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Staying cool in a prewar car

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I am looking for suggestions on how to stay cool on a very warm day in a prewar car. Last weekend I went for a 40 mile ride on an 80+ degree day and thought my sneakers were going to melt to the floor of the car. Actually I thought my feet were going to melt to my sneakers. The heat through the floor/firewall was incredible. Without dismantling the car does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks

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I am looking for suggestions on how to stay cool on a very warm day in a prewar car. Last weekend I went for a 40 mile ride on an 80+ degree day and thought my sneakers were going to melt to the floor of the car. Actually I thought my feet were going to melt to my sneakers. The heat through the floor/firewall was incredible. Without dismantling the car does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks

unhelpful answer - 40 -42 Packard with factory AC

maybe more useful - installation of thermal insulation on floor and firewall under mat/carpet

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I am looking for suggestions on how to stay cool on a very warm day in a prewar car. Last weekend I went for a 40 mile ride on an 80+ degree day and thought my sneakers were going to melt to the floor of the car. Actually I thought my feet were going to melt to my sneakers. The heat through the floor/firewall was incredible. Without dismantling the car does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks

Please do not let this thread turn into adding A/C to a old car. If you can insulate without making it look modified so be it, but otherwise leave it like it came from the factory.

The old car experience is not only about the cars but how people did things in those days. The antique hobby is all about both experiences. If you start adding A/C what will stop you from adding disc brakes, fuel injection, or a different engine and should I not forget the sound system. All of these things disconnect you from the prewar and early post war feel. Are you saying your just not up to what or parents, grandparents, great grandparents were made of?

I suggest if you like those conveniences start collecting in the era that those things came from the factory , otherwise you have just another car that is modified and can sit in the modified section of a car show with all the other hot rods and rat rods.

Edited by helfen (see edit history)

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You don't say what kind of car you have but there was not much factory insulation until the 30s. I had a 28 Pierce Arrow with the problem you describe, wooden floorboards with a thin piece of asbestos stapled on. The biggest problem was that the exhaust pipe and muffler were directly under the drivers feet! Other issues could be missing weatherstrip around pedals, etc. letting heat pour in from the engine compartment. If there was original floorboard insulation from the factory it could have been removed during "restoration" - check with other owners of your car make. Also most cars should have cowl ventilation, is it working properly / opening up fully?

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A swamp cooler would be period-correct and can be effective to a degree, based on outdoor temperature and humidity.

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A Model T exhaust stack is right under the passenger's feet. On a hot day, it can generate passenger complaints! Harold Sharon showed me a simple trick. Cut a piece of sheet metal - a NAPA drip pan is a good source - the shape of the floorboard. Screw it to the underside of the floorboard, just above the exhaust stack, with little washers to leave a small air gap between the floorboard and your new piece of sheet metal. Air will circulate behind the sheet metal and take away a lot of heat.

Gil Fitzhugh, Morristown, NJ

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My wife had the same complaint about riding in my 1940 LaSalle in hot weather. The muffler is directly under the passenger side of the front floor and seat. I just got done adding a layer of 3/8" thick foil faced insulation under the front carpeting and front seat. There was no insulation at all under the seat. While the floor still gets warm on hot days, it no longer gets as ungodly hot as it did. I am thinking of adding a heat shield to go between the muffler and the floor by spanning the frame rails on either side of the muffler. This would also help, but I am undecided about changing the look of the chassis.

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Doesn't the 41 Buick have a cowl vent? If it is working correctly it should funnel a big blob of cooling air onto your feet at speed. See that it opens all the way and is not clogged with dirt and leaves.

You could also get a couple of bags of ice to use as foot rests. I am only half kidding.

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The first new car I ever bought was a 59 Impala sport coupe. Being a young gearhead it was a 348 tripower, 4 speed, positraction, AM radio and heater. It was red and red and was like a blast furnace in the summer. I swore I would never buy another new car without AC. Anyway, highway driving was pleasant with the cowl vents open and the rear quarter windows cracked about 2 inches. Nothing will keep it comfortable at slow city driving speeds, deal with it. That's why they sold the little accessory rubber blade fans. I'm looking for one now for my %2 Chrysler.

