Historical Motors LLC

Q&A: November 7, 2019 Edition

Q&A: November 7, 2019 Edition

October 21, 2019


Q. I only drive my old cars four to five times per year for a few short distances (20-30 miles each time), so the gas in the tanks gets quite old. I add fresh gas as the tank goes down, but most that is in the tank is old. I add a gas stabilizer like Sta-Bil, but have no idea how many times this can be done and still be effective. The container does not address this issue. I do add the recommended amount of stabilizer each year, but was wondering how often this yearly procedure can be repeated or must I drain the gas tank to get rid of the old stale gas? Should I be adding the stabilizer more often then once a year?
                                    — Victor Berman
                             South Windsor, Conn.

A. In the decade that I’ve been writing this column, the fuel age and storage issue has come up several times. The consensus that has arisen says that with modern fuels you should use stabilizer if you’re not going to go through a whole tank in a month’s time. That is perhaps overly cautious, but it’s better to be on the safe side. As for “rejuvenating” previously treated aged gasoline with more stabilizer, perhaps the chemists among us can offer some scientific advice. My instinct is to stay away from old fuel whenever possible.

Stabilizers are advertised as good for two years. As the end of that period approaches, if I have more than a gallon or so in my collector car’s tank I drain it and burn it off in my 25-year-old Chevy Suburban that gets driven with some regularity. There are concerns about partially or nearly empty tanks breeding condensation or corrosion due to the inner surface and level sensor being exposed to air. I have not experienced this problem. Both of my operable collector cars are old enough to have tanks that are easily drained, a feature that disappeared from cars decades ago.

Q. I have what I believe to be a 1920s-’30s exterior auto trunk. I would like to know what auto may have used this. It belonged to my dad, who worked part-time repairing and replacing ash framing and doing some body work for his brother-in-law’s dealership, which is still in business. He was probably selling Nash or Chevrolet at the time of this trunk.

The bottom of the trunk measures 11-1/4 x 38 inches, and it is 17-1/2 inches high. The front surface curves slightly, presumably to match the curvature of the car body, resulting in the top being just 8-1/4 inches x 38 inches. It has latches spaced 23 inches apart. Thank you for any information you can provide.
         — Bob Williams, New Castle, Ind.

A. Car trunks of this kind were accessory items, mostly by aftermarket manufacturers and not the car companies themselves. This one was clearly made to mate with a sedan or touring body with a similar curve. It looks like steel with no fabric covering, which suggests to me that it’s 1930s rather than ’20s, but bear in mind that the enclosed luggage compartments that arose by 1934 quickly eliminated the market for external trunks. The main criteria for trunks of this type are that they fit the rack on the car and have sufficient clearance to open without contacting the body. 

In looking though one of my “Spotter’s Guides” for the period, I do see some Nashes of the late 1920s with trunks of this shape. I don’t see any Chevys of the era with trunks, though. My 1925 Hudson Brougham came with a partially-completed wood trunk when I bought it 43 years ago. I just checked the dimensions. My rack is 11-1/2 x 39 inches, and the wood trunk, which I’ve never mounted, measures 11 x 38-1/2 at the bottom, while the top is 9 x 38, a near mate to yours. I believe it may be suitable for many cars like mine that have a narrow trunk rack sandwiched between a sedan body and a rear-mounted spare.

To submit questions to this column: E-mail
oldcars@aimmedia.com or mail to: Q&A, Old Cars, 
5225 Joerns Drive, Suite 2, Stevens Point, WI 54481.



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We went down the lane, by the body of the man in black, sodden now from the overnight hail, and broke into the woods..