New Products

Random Thoughts


Airplanes and Hot Rod Tractors In Kansas

Posted on 10/11/18 with No comments


Joe and Howard Funk were born just 30 minutes apart on September 17, 1910 in Akron Ohio. Both brothers seemed to have a knack for all things mechanical, and both excelled in drafting and shop classes in school. The brothers took an immediate liking to flying machines, which were becoming quite popular in the Akron area during that time. Their folks however… had other ideas and set them up in the retail grocery business. That proved would be the financial platform the boys needed to purse their interest in aircraft.

The boys built their first flying aircraft during the summer of 1934. It looked much like a redesigned piper cub, a popular aircraft of the day. The engine the boys chose for their airplane was a Szekely three-cylinder radial engine. While inexpensive, the Szekely was not known for its reliability. Nevertheless, building a flying aircraft proved that the boys could design and build a flying aircraft from scratch.

The Szekely engine proved so unreliable it was quickly replaced with a highly modified water-cooled Ford four cylinder automotive engine, which was mounted in an inverted position. The Ford engine was modified by the Funk brothers themselves, and proved reliable enough to power the next 60 aircraft the brothers built.

In 1940 the brothers went to the Akron business community and asked for financial help. They could no longer work out of the back of their grocery store. The community responded raising $78,000 in capital, and the Akron Aircraft Company was incorporated. The Funk's aircraft manufacturing business was moved to an old abandoned four-story schoolhouse on the northwest corner of the Akron Airport.

Production slowed in the later part of 1940 when it was determined the modified Ford engines required an excessive amount of maintaince. The Funk brothers immediately switched to 75 hp Lycoming air-cooled engines. Unfortunately, they would soon discover that the Lycoming engines also had a design flaw one serious enough that it caused the assembly line to be completely shut down for a time… until the problem could be fixed. During the shut down one of the creditors got nervous, pulled his money out of the company, and forced the boys into bankruptcy.

Help came from two Kansas oil field suppliers. Bill and Raymond Jensen of Coffeyville Kansas. As a condition of the financial bailout, the Jensen's insisted that the Funk brothers move the aircraft company to Coffeyville.

The Funk brothers were anxious to resume building aircraft so they agreed. Production began in Coffeyville in November of 1941. Three planes were built and shipped to South America before the bombing of Pearl Harbor halted private aircraft production.

A Funk Airplane Built In Coffeyville Kansas

By 1945, the cost of a new Funk airplane had reached 3,700 dollars. Competition was keen from a host of newly formed civilian aircraft companies, and the government who was selling surplus aircraft for 200 dollars each. Another problem arose when the government took away the flight training money from the G. I. Bill. The returning soldiers from the war could no longer learn to fly free. The Funk brothers sold just a dozen planes in 1947. At the end of 1948 Funk aircraft production ceased for good.

After the Funk brothers found out they could no longer sell airplanes, they turned their efforts to farm tractors. In 1948, Ford tractor owners were looking for more horsepower. A standard Ford tractor was 30 horsepower and could pull only a two-bottom plow.

An Example OF A Funk 6 Cylinder Conversion

The Funk brothers began fitting the Ford tractors with six cylinder Ford industrial engines that produced 95 horsepower, more than three times the horsepower of the original 4 cylinder engine. It was soon after, that the Brothers began offering tractor conversions using the 100 Horsepower Flathead Ford V8's. Now a farmer could easily pull a three-bottom plow.

A Funk Flathead Ford Engine Conversion

The Funk brothers ran ads in farm journals with coupons. The ads advised that if a farmer wanted a new tractor converted, he could take the coupon to his local Ford tractor dealer and have the dealer call the number in the advertisement. Ford soon found out about the conversions and immediately sent memos to all of their Ford tractor dealers saying, if the conversion was performed to immediately tear up the factory warranty.

In fact, Ford was preparing to sue the Funk brothers when several of the conversions developed rear end failures. Further testing showed that the Ford rear ends were defective from the factory. A compromise was worked out and Ford dealers became authorized to make the conversions at the dealerships.

The kits were ordered from the Funk Aircraft Company with either the 100 hp Flathead Ford V8's or the Industrial 6 cylinder engines. The original tractor 4 cylinder engine was removed and sent back to Ford in the same shipping crate as the conversion kit came in. Ford then sold the engines as replacement engines for industrial applications with full factory warranty.

The Funk brothers stopped offering conversion kits about 1953 and the company closed soon after. In later years, the Funk conversion tractors were held in low regard because the production had stopped and repair parts were difficult to find. Used Funk tractors became so difficult to sell that many were converted back to the original four cylinder engines. A fire in the Funk building in the early 1960's destroyed the records of the Funk Company. So nobody knows for sure how many tractor conversion kits were sold. It appears that the Ford V8 was the most popular conversion although in reality, there was not much horsepower difference between the two engines.

Today, the original Funk Conversion tractors are highly collectible; especially those with the Flathead Ford V8's installed. So popular in fact that you can again buy a conversion kit (patterned after the Funk kit) to put a Flathead Ford V8 into a Ford N series tractor. If you own a few acres in the country what could be more fun than a tractor / mower combination powered by a Flathead Ford V8? Add a pair of Fenton Headers along with a pair of Smithys… and mowing will never be the same.

Oh...and one last thing, in case you were wondering if a Lincoln V12 engine would work with the Funk conversion kit, the answer is yes. It worked in part because the back of the Ford V8 engine, and the back of the Lincoln V12 engine are the same, so the Funk conversion kit would also work with the Lincoln V12.

Of course things like the frame, steering rods, the hood, and a host of other things all had to be lengthened much more than with the V8 engine conversion, which would be no small task.  The Funk Company did not offer a Lincoln V12 conversion, but if they did... this is what it might look like. The guy who built this one says his tractor will run 60 plus mph. Wonder how he know that...? Scary thought.

I remember seeing a few of the Funk tractors around when I was in grade school and most of those got converted back to stock. Some of the local tractor dealers even refused to take them in on trade. Had I been a little older I would have bought one and had some fun.

This story has appeared in Engine Builder Magazine and a host of other automotive publications. I continue to write monthly columns for various automotive publications highlighting automotive history. I will share some of the more popular stories here...stay tuned!


Chrysler Put A Hemi In What...?

Posted on 10/10/18 with No comments


So…you think you know your Chrysler history… and you can name every application Chrysler ever put a Hemi engine into. Well I got one I bet you never heard of. Chrysler like most automotive companies secured contracts during World War II to build tanks, airplanes, as well as guns and ammunition. Chrysler was no different than all the rest with one exception, the air raid siren. Chrysler earned the distinction during the war years of building the loudest most powerful warning device ever built. No company before or since has built anything like it.