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Thanks for all of the suggestions. I purchased EZ Cool insulation and will install that tomorrow. The bags of ice would only work so much. I will update as soon as I have tested it.

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You could also get a couple of bags of ice to use as foot rests. I am only half kidding.

Rusty:

Your comment brings to mind a "non-pre-war car story" that is true. A good friend of mine was a police officer for the Dallas Police Department for his entire career until he retired. He tells the story about the days of driving an unairconditioned all black '62 Ford patrol car (remember the photos of the Dallas police cars during the Kennedy assassination media frenzy?) which was miserably HOT in the sweltering Texas sun, particularly with Dallas' high humidity and to make matters worse, the officers wore black uniforms. Before he became a plain clothes detective he was a training officer that had rookies assigned to him and they would patrol the streets in what they called their "oven on wheels." He said one day a rookie had a bright idea about cooling them off and asked him to stop at the local ice plant. He went inside and came out with a 25 pound block of ice and put it in the back seat floor pan which was recessed. It worked for a while and they actually felt cooler! Then when it came time to change shifts and turn the car in they realized there was a problem - the back floor pan was now a pool of water about 3-4 inches deep. My friend said, "Okay rookie, now what are you going to do?" He said the rookie just shrugged and said "drain it" and quickly pulled out his .38 revolver and shot a hole in the floor! Fortunately for them, the bullet didn't hit anything "vital" such as the driveshaft or muffler and the water drained out. He said somehow no one ever reported the damage to the patrol car and they always hoped they would get the same patrol car on future shifts since it already had a drain hole and they could stop by the ice plant when they began their shift! :P

Fred

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Edited by Texas Old Car Guy (see edit history)

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A Model T exhaust stack is right under the passenger's feet. On a hot day, it can generate passenger complaints! Harold Sharon showed me a simple trick. Cut a piece of sheet metal - a NAPA drip pan is a good source - the shape of the floorboard. Screw it to the underside of the floorboard, just above the exhaust stack, with little washers to leave a small air gap between the floorboard and your new piece of sheet metal. Air will circulate behind the sheet metal and take away a lot of heat.

Gil Fitzhugh, Morristown, NJ

This is surprisingly effective, especially if you use polished aluminum. The shiny surface reflects the heat and aluminum absorbs and disperses heat better than any other material.

Years ago I lived in an old farmhouse with wooden wainscot along the walls. I had a wood stove less than a foot from the wood so I made a heat shield of aluminum and spaced it 3" away from the wall. No matter how hot the stove got you could slide your hand behind the heat shield and the wall was cool.

Land Rover made a false roof for tropical use that worked on the same principle.

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Was your car equipped with engine splash pans when it came from the factory?,when I mentioned I wanted to install them again in my 37 Chevy p/u I was told it would make it unbearable if I installed them by some but one told me the firewall would be cooler with them installed. It was explained to me without the splash pans the air would exit between the motor and frame creating a hot pocket of trapped air at the firewall but if the pans were there the air would flow past the motor and down along the firewall eliminating the hot pocket of trapped air. I went ahead and installed the splash pans and think there is some truth to that theory,I usually had to open the cowl vent when the outside temp was above 60 but was driving it around in the high 80s with the cowl vent shut and just the windows open and it was much better in the cab. I have no insulation on the firewall except for some carpet glued on which will get changed when I redo the interior and then it will get a firewall pad along with some insulation on the floor under the mat,I was suprised that the firewall area was cooler with the splash pans back on and will see how it does when it gets hotter this summer.

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That was the nice thing about rear engined cars, they stayed cool in the summer. Years ago living in Ft. Worth we had a VW Westphalia camper (slept two friendly adults, one not-so-friendly adult, one midget). If you just left the jalousie windows open it stayed remarkably cool. I had a 5,000 btu room a/c that sat in the driver's window when parked that could cool everything off after the sun went down.

