Tech Tips by the Dozen VII

  • Lubrication of old cars was a lot more complicated than today’s 10-minute oil change on newer models. Check your shop manual or an old lube chart to see if the carburetor has to be oiled or if the generator has lubrication cups. Modern shops might not be familiar with these.
  • If you’re taking pieces off a car and you want to keep the bolts and screws together with the component, keep a supply of cardboard near. Cut off small pieces, make a hole in the pieces with an awl and screw the fastener in. Your “cardboard nut” will hold it in place.
  • Most tools can be hung up in your shop using nylon-plastic electrical ties. If the tool has a hole in the handle, just loop the electrical tie through the hole. If not, loop one electrical tie around the tool and loop a second one through the first to make a hanger.
  • Having trouble trying to free a tapered tie-rod end from the steering arm it sets in? Don’t bang directly on the tie-rod end. Instead, use two hammers to tap – at the same time – on opposite sides of the “eye” that the tie-rod end sets in. This will loosen it.
  • You can put the open end of a second combination wrench into the circular opening of a first wrench to increase leverage and free a stuck bolt? The open end of the first wrench goes on the bolt and interlocking the wrenches gives you more “unsticking” force.
  • Many old cars had provision for oiling generator bearings and the carburetor accelerator pump in the spring and fall. Modern lube shops generally aren’t familiar with these procedures. Check a shop manual for lubrication charts and be sure everything gets oiled.
  • If you don’t have a factory service manual for your old car, a number of companies have them available on CDs. One source is Some CDs combine shop and owner manual information. 
  • When disassembling leaf springs, use a paint marker to “dot” top of leafs on one side. Draw a stripe across edge of all leafs on same side. The dots help you orient the leaves for reassembly. When you properly line up edge marks, the leafs will be positioned right.
  • When re-assembling leaf springs, never pull leafs together using center bolt. Instead, use C-clamps, welding clamps or a press to squeeze leafs together (remember to put dots on one side and line up edge marks). Then, insert the center bolt.
  • On late-model collector cars, don’t cut off electrical connectors. Modern wiring harnesses rarely use two of the same style connectors. This eases reassembly because connector can only go one place. If you cut one off, you won’t know where wire goes.
  • After spraying paint from an aerosol can, hold can upside down and spray air out of the nozzle to clear passageway. Sometimes nozzle can be removed and cleaned with thinner. Be sure to replace the plastic cap and snap in place for air-tight seal.
  • A cardboard mailing tube can save you the trouble of masking off your collector car’s radio antenna when you paint the car. Just telescope the antenna out to a length slightly shorter than the cardboard tube and slip the tube over the antenna.

John “Gunner” Gunnell is the automotive books editor at Krause Publications in Iola, Wis., and former editor of Old Cars Weekly and Old Cars Price Guide.


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