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Car Repair Nostalgia

Although we read about the new here, the just launched there, the upcoming in just a few months somewhere else. In addition to new technology here, there, and all over the place.

Somedays its envigorating to just stop, and look back in a reflective fashion.

Here we go...


If you are of a certain age you remember the various hand tools used back in the day. Ratchets, extensions, sockets were commonplace. Flat and philip screwdrivers, ball peen hammers, and so on. Air tools were usually a substantial impact wrench, and subsequently a ratchet, both dragged around an air line, and were noisy.

Today many of the air powered tolls have been replaced by the electric equivalent with a battery.

Tool Boxes:

A couple of generations ago what was a sophisticated tool box was usually built up from a few components on casters. Yes...Snap On ruled the day. Tool boxes today are a thing of beauty, totally cool.

Distributor - Coil - Spark Plug Wires:

If you remember replacing ignition points on a regular basis, using a dwell meter, coils going bad and going nuts trying to figure it out. Plug wires wearing out, the same with distributor caps and rotors. Setting the timing with a timing light.

It  sounds old, archaic, a lost art. Even on TV shows some of the cars that are restored the engines run like shit.

The lost art is to get an engine to run well, and start in a crisp, lively fashion.


If you remember batteries with acid, battery caps, the posts and cable connectors getting all corroded with the "fuzzy stuff". have been around for a while, you also remember cleaning the battery posts, and cable connectors.

Today its maintenance free batteries, and screw in cables. Yes...batteries still wear out.

Human Knowledge:

Good ole human knowledge is priceless. With all the technology, modern tools, testing and diagnostic equipment. In many instances it facilitates diagnosing, and repairing a vehicle.

But...having an intrinsic understanding of how a vehicle funstions, what the various components are supposed to do, how one thing relates to another. Its priceless...

It goes back to the days when the human brain stored the knowledge base, experience, skill set to understand how a vehicle worked. Understanding what was amiss, which today shows up as an error code.

Agreed...its becoming a lost art that is also extremely challenging to replace...perhaps even bordering on the impossible.




Cooling System

We all get engrossed in technology, the product of the moment whatever it is, the latest offering and so on. The other day it struck us that the cooling system of any vehicle has been a constant for decades, if not generations.

If you want to generate horsepower, you also generate heat, and the heat must be dissipated.

If you use the ever popular turbos you generate more heat that must be dissipated.

A lot of stuff starts getting hot in and around an engine, and it must be cooled to provide longevity.


We all know that we need to cool the engine, usually there is a 50/50 mixture of water and anti freeze flowing throuhg the water passages of the engine. Yes...the cylinder head(s) will get a little warmer.

Obvious that there is a pump to circulate the water, a thermostat to control the temperature (keep it constant) and a radiator (heat exchanger) to cool the water.

If you want to extract more power and upholds sustained higher revolutions, not a bad idea to cool the lubricating oil too.

Having a turbo or two with air getting compressed by a hot impeller you will also want to cool the intake air.


We are all familiar with radiators, evolving from copper to aluminum and plastic tanks. The habitual modern set up is an aluminum cross flow radiator with plaistic tanks, end an expansion tank. Since most vehicles have an automatic transmission there is a transmission oil cooler in the radiator.


We have gone from the simple 4 blade fan (not very effective), to the multi blade fan, and fan shrouds to concentrate the action of the fan. Then there were thermostatic fans, flex blade fans. The advent of the electric fan first to assist and then as the only fan has been positive.

The fan comes into play when the vehicle is not moving fast enough to have an adequate air flow through the radiator.


Its function is to keep the temperature of the engine at a constant 90C. In winter (lower outside temperatures) is when the thermostat does most of its work.


You still need a hot liquid to warm the interior of any vehicle. The cooling system generates the hot liquid.

Think about it, some things evolve, but don't really change.



Our Thoughts On Interiors

If you have been in this business for a while perhaps like us, you develop a "thing" for interiors of vehicles, and some grasp your attention more than others.

The Colorado we reviewed a few weeks ago...had a proper pick up interior as an example, and it caught our attention.

There has been an ongoing evolution from cloth, to vinyl, to leather, and everything in between for decades now. Yes...prior to the advent of heated seats, a vinyl interior was brutally cold in winter in Canada. Cloth interiors were favored over vinyl or even leather.

