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  #1  
Old 02-07-2012, 01:01 AM
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Cars of the 30s and 40s

Hi,

I spend a fair amount of time reading old issues of Popular Science online (Popular Science - Google Books ). One of my favorite parts is the Model Garage with that ace mechanic, Gus Wilson.

When not taping up shorts or clearing exhaust blockages, Gus sometgimes mentions some of the tech in the cars of the time.

Some interesting items.
- Batteries used to be under the floorboards -- don't know why -- maybe to avoid the temperature swings

- Some oil pickups floated on the oil in the pan -- maybe to keep them getting oil as the vehicle went around a sharp corner and the level changed

- GM cars for a short while would switch battery polarity every time they started -- I think just to the starter. Had some kind of a gadget called a reverser that would alternate the connections. I think that the idea was to reduce wear.

-- Some cars used a vacuum tank between the fuel pump and the engine ( I think that's who it worked) Not sure what the advantage was supposed to be.

Besides that, there were some creative gadgets for defrosting. ( Heaters seemed to show up sometime in the 30s, and defrosters were later).

- a candle on the dashboard with some kind of a shield to keep from blinding the driver or adding reflections to the windshield.

- little bags of salt tied to the wiper blades. Salt was wetted down and put saltwater on the windshield

-- an electric heater with a grid that attached to the windshield

-- an aftermarket heater with some sort of a defroster


One final thing. Gus used a trick several times -- I've often wondered if it worked. If the ignition condensor was toast, he'd make an extrernal condensor using 2 license plates and whatever insulation that he had around. He'd hang it ouside of the distributor and get the car limping to wherever it was going.

Just a few things thatsome might find interesting --- would love to hear others

hj
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Old 02-07-2012, 09:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ford2go View Post
Hi,

...

Some interesting items.
- Batteries used to be under the floorboards -- don't know why -- maybe to avoid the temperature swings

- Some oil pickups floated on the oil in the pan -- maybe to keep them getting oil as the vehicle went around a sharp corner and the level changed


-- Some cars used a vacuum tank between the fuel pump and the engine ( I think that's who it worked) Not sure what the advantage was supposed to be.
With only six volts, placing the battery as close to the starter as possible was probably one reason. Also, acid leakage or spillover would go overboard and not cause rust. Grandpa's '53 Chevy pickup had the battery there.

With so much sludge accumulation in the oil back then, a pickup at the bottom of the pan may have caused problems.

Vacuum wipers existed into the 1960's. At full throttle there is no manifold vacuum so the wipers stopped. Many cars had a vacuum reserve tank and a vacuum pump as a separate part of the fuel pump. Small electric motors must have been real expensive to manufacture in order to have all that extra stuff just to run the vacuum wiper motor. Or, the engineers foolishly focused on one technology for too long, like with carburetors in the 1980's. Even stranger, Dad's '64 Lincoln had a hydraulic wiper motor that ran off the power steering pump.
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Old 02-07-2012, 12:26 PM
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I have a 60s ford truck with the battery under the floor.

Now I'm going to have to look at my 66 Lincoln......
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Old 02-07-2012, 02:36 PM
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gasoline heaters. not only battery under the floorboards, but under the seat also. and gas tanks under the seat.
transmission brakes.
if you missed when shifting the mechanical shift two speed non synchronized rear diff, you lost your braking abilities and better hope you can find an uphill grade to slow you down, or that you can get the thing in gear pronto!!.
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Old 02-07-2012, 03:32 PM
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Vacuum wipers--my buddy pulls out to pass on a country road at night in a rainstorm. Seeing it's clear, he nails it. End of wipers. Very handy feature.....
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Old 02-07-2012, 10:36 PM
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Bar none, the most difficult car I've tried to break into was a '49 Cadillac...

In about 1992-93, I was sitting in a biker bar in Renton, WA called the Detour Tavern. In comes this guy who had locked his keys in his car and was asking around to see if we could help...

So, a bunch of us went out to help - this guy was driving a '49 Cadillac that was absolutely gorgeous - showroom quality - one of the most impressive cars I've ever seen. Being in such good condition made it difficult to decide how we were going to break into it to retrieve this guy's keys...

We decided to try the good ole' fashioned slim-jim technique as a few of us had one handy (me being one of them) - we decided this would be the safest on the car's paint...

None of us could get a slim-jim into the door far enough to get to the lock mechanism - it was like there was a metal beam that ran the full length of the door that prevented anything from getting to the lock assembly... We tried for a couple of hours before we gave up - there simply was no way we were going to get that door open in that manner...

