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About heftylefty

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  • Birthday 06/01/1962

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  1. To me, an investment is something that produces cash flow. By that standard an old car is an investment only if it's a limo or a promo vehicle you can put out there hauling passengers or showing up at paid events. Or a race car that wins races. In all those cases there are a lot of expenses and the cars do not get unscathed, either. Buying something on the idea that it will go up in value is speculation, not investment. Some speculation is reasonable and offers a reasonable chance of return and some doesn't. Old cars are generally a poor long term speculation in my view if you cost out the storage, maintenance, repair, insurance, etc. requirements fairly. The top end cars have snowballed in price because we are in an area where the delta between the wealthiest fraction of the populace and the rest has increased greatly. That may or may not continue. The most valuable old cars represent Veblen goods and get a lot of publicity which makes them targets, should certain types of possible changes occur. The mid level cars shouldn't be bothered too much but with demographic changes their pricing may change radically too. In certain South American countries, for instance, valuable old cars were declared "national treasures" and their export was prohibited, which means their market value was decimated. Owners either took large risks and smuggled them out of the country, paying a lot of mordita, or sold them to local buyers at substantial discounts from world prices.
  2. For cars, the long term fact is that the car has to be made (that means modified) to fit the fuel available. The small engine juice is available in barrels but the price will be a killer, it will probably work in a flathead car engine. There's avgas and it's technically illegal but the fact is no one cares. Neither is a viable solution on the road. But then again I remember reading in "Pur Sang" the Bugatti owner's club magazine about a guy that ran a Bugatti on methanol a thousand miles on a tour. This was in the eighties. He had a guy follow him with barrels of the stuff in a truck. If memory serves he ran it the whole time on Castrol R engine oil-that, for the uninitiated is castor oil.
  3. With small engines there are two issues, fuel mixture and materials compatibility. I do not have experience with the current consumer small engines so if the carb jets are not removable drilling seems like a bad idea as there is no going smaller. Perhaps replacements are available with removable jets. The plastics I remember seeing on some of the Briggs and Tecumseh fuel systems I saw on the mowers I worked on were clearly not alcoholproof. They were turning to mush or hardening and cracking. These inferior materials are used because, in my estimation, these machines have to retail for a very low price and they would have to pay more for alcoholproof ones. The retail consumer answer to this problem I see at the retailers I frequent is they are selling special alcohol-free motor fuel in small cans for the equivalent of $10 to $20 a gallon. This means they can not only continue selling the "Cheap" lawn mower but then the special lawn mower fuel for the next several years. That's why Coleman refused to sell multi fuel lanterns to the public for a long time. Consumers aren't very smart or else they would buy a good lawn mower with an iron cylinder liner and maintain it for many years instead of buying the cheapies and throwing them out. So this business model makes lemons out of lemonade for the retailers.
  4. It should be possible to find a "brick" type switchmode power supply with a 4 to 8 or so volt input range and 12 volts out.
  5. The engine and trans look like a usable core. Did these have a GM transmission? Someone could make a rat rod out of a lot of this.
  6. I don't know, but nitrocellulose lacquer is still available in automotive colors although it may not be sold "through automotive distributors". It is used to finish cabinetwork, pianos, and especially guitars. Fender and many Gibson guitars are finished in automotive colors and guitar supply places have it.
  7. I absolutely agree that old car manuals should be scanned and put up as .pdfs or reprinted by book on demand services as many are very useful. Before a certain date, all books are out of copyright but after that, some were renewed and some weren't. research is needed. The antique radio and tube audio communities have been especially good about this. There is no automotive site as there is with Pete Milett's site at pmillett.com that has over a hundred old electronics books or the BAMA Boat Anchor Manual Archive. No car offered 8 volts from the factory, but 8 volt conversions are as old as the hills, and were popular in certain regions where the brighter lights and faster cranking were considered important. Lights burned out faster but people accepted this. 8 volts is very tough on old tube car radios, because the heaters are run much hotter and the vibrator supplies tend to arc their contact points. A few tractors, I think were 8 volts from the factory. I have thought about the 8 volt problem for car radios. A simple dropping resistor is not the solution. What I would do is to use a switchmode power supply brick, a well filtered one, to supply B+ to the radio and then replace the 6 volt heater tubes with a 8 volt (TV heater string) cognate if available or put an individual dropping resistor in for each heater, because that way a proper value could be selected to get 6.3V across the heater. None of this would need permanent alteration besides perhaps a couple of small holes in the chassis of the radio where it could not be seen without full dismantling. The vibrator, power transformer and rectifier tube would just be disconnected. It could be put back without much trouble and without any visible alteration unless the radio were removed and dismantled, and if done in a workmanlike fashion, no traces that would be identifiable as such. 8 volt conversion is a good idea on some cars, a bad one on others. It is something people did in the old days a fair bit, and it provides bright headlights and fast cranking. The counterargument is that 1) some cars do fine on 6 volts and 2) if you are going to convert why not just convert to 12 volts all the way. I've never done an 8 volt car and haven't seen more than a couple, but in North Dakota, Wyoming, certain other cold places it was quite common especially by rural dwellers.
  8. I think the earlier pure Saabs will be collectible to the same extent they always were and the GM and Subaru cars will fade out, mostly.
  9. This has developed a life of its own on YouTube. I'm guessing that the film was shot in the early seventies, I wonder if the narrator is still alive and if he is whether he knows about this.
