Q: I'm installing an electric fan on my 360 Mopar-powered 1948 Plymouth (my motto: Mopar or no car). I've installed a temp switch to control the on/off points, but I would also like to have a toggle switch so I can turn it on when I want, and I want it to come on with the air conditioning compressor. Is there a way that I can wire the fan so all this will happen?
Via the Internet
A: There are a number of ways to accomplish your goal, here are a few: Your A/C system should include a safety, or binary switch, to shut the compressor off if the system's pressure is too high or low. You can substitute a trinary switch (Vintage Air PN 11076-vus). It combines high/low pressure protection with an electric fan operation signal at 254 psi. To install the switch the system will have to be evacuated and recharged.
Q: A few months ago I emailed you about your thoughts on a power steering cooler. My car is a 1946 Ford Woodie with a 350 Chevy, 350 trans, and Currie 9-inch Ford rear. When I take the car on long runs (my wife and I drove to California for the Wavecrest Woodie show from New York 8,000 miles), because of the way I had to route the exhaust, the power steering got very hot. I did what you said and checked the temp after a long drive and it was 189 degrees. I installed a Setrab oil cooler that I purchased from Godman Performance and came back from a long drive and the temp was 137 degrees, 52 degrees cooler! Thanks for your advice!
Via the Internet
A: We're happy to have helped and thanks for letting us know the outcome.
Exhaust gas temperatures can run well over 1,000 degrees, so anything in close proximity to the exhaust manifold/headers have the potential to get cooked. And while 189 degrees for power steering isn't quite to the critical point, it doesn't leave much of a safety margin so the cooler was a wise addition. After receiving your original correspondence we heard from another reader, Jim Hansen, who was having a similar problem with a '46 Ford sedan. This car has a straightaxle with Saginaw manual steering. The exhaust is so close to the steering gear that the heat caused lube to leak out of the sector shaft seal. Obviously in this case a cooler was not an option so we suggested fabricating a heat shield of some sort. Hansen reports he fabricated a simple shield from aluminum and attached it to the steering gear by two of the bolts that retain the sector shaft cover and it solved the problem.
What's A Huck?
Q: I just brought home a 1949 Chevy. It's in nice shape with a nicely installed 327 Chevy, Turbo 350, and a 10-bolt GM rearend. The only weak spot is the brakes. I'm planning on adding discs, but I decided to check the condition of all the brakes in the meantime just so I could feel confident driving the car around with all my grandkids.
I was pleased to find out all the brakes were in good condition, the linings on the shoes are thick, and none of the wheel cylinders appeared to have leaks, but I've never seen front brakes like what this car has. There are short links attached to the bottom of shoes where the adjusters would normally be.
I suppose my real question is this, are these brakes safe? I was going to wait until next winter to convert to discs, or should I make the change sooner?
Via the Internet
A: When the 1949 Chevrolets were introduced they certainly looked different than their predecessors, however, under the redesigned sheetmetal remained a few engineering holdovers from the 1930s, including the brakes.
In 1936 Chevrolet introduced a version of hydraulic brakes called the Huck, which was based on the mechanically operated design used previously. Hucks can be easily identified by the location of the adjusters, which are found on the ends of the wheel cylinder at the tops of the backing plates. From the outside, the backing plates will have two adjustment slots at the top rather than one at the bottom as commonly seen. In 1951 Chevrolet adopted the self-energizing Bendix-style drum brake that are still used today.
In terms of safety the Hucks were adequate in their day but you should be aware of their limitations. Stopping distances will be considerably greater compared to a modern disc brake–equipped car. And like any drum brake they will fade rapidly when with prolonged use or repeated hard stops. Our best advice is to allow some extra room in traffic—and check the pages of STREET RODDER for an affordable, effective disc brake conversion.
Q: I own a 1941 Studebaker Champion, you have been with this car on a cruise some time ago. At that time the car was owned by Bob Harrison; I think you were going to Snowmass, Colorado. I moved the heat sensor from the side of the block to the intake manifold. It did not make the car's heat gauge read better; in fact it became very erratic. It gets to 180 degrees and flutters all the time and another weird thing is when I kicked it down into pass gear the needle would drop down from about 190 to 110 degrees. Do you have any advice or an explanation? Any and all advice would be appreciated.
Lake Almanor, CA
A: We remember that trip to Snowmass, Bob Harrison, the Studebaker, and you very well. There were a number of memorable moments on that Colorado trip: The look on the face of our pal Dale Caulfield (Weedetr Street Rods) when he discovered his Buick V-6–powered Model A pickup had gotten such lousy mileage on the trip from California because the gears in the quick-change were in upside down, and the gal who was trapped in the Porta-Potty when her husband put the front tire of their high-boy roadster against the door...but back to the issue at hand.
When the engine's water temperature fluctuates as you've described the cause is often the result of the thermostat cycling. There are two common types of automotive thermostats, the poppet valve style and the sleeve style. The poppet style is either open or closed—it will open all the way at a prescribed temperature, but if the coolant temperature drops sufficiently, it will close completely. Due to its design, a poppet thermostat will cycle between open and closed, causing the engine's temperature to fluctuate. A sleeve-style thermostat opens and closes gradually based on engine temperature, which eliminates cycling and temperature fluctuations. To find a sleeve-style thermostat check the STREET RODDER advertiser index in the back of this magazine for a source.