been in storage 30 years. The cooling system was in need of a good cleaning BEFORE it was parked.

The first jar on the left was the first drain with the Theromcure installed, after the car driven everyday for about a six weeks. The second jar was the first drive and flush. The third jar was yet another drive and flush. And finally the last drive and flush jar came out clean. A lot of difference from the first jar. may have to repeat this flushing process a few times until what you get coming out is clear. It will be worth it. You will end up with a like new cooling system and the operating temperature will drop 20 to 30 degrees. In a few extreme cases I have used a second bottle of Thermocure if the first two drain and flushes did not start to come out cleaner.

After you are done with the cleaning process it is a good time to replace the thermostat while you have things apart. Replacing coolant hoses is also a good idea. Check for leaks around freeze plugs and the rest of your cooling system, and you should be good to go.

Refill your cooling system with a 50/50 mix of distilled water (you do not want to put the minerals back in that you just worked so hard to remove) and antifreeze. You can buy premixed antifreeze and the local auto parts store and most discount chain stores.

You can buy 50/50 antifreeze already premixed

Most all of the popular brands have it available.

One 32oz bottle of Thermocure will clean up to a three gallon cooling system. If your cooling system is bigger, order two bottles. If your cooling system is really dirty you can order two bottles and give your cooling system a second treatment.  It will be time and money well spent.

You can order Thermocure in the "Parts" section of the website under "Cooling".


Driving 133 mph On A County Road In Nebraska

Posted on 9/26/17 with No comments


Most of us have a few crazy ideas hidden in the back of our minds, of things we wish we could do or experience but know that in real life it is not possible. This seems to be true more so today then it did when I grew up in the 1970's. Growing up in a small town we drag raced on the edge of town. As long as we did not get to crazy and used a little common sense, all was good up to a point.

The bad thing about living in a small town was that local law enforcement knew who the drag racers were, and if you pissed them off, you got nailed for any small driving infraction they could come up with. It was to teach you a lesson...they called it an "attitude adjustment" which usually adjusted your checkbook.

While that seemed harsh then, I can't imagine growing up in todays world. Everything today is so by the book... the things we did growing up in my younger days would have us in jail today.

So as I am reflecting on this... a customer calls me and tells me he just got back from the Sand Hills Open Road Challenge in Arnold Nebraska. What the heck is that...I asked?

"Man you won't believe it! They block off 26 miles of local county roads and let cars run flat out as fast as they can, and they time them to see who has the fastest time. There are classes for different cars and all of the high dollar cars show up from the west and east coast! Corvettes, Vipers, GT 500 Mustangs, anything that goes seriously fast is there...."

This is the 26 mile course

"Then they do what is called a mile shootout. They block off three miles of straight highway and you have a mile to get up to speed, they measure your top speed in the next mile and you have a mile to slow down!"

"No way...not in 2016 would they let you do that! The lawyers and the insurance companies would have a field day with that one...I say!"

So he sends me to the website (just copy and paste in your search engine) and I find out everything he says is true and more. The race is held in and around Arnold Nebraska which has a population of 578 people.

With no motels around for 40 miles all of the local residents open up their homes and rent out sleeping rooms to the racers. The local church groups put on pot luck dinners as fund raisers and the racers more than make it worth their while. This is too good to be true!

Just as he explained...this happens NOT on a race track, this happens on regular county roads that the farmers and the locals use the other 51 weeks a year. These roads are normally full of farm machinery and stock trailers, not high dollar racing cars, most of which happen to be street legal.

The entrants of the race all seem to agree...what is the purpose of having a fast car if you cannot drive it fast. When they come here they can drive fast and be safe. All of the cars are inspected before they are allowed to run on either course. Entrants can sign up for the road course or the mile shootout or both. The number of entrants is limited (usually around 110 entrants total all classes) and there is a waiting list. That should come as no surprise!

This has been going on since 2002. Meanwhile...back to the 133 mph speed. In the early days of the race there was an unlimited class. One entrant took that literally and brought his 700 hp Nextel Monte Carlo to town. He installed a Go Pro camera on the roll bar which was state of the art technology in 2006. While the video is not as clear as it would be today you can see and hear everything that went on in the car as he sat a course record. You can watch the video on you tube here...(just copy and paste this link in the "you tube" search box)

Keep in mind as you are watching this... that the guy did his homework. He knew from his research exactly how fast he could take each corner. His wife served as his navigator and had the job of yelling out his corner speed and either right or left hand corner. How many wives would be willing to ride along and not scream at the top of her lungs when he got to 190 mph on the straights?