Development of what would be later became known as the Chrysler Air Raid siren was started in January 1942. First attempts were built at the request of the Office of Civil Defense in Washington D.C.

The E.D.Bullard Company of San Francisco designed an engine driven centrifugal siren and submitted it for testing and certification. Chrysler got involved in part because the centrifugal engine driven siren offered by the Dullard company used their Flathead six-cylinder engine to power the siren. Despite extensive tests and modifications, the Bullard-design centrifugal siren could not produce the necessary volume of sound.

In earlier research, the Office of Civil Defense in Washington D. C. had determined that a minimum of 120 to 140 decibels of sound pressure at 100 feet, was the minimum requirement output for a warning siren. With the failure of the Bullard Company siren to meet the specifications, Chrysler was invited to a meeting in Washington D C, along with a few of the sound engineers from Bell Laboratories, to work on the problem and come up with a solution.

With Harry Fletcher of Bell Labs in charge, the engineers at Bell Labs went to work. This resulted a few months later, in the introduction of "Big Bertha" a huge centrifugal engine driven siren one of the largest ever built up to that time. The Bell Labs siren and was capable of 134 decibels of sound at a range of 100 feet. Now that the Bell siren design was proven successful, the Bell engineers drew up a series of specifications, using "Big Bertha" as a guideline, Chrysler was then awarded a contract to build the Bell designed and engineered air raid warning sirens.

The first version became known as the Chrysler-Bell Victory Siren. This first, siren, had a somewhat crude unrefined appearance, Despite its looks, it became certified by the Office of Civil Defense in March of 1942. One hundred twenty of these "Victory Sirens" were sold to 28 different cities among them New York City who bought (10) copies. The city of Detroit bought (20), as did the city of Chicago.

The Victory sirens sold for the tidy sum of $3,760 each in 1942 wartime dollars and were powered by a Chrysler straight -eight 324 cubic-inch engine that was rated at 140 HP. The government test results showed this siren with its two-stage blower was capable of producing a sound output of 134 decibels at a frequency of 430 Hz at a distance of 100 feet.

One of the problems with the early sirens is that the sound they produced was directional. To solve that problem the sirens were fitted onto a belt driven turntable that would rotate a full 360 degrees at 1.5 revolutions a minute. An operator was required to sit on a tractor type seat and control the operation of the siren and the direction of rotation, a job for which I am sure their were not many volunteers.

The second design of this siren built by Chrysler was much more refined than the first. Improvements in design also made the assembly of the sirens easier, faster, and less expensive. In the second design, the Bell name was dropped, and the sirens simply became known as the Chrysler Air Raid Siren.

The second design used the same 140 HP engine as the first design and the sound output was said to be the same. The second series was built from the middle 1940's up through 1951.

In 1952, a final and more advanced model was introduced. Along with a few refinements was the addition of Chrysler's new 331 cubic-inch, Hemi-Head V8, which produced 180 HP at 4600 rpms.

The latest design proved to be the best ever. It was by far the loudest at 138 decibels at a distance of one hundred feet at a range of 460 Hz. Best of all it was controlled remotely so no operator was needed to ride the siren and run the controls.

To put this Hemi powered air raid siren's output loudness into perspective the telephone in your shop rings at 80db while a city police car or ambulance measures120db at a distance of ten feet. Now imagine 138db at a distance of 100 feet… Yeeoooow!!

 This design became the most popular and a couple of hundred were sold to larger cities across the United States. Besides their tour of duty for World War II, many of the sirens were again used during the cold war when the threat of nuclear war became very real in the 1960's.

While no examples of the first two siren designs are known to have survived, a few of the third design (which was built up through 1957) have survived.

The Siren Harry Barry bought and restored that was once located near the school where he grew up.

Harry Barry grew up in Pittsburgh Pa. area during the 1950's and he clearly remembered there was one of the third generation Chrysler sirens near his school. It was tested each month and Harry remembers that very loud distinctive sound.

In later years Harry became interested in sirens (no doubt influenced by his early childhood), and went back to see if the siren was still there next to his old school. It was and he bought it. He then went to work and restored it. He tracked down and bought one more, and knows the whereabouts of  (6), more.

So the next time you are attending a car show and see a 1957 Chrysler cruising by... you may want to take a moment, and reflect on what might have been. Instead of that Hemi engine rumbling under the hood of that Chrysler, it could have ended up in service to our country.

Like Harry I also have an interest in and collect sirens. I have about 3 dozen sirens in my collection of all different shapes and sizes, the oldest one being from about 1926.

I do not have a siren in my collection as big as the one Harry has bought and restored but I can appreciate his efforts to track down and restore one of that size. The largest one I have ever owned was the one that was on top of our City Hall building when I was growing up. It was an old air raid siren from World War II. After the war it was used by the fire department. When the local fire department got a fire alarm they would turn on that siren to let all of the volunteers know of the alarm and they were to report to the fire station immediately. You could literally hear that siren for miles around so everybody got the message, and they often said it would wake the dead.

Later... when modern technology came along all the fireman got hand help radios and pagers so they no longer used the old siren. When it came time to repair the city hall roof after a hail storm the city decided the old siren needed to go away. They took sealed bids and I was the winner.

Soon after I learned that it ran on 3 phase 5 hp electric motor.  I befriended one of the local city public utility workers and we tried it out on a Sunday afternoon.

The World War II Siren from City Hall all 280 pounds worth.  It is nearly five feet across and the rain cap on top looks like an army helmet from back in the day.

I knew the siren was loud on the top of city hall but when it was on the ground sitting on top of my car trailer in the alley... it gave new meaning to loud. After a couple of times,  I had my fun, and the neighbors had made it clear they were not impressed with my siren. I eventually sold it to a small community in Oklahoma who wanted to use it as a tornado siren, a job it was clearly up to. With a population of barely 800 residents they clearly did not have much of a budget for storm warning devices, although like Kansas, they clearly had the need for one.

So in the end... I had my fun, got my money back, and there is a small town in Oklahoma who can now warn their residents of an approaching tornado. I have stopped in that small town a couple of times over the years to look at my siren perched on top of their City Hall building. I just smile to myself... it is in a good place and my neighbors couldn't be more pleased.

And I am still on the lookout for sirens to add to my collection. I am a little more selective now and leave the full sized ones alone.


