View topic - 41 Custom, new owner, new club member, many Q's

41 Custom, new owner, new club member, many Q's
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Author:  Duane Wiedor [ Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:52 pm ]
Post subject:  41 Custom, new owner, new club member, many Q's

I bought my first Desoto on June 28th this year. Take a look at the pre-war page on the message board. I think its in great shape and a real head turner. As a newbie to the Desoto line I'm searching for information on items I'd like to fix, replace or restore. Right now all of my q's are regarding interior items. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
1) Interior door handles have a plastic insert on the chrome handle as accent pieces. Both door handles on my car are missing that insert. Anyone seen replacements for this element of the handle?
2) My dash and window garnishes had a particular "woodgrain" look to them. The paint on these items has worn away on most of these items and should be restored. A true "survivor" car would love to have the condition of my car however I want to restore it to like-new. Has anyone found a person or process that addresses this restoration?
3) I have a Mopar Deluxe Heater Model 31 installed in the vehicle. The heater hoses appear to be in tact under the hood. The heater box is in excellent condition however I found the cloth covered wires coiled up and laying on the top of the device rather than being connected to a switch. I'm looking for information on proper operation of the heater, a switch, switch location, and proper wiring for this device. Basically I don't know anything about this type of heater. Any heater experts out there?
4) My steering wheel center emblem is a square plastic woodgrained element with the script word "De Soto" in raised chrome like letters bonded to the surface. Some of the chrome letters have fallen off my emblem. I've found a NOS one on ebay but the price is too rich for me. Has anyone found a way to replace the chrome raised letters?
5) My AM Radio is in tact but in-operable. Can anyone direct me to a reputable vintage radio shop?
6) I want to replace the gaskets on my windshield and rear window. I had the displeasure to drive the car home on June 28 in a rainstorm. The windshield leaks under very little rain and during the downpour it leaked a lot. The rear window didn't leak as much but it did show water penetration. Anyone experienced in removing and replacing the gaskets on this version of the design? I'm certain there are tricks to make this job less risky to damage.
7) Last one (this post): When I park my car facing downhill I leak gasoline under the engine area. This has occurred 2x however it never leaks when parked in the garage. I'm thinking a carb float issue but I need to find this occurring when I have time to trouble shoot. Any insights?

Thanks to all for reading this post and I look forward to your responses.
(Skaneateles, NY)

Author:  BrentJacobsen [ Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 41 Custom, new owner, new club member, many Q's

Hi Duane,

There are three documents I recommend you get for your car. The first is an owners manual if one didn't come with the car. The owners manual should discuss the operation of the heater and the radio. The second is the shop manual. and the third is the illustrated parts list. The illustrated parts list will be the most expensive, but you might find it to be the most valuable when looking for parts online or when looking for a blow-up diagram of a system like your heater.

Chrysler has authorized reprints of all these documents and they can be found online. If you plan on keeping your car for any period of time, these documents will be invaluable.

Author:  TimBowers [ Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 41 Custom, new owner, new club member, many Q's

You can do a search for companies that provide woodgraining services. Grain-It Technologies has a directory of companies on their website that provides those services.

We are one of the companies listed, and I'd be happy to visit with you about refinishing your dash and garnish moldings it you'd like.

(well, I did a quick check on the woodgraining website and couldn't find the directory of companies, so maybe they've changed things up a bit.)



Author:  lesfairbanks [ Wed Jul 12, 2017 10:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 41 Custom, new owner, new club member, many Q's

Tim, I didn't know you were doing wood graining or most likely I knew at one time and forgot. I had my door panels on the '52 done several years ago at a place in Chicago that does some beautiful wood graining but didn't do a good job on mine. He said the process was to paint it that amber or yellow?? color and roll the brown over it to create the wood grain. He had problems duplicating it. Is that about how you have been doing it or is it one of those trade secrets that you will have to kill me if you tell me what it is? :lol: If I decide to redo mine I will get in touch with you. Les

Author:  TimBowers [ Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 41 Custom, new owner, new club member, many Q's

Les it sounds like I use the same process as the guy in Chicago. I use a plate that has the proper grain etched into it. An ink is squeegee'd into the etching, and then picked up with a roller which is transferred to the part to be grained.

There are quite a few people providing graining services and using Grain-It products and tools.

Can't say why the guy in Chicago struggled. Dashes that have a lot of shape can be a booger, but if it was easy, everybody would be doing it, right?

If you're going to San Diego, visit with John Boyd about his grain in the Airflow he is restoring. He bought a kit from Grain-It and is doing the woodgraining himself.

Straight grains are more difficult than something that is random like Carpathian Elm. There is no roller that can do a large or wide piece in one pass, so the trick of a good job is to be able to fool your eye so that you can't see the starting and stopping places. The problem for the guy doing the grain is that he (I) know exactly where those places are and I decide that everybody is going to see the blends, because they sure seem obvious to me. :shock:

Would be happy to visit with you if you decide to do a re-do! Thanks!


