Well, the holidays are here and I look forward to all the celebrations and festivities. I was thinking that this article should be about items you can get your spouse for your LBCs. Having been given a few copies of really old Popular Science and Popular Mechanics, from 1951 thru 1963, I found that there would have been lots of presents you could have gotten back then.
It seems that a lot of today’s technology for our cars was in use way back then. Think having GPS to stop you from getting lost is new and great (try finding our house on it), well in 1952 a company called Hull Mfg. made a great product called “Beaconlite” illuminated. It was advertised to stop you from making wrong turns. What was it, a dash mounted compass with a light. And it could have been yours for only $6.95
Maybe you like all the new electronic wizardry that helps you get better fuel mileage today, yep, they had those back then. Not fancy electrics but gauges you mounted or hung inside your car and attached to your engine with a simple vacuum line. As you accelerated and cruised, it measured the engines vacuum. Too heavy of a foot and it went into the “poor” zone, a lighter foot and it went into the “good” driving range zone. Feather the gas pedal to keep it in the good zone and your mileage would improve. All engines use more gas when accelerating and less at steady cruise, all engines have low vacuum at heavy acceleration and more at steady cruise. Mark the gauge bad and good and you learn to drive in the high vacuum zone getting better mileage along the way.
There were several of these marvelous devises, one called the Motor Minder and another was the Mile-OMeter. What great names and they could have been yours for less than $11.00. There were several other items available to improve your mileage that worked on the fuel side of the equation. One, by Newhouse Automotive, was a simple fuel pressure regulator.
They advertised it would save 25% of your fuel costs and save wear and tear on your engine and carburetor all at the same time and for only $5.95. Now that was a bargain. They also had a device to save you on oil changes. An oil filter made from bronze mesh that never needed replacing, just wash it out each time and reuse it. Another company, L-K Filters, had an oil filter that was so good; you could go 40,000 miles on the same oil! Please do not try this even on today’s oil.
But my personal favorites are the devices that were before all-wheel drive for snow and ice driving. One was a plan to convert the back of your pick-up truck into boxes to carry sand and gravel, and a shovel. This was a very simple thing to do. The other was better. It was a snowplow attachment for the front of a passenger car so you could plow your way home. And as a side benefit, you could earn extra money helping your fellow neighbor by plowing his driveway. Patty and I could have used that two years ago.
What do these old magazines have to do with today’s old British cars? Not much really but they are great to have in your car for when it dies on the side of the road and you await help, it diverts your boredom. Several of the magazines used to test British imports like the Mgs and Morris’s, and Nash Metropolitans. And the articles make interesting reading. If you can find some, spend a few minutes reading.
As it is getting cold now, there are some things you should do to your car for protection. Not like in the 1950s where a lot of people drained their radiator each night to protect them from freezing and refilled them the next day, this was before anti-freeze was so readily available. But you should check your level of protection in your cooling system. When your radiator is cool, remove the cap and use a $5.00 tester to check your coolant. Make sure it is good down to at least just below freezing.
Remember, water cools best so you only need enough anti-freeze to keep it from freezing. And please do not buy the 50/50 mix anti-freeze. That is only ½ gallon anti-freeze and ½ gallon WATER. One gallon of 100% antifreeze is good for two British cars. And as most do not drive their cars as much in the winter, change the oil now and not when the weather warms up. Let clean oil sit in the engine over the cold months.
Also keep your gas tank as full as possible with Sta-bil in it. If you go for a drive, re-fill it on your way home. The less air space, the less condensation you can get. Set your tire pressure to the correct pressure, maybe a few pounds higher. As a car sits in the cold, the tires can take a seating with a flat spot. Most of these will smooth out after a few miles driving but not always.
Higher pressure will help avoid this. The higher pressure will also assure your tires are inflated enough if you decide to take a drive after the car has sat for several weeks. Cold air will decrease tire pressure so your tires will be low after a cold spell. A few pounds extra will not hurt and when you park it after the drive, it will go back down as the tires cool off.
And can I say a word here about nitrogen filling of tires? In our LBCs, do not waste your money. Nitrogen is useful in high performance cars where the suspension is really fine-tuned, Audis, Corvettes, Mustangs, etc. but not our LBCs. Nitrogen is a dry gas and contains almost zero moisture. Moisture expands and increases tire pressure as you drive. Highly tuned suspension requires a fixed and steady tire pressure to perform best. A tad of moisture in your tires will not make much difference except maybe in steel wheels where they can rust from the inside out. Still, not worth the expense.
It is more hype than fact, just like back in the early 50s with all those great products. A fuel pressure regulator will not save 25% of fuel costs. What else should you do? If your top is down, put it up for the winter and I mean button all the snaps so it gets stretched out into shape. Treat the interior upholstery with the proper products depending on what yours is made of. This can help the fabric, be it vinyl or leather, from shrinking and cracking.
If you are still concerned about your engine getting too cold, there is one product from 1952 that is still available today to help you. It is an electric dipstick that will keep your oil warm when plugged into an electric outlet. These have been around for years and may be better than laying a 100 watt light bulb under your hood. Well, it has gotten time to get to work today so I end here with an early greeting. Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and Happy New Year. May your holidays be great. See y’all somewhere soon. How about the Peachtree Mg’s next tech session? It is Dec. 14th and will be about any question you have. Or you can bring your car with minor annoyances to Chequered Flag at 9:00 Saturday morning on the 14th. Please let me know who is coming so we can plan. Thanks.
PS; I hope everyone realized last month’s article was meant to be humorous and was not intended to irritate anyone. Well maybe some of yall could be irritated. Anyway, thanks to those of you that either responded favorably or at least did not bother to read it, and let me know you did not read it.