Adjusting Lifters The Correct Way

Posted on 10/5/18 with No comments


Adjusting lifters used to be a common practice when our antique vehicles were new. It's true a few engines came with hydraulic lifters that did not need adjusting but for the most part all engines and especially performance engines came with solid lifters that required adjusting on a regular basis. Today...adjusting lifters has almost become a lost art.

The accuracy of your lifter adjustment can have a huge effect not only on the performance of the engine but also on the overall life of the engine. If you read the shop manuals of the day they will explain how to adjust lifters resulting in an average job. The final result will be "close enough" and be within factory specifications for the average line mechanic who has to balance the time allotted according to the "Flat Rate" manual, and the end result.

But what if there was a way to adjust lifters that was extremely accurate yet amazingly simple, the way the cam grinders do it and the way professional drag racers do it, to gain any advantage over the competition. Even in our antique vehicle engines we can do it to get the maximum performance from our engines. We would get the full horsepower and torque that was designed into our engines from the factory. 

I want to thank customer and friend Mike Ready who shared this technique that he learned from his father who was a heavy duty truck diesel mechanic. Mike's father learned this technique as a way to time the diesel fuel injectors on diesel engines. He then determined it would also work as a way to accurately adjust valve lifters. He was correct and lucky for us he taught his son Mike how to do it and Mike has agreed to share it with us.

I had seen this done by one of the local mechanics growing up who raced stock cars on a dirt track back in the 1970's, so I know this works. The local mechanic tried to explain it to me then... but I confess I did not pay much attention, I had other priorities. So thanks to Mike... who did pay attention to his father...we can follow along and learn how to adjust lifters accurately. You will be surprised at the difference it makes.

"TEETER AND ADJUST" LIFTER / TAPPET ADJUSTMENT METHOD taught to me by my dad 53 years ago.  By Mike Ready

For want of a name for this procedure I call it "Teeter and Adjust". When I refer to the word "Teeter" this is what I mean by this word. When you are looking at a pair of lifters / tappets that are in the overlap phase we want to rock the crank back and forth watching for both of the tops of these lifters / tappets to be the same exact height. This is one of the critical parts of this procedure. 

Finding this spot on the cam sets the lifters / tappets on the cam lobes of the opposite cylinder in the firing order for adjusting / setting the clearance. The purpose of this is to get these lifters / tappets on that opposite cylinder as close to the center line on the base circle of the cam, which is opposite of the nose of the cam lobe on that lobe to adjust / set the clearance.

The "Teetered" lifters / tappets will be up in the open position in the "overlap" position. There for, the opposite cylinder lifters / tappets will be in the down closed position. I hope this is clear as understanding this is key to doing this right.

The procedure is done like this;
1 – Find and write down the firing order of the engine.

2 – Draw a line dividing this firing order in to 2 groups of numbers (for example; a 4 cylinder would have 2 numbers on each side of the line, 6 will have 3 on each side, 8 will have 4 on each side of the line and so on for engines with more cylinders.

3 – Position cylinder number 1 on top dead center. Accuracy is important you want to be at exactly top dead center!

4 – Look at the first number after the line on the RIGHT group of numbers and see what cylinder that is.

5 – Look at that cylinder’s lifters / tappets and by rocking the crank back and forth get each lifter / tappet exactly the same height on their top edge of the lifter / tappet. These will be in the open "overlap" position on those lobes.

6 – At this point in this procedure, the lifters / tappets on the opposite cylinder (in this case number 1) are exactly on the base circle and as close to the center line of that cam lobe as possible. It is now time to set that clearance of those 2 lifters / tappets (on number 1). 

These will be the numbers on the LEFT side of the line.
All you have to do now is look at the next cylinder in the firing order and find its opposite cylinder in the firing order - pair of lifters / tappets (the RIGHT group) and with a very little turn of the crank "Teeter" them to get them at the same equal height. Then adjust the lifter / tappets clearances of that cylinder opposite cylinder in the firing order just after number 1 in the LEFT group. 

Move on down the line of the firing order numbers "Teetering & Adjusting" until you get to the end of the "Teetering" lifters (right of line). 

At this point switch over to the cylinders (which will be on the LEFT of the line dividing your firing order into 2 groups) and "Teeter" these cylinder numbers lifters / tappets and adjusting their opposite cylinder that are on the Right of the line.

Once you have finished this group of cylinders you are all done.
I believe it requires only 2 complete turns of the crankshaft to complete this "Teeter & Adjust" procedure.

Now... why is this considered the best way to set the cam lifters / tappets for adjusting the clearances?

It positions the lifters / tappets on equal sides of the center line of the base circle of the cam lobe. Then when the clearance is adjusted / set it is VERY accurately set. Little to no chance for error and it is easy and a lot less work to do.

In the 50 years I have used dad’s method I have taught many mechanics how to use this method. It works on any even multiple cylinder engines. Be it a 4 cylinder to any number of even numbered cylinders. Flathead, "L" head, over head valve, over head cam.

In the 50 years of doing mechanic work on all sorts of vehicles, tractors, heavy equipment, and in 15 years of building racing car engines I have only found a very few who knew this method. I have yet to find it described in a book.

In all these years I have found, 2 pals that own a cam grinding company who each race cars, a few on race teams, and several diesel engine mechanics that knew and used this method.

Here is a "real life" example:
Using the firing order of a Model A Ford 4 cylinder engine 1243.
Write down the firing order & draw a line dividing this into 2 groups.

 1 2 / 4 3
 Start by putting #1 on TDC
 Look at # 4’s lifters & teeter them into equal height
 Adjust # 1’s lifters
 Look at # 3’s lifters & teeter them into equal height
 Adjust # 2’s lifters

At this point all cylinders on the left side of the line are adjusted & done. Now focus on the group for teetering that is on the LEFT side, the group that you just adjusted.

Look at # 1’s lifters & teeter them into equal height
Adjust # 4’s lifters
Look at # 2’s lifters & teeter them into equal height
Adjust # 3’s lifters ---- Now you are all done

Note From Randy - You can use a flat blade feeler gauge like this one but a stepped feeler gauge works better. Make sure when you are measuring clearances that you are touching both surfaces so you get an accurate reading.

Here are two examples of stepped feeler gauges. The set on the left
is like the ones like I grew up with. The ones on the right are the modern ones and a little easier to work with as you are only controlling one stepped blade with a handle attached. You can buy this set from your local auto parts store, it is Lisle part number 68050.  Thanks Randy

 Mike need no special tools for finding the correct spot to adjust the lifters. Also, you don’t jump around from one cylinder to another adjusting one lifter at a time. Instead you just follow the firing order & adjust BOTH lifters at the same time.

