Tech Tips by the Dozen II

Tighten to loosen? You bet!

  1. Removing a steering wheel or anything else that is splined can be made easier by first tightening the nut before trying to loosen the object. By tightening, the object moves slightly on the splines and breaks any corrosion that has formed, making it easier to remove.
  2. Distilled water jugs with plastic “faucets” on the bottom make great containers for fluids such as windshield washer fluid. You’ll be able to hold the jug over the windshield washer fluid reservoir and fill it without spilling a single drop.
  3. Does your place of work cater in food from the local sandwich shop? If so, help the clean-up crew get rid of the clear plastic lids used on the platters. They make great throwaway drip pans for oil and other fluids.
  4. A TD owner in an MG club fixed leaky SU carbs by replacing original cork gland washers with small (1/4” ID x 1/16“ thick) neoprene O-rings. He advises brass cup washers must go “cup up” for upper washer and “cup down” for lower.
  5. Protective rubber floor mats trap rust-causing moisture beneath them. You won’t need floor mats in your collector car during winter storage, so remove them until the car is used again. Do not put them in the trunk; store them outside the car.
  6. For a quick test to determine if spark plug wires are good, run your car in a darkened shop or outside on a dark night. Lift the hood slightly and peek into the engine compartment. Flashes of electrical light along the wires indicate leaks.
  7. After carefully spraying rust remover on a metal part, put the part in a plastic bag and seal it with a baggie tie. The rust remover will stay active for a longer length of time in the sealed environment and do a much better job of dissolving the rust.
  8. To find a leaky spark plug wire, use a simple electrical test light. Get a test light that matches the car’s voltage. Ground the clip on the wire to the car or engine and run the tip along the plug wire. If the lamp lights, you’ve found a voltage leak.
  9. A product called “Pensbury Manor Black Hard Rubber Pen Potion No. 9 – Black Hard Rubber Dye” – developed to restore fountain pens – can be used to restore the glossy look of the black bakelite plastic parts used on classic cars. (
  10. Do not paint a radiator with more than a light coat of paint. Heavier coatings will prevent the core from working properly. Special thin black radiator paint is available from Eastwood ( It works great on radiators – and also on model cars!
  11. Using a hammer to drive bearings into a cross-shaped universal joint can cock the rollers in the pillow blocks, which will cause early failure. Instead, use a heavy C-clamp to slowly and uniformly press the bearings into their proper positions.
  12. Having trouble removing a brake drum held on by rust? Bolt the wheel and tire back on, and tap around the outside of the tire with a mallet. Loosen them again and the drum migh come right off.

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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