Tag: Howto

AutoRestorer Magazine to Return?

AutoRestorer Magazine to Return?


AutoRestorer magazine expertly edited by Ted Kade was a really valuable publication that supported the hobby without burying the reader in advertising before it became a casualty of the shortsighted cull of automotive publications back in 2020

The website has now reappeared with the following statement in the “about” section.

There is interest here at Automotive American as we were contributors and enjoyed working with Ted

One can only assume that this is a toe in the water to see if a reboot is viable

The following sections are on the website containing historical but still very relevant articles

Feature Restoration

Mechanic on Duty

How to

How to set initial timing with just a test lamp – David Conwill @Hemmings


No timing light? No problem.

Pulling a distributor can be intimidating the first few times you do it. The distributor, after all, is where the delicate dance between spark and compression is choreographed. Put things back wrong and the engine may not run or may run so badly it’s at risk of damaging itself. Then, even if things are put back together more or less in the correct way, they still require fine tuning.

To get yourself as close as possible to the right starting point, pull out something virtually everyone has, a test lamp (12V or 6V, as appropriate to your car), and use it to find the exact moment your points make contact inside the distributor. Then, when you go to actually start the engine, you’ll already be within a degree or two of the proper static advance.

I recently had to do just that on my ’62 Corvair after combining the worn-out original distributor with a much nicer one salvaged from a 1965 110hp engine. It made getting the car re-started a snap.

The Problem

For quite some time, I’d noticed my car had diminishing power on hills. Because it wasn’t that great to start with, that was a real problem. Although I’d installed a new distributor cap, plug wires, and rotor some time ago, I figured it was time to replace the points and condenser. Yet, imagine my surprise when I discovered they were both nearly new! It was clearly a deeper problem.

I turned to one of the best Corvair resources I’ve found yet: How to Keep Your Corvair Alive! by Richard Finch. The late Mr. Finch was a devotee of the raced and daily driven Corvair and offered up his book as a supplement to the GM-supplied shop manuals (which I also own—I insist on owning a shop manual for all my cars, otherwise I feel I’m just groping in the dark when I work on them).

In his initial tune-up instructions (which, of course, I’d never really gotten around to following until now), Finch describes testing both the vacuum and centrifugal advance systems. One problem, I quickly discovered, was that rust had formed between the centrifugal-advance weights and the plate on which they slide inside the distributor. I pulled them, gave them a gentle cleaning with sandpaper, and then reassembled things—confident I’d be back on the road shortly now that my mechanical advance was working again.

Except when I went to give it the test, the distributor shaft no longer moved when I turned over the engine with a wrench. That was a new and unpleasant development. Down inside the engine, the roll pin that holds the distributor gear had sheared. Something I only discovered once I pulled the distributor to investigate why it no longer interfaced with the engine.

The Solution

Getting new roll pins off the generic-parts rack at the parts store is thankfully no problem. But when I got my old distributor cleaned up for repair, I noticed that the cam inside was really showing its mileage. I think it was probably run without lubrication for a long time. It occurred to me that I actually had a second distributor from a parts engine I’m slowly disassembling. To my delight, it was like new inside and still even wearing what may have been its original points, condenser, and dust shield.

I pulled the rusty, crusty vacuum advance unit off, replaced it with the unit from my original distributor, and swapped in the advance weights for good measure. Then I installed the Frankenstein distributor and went to set the initial timing using another of the Finch tricks: using a test light to know exactly when the points open and close.

Read on

How to rebuild a manual steering box and eliminate sloppy steering – Jefferson Bryant @Hemmings


The whole process takes two hours and makes a classic car immeasurably safer

Classic cars are never quite as good as we thought they were back when they were new. That 500-hp Chevelle you had in high school really only made 260, and it handled like dump truck. Add 40 to 50 years into the mix and it is bound to be significantly worse off for wear, especially the steering. Manual steering is not awful when properly set up, but when a manual gearbox gets some age on it, the slop comes in fierce. If your steering box has more than an eighth of a turn of play, then it might be time to rebuild it.