All you need to complete this job is: paper, pin/pencil, a stepped feeler gauge set, and the proper sized wrench.

Randy's final comments....These instructions are pretty simple to follow and in the end it will result in less work and a more accurate job, as compared to adjusting lifters the conventional way one at a time. That should put a smile on your face! I want to again thank Mike for sharing his knowledge.

This is a perfect example of learning from the previous generation and then passing it along to the younger generation. Everyone benefits especially the younger generation who is now able to own drive and maintain an antique vehicle. It makes driving an owning an antique vehicle more enjoyable when you know how things work and how to do the basic maintaince. That builds pride of ownership and you can't get that out of any book!

A Short History Of Motor Oil Brands

Posted on 9/19/18 with No comments


Edwin Drake was the first person to strike oil in America. His world-famous well was drilled in Titusville, Pa, a small town located in Crawford County Pa. His innovative method of drilling for oil using an iron pipe not only caused a "black gold rush" but also placed him in the books of oil industry history.

Drake was hired to drill for Seneca Oil Co, but met with little success. He used a steam engine to power an iron pipe drill he invented. Most of his chosen drilling sites yielded only trace amounts of oil. Meanwhile...he endured fires, financial setbacks, and the heavy ridicule of the locals.  With little to show for their investment, the Seneca Oil Company gave up on Drake and withdrew his funding. Drake was determined, and obtained a personal line of credit to continue drilling. On August 27, 1859, Drake struck oil at 69 feet below ground, just before his funds ran out. This is considered the "first large-scale commercial extraction of petroleum".

Unfortunately for Drake, his success would not last. He had secured a limited number of oil leases in the region, and after his discovery, the oil industry exploded all around him, outside of his control. Sadly he never patented the drilling method he pioneered, which worked so well, it quickly become the standard method of drilling. He went on to loose the balance of his modest earnings from the oil business, speculating on Wall Street.

Annual domestic output of crude swelled from 2,000 barrels in 1859, the year of Drake’s “discovery,” to 10,000,000 barrels in 1873

Petroleum jumped from the sixth most valuable US export to the second most valuable during this period. At the peak of the oil boom, Pennsylvania wells were producing one third of the world’s oil.

But 1892 was the last year that Pennsylvania wells provided a majority of the oil produced in the US, and in 1895, Ohio surpassed Pennsylvania as an oil producer. By 1907, the decline of the Pennsylvania fields and the great discoveries made in Texas, California, and Oklahoma, left Pennsylvania with less than 10% of the nation's oil production.

One of the first products offered for sale from was motor oil and gasoline (which was originally a by-product of the refining process and was considered waste) until the automobile came along. Oil on the other hand was needed for lubrication for all types of machinery, and kerosene for lighting. So that lead to the founding of various oil companies many of which are still in business today. Here are a few...

The Sun Oil Company began in 1886 as the Peoples Natural Gas Company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, its partners decided to expand their gas business with a stake in the new oil discoveries in Ohio, and Sun Oil diversified quickly, active in production and distribution of oil as well as processing and marketing gasoline. By 1901, the company was incorporated in New Jersey as Sun Company and turned its interest to the new Spindle Top field in Texas.

Wolf's Head motor oil dates back to 1879 and was one of the original oil brands in Pennsylvania. Pennzoil acquired the company in the early sixties. When Shell bought Pennzoil they sold the Wolf's Head brand to Amalie Oil in Tampa Florida.

Pennzoil was never Pennsylvanian. It was founded in Los Angeles, California in 1913. In 1955, it was bought by South Penn Oil, a former branch of Standard Oil. In 1963, South Penn Oil merged with Zapata Petroleum, and during the 1970s, the company moved its offices to Houston, Texas.

Quaker State Motor Oil is an American brand of motor oil produced by SOPUS Products, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, and the successor of the Pennzoil-Quaker State Company.

Amalie Motor Oil founded in Franklin, PA, in 1903 by the Sonneborn brothers. It was one of the original "Pennsylvania Crude" oil companies. Amalie was quick to develop a steadfast reputation for high-quality, well-engineered petroleum products. In 1953, Amalie was the first oil company to introduce a multi-grade motor oil: Imperial 10W30.

Kendall Motor Oil…. 3 partners witnessed an 1875 oil well gusher, and decided to go into business together to establish a refinery.

In 1881, they established the first oil refinery in Bradford Pa., a business-deal that has kept the oil town prospering for over a century. The Bradford Oil Refinery remains the oldest functioning petroleum refinery in the world. In 1902, the Penn Lubricating Co. purchased the refinery.

In 1913 was the incorporation of the Kendall Refining Company, which became the first producer of motor oil to extend oil change intervals from the average 500 miles, to the greatly improved 2000 miles.  The Bradford Refinery, which was later renamed the Kendall Refinery was sold to the Witco Chemical company in 1966, and produced both the Kendall and Amalie oil lines.

Phillips Petroleum Company was founded by Lee Eldas "L.E." Phillips, and Frank Phillips of Bartlesville Oklahoma, on June 13, 1917. The new company had assets of $3 million, 27 employees and owned land throughout Oklahoma and Kansas.

After discovery of Texas's huge Panhandle gas field in 1918 and the Hugoton Field to its north in Kansas, the Phillips Company became increasingly involved in the rapidly developing natural gas industry. In particular, the company became specialized in extracting liquids from natural gas, and by 1925 was the nation's largest producer of natural gas liquids.

 In 1927, the company's gasoline was being tested on U.S. Highway 66 in Oklahoma. When it turned out that the car reached the then breakneck speed of 66 mph, the company decided to name the new fuel Phillips 66

(I know there is some controversy over how the Phillips 66 came about...some same say the 66 was the octane rating of the gasoline, some say it was because they were testing on U.S. Highway 66, but the 66 mph story came from the Phillips Company, and they should know better than anybody.)

Phillips was the second oil company to introduce multi-grade motor oil in 1954 (The first was Amalie). Such motor oils were designed to be used year-round in automobile engines, as opposed to single grades for which different grades of motor oils were recommended to meet weather variances.

Phillips sold gasoline in Canada's western provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan under the name Pacific 66 until the late 1970s. In 1966, Phillips entered the United States West Coast market by purchasing Tidewater Oil Co.'s refining

In 1967, Phillips became the nation's second oil company, after Texaco, to sell and market gasoline in all 50 states, by opening a Phillips 66 station in Anchorage, Alaska.

Gasoline for automobiles was first sold at local hardware stores, it was quite an innovation when stand alone gasoline stations came along. Early automobiles required lots more maintaince and repairs and the gasoline or "filling station" was the logical place to have that work done.