He covered 26 miles of twisty farm roads in less than 12 minutes. His average speed was 133 mph and his top speed was 192 mph. There is no longer an unlimited class so his record will stand for eternity. That is no doubt a relief to many.

After watching the video and looking over the website I decided I had to go and check this out for myself. Turns out everything I learned about is still true. You can go and watch the cars on the 26 mile course from a high vantage point, but you have to be there before the race starts (first car leaves at 8:00 am) and you can't leave until after the race, which usually gets over by 4:00 pm, so pack your lunch, literally) because you drive to the vantage point on the same county roads the race cars drive on.

I drove the 26 mile course on Friday night before the race and I have to say it was eye opening. It was rough in places... the radius of some of the corners were kind of sharp... and there were combines and tractors parked in the fields next to the road to remind me where I was. The corners marked 35 mph I drove at 45 and couldn't imagine taking them at 65 or 70 mph.

All in all... it was a unique experience, and I plan to go again. If you want to go, you must plan ahead and either take a motor home so you have a place to sleep (there is a small RV park close to town) or get on the list to rent sleeping rooms, which are typically reserved from a year to three years in advance.

The spirit of cooperation from all of the local citizens and local law enforcement is truly amazing. Everybody pitches in to help accommodate the racers and the racers have in turn donated back to the community.

All of the local business provide some sponsorship including the local bank, implement dealer, and gas station. The one I found most interesting was this doubt a first for a seed company!
The racers have provided money to build a community center so they have a place to have their dinner and awards banquet. All of the local fire departments are now equipped with state of the art fire trucks and rescue equipment, and the racers even paid for the training on how to use the equipment.

The kind of trucks and equipment you see in Custer County Nebraska is equal to what you see at a NASCAR track. In the last ten years the racers have invested over a million dollars in the community. Seems kind of strange in a county where the cows out number the people 10 to 1.

The entrants like to come to Arnold because it is the only place you can truly run flat out. One car owner commented that he had to drop his average speed on the course between Arnold and Dunning by 15 mph, because of the challenging right angle corners. He said he had never experienced a course like Arnold and he has raced on roads all over the United States.

One of the strangest things to witness... is the look on the face of the first time entrant as he drives by the local sheriff at 120 mph and the Sheriff just waves. Priceless!

So I have now learned that nothing is impossible... and there are plenty of good caring folks living in the sand hills of Nebraska willing to make outsiders feel welcome. More important, they are willing to work together as a community to make the impossible happen. Kind of restores your faith in humanity.

On the way home from this event I was thinking I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when it was proposed to the city fathers in Arnold Nebraska by a group of "out of towners," to hold a car race in their community, that would involve blocking off their local county roads so they could drive on them at warp speeds. I can't imagine.

And just so you know... the laws of physics still apply, even in the desolate sand hills of Nebraska.

This one rolled in a corner and landed upside down in the ditch.

Same car different view.

Car 357 experienced an end-over-end wreck during the Loup 2 Loup (Return trip back to Arnold) but both driver and navigator walked away with no reported injuries. Car...not so much!

Overall there are very few wrecks most years, mostly it is cars sliding off a corner and into a field. When you consider the speeds they are traveling and that the road surface conditions are just average, the drivers do an amazing job!


Evans Waterless Coolant - How It Works.

Posted on 9/10/17 with No comments


I have been putting Evans Coolant in Great Race cars since the early 1990's. Evans is a waterless coolant that has a boiling point of 370 degrees and freeze point of -80 degrees with zero pressure in the cooling system. No... that is not a typo...that is ZERO pressure in the cooling system.

If you have read my "Official Guide To Cooling Systems..." you know that once the coolant boils in the radiator, that is a sign that the coolant is saturated, and cannot absorb any more heat from the engine. If water is part of the engine coolant, the water will expand as it turns to steam which will force the coolant out of the radiator overflow. 

When that happens you loose coolant resulting in less coolant remaining in the cooling system to absorb the heat from the engine. With less coolant present to carry away the heat...the temperature of the coolant in the engine will continue to climb. That is when the physical damage can occur to the engine, Flathead Fords often developed cracks in the block when this occurred. 

The high boiling point of the Evans Coolant combined with the fact that it has minimal expansion even at the higher temperatures means that there is no coolant loss with the Evans Coolant. The Evans Coolant has the ability to absorb a much greater amount of heat from the engine as compared to a 50/50 antifreeze and water mixture.

One thing you will notice with the Evans Coolant installed is that the in dash temperature gauge will read slightly higher. That is because the Evans Coolant is actually drawing more heat out of the engine block. If you check the engine block using an infrared temperature will see that the engine block is physically cooler than it was with the antifreeze and water mixture. Remember...the temperature gauge in the dash is reading the temperature of the coolant itself, and not the temperature of the engine block.