  10. Most Cubans in Cuba are very poor, and those that own cars of any type are among the most well-off. The embargo was not the sole or primary cause of this, as the rest of the world still interacts with Cuba: the cause has therefore to be elsewhere. I do not want to get into any discussion that could be considered political and so won't, but I think it's fair to opine that changes are imminent, and probably not for the worse because it couldn't get much worse. Fidel Castro is 86, his brother Raoul is almost 82 and it is thought he will not continue long in power should his brother predecese him. What the changes will or will not consist of or exactly how they will play out is something no one knows, but it's likely that foreign investment and trade and some liberalization of restrictions on private enterprise will be inevitable. The skills of Cuba's car mechanics, machinists, and maintainers are remarkable and given access to resources like materials and better tooling Cuba could become an old car parts and services source, making highly labor intensive items at lower cost and with good quality if the were inclined to do that and had some outside guidance. Old car parts have come out of South America for decades, but usually they were quality challenged or had issues of authenticity. They were made for a domestic market more interested in utility than quality and did not care to cater to the overseas restoration market. Cuba could be different. On the other hand, Cuba is largely agrarian, and many of its most entrepreneurial and industrious people have emigrated to Florida or elsewhere. A half century of collectivism has produced what it has produced in Eastern Europe and Russia. Alcoholism is not as bad as Russia, but it's bad. To expect too much too soon would be unrealistic. Still, when the time comes, I think some American car businesses could do well in doing business down there. Some Cubans will want to keep their old cars and will want parts and materials. Some Cubans will want to sell their cars so they can buy modern vehicles or other things. Buying Toyota trucks will be attractive to many old car owners because the fuel mileage and reliability, at least for the first five to ten years of ownership, will be better.
  11. Plug fouling would be the main concern. This happens when engines are run on the stuff at low loads for extended periods of time particularly on liquid cooled lower compression engines. This is unlikely to cause permanent engine damage unless the plug deposits get red hot and cause glow-plugging but usually the engine runs so bad before that the plugs get changed. If you aren't fouling plugs you need not worry. If you are there is an additive called tricresyl phosphate that helps to prevent it. It must be used very conservatively. Also, if you are running carbureted or open loop fuel injected engines at high sustained power (i.e., tuning race cars) keep in mind that aviation gas has a stochiometric power point that is 1) constant and 2) different, slightly, than most pump automotive gasolines. What that means is if you are tuning race cars by adjusting jets, pills, etc., if you have it set up "just right" on pump gas and then switch to avgas you could be in trouble. Avgas burns hot because it's a lower fraction base stock and has a lot of TEL. This doesn't matter for normal use in a road vehicle or small engine, just a note for racers. I didn't want someone saying they burnt a valve or holed a piston because they listened to me.
  12. This is where the crux of what I have discussed earlier comes into play. At some point in the near future, (and I don't want to get into politics or religion ) the Castro brothers will pass on. They are in their eighties. When that happens, great changes will take place and the island will probably be opened back up to the outside world in general and Americans in particular. I bet that many Cubans will be not just willing but anxious to sell these old cars or trade them for modern vehicles (particularly mini-trucks, the staple of all developing economies) and many will come into the collector market. This will present a question. What should be done with these cars? Should they be kept as is and maintained, pulled apart and restored to factory condition no matter what, or something else? Is one solution always the ideal?
  13. Didn't know Cummins' first vehicle was a car. I knew they did a few before WWII much like Gardner in England did several high end cars both as transportation and a rolling demonstrator. Again, the reason for this thread was NOT to exhort owners of Packards to go find rare Cummins diesel engines, pull out the factory engine and convert them over. To do that today would be kind of stupid, I think. It was to bemoan the fact that someone took one that was already done, and done very well, with Cummins factory support and custom castings not replicable today, and destroyed it. In England, several of the Gardner works cars-Rollses, Lagondas, Jaguars, and maybe an Aston Martin- have been restored to the condition the Gardner Works constructed them, often with one-off engines. I think that's the exactly correct thing to have been done. That is restoration per se, in the sense that something is going back to a prior condition. Others have stuck Gardners and Perkinses and whatnot in old Rolls as a method of getting a big car that is cheap to run, some of those conversions are "bodge jobs" and some fairly well done, but that isn't restoration. It does keep the car on the road and out of the "breakers" (junkyards), but that's another matter. Some will just never accept that the restoration of a Gardner-Rolls works car to Gardner's standards IS restoration since it didn't come out of Crewe (or is it Derby?) that way. To them, I'm a Lutheran arguing with the College of Cardinals and therefore this is not worth pursuing, since we have differing True Religions, and True Religion is not for logic or debate. (I'm using an analogy and not wanting to discuss religion religion here.) But others will understand just what I mean and it's for those I write. The True Religionists are no different than the people on HAMB who just have to put a small block Chevy in everything because that's THEIR True Religion.
  14. In part you are reiterating what I said. Airports will not and should not put avgas in a motor vehicle's propulsion fuel tank. That's entirely different from filling a jerry can or a pickup's bed mounted equipment filling tank that is not plumbed into the fuel system and is for fueling equipment, such as....airplanes! I have never been asked for a N number. If I were I would use the one on the Bensen Gyrocopter sitting in pieces in my shed of which I am the FAA registered owner. Since when it was airworthy it was a NORDO aircraft it was never operated out of controlled fields and was operated off the farm strip. A car made before 1975 and some thereafter was not a motor vehicle "requiring unleaded gasoline only". The law you cite is for people putting leaded gas into cars designated "for unleaded fuel only", i.e., those with catalysts. I am not telling anyone what to do. That said, I have to admit I love the smell of an old car or bike running on avgas, although running straight avgas is financially and mechanically not a good idea most of the time. Then again, I love the smell of a vintage racing bike or road racing car on methanol (with a dash of nitrobenzine like the W196 Mercedes racers!) with castor oil in the crankcase too. Neither is good for you in excess.