Rebuilding a manual steering gearbox is not difficult and is much cheaper than buying a new one. Plus, if you have a valuable classic, keeping the original versus installing a replacement maintains the value of the car. This was the situation for my 1966 Corvette, as I was keeping it stock. Instead of converting to power or rack and pinion, I opted to rebuild the original Saginaw manual gearbox with a kit from Borgeson (p/n 921039). The kit comes with everything you need to rebuild a worn gearbox including bushings, gaskets, bolts, and the most important parts: the worm and sector gears.

This is a recirculating ball gearbox, which is essentially a giant double-grooved ball bearing assembly. The worm gear—the part of the gearbox that is connected to the input shaft—is a machined block that has the gear teeth on one side and two machined grooves inside the block. Metal ball bearings ride inside the block, providing the bearing surface for the grooved input shaft. As you turn the steering wheel, the bearings spiral through the worm gear block, moving the block up or down the input shaft. This movement is translated to the sector gear, which is attached to the pitman arm. As the ball bearings roll on the shaft, worm block, and each other, each component slowly wears down. This is where the slop comes from.

Eventually, you have to turn the wheel to take up the extra space that is left behind from the wear. This can become significant and that is dangerous situation. Yes, you can compensate for the play, but this also leads to lane drifting as the steering system will wander left and right without the tension inside the gearbox. The solution is a complete rebuild with a new sector and worm gear assembly.

Read on

5 Reasons Why Your Stromberg Carburetor Leaks And Runs Poorly – @IrontrapGarage


Recently we have spent a lot of time rebuilding Stromberg carburetors for a few of the projects currently in the shop. While rebuilding them Steve and Matt found a few common issues that were found in the majority of the carbs. Matt decided to put together a video covering the common issues we found as a part of our hot rodding 101 series. Be sure to comment below if you have any other issues you seem to find with every Stromberg!

Improve Classic Car Braking (and Safety) With a Disc Brake and Dual-Circuit System Conversion – Jim Smart @Hemmings


The relationship we have with our classic cars tends to be a love/hate affair. We love the styling and the nostalgia of cool American iron from more than a half-century ago. However, suspension and braking systems are below par when you consider what’s sitting on showroom floors today. Drum brakes have their place, and obviously this arrangement is appropriate on a concours-restored show car where originality and show judging are paramount. However, if you drive your classic on a regular basis, maximizing your own safety and the safety of others depends upon getting your braking system up to date.

There was a time when you had to rummage through salvage yards to find a suitable disc brake package. These days, there’s a wealth of new disc brake kits for a wide variety of classic cars, from the Model T all the way up through the cars of the mid-20th century. Your decision should be based on what meets your personal needs and tastes. If your classic ride is a completely stock example, all you need are OEM-style front disc brakes, a dual-circuit master cylinder, new brake lines, and rear drum brakes.

Drum brakes have long been the mainstay of automotive braking systems. They perform quite well in rear axle positions yet are prone to fade when they get hot. When they get wet, friction is compromised and drum brakes can become unsafe. They also tend to lock up during hard braking.

If you have a performance-oriented model, or you’d just like a measure of braking performance beyond what the factory offered, the aftermarket may be able to assist. You may be surprised by the breadth of applications covered today, for both front and rear disc brakes.

Particularly important is the decision to convert your single-circuit hydraulic braking system to a dual system, meaning two separate circuits for the hydraulics fore and aft. American cars had single-circuit hydraulic braking systems prior to the 1967 model year, when dual braking systems became federally mandated. A dual-circuit braking system includes a two-chamber master cylinder, split between front and rear systems. The purpose of this is to maintain partial braking should there be a hydraulic system failure somewhere —a single leak should then affect only one circuit, not both as it does with a single-type system. In factory dual-circuit systems there is usually a pressure differential valve of some sort and a warning light to let you know you’ve lost either system. The pressure differential valve used on many vehicles has an internal “shuttle” valve that must be recentered once the trouble is corrected to turn the warning light out and enable proper bleeding of the system.