It was convenient for the customer and met more profit for the station owner. We have come along way from those early days where the gasoline station only sold gasoline and oil and offered full service. Today's modern stations that sell groceries, snacks and beverages of all kinds, but no service work and no fixing of flat tires. The younger generation has no idea what they missed out on...


Borg Warner Overdrives And The Aftermarket...Ford Bronco

Posted on 9/10/18 with No comments


This article appeared in the October 1968 issue of one of the popular off road magazines. It shows yet another popular aftermarket application for the Borg Warner Overdrive. As many of you reading this have discovered the Borg Warner Overdrive was adapted to many different aftermarket applications.  Read on as Rancho introduces a kit to adapt a Borg Warner Overdrive into a Ford Bronco Driveline. Keep in mind this article is from 1968 so the print quality is not the best, but the information is still good.


Yet More Borg Warner Overdrive Information - Solenoid and Relay Part Number ID.

Posted on 8/23/18 with No comments


Just when you thought it was safe to go to the garage, that you had all of the information there was available about the Borg Warner overdrive...well there is more. I have been on a constant quest to gather up all of the Borg Warner Overdrive information that I can find. I now have found most of the overdrive solenoid part numbers as well as most of the relay numbers and some technical information about each of those.

First up you need to know is that there were three manufacturers of overdrive solenoids, BMC, Autolite, and Delco. The BMC company it appears made the solenoids for Borg Warner. Nobody seems to know if BMC was a Borg Warner Company or somebody they contracted with to build their solenoids. With eleven different car companies offering the Borg Warner Overdrive as an option plus the aftermarket demand, made it very difficult to keep up with solenoid production.

Borg Warner sold over two million overdrive transmissions by 1950, and would go on to sell over four million by 1970. No wonder they were busy.

You should know by now that most all of the solenoids will interchange between the different models, as long as you keep the same voltage and shaft length. I am putting this OEM Part Number information up in case you run across an original NOS solenoid or relay, you will know the original application.

Keep in mind that with solenoids, that the cover end with the part number often got damaged when the transmission was placed on a concrete shop floor during a clutch job. An easy replacement the end covers got swapped out for an undamaged replacement. My point is you can not always assume the cover on the back of the solenoid is the original. After 60 plus years a lot can happen to a solenoid.

This page came from an old overdrive service book that is way older than I am, and no doubt older than most of you. So excuse the poor quality, the book had been well used and abused by the time I found it. You can click on the picture to make it larger.

I also have the same information for the overdrive relays. Again same story, you know all of the overdrive relays will interchange as long as you keep the voltage the same.

There is also some technical troubleshooting and related information on both of these pages. The wiring diagram is clearly one before 1951 because it still shows the reverse lockout switch.
Same deal on the picture to make it larger.

Some solenoids were built with wires coming out of the terminals, while most had screw terminals which made it easier to remove the solenoid for replacement. While there were a few additional variations most all of them can be converted to the more common four post relay and two post screw terminal solenoid of which new replacement parts are readily available.

No matter the combination all of the Borg Warner R-10 and R-11 overdrive solenoids function the same way.

Stay tuned for more... as I find it I will share it with you here....

The Ford "Skyway" Columbia Overdrive

Posted on 7/23/18 with No comments


The Columbia overdrive rear end was an early design overdrive that was adapted to the stock Ford rear end housing, and was designed to provide a dual ratio for the rear end. The Columbia rear end was an option from Ford beginning in 1934 (could be retro fitted to a 1933) and prior to the Borg Warner overdrive transmissions which would become a Ford option beginning in 1949. It was the Borg Warner overdrive transmission that would later contribute to the demise of the Columbia dual-ratio rear end. Lets learn more.

Originally developed by the Columbia Axle Company in Cleveland, Ohio, the two-speed axle was first used as an option on the 1932 Auburn. Ford first offered it as a conversion for their 1934 models; it was later offered as a factory-option on the 1937-'41 V-12-powered Lincoln Zephyrs, Continentals and Custom models, and 1939-'41 Mercury's and Fords with the flathead V-8.

The axle was supplied as a kit to be installed by Ford dealers or by independent authorized garages. Only a few of the 1933-1934 kits were sold, and they are considered very rare today. The axle was redesigned and improved for the 1935 Ford model year, and by mid-year, was called the Columbia “Two-Speed Axle” even though the differential carrier casting (A-6) was still marked “Dual Ratio Axle”. The axle was also an option for the new 1936 Lincoln Zephyr and later, the new 1939 Mercury. Ford, Mercury and Lincoln Zephyr cars could be ordered with a Columbia but it was installed by a Ford authorized independent shop before delivery. 

When the Columbia rear end unit was fitted to the original banjo-style Ford rear-end, the driver's side axle and the left axle housing were retained, but the passenger-side axle and housing had to be replaced. The new right side axle was shorter to make room for the planetary and sliding clutch assembly. The new right axle housing incorporated the mounting bracket for the vacuum canister and an opening for a shifting lever that was attached to the end of the canister's vacuum piston. 

The piston rod had a clevis assembly that attached to the sliding clutch. When the axle is in low gear, the sliding clutch is engaged, locking several planetary pinion gears and a center sun gear into a sort of "reverse flywheel" cut into the inner diameter of the ring gear. The outer ring gear then turns the axles. When the overdrive is engaged, the vacuum canister retracts the sliding gear and stops the sun gear from spinning. This allows the differential ring and pinion to spin freely and causes the stationary clutch to engage, allowing the ring gear to rotate the internal pinion gears. The sun gear, however, stops rotating when the sliding clutch is disengaged. The rotation of the ring gear turns the pinion gears about the sun gear, which allows the "reverse flywheel" and the axle shafts to rotate in the second speed.

Starting in 1937, the marking on the differential carrier casting was changed to “Two- Speed Axle” or “Overdrive Axle”. ’46-’48 castings were marked “Overdrive Axle”. 

In 1940, Mr. E.L. Cord sold the Columbia Axle Co. to a Cincinnati investment group represented by Messrs. W.E. Schott (who already controlled a sizable number of auto-related businesses) and Lewis Goldsmith. These two men became the new President and Vice-President, respectively, of the Company. Production and distribution of the two-speed axle continued as before, however, they were not available from 1942-1945, due to WW II. Production was resumed in late 1946 with Ford and Mercury dealers obtaining the axles from the Truckstell Company, with distributors located at key points from coast to coast. The Columbia Overdrive was now called “Skyway Drive” and had a new electric control, to activate solenoid, instead of manually as it was prior. 