You also need to remember that the antifreeze in a conventional antifreeze and water mixture does not directly benefit the engine cooling process. It is there to counteract the affects of water in the cooling system, to prevent rust and corrosion from forming that would eventually reduce or stop the flow of coolant thru the radiator. To explain it another way...

Antifreeze... is there to keep the inside of the cooling system clean and does nothing to directly benefit the removal of heat from the engine block. Water has that job. That is why when you add a coolant mixture greater than a 50/50 mix your antique vehicle. it overheats quicker. It is because there is less water present which is actually what draws the heat out of the engine.

One of the first Great Race applications to really test the Evans Coolant was the Fifth Avenue sponsored 1911 Velie the year the Great Race went up Pike's Peak in Colorado. I knew that was going to be a challenge for the Velie as well as for the rest of the cars entered in the race. So I went looking for a way to keep the Velie from overheating.

After about 6 months of searching I found the Evans Coolant. I had numerous long conversations with the engineers at Evans and with Jack Evans himself who invented the coolant. I explained about the Velie and about going up Pikes Peak and they kept assuring me the coolant would do the job. This would be a good test.

The Velie made it to the top of Pikes Peak without stopping, and most important of all did not overheat! There were more than a dozen cars who had to stop along the way due to overheating. Many of the entrants watched in amazement as the Velie chugged slowly to the top. How come "that thing which is nearly a hundred years old" isn't overheating like we are...they all wanted to know. The Evans Coolant worked as designed.

Since those early days I have installed the Evans Coolant in hundreds of different applications besides antique vehicles.  There is also a diesel engine version of the Evans Coolant for over the road trucks and diesel applications. I have used both versions with good success over the years.

For example...I converted an entire fleet of concrete trucks after I put the Evans Coolant in the owner's antique car. He saw and experienced first hand the difference between the Evans Coolant and a conventional water antifreeze mix.  He immediately called and wanted to know if the Evans Diesel Coolant would work in his fleet of Concrete delivery trucks like it did in his antique vehicle? It did the same for his concrete trucks resulting in increased protection from overheating when the trucks were sitting at a job site waiting to unload, and during the unloading process.

Engine cooling fans ran less on the concrete delivery trucks, and plugged radiators were no longer a major concern, resulting in less maintaince. The company used to wash out the truck radiators daily to prevent overheating. Now they do it weekly as a precaution. now you know how the Evans Coolant works. To install it you first need to get all of the water out of the cooling system. You can do that by draining the engine block and the radiator then using a hair dryer of heat gun to remove all of the water.

There is also Evans Prep Fluid that you can add to your cooling system to absorb the remaining water if you do not have a heat gun or hair dryer and /or want to save a little time. Pour in the Evans Prep Fluid and circulate it thru the cooling system and it will absorb the remaining water. You need to be down to less than three percent water before you add the Evans Coolant. Once the Evans Coolant is installed, it is a lifetime coolant it does not need to be replaced. The Evans Prep Fluid is reusable for more than one application.

The Evans Coolant works great and is very popular in Flathead Ford applications (that should come as no surprise) as well in most any antique vehicle, including tractors. I have quite a few tractor pullers using it, both antique and modern Hot Rod pullers, and they say less head gasket damage because of the reduced pressure in the cooling system. I have also installed it in antique Chris-Craft boats and about anything else you can imagine in twenty plus years.

In Review... here are the top ten things you need to know about Evans Waterless Coolant...

1 Evans NPG coolant is a waterless coolant, which means there is no water mixed in with the coolant.

2 Evans coolant boils at 370 degrees Fahrenheit and freezes at minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with zero pressure in the cooling system.

3 The water that makes up 50% of conventional coolant is also the source of rust, hard water deposits, and corrosion, all of which build up and will reduce the circulation of the coolant thru the cooling system, causing the engine to eventually overheat and the radiator to loose coolant. By contrast Evans NPG coolant is non-corrosive to the cooling system and because Evans NPG coolant contains no water all of the problems associated with water in the cooling system are eliminated.

4 After a fresh engine rebuild is an excellent time to add Evans NPG coolant to the engine and cooling system. You will have a lifetime of engine cooling protection and the inside of the cooling system will stay as clean as when the vehicle was new. It makes good sense to protect your investment and keep the cooling system working at top efficiency.

5 When doing an Evans NPG conversion you need to get all of the water out of the engine block and cooling system. Your goal is to have less than 3 percent water left in the cooling system.