The humble drum brake is little more than C-shaped shoes/linings within a rotating drum. Because the front brakes do most of the work, the rear drums are there more as a backup for the fronts

Why opt for disc brakes? Drum brakes are prone to fading under hard use and, when wet, will often become seriously compromised. Disc brakes, on the other hand, are very effective stoppers.

They provide excellent braking force but are also more effective at dissipating heat, enabling them to endure severe use with good resistance to brake fade —the compromise in friction that occurs when the braking components become overheated. Even a front disc/rear drum system, with the split circuitry of a dual system, can offer a substantial improvement in braking performance and safety.

Most mainstream classic cars need little more than these cast-iron caliper, OEM-style disc brakes, and having them only in the front is usually a sufficient upgrade for normal driving. This is a Kelsey-Hayes four-piston front disc brake on a classic Mustang.

When you’re considering a disc brake upgrade, first determine if your car was ever available with disc brakes; if you determine it was not, investigate further to see if a system from a later version of your model offered discs. For example, a 1963 Plymouth was not offered with front disc brakes, but the parts from the right 1973 Plymouth could be adapted.

Of course, the aftermarket can simplify that process by providing whatever you might need for a disc conversion in kit form, eliminating the need to search out vintage parts from a salvage yard and the guesswork that can be involved in attempting to merge those items with your car. If you go this route, bear in mind that brake pad friction materials should be chosen based on the kind of driving you’re going to do. The daily commute or weekend getaway doesn’t call for hard friction materials designed for racing.

For a long time, six-cylinder Falcon, Comet, and Mustang owners couldn’t get front disc brakes. Only V-8 cars were available with them, and those models used five-lug wheels as opposed to the four-lug hubs found on six-cylinder models. However, given the intense demand in more recent years from six-cylinder owners, aftermarket companies answered the call with disc brake conversions for the inline-powered models. This example from SSBC-USA is a simple bolt-on kit you can install in a day.


Some years ago, asbestos was commonly used in brake shoes and pads, but when the health risks became clear, the material was phased out. When working on a vintage car, use caution with unknown friction materials —the brake shoes on a 50-year-old car may well be old enough to contain asbestos.

These days, we have three basic types of brake friction materials: Non-asbestos organic, semi-metallic, or ceramic for high-performance driving. Non-asbestos organic compounds are the most common type of brake friction material and are made from bonded organic fibers that retain shape by a resin or glue. Organic brake linings are made from a combination of several proven plant-derived fibers. Non-asbestos linings have a small amount of metallic content in them, typically brass to dissipate heat while contributing to abrasiveness (friction) for better stopping.

Affordable OEM-style disc brake kits are available for Ford, GM, Chrysler, and AMC classics from SSBC-USA (pictured here), CPP, Brake Performance, and LEED Brakes. They yield a factory-original appearance and will improve braking performance.

Read on

Which Wire-Splicing Method Is the Strongest? – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings


Splicing wires doesn’t seem like it should be rocket science. Touch one bare wire to another, make ’em stay together, and you’re off joyriding in your uncle’s hot rod at 3:00 a.m. But as it turns out, splicing wires can be rocket science, with even NASA formulating standards for how to securely and safely make these connections. Nevertheless, gearheads continue to employ a variety of different wire-splicing methods, insisting theirs is the strongest or the most conductive or the most resilient. So let’s semi-scientifically determine which is the best.

For this test, I’m considering just straight splices—wire to wire—and not any sort of tap, crimp, or plug-in connectors. (Splice versus crimp is a discussion for another day.) I’m also looking at low-voltage automotive wiring, not household or small appliance wiring, and focusing on the splice, not any covering like heat-shrink tubing or electrical tape. While many kinds of splices exist, I’ve narrowed down the test methods to four, all of which are commonly used in auto repairs. I’ll evaluate each on the tensile strength of its mechanical and soldered connections, and I’ll make a note of other attributes, including aesthetics and how the splice affects the wiring itself, all of which is 20- to 22-gauge and comes from my Nissan Leaf’s harness.