The 1949 introduction of the new all electric shift Borg-Warner overdrive transmission option by Ford, made the Columbia overdrive obsolete, which spelled the doom of the Columbia Axle Co. However, parts and complete axles for pre-1949 cars remained available for a few years after. In late 1948, the Kaplan Auto Parts Distribution Co. of Cleveland Ohio purchased the Columbia inventory and took over the distribution of axles and spare parts. Kaplan did an active business through out the ‘50’s and into the mid ‘60’s when the supply of key components (new and used) had dwindled and the supply of whole axles was depleted. In 1968, Kaplan scrapped the last of its inventory) and the company closed. 

The first thing a driver had to remember about his Columbia, is that the car must be moving when the Columbia is shifted into overdrive... and also when it is shifted out of overdrive. To shift into overdrive, the dash control (lever on ‘35/’36, knob on ’37-’41, and spring loaded electric switch on ’46-’48) is activated (turn lever to “H”, pull knob, or hold down switch). The driver then takes his foot off the accelerator pedal (to create maximum vacuum) and fully depresses the clutch, which completes the shift. On ’46-’48, the driver also then releases the spring loaded dash switch. To shift out of overdrive, the driver returns the dash control to the standard position (on ’46-’48 the control switch automatically returns to standard position), takes his foot off the accelerator pedal, and fully depresses the clutch, which completed the shift. 

When the Columbia is shifted into overdrive, the sun gear is locked to the differential carrier casting so it cannot rotate. In this mode, the planetary gears rotate around the sun gear and, in turn, rotate the inner gear 28.5% faster than the differential outer case assembly which encloses it. Since the inner gear carries the pinion gears, the net result is a 28.5% reduction in RPM from the differential outer case assembly forward to the engine. 

Shifting from standard drive to overdrive and from overdrive to standard caused a sudden and substantial shocks to the gears, bearings, and housings of the Columbia axle. To absorb these shocks and to lock the sun gear in either standard drive or overdrive mode, the axle has a brake-clutch mechanism called the synchro clutch. The synchro clutch became the weak link of the Columbia overdrive.

Car owners trying to shift out of overdrive without the car moving also caused a lot of problems.

The real design downfall of the Columbia overdrive, is that the Columbia rear end receives about 4 times the amount of torque that a transmission or drive shaft overdrive unit does, due to the fact that it is located downstream of the ring and pinion. The failure point of a Columbia is almost always the internal planetary ring gear which is part of the differential housing. The failure often occurred when the driver attempted to take off from a standing start in low overdrive.

When the Columbia dual ratio rear end was introduced in the early 1930's, most cars had 4 cylinder engines. By the late thirties the V8 had been introduced and the horsepower of cars had more than doubled, which put even more strain on the Columbia rear end. 

So while the Columbia overdrive concept was a good one, the location of the overdrive unit itself, was not. The Borg Warner overdrive transmission offered the same ratio 28% reduction at engine speed, was factory installed, cost about the same money, and was easier to operate. The Borg Warner overdrive transmission would soon be offered as an option by eleven different car companies.

The local Ford Dealer here in Clay Center, John Mouse Motors ran a quarter page add in the local newspaper in the spring of 1948 offering the "Skyway" Columbia overdrive for $89.50 plus installation. That is equal to $943.00 in 2018 dollars. So when Ford offered the Borg Warner overdrive option beginning in the 1949 model year, sales were brisk. For reference the $30.00 option is equal to $306 dollars in 2018, so it was no wonder the Borg Warner overdrive transmissions sold so well. Borg Warner sold well over three million of the overdrive transmissions by 1960. Studebaker sold the most Borg Warner overdrive transmission options. 

You will still see a Columbia overdrive rear end under an antique vehicle now and then, and their are now parts being reproduced with upgraded engineering to address some of the original weak points of the original Columbia overdrive rear ends. 

The purpose of this tech article is to give you a little basic knowledge of the Columbia overdrive rear ends and to help you understand what came before the Borg Warner Overdrive Transmissions that has become so popular in recent years. 


1939 / 1940 Ford Battery Gauge And Upgrading To 12-Volts ...What You Need To Know

Posted on 7/16/18 with No comments


Starting with model year 1939, Ford installed a "Battery" gauge in the dash of their Deluxe model Ford, Mercury and Lincoln Zephyr model cars, instead of an Ammeter. No one seems to know why this happened, some speculate that there was a shortage of Ammeter gauges or that production could not keep up with demand. It doesn't really matter as long as you know how to identify what you have in the dash. The use of a "Battery" gauge in the Deluxe models continued into the 1940 model year.  The Battery gauges used in the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models are marked with the colors of Red, Orange, Green and Red again at the top of the gauge markings.

Here is a 1940 Ford truck Ammeter

If your dash gauge doesn't look anything like the one described above, but instead, the dial says DIS and CHG  with the needle in the middle, you have an Ammeter instead. When you upgrade to 12-volts, you do not have to do anything to the Ammeter, because an Ammeter measures the volume of current...not the voltage. Again all standard model cars, and the trucks got Ammeters instead of Battery gauges.

If you have a Battery gauge in the dash...which in reality is a volt meter, (although not calibrated as such) the Battery gauge is designed to display the amount of voltage present in the electrical system when the ignition switch is in the "on" position.

1939 Mercury Battery Dash Gauge

The markings on a Ford Battery Gauge are as follows...Green was normal operating voltage, and represented a voltage range from 7.1 to 8.25 volts. The Red on the high side identified voltages of 8.25 to 9.0 volts. The Red voltages on the high side were unsafe for light bulbs, and often resulted in the water being boiled out of the battery from overcharging. Excessive generator voltage output (from stuck points in the regulator) can cause permanent damage to the generator. (All Ford Lincoln and Mercury Battery Gauge markings represent the same thing.)

The Orange sector represented voltages from 6.2 to 7.1. When the needle dropped below the green on the dial but stayed in the orange that meant the headlights and electrical load was equal to the generator output, and no current was being replaced into the battery. If headlights were not on such as daytime driving it meant the generator was not recharging the battery and the charging system may need attention.

If the needle dropped into the Red on the bottom of the scale, it represented 6.2 volts or below a warning to the driver the charging system was not keeping up with the electrical load and the current in the battery was fast being used up.

This is a backside view of a Ford Battery Gauge.  Battery current flows thru heater wire which in turn heats the bi-metal which moves the needle on the front side of the gauge.

The battery gauge on the left is the 1939 design, while the battery gauge on the right is the 1940 design. Remember it was just the deluxe models that got the battery gauges, the standard models along with the trucks got the ammeter gauges in the dash.

