Tech Tip Baker’s Dozen

  1. For low oil pressure in a rebuilt engine, a new type of main bearing with an oil groove that ends before the parting lines at each end of the lower bearing increases hot idle oil pressure by 15 percent and may be available for your car.
  2. A pipe wrench, channel lock pliers or vise grip with teeth may damage a large nut that you’re trying to loosen. Instead, try tightening a C-clamp on the flats on opposite sides of the nut, and then use the C-clamp like a wrench to loosen the nut.
  3. To regulate the heat level of your soldering iron, get a high-capacity dimmer switch at a hardware or department store and plug it into the outlet. Plug the soldering iron into the dimmer, and then set the dimmer to the best heat range.
  4. Another job for plastic film canisters – use to keep parking brake cables lubricated. Poke holes in either end for brake cable to pass through and fill canister with chassis grease. Use wire to hold your “greaser” to the chassis bulkhead that the cable passes through.
  5. A magnetic business card makes a good protective pad when using a pry tool to remove badges and trim pieces. These are thin enough to slip under most trim pieces yet provide room to get a tool under the pieces without damaging paint.
  6. Old speedometer cable makes a perfect tool for cleaning radiator overflow tubes, gas tank vent tubes, automatic choke tubes and fuel lines. It’s strong and flexible and works like a plumber’s snake.
  7. Old-car speedometer cables should be lubricated with a special lubricant (available at parts stores) every 10,000 miles. Disconnect the cable at the instrument and withdraw it from the casing. Apply lubricant, put cable back in casing and reconnect the collar.
  8. You don’t need a remote starter to crank over your old Buick for a compression test. Remove the tin cover from the solenoid points on the front of the starter. Now push the points together with one hand while holding the compression gauge with the other.
  9. Buick straight-eight engines use a filter inside the oil line (at the right front of the cylinder head) that lubes the rocker shaft. If the valve gear sounds noisy, check for a clogged filter here, before tearing the whole rocker arm assembly apart.
  10. Pieces of rubber sliced from 5/8-in. and 3/4-in. heater hose can be used as grease seals on the “closed Knee-Action” front suspension used on GM cars of the ’30s-’50s. They fit perfectly over the front suspension pivots pins. Pack with grease to reduce pin wear. 
  11. Forgot to paint a small part? Fill can 3/4 up with water, add enough car enamel to cover the water with a 1/4-in. paint film, attach wire to part and dip it slowly through the enamel film. Pull it out and hang to dry. Seal the can airtight and it can be re-used for a while
  12. Automatic transmission gaskets that have a habit of sticking tightly to parts like torque converter covers can be easily removed using paint and varnish remover. Apply it to the gasket, let it set for several minutes and strip off the gasket.

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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