Author:  TimBowers [ Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 41 Custom, new owner, new club member, many Q's


I have a friend right here in McPherson that is an expert at vintage radios. Check out . Joe and I shared an office when I was teaching at McPherson College. People send their radios to him after somebody else screws them up. Send yours to him first so you don't have to pay for a proper restoration twice.

Author:  Duane Wiedor [ Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 41 Custom, new owner, new club member, many Q's

Thanks for the tips. I have the owners manual and the service manual. Unfortunately there's nothing covering the heater (I'm thinking it was a possible dealer installed item.) I did find some operational instructions for the radio in the service manual which I'll investigate before I contact Tim's reference.

Tim, I think I'll attack the garnish moldings this winter. If you don't mind I can take a few pic's of the parts in place and we can discuss a plan for restoration. I know my limits and wood graining on this car is beyond my training comfort. Drop me an email when you get a chance and I can reach out to you.

Author:  BrentJacobsen [ Sat Jul 15, 2017 4:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 41 Custom, new owner, new club member, many Q's

Hi Duane,

Every time I read one of Tim's notes I learn something. I'm going to have to search out one of these graining kits and start practicing.

The heater should be much easier. One of the reasons I suggested getting the illustrated parts list is that it will show a blow-up of the model 31 heater giving you a good idea what the parts are and how it is installed. The model 31 is a "box" heater that recirculates air within the car. It connects to existing ducting for the defroster outlets above the dash and has doors on it to deliver heat to the passenger footwell area. It sounds like the heater is mounted, connected to the defroster duct, and has radiator hoses attached. From your notes you are suggesting that the wiring isn't connected. The wiring is a very simple circuit- it takes power from a keyed power terminal usually the one on the fuel gauge, routes it to a switch on the lower panel, and from there to the heater blower which is usually grounded to it's own mounting. The cars were built with "dummy" knobs, which were attached to functioning parts when the heater was installed. There should be a push/pull "defrost" knob that controls the air door to the defroster duct. There should also be a push/pull "heater control" knob that operates the blower. These should be shown in the owner's manual. Are either of these knobs connected to anything?

Author:  Duane Wiedor [ Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 41 Custom, new owner, new club member, many Q's

Thanks Brent.
The heater box is in place however there is not ducting between the Model 31 defrost chimney and the vents in the lower windshield trim along the dash. I'm guessing that ducting is missing and I need to find one. Also missing (or possibly never installed) are the control knobs.

The Model 31 heater has a push/pull defrost knob mounted on it. That knob correctly open/closes the damper in the defrost chimney. The Model 31 also has three manual doors to open/close for floor level airflow.

I'm wondering if my car never had the heater and it was added by a prior owner somewhere along its history. I'd guess someone found the heater (either new, fully restored or had it restored) installed it but never found the duct work and the control knobs. Since my car came from San Diego, the heater option may have been deleted by the original owner and added sometime later.

I did find the parts catalog and owners manual. Neither give me an illustrated parts document. I found the parts list but without a drawing reference its hard for me to understand what I'm missing and what they look like. I think the wiring would be surmountable even if I don't know what the OE switch looks like. The duct work is another question. I'll have to keep looking for either a photo/diagram or an expert to recreate one.

Do you know if the valve for the heater hoses on the engine block were typically opened and closed based upon the seasons of the year? I think that flowing hot antifreeze through the heater in the summer would be a real disadvantage . Is it possible that the valve was closed in the spring and reopened in the fall?

Author:  Duane Wiedor [ Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 41 Custom, new owner, new club member, many Q's

Hi Brent,
I finally found all the parts to finish the heater box. The prior owner contacted me and sure enough he had the switch. I've purchased the duct kit and have that installed. Any suggestion on correct gage for the wire from the switched contact to the blower switch?

Author:  BrentJacobsen [ Sun Dec 17, 2017 5:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 41 Custom, new owner, new club member, many Q's

Hi Duane,

Heaters on those cars are interesting. Chrysler offered a heater from the factory called the "Comfort Master". It used fresh air from the cowl ventilator. The plenum and ducting were integral to the dash, and so it wasn't available in the aftermarket. Most cars were built without heaters, and "box" units like yours were installed by dealers. Exactly as you say, many cars in warmer climates didn't have heaters installed.

The valve you mention on the back of the engine was intended to be open in the winter and closed in the summer as you suggest.

The wires were fairly heavy gauge usually 10 or 12 with rubber and cloth insulation and pin and socket type connectors.

Do you have a photo of the switch panel? The knob for the switch should be on the panel with a bezel and held on with a shoulder screw. You should be able to unscrew it, install the switch using the bezel, and then thread the knob onto the switch shaft.

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