Part of this information on the Ford Battery gauges came from a Ford service bulletin dated October 1939. I wanted you to be able to read and understand a Ford Battery dash gauge, and also know the difference between a Ford Battery gauge and a Ford Ammeter. 

So now the burning question becomes...what do you do with the Ford Battery gauge that is calibrated for 6-volts, when you upgrade your Ford electrical system to 12-volts? 

The answer is simple! Install a "Runtz" voltage drop onto the back of the battery gauge just like you will do for the gas gauge and the rest of the electrical dash gauges, (water temp, oil pressure) and you will live happily ever after. The "Runtz" will reduce the 12-volts down to 7.75 volts which will be in the "Green" markings in the original Battery dash gauge. The Battery gauge will then function just like it always did.

I know that often times the solution from the experts is to just swap out the "battery" gauge for an "ammeter" gauge and everything will be fine. That will work, but the gauge face of the Ammeter gauge will not match the rest of your gauge faces.

Now that you know the simple solution of installing the Runtz onto the original Battery gauge which allows to keep and use all of your stock gauges, the upgrade to 12-volts just became that much easier.


The Thirty Year Education

Posted on 7/5/18 with No comments


2018 marks the 30th year of my education with the Great Race. That's a long time for an education, one that will likely continue for a few more years to come. A lot of you ask why I am still involved with the Great Race after thirty years and what exactly I get from it every year, that makes my involvement worth while.

A Little Background Is In Order...

Back in 1985 I invented a 6-volt alternator for antique vehicle applications. My 1951 Chevrolet pickup was the reason for the invention of the 6-volt alternator. I bought fixed up and sold dozens of these 1948 thru 1954 Chevrolet pickups in my high school years from 1972 thru 1976. I learned to always park on a hill to be sure they would start. I had first hand knowledge of dead batteries, dim headlights, and hard starting. I reasoned that if I was having trouble with my 6-volt electrical system, so was everybody else. I decided the 6-volt electrical system needed fixing, and I was just the guy to do it.  Besides...when you are young, you know everything!

How hard could it be...? If I had only known. I ended up spending all of my money figuring out how to make the 6-volt alternator work (and not work), so I had little money left for marketing. I did sell about a hundred of them locally over the next year, so I knew they worked, but I soon figured out I needed to find some new customers out of state, if I was going to continue to sell my 6-volt alternators. 

So...I started Fifth Avenue Antique Auto Parts in 1987 to market my new 6-volt alternator nationwide. It was in 1988 that I found out about the Great Race in which  they drove pre 1942 vehicles 4500 miles across the United States in two weeks time. I decided that was a perfect market for my new alternator. So I acquired a list of the entrants and started knocking on doors trying to convince one of the Great Race entrants to try my new alternator.

This 1951 was a one owner truck that I bought in 1972 when I had just turned 14. I still have that truck (it looks much different now ...and so do I) and it still has 6-volt alternator number one installed, which still works!) 

 They all asked the same thing..."have any other of the Great Race entrants tried them...? "  Not yet "but they should"... was my reply " because they work "... " Well you know there is no such thing as a 6-volt alternator..." until now... is my reply." well come back and see us when you get someone signed up and we might try one then "..that was how it went until I got to number 12 on the list, one Bud Melby of Seattle Washington.

Bud drove a 1936 Cord in the Great Race, a car I had never even heard of a Cord till then. Oh...great I say to myself, I get a car I know nothing about and never heard of, I will never sell this guy an alternator! But...Bud was more than receptive as he explained that the generator charging system in his Cord could not keep up with the additional electrical load from the electric fuel pump, the electric radiator cooling fan and the related accessories. 

He said he changed out the battery at noon each day, because when the battery voltage got low, the transmission would get stuck in overdrive. A Cord is all electric shift on the steering column and the overdrive is also electric shift. In the Great Race the car was being shifted way more often than it would be in normal driving, which was part of the reason for the dead battery.

I knew my alternator could fix that but I had to convince Bud. I finally said..."I will give you the alternator for free and if it works to your satisfaction then I want an endorsement from you at the end of the race. " Fair enough " he said.  He installed the alternator entered the 1989 Great Race and drove the entire race on the same battery!  He later said..." I couldn't believe it...some farm kid in Kansas invents this 6-volt alternator and tells me it will work on my car. I truly had serious doubts but figured it couldn't be any worse than what I had now. But that alternator actually worked just like he said it would! "

It was Howard Sharp that parked next to Bud each evening during the 1989 Great Race. Howard was driving a 1929 Dodge Sport Roadster one of only 1200 made. He too was having battery problems so Bud showed him his 6-volt alternator. Howard's response was..." if something like that would work they would have figured that out a long time ago...!

This sun faded picture is in the display case in my store. When Howard won in 1993 I asked for the winning alternator back and I sent him a new one. I wanted the alternator for display. It was my first win and was proof my alternator worked.

Howard watched that alternator the whole race and while he was charging batteries each night Bud never touched his. Two days after Howard got home from the race he called. He said..." That 6-volt alternator you sold Bud Melby, I want one for my Dodge, how soon can you get it here! " I sent him the alternator he installed it and drove it in the next two Great Races finishing in the top five both years. Like Bud...he never again replaced a battery.

In 1993 Howard won the Great Race and collected $30,000 and a new Buick car. He was now a believer in the 6-volt alternator and has became my best salesman. Soon other entrants in the Great Race discovered how Howard went from swapping batteries every day to not touching his battery the whole race. The word was out and the alternators began to sell to the Great Racers.

Another benefit I hadn't counted on from being involved with the Great Race, was the local car collectors who came down to look at the cars entered in the Great Race each evening, to see how the cars entered in the Great Race were different from the ones they owned. They would see the alternator with the gold sticker on top, and write down the phone number. 

The next day they would call and say..."I talked to one of the entrants in the Great Race last night and I want the same alternator he has, for my car. " The Great Race became my best advertising as antique car owners could see the alternators installed on a car and could talk to the Great Race car owners firsthand to learn all they wanted to know about how the alternators worked.


After the alternator secret made the rounds a few of the Great Racers led by Bud came to me and said..." you fixed our electrical problems, now we want you to fix our overheating and our vapor lock problems..."

So that is how I got involved with the Great Race in depth. They came to me with problems and I worked on finding a solution. They tested my new products and I knew if what I designed survived the Great Race it would survive anything the average antique vehicle owner would need. This has been going on for 30 years now, and is how most of the 40 specialized products I now offer for sale, came about.