6 Evans prep fluid is a hydroscopic fluid that attracts and absorbs water. Evans prep fluid will help to remove the water trapped in the engine block and cooling system. The Evans Prep fluid can be saved and used for more than one application.

7 Evans NPG coolant is more expensive initially than conventional water and antifreeze coolant mixture but will prove to be cheaper in the long run. You will have less cooling system maintaince and will not have to change coolant every four years.

8 You DO NOT have to change the radiator cap when converting to Evans NPG coolant. The pressure in a cooling system comes from the water in the coolant turning to steam. Because the Evans NPG coolant contains no water and has such a high boiling point, minimal pressure builds in the cooling system, even with a pressure cap on the radiator.

9 Evans NPG coolant works just as well in a non- pressurized cooling system as it does in a pressurized cooling system. You get the same freeze protection and boil over protection in both a pressurized and a non-pressurized cooling system. There is also an Evans Coolant for diesel engine applications.

10 Evans NPG coolant is a lifetime coolant, which means once it is installed there is no more maintaince to do. It is good for the life of the cooling system. It will provide the same protection throughout its lifetime. It will protect your cooling system from rust scale and corrosion damage while your vehicle is in storage the same as it does while you are driving it.

You can order the Evans NPG Plus Coolant and the Prep Fluid in the "parts section" of the website under "Cooling"


Alternator 101 What You Need To Know

Posted on 8/16/17 with No comments


Most alternators look about the their really much difference besides the price? 

Fifth Avenue Invented the 6-volt alternator in 1985. Since then there have been a few knockoffs sold but they do not work as good and are not as reliable as the Fifth Avenue alternator. Here is why...

In the case of 6-volt alternators the easiest way to build a 6-volt alternator is to simply swap out the 12-volt voltage regulator with a 6-volt regulator. As with most things the easy way out is not always the best. In this case, when you install a 6-volt regulator inside of a 12-volt alternator, not only does the voltage get reduced by 50 percent...the amperage output (the part that does the actual electrical work) is also reduced by half. So if you start out with a 60 amp 12-volt alternator, swap the regulator out for a 6-volt version, you will end up with a 6-volt alternator with a maximum output of 30 amps.

Keep in mind that most alternators only develop their maximum output at highway speeds and will only deliver 30 percent of their rated output at idle and low rpms. In this example that would be 18 amps output.

Another thing to keep in mind... is that when alternators were introduced in the late 1960's, the idle speed of most engines was 1200 rpms or greater, so that was the rpms that modern alternators were designed to begin charging.

Using a 1950 Chevrolet car as an example, the ignition requires 1.6 amps, the headlights (pair) 14 amps, taillights 2.3 amps, dash and instrument cluster 2.5 amps, heater blower motor 8 amps, tube type radio 7 amps, for a total of 35.4 amps. That does not include any modern extras like electric fuel pumps and electric radiator cooling fans.

Lastly you need to consider the idle speed of your engine. If your idle speed is below 1200 rpms, that will reduce a modern alternator's output even further. We know for example, that a 1950 Chevrolet has an idle speed of about 700-800 rpms.

In the case of a 12-volt applications much of this wisdom also applies. If your idle speed is below 1200 rpms you will experience reduced output from a modern 12-volt alternator as well. The maximum rated output will still occur at highway speeds and even with 12-volt applications most alternators will deliver about 30 percent of their rated output at idle speeds of (1200 rpms) or about 18 amps.

Taking all of this into consideration, when I was working on my 6-volt alternator design back in 1984, I knew my alternator had to overcome these basic faults if my alternator was going to be successful.

A Fifth Avenue 89/90 series alternator, (both the 6-volt and the 12-volt versions) begin charging at 300 engine rpms as compared to the 1200 rpms of a modern alternator.

That is possible because Fifth Avenue uses specially wound rotors and stators. Fifth Avenue alternators are a built from scratch as special purpose alternators, and are not a converted modern 12-volt alternator.

One of the key differences is in the stator (the heavy windings inside of the alternator). Fifth Avenue uses a "Delta" design stator. In this advanced design, current is allowed to flow from all three stator windings which results in a stronger more reliable output at engine idle and low rpms, with less chance of damage from excess heat.

The more common and less expensive "Y" design stators allow current to flow in only two of the windings at any given time and are less resistant to excessive heat. As you might suspect the Delta wound stators cost more than the common "Y" design stators but in antique vehicle applications the cost difference is worth it to insure a strong current output at low idle speeds and low engine rpms.

The end result is that Fifth Avenue 89/90 series alternators begin to charge at 300 engine rpms and will deliver 30 amps output 300 rpms idle speeds. That will insure you will always have bright headlights and easier starting and your battery will always be fully charged.