Let’s introduce the splices:

Rattail Splice

Instructions: Strip a half-inch to an inch of insulation from both wires. Give each wire’s strands a light twist to keep them from splaying. Lay the wires parallel with the bare ends side by side. Twist the exposed strands together

Wire Color: white

This is the simplest splice, typically capped with an orange wire nut and shoved behind a dashboard. We’ve also seen it referred to as a Pigtail Splice, but aren’t pigtails curled?

Palm Frond Splice

Instructions: Strip a half-inch to an inch of insulation from both wires. Splay each wire’s strands into the shape of a palm frond. Lay one set of splayed strands atop the other. Twist the strands together.

Wire Color: yellow

Also referred to as a Wedding Splice, this method provides many points of contact between the individual strands.

Lineman’s Splice

Instructions: Strip one to two inches of insulation from both wires. Cross the bare strands about a third of the way up. Wrap each bare wire around the other at least three times.

Wire Color: orange

Originally developed for Western Union telegraph lines, the Lineman’s Splice is designed to withstand a lot of tension, and NASA later specified the splice in its technical standards.

J-Hook Splice

Instructions: Strip one to two inches of insulation from both wires. Bend each section into a J shape and hook the wires together. Wrap the tail end of each bare wire around the trunk.

Wire color: red

I’ve discussed this splice before. It’s supposedly the strongest mechanical connection of any wire-to-wire splice. Let’s see if it holds up.

Read on

Palm Rattail Splice

How to: Ford Model A motor (engine)- Pistons and Rods: Assemble and Install – Paul Shinn


By popular request- How to assemble a Ford Model A motor (“engine” for you sticklers) and I also reveal my “secret weapon”, Willie Baechler from Baechler Machine Shop in San Andreas, California. 209-754-4646 is the telephone number if you want a Model A motor properly rebuilt. He is the BEST! Period. Shop address- 730 Industrial Way San Andreas, CA 95249. Next video in this series, I’ll show how to install the valves, cam, adjust valves, etc.

12 essential automotive chemicals for your garage | DIY – Kyle Smith @Hagerty


I remember the days when you only needed a roll of duct tape and a lubricant in your toolbox. These days there are so many automotive chemicals it can make your head spin. Lubricants, penetrants, cleaners, adhesives; where do you start? In this DIY, Kyle Smith breaks down what he thinks are the essential chemicals you should always have handy in your garage. #DIY#KyleSmith#NeverStopDriving


  • Contents of this Video:
  • 0:00​ Intro
  • 0:47​ Multi-Purpose Grease
  • 1:22​ Threadlocker
  • 2:13​ Dielectric Grease
  • 2:52​ WD-40 & PB Blaster
  • 4:09​ Starting Fluid
  • 4:59​ White Lithium Grease
  • 5:38​ Carb Cleaner
  • 6:20​ SEM Solve (Paint Prep)
  • 7:10​ Brake Clean
  • 7:56​ Engine Degreaser
  • 8:32​ Glass Cleaner
  • 9:16​ Interior Cleaner
  • 9:37​ Outro

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Avoiding a Broken Model A Ford Water Neck – tb33anda3rd @HAMB


Good discussion from the HAMB on the dangers of tightening the water neck on the Model A Ford without breaking it!

I have seen and broken my share of water necks in the past and had resorted to gently hand tightening the necks. i recently bought a water neck from Brattons and it came with this “trick” to avoid breaking them. i did not have any old paper matches but used a couple strips of cardboard, cut from a the backer of a note pad. the trick makes sense as it loads the out side of the ear instead of trying to snap it off. such a simple solution and it worked.
just wanted to pass it on.