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Pick an open car to play with, thats why they often command more $$$..I always wondered when I go to an old car gathering and see a sedan or little coupe with cloth interior, windows up and stench of mothballs.......Between the heat and stink, its not driveable, no I doubt many folks filled cars with mothballs in prewar days, or even post war days...I dont think it is part of that old car experience..for normal people at least....

..Buy a conv or open car, add leather or vinyl, and sunblock and a cool hat.. Use the closed car for winter or foul weather...

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I have an open car. 1925 Buick standard Touring. On an 80+degree day with the top down cowl vent wide open and at 45 mph it is not bad. Just don't stop!.. as it feels like you have the heater on full blast! This is the same with my 1937-41 sedan. I will try to add some reflective insulation on the floor and firewall prior to us leaving for the Buick nationals. The wife does not do well without air conditioning.

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Insulating the floor may resolve the melting sneakers from heat off the exhaust. Another area to look at is does your car have a heater? The water pump will be circulating hot water constantly into the passenger compartment, even if the fan is off. That will push the interior temperature up too. Sometimes there is a valve that shuts off that circulation under the hood.

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Another trick for cars that have those triangular vent windows in front of the main windows is to rotate them around far enough so that they become ram air scoops blasting wind into your face. One of my older cars was a 1970 VW Beetle convertible with no A/C which is the way they were made, and on days when I did not have the top down and the temperature got up into the high 80s to 100 or so I did this with the front vent windows. It worked pretty well especially at times when the heater cable was broken and the heat was on full time.

Edited by Kimo (see edit history)

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We use the insulated floor suggested above, plus "Factory Air". Helfen won't approve but it gets people talking and learning about old cars.

post-32318-143142305602_thumb.jpg

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Another trick for cars that have those triangular vent windows in front of the main windows is to rotate them around far enougn so that they become ram air scoops blasting wind into your face. One of my older cars was a 1970 VW Beatle convertible with no A/C which is the way they were made, and on days when I did not have the top down and the temperature got up into the high 80s to 100 or so I did this with the front vent windows. It worked pretty well especially at times when the heater cable was broken and the heat was on full time.

Heaters in that era of Beetles were hardly adequate in cooler weather. We had a 68 Beetle that was bought new and the ventilation was not that great either. While it did have the front vent windows, the rear side window were fixed and not openable. It was not very pleasant during hot weather.

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Insulating the floor may resolve the melting sneakers from heat off the exhaust. Another area to look at is does your car have a heater? The water pump will be circulating hot water constantly into the passenger compartment, even if the fan is off. That will push the interior temperature up too. Sometimes there is a valve that shuts off that circulation under the hood.

This should not be a "constant" condition.

Typically most vehicles will have a "Heater Control Valve" which actually shuts off the flow of hot water to the car's heater. This is usually a knob in modern cars, and in early cars could also have been a lever and/or a cable. In some cars, this valve was also vacuum-controlled.

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HI I have a 32 chevy 4 door would get warm in side . A old street rod 'racer told be a trick ' get some insulate wrap from speed shop . Wrap from manifold to muffler. This does two things . Keeps heat off the front floor and also helps with back preesure . I noticed a improvement in my car on hot days. I know some will say it don't work but it worked on my car.

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i was watching an episode of Reality Rides and they showcased a product called "Lizardskin". They had a product for soundproofing and one for heat or termal insulation, both products were sprayed on. They showed a frying pan with half of it coated with their product over a gas burner with ice, melted quickly over uncoated side, much less on coated side, very impressive.

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Do what we did in the south in pre-air conditioned days. Put a damp wash cloth (thin) in a plastic bag in a cooler with ice. Does wonders to cool you down!

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Not funny to be hot on a nice drive with the Mrs. I have one of those rare antique square floorboard coolers, NOT the type that hang out the window. I have never used it but I know the old timers swore by their effectiveness. Strange I can't remember where it came from, maybe a swap meet in Chickasha?

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