An internal regulator is also very important. Its about communication. It is a lot easier to talk to someone face to face... than to yell at them two blocks down the street. With the increased distance the message is not always clear and understood.

In the case of an alternator an internal regulator means instant results and good communication between the regulator and the alternator. And all Fifth Avenue alternators are build using solid-state regulators which means no mechanical moving parts to wear out. Again...simple is good!

If you still have a generator charging system, chances are you will have to replace the battery at least every other year and in many cases every year. That is because the generator cannot keep the battery fully charged and the more times a battery is cycled (charged and discharged) the shorter its life span will be.

When you install an 89/ 90 series alternator from Fifth Avenue it is not uncommon for batteries to last 6-7 years or longer because they remain fully charged just like in a modern car. That means less maintenance for you.

Machined Steel Pulleys Are Lifetime Guaranteed

Next up is alternator pulleys. When alternators were introduced all engine driven fan belts were 3/8" wide. As we know... most antique vehicles came with much wider belts, some as wide as 3/4" in width. Fifth Avenue includes the pulley of your choice to match your belt width at no extra charge when you buy an alternator from us. While most places charge extra for a pulley we say it is like selling you tennis shoes and making you pay extra for the shoe strings... Plain and simple... a pulley should be included, otherwise how are you supposed to get any benefit from the alternator?

All of Fifth Avenue pulleys are made of machined steel and come with a lifetime warranty. The less expensive pressed tin pulleys tend to wear deep in the groove where the belt rubs against the spot welds. Eventually the two pulley haves will separate and it will get ugly and expensive from there. I have seen pressed tin pulleys go thru radiators, and it is not a pretty sight!

Another important detail is pulley offset. In order to make the fan belt line up, you can either offset the pulley or move the alternator mounting bracket rearward to make the pulleys line up. We offset all of our pulleys so everything lines up and you do not have to move the alternator mounting bracket.

Most of our customers never notice this important detail, but that is the way it should be. If you have ever tried to adjust an alternator mounting bracket to make a pulley line up, you will appreciate this detail.

DA Plug Alternator Wiring Harness

Lastly is the alternator wiring. Because an alternator delivers an output at idle and low engine rpms where the old generator did not... the output from the alternator will travel back thru the wiring harness and feed current to the ignition coil even if the ignition switch is in the"off" position. That will keep the engine running with the ignition key in the "off" position

This first happened in the late 1960's which is how we got the "accessory" type of ignition switch. The alternator field or "exciter" wire was connected to the accessory post of the ignition switch which was a separate terminal from the rest of the ignition terminals, and that stopped the flow of current to the ignition coil.

The alternator uses a field or "exciter" wire to send a very small amount of current from the ignition switch to "turn on the alternator" to help it begin charging as soon as the engine is started. That is a good thing. That is partly how an alternator can guarantee a current output at engine idle and low rpms. It is not good when you try and shut off the engine with the ignition key, and the engine still keeps running.

Most "experts" will tell you to change out your ignition switch to a modern accessory type ignition switch to fix this problem. At Fifth Avenue we believe "simple is good" so we fixed the problem for you. You will receive a "DA Plug" wiring harness with your alternator that allows you to keep your original ignition switch and your vehicle will turn on an off with the original key just like it always did. A DA plug wiring harness is included with your alternator at no charge.

A note about 1-wire alternators...1-wire alternators were originally designed for racing applications that ran only ignition and not much else. Because those engines ran at high rpms most of the time, the output of a 1-wire alternator is minimal and is designed to start charging at 1200 rpms or greater engine rpms, and will often "drop out" or quit charging completly when the engine rpms drop below 1200 rpms.

Many of these alternator are being sold to antique vehicle owners with the idea of the simple one wire installation. Like your dad always warned you... you don't get something for nothing! In this case you get little or no current output in exchange for a simple wiring installation. I talk to many frustrated antique vehicle owners on a weekly basis who complain that their 1-wire won't charge.

An 89/ 90 series Fifth Avenue 3-wire alternator is easy to wire. One wire goes to the output stud of the alternator from the "Battery" terminal of the old voltage regulator (same as a 1-wire setup).

Next snap the DA plug into the top of the alternator, the red wire with the ring terminal goes to the same output stud on the back of the alternator  that the battery wire is connected too (from the old voltage regulator) and (that tells the internal voltage regulator what to do).

The yellow exciter wire that is left goes to the (+) terminal of the ignition coil and will turn on the alternator as soon as you turn the key on. Again...Simple is Good!

The idea here is to help you get things right the first time. Then you can go drive and enjoy your antique vehicle...after all that is why you have it in the first place!


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.