The car's owner finally conceded defeat and wound up using a thin-bladed knife to cut through the seal on one of the wing vents and popped it open - from there, we were able to use a coat hanger to fish the keys out of the ignition... None of us wanted to ruin the seal on the vent, but it was a last resort option and the owner chose to take it...

He took me for a ride in that car - that was a nice ride...

The only thing I could figure was that, even in the 40's, Cadillac was devising ways of theft-proofing their cars...

Seeing an old classic like that being surrounded by a bunch of bikers did raise some eyebrows from people driving by, though...
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Old 02-08-2012, 09:47 AM
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I have a 60s ford truck with the battery under the floor.

Now I'm going to have to look at my 66 Lincoln......
Sorry to hijack this thread with '60's oddball technology, but suicide-door Continentals were strange beasts, not similar to Fords or Mercuries in many ways. The "Variable-speed" wiper switch on your '66 is a lever, right? That is connected to a hydraulic valve. The other oddity in the system is the pump itself, not belt driven, but "crankshaft mounted". Another oddball thing is the vacuum-operated power door locks.

The convertibles also had a hideaway top that stowed completely in the trunk, forcing the decklid to be hinged backward and only opened with an electric motor, not much room for luggage or even groceries with the top down.
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Old 02-08-2012, 12:38 PM
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[quote=tjc transport;11398730] gas tanks under the seat.
transmission brakes.
quote]

My 1970 Jeep has the gas tank under the driver's seat (last year for that), and the e-brake mounted on the transmission (lasted till '71)
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Old 02-08-2012, 01:42 PM
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dunno what's so odd about this stuff . despite only being 47 i grew up in a family who always had OLD stuff around to play with and drive , race , what have you . my great grandfather max zellers had our own little family bone yard that the newest thing in it was a 63 impala ss that belonged to a close relative . my 52 has vacuum wipers , the 53 effie was blessed with electric , but the 12 volt conversion , if thats what you want to call it , by the p.o kinda fried 'em . battery is under the floor of the effie , right front of the customline , two of my previous trucks here a 56 f600 and a 55 , had some weird power brake arrangement i wish i hadn't sold ..... too many who have not seen or grown up with the absolutely beautiful rides of the teens , 20's , 30's , 40's , 50's and 60's much of the technology appears crude , rudimentary , and outdated , and the vehicles the same , but they were / are easy to work on , more fun to drive than any newer car ( i.e. more smiles per mile from all ! ) and in my opinion have more class style , and grace than anything produced since the dawn of the 70's to now . my 95 4.6 bird compared to the wife and kid's new cars is easy to work on , but it's technology and such is completely alien to me , and it takes me a few tries and a really big ford wrench to usually beat it into submission !!!!!!! bet'cha ya cant do a roadside fix with duct tape , bailing wire and a leather belt on a new car and get it home LOL !!!!!!!!!! ( i have my 53 effie and used said belt as a make shift fan belt after cutting it down and using some staples and tape to hold it together to limp one home ). my buddy norm has a 49 buick with a straight 8 in it . to start it there is no ignition switch as you know them . turn the key on for power and press the accelerator all the way to the floor and it engages the starter . not too many would know or figure that one out . confused the hades outta my 29 year old son in law ................
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Old 02-08-2012, 04:16 PM
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I remember seeing a car-I think it was a late 30's Graham-that had a cable & pulley arrangement for the distributor advance. The cable was hooked to the distributor & the chassis of the car, and as the engine rocked due to engine torque, it would turn the whole distributor & advance the timing!
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Old 02-09-2012, 01:05 AM
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Quote:
to start it there is no ignition switch as you know them . turn the key on for power and press the accelerator all the way to the floor and it engages the starter
Buick had that deal for quite a few years -- possibly through the late 50's.

Talking about hydraulic systems reminded me that there were some cars around with hydraulic power brakes.

Vacuum wipers were still common when I started driving. Really a great deal -- go like heck when you were at a stoplight and darn near quit working when you were on the highway


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Old 02-09-2012, 09:31 AM
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Talking about hydraulic systems reminded me that there were some cars around with hydraulic power brakes.

hj
The 1984-1985 Buick Grand Nationals and Turbo Regals came equipped with a power brake system known as "Hydroboost". This system used a hydraulic cylinder fed by the power steering pump to provide assist for the brakes.
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Old 02-09-2012, 11:51 AM
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Yep, hydroboost isn't uncommon at all. Heck, both my '82 K20 and my 2004 Mustang have it. It saves a good deal of space over a vacuum booster.

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 02-09-2012, 02:53 PM
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Is there a reserve pressure accumulator somewhere in the system? Vacuum systems have reserve for one or two stops.
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Old 02-09-2012, 03:08 PM
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Yes. That's the small black cylinder to the left of the master cylinder reservoir in the pic above.
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