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Automobile Tips

November 15th, 2010 Comments Off on Automobile Tips

I enjoy every issue of your magazine. I have been restoring cars since 1960. I have come up with a great many tips I would like to share with your readers. I will write up a few and when they will fit, you can put them in.

Hello folks, I am Howard Johnson and I have been self employed since 1969 as the Antique Doctor, restoring cars, boats and furniture. Over the years I have invented and improved on many ways of dealing with all the problems old cars have and perhaps you will find them to be helpful to you and your project.

Lubricate with Tri-Flow

When cars are old one of the first things you notice is that everything on the whole car, especially the doors and windows need lubricating. At True Value Hardware, I buy a wonderful aerosol lubricant called Tri-Flow with Teflon. It has a snout which I glue on with Goop, a fabulous adhesive plastic in a tube. The snout is very important because it can be directed into all the areas that need lubrication without making a mess. When I get an old car that is dry and stiff, after the dust it off, I put a tiny shot on every door hinge, right in the moving area, at the top of the hinge pin and the bottom. Then the door lock mechanism, sometimes there are some holes near the lock catch and don’t forget the moving and sliding surfaces of the striker; or you can insert the snout in the corner of the window and aim it at the lock and the outside handle. Lube the outside door handle right where it moves, stick the snout in underneath and give a little shot. While the window is almost up you can bend the snout and stick it in the inner crack next to the fuzz, aim it at the regulator gear and sliders, wherever you think they are. In both corners of the window, spray the channel slides, with it down do the upper slides. Using a paper towel, protect the door panel and do the crank knob and escutcheon. Now do the vent latch and vent pivots. You will be amazed at the difference this effort makes. Everything will work better than ever, like new – very satisfying.

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Easy Rust Hole Repair

Rust holes in a car body can be very difficult to repair well. Here are a few tips that may help. Put newspaper under the bad spot and hammer on the area just hard enough to dislodge all the mud and rust. Use an impact tool or hammer a lot, get rid of all scale. Pick-up the bulk of the mess, lay out more sheets and blow everything off well with compressed air. If the hole area looks clean, bend in the raw edges of the hole about 1/8″ all the way around the hole; then apply any rust stabilizer. I use Chem Prime, or Ospho, that I get from a marine supply store; there are many kinds, they use strontium dioxide acid, to convert the active rust to an inert material. This stuff stops the rusting process, but it only works on surface rust, all scale must be gone. When the converter stuff is dry, disc sand the edges of the hole with a little 36 grit disc. Find the thickest sheet of white or clear polyethylene plastic and cut a piece 2 inches larger than the hole all the way around. Hold this up and mark the hole area with 1/8″ overlap all the way around, mark up and out also so that you don’t get mixed up later. Mix up enough Gorilla Hair, fiberglass reinforced polyester repair material, and apply this to the back of the plastic, and working with gloved hands, slap it up on the hole right away. Smooth it out and tape it in place or hold it flat for the 5+ minutes it takes to get hot and firm. Then slowly peel off the plastic and Voila!, a perfect repair and almost no sanding needed! You are a genius!


Penetrate That Rust

There is a wonderful lubricant product called Tri-Flow with Teflon, made by Sherwin Williams, Co. and available in hardware stores. It has amazing penetrating power better than any other product I’ve found and I have tried many. Say you’re planning to remove the bumpers from your 50 year old car. The night before, go out and put on goggles hat and mask and wire brush all the threads. The better job you do, the more bolts you can reuse. Original bolts are exact, so I like to save them all. Wet each carefully, try to wet both sides of the nut. The next day give them all another shot before you put the wrench on. You will be amazed, many times they come right off!

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Removing Stubborn Nuts

Bolts and nuts on old cars can be very difficult to remove. I always wire brush the threads first. Most of the rust tries to go in my eye. Then I use the penetrant, hopefully overnight and again the next day. First I tighten the nut, if I can, give it a shot and then loosen. If it won’t move put the vice grips on as tight as you can, release and tighten even more, then release and move to a different flat, repeat, apply penetrant, again. The crushing pressure you apply with the vice grips enlarges the nut a little, allowing the lubricant to get in, then you can back it off. If it gets tight, go back on a ways, wire brush again, and back it off again. Impact tools speed this up a lot. Some times the nuts are hot when they come off but they’re still good.

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Keep everything in Order

No matter what you are going to disassemble, fresh newspapers and margarine tubs with tops and zip lock bags are very helpful. The newspapers help you to see and keep things clean. Put the parts in the containers and write on there what they are for. They stay clean and easy to figure out later. Bag ties are very helpful too. Use them where you would normally put a rubber band, they won’t break and fall off later. I have one on every hand tool to tie up the cord. Getting tools out is easier and the cords last longer. Bag ties that come on hoses are much stronger. I use these to tie coiled extension cords, they don’t get mixed up. I have a friend who can’t coil cords. He stuffs them into 5 gallon dry wall buckets – it works! I tie hoses with 12 or 14 gage romex wire stripped out from scraps, a foot or more works great. Just wrap it around one full circle and the hoses stay ready for you.

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Prolong hydraulic brake life!

Sometimes a brake rebuild only lasts 5 years because moisture enters the system and corrodes the lowest spot – the rear cylinders. When checking brake fluid levels use a turkey baster to withdraw the old fluid, suck it out and then squirt it back until the reservoir is clean and then take it all out – wipe up any spills instantly – and refill with fresh fluid. This procedure makes a big difference. wait until you see how dirty that old fluid was!

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Filling Tires – Say you have a low tire and no way to measure how much air you’re putting in. A low tire has about 10 lbs in it, as soon as the air starts going in, count the seconds starting at 10, when you reach 30 you’ll have 30lbs in a 15″ tire. Be careful with little trailer tires, they get hard real quick. Another way is to watch the vehicle rise, when it stops, the tire is right!

Well, these will give you an idea what kind of material to expect from your admirer, Howard P. Johnson Jr., from Old Time World who has many more similar helpful hints ready for you. Mr. Johnson has been restoring cars, boats and valuables of all kinds, full time for 35 years and invites you to visit his website at

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