Q & A with Kit Foster: December 4, 2015

Q.

My father told me he got this at the Buick pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Can anyone add to or verify this information? Was it a give-away? How many were made?
                 — Arnold Nichols, via e-mail

A.

Judging from the number of similar encased silver dollars I find online, and from their stories and captions, I would say he did get it at the World’s Fair. The year of the dollar varies, but the encasement is the same. I haven’t seen any reference to whether they were sold or were given away free. I suspect many, many were made, but have no way to judge. Readers, do any of you remember these from 1939 or 1940? If you got yours at the World’s Fair, tell us more.

Q.

Reader Howard Singer asks about the application of a clear lens (Sept. 3), thinking it came from an interior dome light of a truck. If the lens has a slight crown, it looks almost identical to the accessory backup light available for Willys Jeepsters and Studebakers in the late 1940s. I have one on our Jeepster, but it measures about an inch larger in diameter.
           — Colin Peabody, Phoenix, Ariz.

A.

Lots of interest in this one. Larry Fogar of oldcarlenses.com in Manchester, Vt., also wrote in to say it’s an accessory backup or auxiliary light made by Petersen Manufacturing Co. (PMCO). He says they were also available with a red lens lettered STOP. Phil Benincasa Sr. has one with the dimensions Mr. Singer is looking for, but with another notch at the 180-degree mark. His is an aftermarket light controlled by a mercury switch, probably for use in luggage or engine compartments. Lambert Schemmel of Farley, Iowa, is looking for just such a lens, if anyone has a spare.

Q.

Motor’s Manuals (Sept. 3) are very helpful to us backyard mechanics. Motor also published other useful manuals, e.g. Auto, Engines and Electrical Systems. Chilton’s had an Auto Repair Manual also. These manuals sometimes differ on how to perform a repair. For example, to remove and replace the heater core on a 1967 Ford with integral air conditioning, one tells you to remove the hood and work at the top of the right front fender. The other suggests working at the bottom of the fender.

A.

A very useful volume for those with old cars is the Hollander Interchange Manual. Its diagrams of exterior moldings and wheel covers are helpful.
                   Bob Kaiser, Buffalo, N.Y.

A.

You are right on all counts. In general I have found the Motor’s manuals to be distillations of factory shop manuals. As we all know, there are frequently shortcuts and work-arounds that make a job easier or faster. The Haynes series of manuals, first published in Britain but more recently in the United States, boast that they have actually performed all the repairs and pass along all the handy hints they’ve discovered. These, however, do not cover older cars that most of us have.

The Hollander manuals were originally intended for junkyards and vendors of used parts to help determine “what else will fit.” They are a wealth of information, once you understand their organization. In addition to what-fits-what, you can often find manufacturer’s part numbers, helpful in identifying parts you might find. Like Motor’s manuals, the Hollanders cover a range of years. Some of them have been reprinted in recent years.

Last but not least, and not as prevalent for old cars, are the thousands of YouTube videos on the internet, explaining most any repair procedure for any mechanical device. Some of them can be quite amusing. Almost any special interest also has an internet forum or group, where you can ask fellow enthusiasts “how can I remove the rear brake drum?” and stuff like that. Truly, we live in the information age. This column is only one small part of it.

A.

A number of readers have written in to say they have Motor’s Manuals that they will part with. I’ve put them in touch with Mr. Capra. Charles Buck of Stonington, Conn., recommends subscribing to magazines, where they are frequently advertised.

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