At some point leather exploded as the preferred material to refinish seats, now everyone wants a leather interior, there is probably not enough leather to go around, and there are a myriad of grades of leather being offered. wonder from which animal some of this leather originates.

From bench seats to bucket seats with a you remember when everything had a bench seat, or a 60-40 split front seat?

Dashboards...we have progressed from idiot lights, to gauges, back to idiot lights...go figure. Obvious that the center of the dash screen has superseded gauges as the main attraction in the dashboard.

Black vinyl is the universal money saver to cover up anything and everything in an interior, the harder the vinyl the more extreme the savings. Think about this for a often you see black "plastic" in interiors.

Center of the dash, you have to love the screens that pop up / out like a tablet, accompanied by the "mouse" on the console.

Cup holders...there was a movement at one time to influence all manufacturers to have cup holders in vehicles. Folks now egress their vehicles with liquid in a container to remain hydrated as they go about their activities.

Wood has been a mainstay of vehicle interiors for decades.

Agreed we all have our preferences and priorities as to what is a great interior. Yes...when you see one its immediately grasps your attention.

Does it have to be leather? Not really but an interesting pattern on the seats is essential.

Does it require a leather wrapped steering wheel? Almost a must.

Does it need wood on the dash and door panels? We prefer wood to metal or carbon fiber for most vehicles.

Does it need bucket seats? A must, and ideally 4 buckets if it has 4 doors.

Does it need a center console? Yes...full lenght a bonus.

Does it need a floor shift? Yes...the knobs, buttons, small lever on the steering column pale compared to a floor shift.

Automatic climate control? A must

The center screen? The simpler the better...lets leave it at that...we all have a smart device.

Sound system is a it really part of the interior...yes!

Gauges, the more the better...and analog.

Carpet...ideally its a carpet and not a trunk liner. has to be cool.

Color? Your choice...The Colonel prefers lighter than darker interiors.

We urge you to make a list of your preference and requirements.




What's Happening to Sedans?

Remember the reference to the "family car" which was used for decades, and often stll used today.

It was always a car, starting with a coupe for younger individuals or couples with no kids, migrating to a sedan, or perhaps even a station wagon.

There were all sorts of coupes, from the 2 door post, to the hardtop, same for sedans the 4 door post, and the hardtop. Obvious that the hardtops were the more popular versions. The versions with the post were always offered in the lower line models.

Let's not forget station wagons from back in the day.

At some point the mini van came along, and station wagons started fading away. Yes...a mini van is more useful than a wagon, perhaps even becoming the defacto family car in many instances.

Light Duty Trucks

Way back in the day what we collectively call a utility vehicle in 2016 was a light duty 1/2 ton truck. Notice the model designators, 1 for 1/2 ton, 2 for 3/4 ton, 3 for 1 ton, and 4 or 5 for a heavier duty 1 ton.

Keep the light duty trucks in the back of your mind for a moment, as well as station wagons.


When you start morphing light duty trucks and station wagons at some point the current 2016 versions of utility vehicles becomes a reality.

This current crop of utility vehicles are more station wagons than trucks, more car than a truck even a light duty truck, often with an innovative all wheel drive version which truly resonates in the Canadian market.

Let's not forget the higher seating position of a utility vehicle.

The morphing is inexorably displacing sedans as the "family car" now its the "family utility".



Warming Up Your Car

Back in the day of carburetors, distributors, chokes, starting a vehicle in cold temperatures was always an interesting experience.

Think of starting your snow blower today, adjust the choke, set an engine speed, prime it, now turn it over to start surely get the process of starting a car back in the day.

Chokes did not want to come off the fast idle, or the engine would hesitate, and a bunch of other variable.

In extremely cold temperatures, good luck to start a car, and the more you insisted, the more flooded it would get. You would concluded with gas in the oil, and wet spark plugs. Removing spark plugs from an engine at low temperatures was not much fun either.

Today all cars start easily in cold weather, and are dramatically more driveable from start. Thanks to individual coils for the spark plugs, improved metering of gas, and the engine warm up cycle with fuel injection to name a few.

From a cold start if you have a longer than shorter commute, no real need to warm up any car. But if your commute is shorter than longer, perhaps you should consider warming up its entirely up to you.

Just remember that even with technology the laws of physics do not change.

Do we warm up our cars? When its minus 15C and colder we will usually warm up a vehicle during the time it takes to clean the snow / scrape ice from the glass.