Did you know that you can use the Internet to help you restore your collector car? It’s true. There are websites that you can visit to purchase parts. There are websites that you can go to for technical tips. There are websites that put you in touch with hobby experts who specialize in different items on your car.
In this installment we’re going to look at how to use the Web to get help with fixing a single vehicle system – windshield wipers. We’ll explain how to find help on the Internet and we’ll steer you to some specific sources for parts and services.
Many older collector cars have vacuum-operated windshield wipers. This type of system uses basically simple technology, but some of the operating systems can be tricky. For example, the vacuum wipers on the ’57 Buick are operated by the oil pump, rather than the fuel pump, and can get clogged with carbon. In many cases, local repair facilities will not be familiar with vacuum wiper systems, because they are no longer used. In addition, you’ll have to turn to specialized national vendors to get those obsolete parts needed for a proper repair.
An option you may have is converting vacuum wiper systems to electrical operation. This is a matter of replacing the original wiper motor, which is operated by engine vacuum, with an electric motor that mounts in the same position. Such motors are available for a 1957 Chevy, but may not be available for a 1949 Packard.
Later model collector cars (from about 1955 up) probably offered electrically-operated windshield wipers as either standard or factory optional equipment. When restoring these systems, you may also find yourself looking for obsolete parts or for someone who can rebuild that old wiper motor.
If you need help restoring your old car’s wipers, start your search engine (Yahoo!, Google, Northern Lights, etc.) and type in “key words” like “antique car windshield wiper repair,” “old car wipers” or “fix windshield wipers.” When we did this on Yahoo, we got over 1,000 hits. Here are the sites we thought most useful.
If your collector car has vacuum wipers that don’t work, you’ll definitely want to visit www.wiperman.com. This site belongs to Ficken Wiper Service, a company that bought all the old stock Trico wiper parts years ago. Ficken Wiper Service will rebuild any postwar wiper motor for $59 plus $5 for shipping. Prewar wiper motors cost $69. The “wiperman” also sells Trico wiper transmissions, on/off switches and pumps for all cars up to 1958 models and arms, blades and refills for cars up to the 1980s. It provides pre-1958 windshield washer system info, too. The website has a neat series of photos showing how it rebuilds vacuum wiper motors.
If your wipers work on electricity, a more relevant website might be Walsh Wiper operated by Midwest Remanufacturing. This company was started by a man who worked for a firm that provided factory-rebuilding services many years ago. He later purchased the technology and passed the knowledge onto his son, who runs Midwest Remanufacturing. In addition to rebuilding electric windshield wiper motors, they rebuild window lift motors, convertible top motors, power brake boosters, power steering gearboxes and power steering pumps.
Is the windshield washer system on your car malfunctioning? One informative website that popped up was www.chrysler300club.com/tech/w-washer60.html. The Chrysler 300 Club has provided a detailed step-by-step guide to repairing the 1960 Chrysler 300 F windshield washer system, which happens to be the same Trico system used on 1956-1958 Cadillacs and 1958-1962 Corvettes.If you own one of these models and your washers have conked out, this how-to might be very helpful. The tech tips are very good and may also apply to other vintage windshield washer systems.
Another helpful site is Show Cars Automotive, Inc.. It’s devoted to selling many of the small parts that were used in 1958-1964 Chevrolet windshield wiper systems. There are dozens of items listed here that you might think were impossible to locate. Many are low-priced, too, like a washer jar cap for $3.85 and wiper motor mounting screws for $1.95 each. While the site is aimed mainly a full-size Chevy lovers, there’s probably a large degree of commonality with other GM collector cars.
If you find such low prices helpful to your tightly-stretched hobby budget, you might want to drop in at www.ehow.com and find out how to make your own windshield washer fluid with vinegar and hot water.
Another very informative site was called http://www.glasslinks.com/auto.htm. It includes windshield wiper installation tips and how-to information. There’s a “helpful info” button that will direct you to a sampling of auto glass publications and trade associations. In addition, the site presents an interesting history of the auto glass business.
After Trico wiper company sold all its old parts to Wiperman, the company modernized and moved into the electric wiper motor world. Later, it merged with other auto parts suppliers to become part of an industry giant. But, the Trico name is still used in the dynamite website you’ll find at www.tricoproducts.com. The site includes an online windshield wiper installation video that tells you how to attach different types of wipers – such as pin side lock and 2 screw bayonet models -- to your car. It includes a very complete online catalog.
A great online article from the Yankee Lady Corvette Gazette covers windshield wiper and washer pump repair. It outlines common problems in the windshield wiper systems, the tools required to fix them, troubleshooting technique and actual repair procedures. You’ll find this helpful resource at http://www.yl-gazette.com/.
There are a number of sites that list factory recalls on specific windshield wiper systems and parts. We’re glad to report we didn’t find any collector-car recalls, but we didn’t spend hours looking either. If you want to try yourself go to www.indiacar.net. Several collector-car wiper service bulletins were posted on a website at www.zr1.net. Consumer complaints about GM wipers are listed on www.consumeraffairs.com.
Another site, www.doityourself.com, was basically a forum with a thread search system that allows the user to track down discussions on specific problems. The one we visited was titled “windshield wiper standing mystery Corvette.”
Another site we visited was http://autorepair.about.com/library/weekly/990302021.htm, which included a nice feature on windshield wiper problems by automotive expert Vincent T. Ciulla. The data on this user-friendly site covered windshield wipers, wiper linkage and wiper drive arm problems, causes and fixes.
As you can see (after you fix those wipers of course) there’s plenty of information available on the World Wide Web about windshield wipers and related systems. You can access these helpful Websites, via your computer, without leaving your home. Isn’t that especially nice to know with Spring showers on their way?
John Gunnell is automotive books editor at Krause Publications, Iola, Wis. He has been collecting old cars since 1972 and writing about them for almost 30 years. He has toured the country in his oldtime autos.