Today, the Great Racers will drive 3500 miles in the Great Race in just two weeks time. They drive on much more difficult roads in much more extreme temperatures for much longer periods of time, than the average antique vehicle owner does. If they can break or abuse a part they will.

After Howard won the Great Race in 1993 he moved up to the expert class. He decided to take advantage of the age factor and buy an older vehicle. I get a call..." Hey... I just bought a car for the Great a 1911 Velie and I need an alternator for that car, so send me one when you get one built...and he hung up the phone.

This became one of the most expensive alternators I have ever built. The Velie has an idle speed of just 450 rpms and a maximum engine speed of 1200 rpms. 

Once again, I had no idea what a Velie was... so I did my homework. I found out the idle speed was just 450 rpms and the max engine rpms was 1200 rpms. I knew Howard needed an alternator with at least 30 amps at engine idle and at least 70 amps at highway speeds. Most alternators start charging about 800-1000 rpms and are designed to produce their full rated output at about about 4500 rpms engine speed. This would be a challenge. 

In the end using a special built one off high output stator and rotor assembly, (along with every trick I had learned in years past to extract more amps out of an alternator at low engine rpms), the alternator worked and more important proved to be reliable.  It became the most expensive alternator I had ever built to date, but it did deliver 40 amps at Velie engine idle and 74 amps and Velie highway speeds of 1200 rpms.

All was good till about 2006, when I get another call from Howard..." the route next years goes up Pikes Peak in Colorado, how are we going to keep the Velie from overheating at high altitude? I knew if Howard was onto the case, the rest of the Great Race entrants would be soon enough, so I needed to come up with an answer.  

Evans Coolant boils at 370 degrees and freezes at minus 80 degrees with no pressure in the cooling system. It has proven to be a lifesaver for the cars entered in the Great Race.

After six months of intense searching I found Jack Evans who had invented a waterless coolant that boiled at 370 degrees and freezes at minus 80, with no pressure in the cooling system. I knew immediately I was on to something so I spoke with Jack numerous times explaining what the application was and that I wanted to know if his coolant would work in a 1911 engine? While designed for modern high performance applications like the Corvette, he agreed to send me some of his coolant on a trial basis.

He explained the temp gauge in the dash will read 15-20 degrees higher as the Evans coolant will physically draw more heat from the engine and suspend it into the coolant, which will make the temp gauge read higher,  but the block will remain cooler. I knew as long as the coolant wasn't boiling it was still able to absorb heat. The Velie would prove to be a good test for the Evans Coolant. 

Well...much to everyones amazement, the Velie made it to the top of Pike's Peak without overheating. The Evans Coolant worked! It proved to be even more of a test, due to the fact that the Velie lost half of it's 40 horsepower climbing to the top, which made the engine work much harder and in turn the cooling system also work that much harder. There were lots of Great Race cars stranded on the way to the top and the Velie should have been one of the first casualties. It really struggled to get to the top and was only going about 3 mph when it reached the summit. It was a sweet victory for me and the Sharp racing team. We had conquered the mountain.

The Velie proved to be a challenge to drive in the Great Race each year. Howard's arms got as big as his thighs from the Armstrong power steering. With the alternator, the electric cooling fan, the electric fuel pump and the rest of what I had learned to date had made the Velie rock solid reliable much to the amazement of the other Great Race entrants. The Velie was the oldest car entered in the race most years, and it always finished in the top five, but gravity always seem to win at a crucial moment. The Velie had trouble pulling some of the long step hills on the Great Race routes.

Then in 2011 the Sharp Racing Team wins the Great Race driving the oldest car entered in the race, the same year the Velie turned 100 years old! All of the things I knew (or at least thought I knew) proved to be correct. It became pretty clear to me that if I could make a 100 year old car reliable I could make most any antique vehicle more reliable and fun to drive!

The Velie earned a well deserved retirement in 2011 and was replaced by a 1916 Hudson Speedster. Here we go again! So the Hudson got the same treatment that the Velie did and in 2015 the Sharp Racing Team won the Great Race again!

                                   Howard and Douglas Sharp in the 1916 Hudson.

And so it goes... every year the Great Race route presents new challenges, and new customers mean working on different types of antique vehicles. While all of the preparation to the electrical cooling, and fuel is basically the same, each individual antique vehicle is unique. But... after 30 years of preparing Great Race cars I pretty much have things down to a science. Having the car you prepare for the Great Race, win now and then, helps confirm that you are getting it right. It also help draw in a few new customers who now know without a doubt, that you know how to make an antique vehicle reliable.

That is what makes this fun for me. I enjoy the challenge, and the chance to learn something new. I tell people that preparing cars for the Great Race will teach you two will separate what you know... from what you think you know... and you will learn that what is supposed to work in theory... does not always work in real life.

So when you call and ask me questions about the electrical cooling and fuel systems on your antique you know why I can give you an answer right away without hesitation. I do this every day for a living, and have for the past thirty years. So... yes I can make most any antique vehicle more reliable and fun to drive, including yours!

This car was built in 1960 as a parade car.  It was built using two 1939 Chevy car front ends. Both ends steer. The 6-volt electrical system was recently upgraded to a Fifth Avenue 6-volt alternator to make it more reliable in parades. It is still owned by the same family of the original builders. You can read more about the history of this car in another Garage Tech entry. 

Regular customer's antique vehicles have, trucks, tractors, buses, airport tugs, wooden boats, railroad track inspector cars, airplanes, stationery engines, backhoes, shovel cranes, fork lifts, semi trucks, fire trucks, and about most anything else you can think of. They all have something in common, the same electrical cooling and fuel issues. Ironically the same cars when used in the movies also share the issues, which is how I got into the movie business.

When a customer calls and asks..." Can you help me make my antique vehicle more reliable,  and I begin to explain the process, I will ask them how many miles they drove their antique vehicle last year? " 300 miles...less than a thousand...not as many as I'd like..." are common answers. When I ask why..."doesn't start good when it's hot"..." headlights are dim so I can't see after dark "... " every time I go to start it the battery is dead "...are the common answers.

So imagine that same car owner who once drove his antique vehicle only 300 miles a year because it was not reliable... now puts 3,000 miles a year on the same vehicle because it is now... just as reliable as his modern car. He is now a proud owner of an antique vehicle that he has confidence in driving,  and the smile on his face is a mile wide! He can truly enjoy his antique vehicle. That is the rewarding part for me...when a new customer hits the starter for the first time and the antique vehicle immediately starts..the look on their face is priceless.

And it was because of my thirty year Great Race education that we are both smiling!

And my job is done...



About Me

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