The SVAO: Dedicated to the protection and preservation of Specialty Vehicles

Newsletter June 2001

Attention: (Car Club recipients) Please ensure that this newsletter is forwarded to your club editor for reprint in your club publication. Any and all content of our newsletter may be reproduced and we encourage you to do so. Text files are available by email in Word format. Call the hotline or email Ray Spencer - Editor

Ray Spencer - Editor

We will have a write-up on the AGM in our next newsletter. Unfortunately the weather did not co-operate and only a few brave souls drove their collectibles.

Bruce's Musings
Bruce Stewart - Director

I see that the Star has again consulted the questionable Mr. Coninx and put him on the front page of the Wheels section to knock Drive Clean. He actually made a couple of justifiable comments but drew attention to the really bad session in the past when they took the car with the intermittent fault for testing. He also made reference to U.S. studies that show emission controls to last a lot longer than had originally been anticipated. This is probably correct in the context of testing in the States, but all the people I talk to feel that with the combination of dirty, sulfur-laden gas and the use of MMT, cars in Canada go through oxygen sensors like American cars do spark plugs. This is apparently even more the case in low mileage vehicles.

If you are going to host a conference and set an example of unity, etc. for the international community, why would you hold it in Quebec City? How could you not anticipate trouble from the PQ? Maybe they should have held it at the hotel in Shawinigan! Is there any sense left in Ottawa? Then there's Tom Wappel. We do not need a comedy channel. You can just watch the national news and save the cable charges.

Emission Testing

Chris Whillans recently had his daily driver emission test. Although the car produced less emissions than last time, the standard at which it was being measured had changed, and in this instance it was a marginal pass rather than a pass with flying colors.

Thinking that maybe the standards had been tightened, Chris contacted Peter Campbell at the Drive Clean office for an explanation. Peter confirmed that the emission bar is to be lowered in the future but that this will not take place until 2003 for the GTA. As the measurement criteria for Chris' vehicle had changed, Peter's feeling was that the test centre must have entered the vehicle information incorrectly (either the first time, or the second time, or both times). He suggested that owners compare the test results entries at the top of the form to see if the test standard had changed. It is also possible that the manufacturer made an error in the test information initially supplied to the database and has subsequently corrected it!

More on Safety

As you well know, the safety of our vehicles has been a frequent topic in this newsletter and at our annual general meetings. While we continue to advocate comprehensive touring or safety inspections for all collector cars, we urge you to study the following and forward it to all of your fellow members of our community. Al Neufeld of ACCCC, has put together a
"pre-drive" inspection that takes but a few minutes when you are taking the car out for a run and ensures that most systems are functioning as they should.
We have been spoiled by the fact that newer cars are so dependable. We forget that, in the past, (and not all that far in the past) owner's manuals contained a list of daily and weekly inspections that were to be carried out by the driver to ensure safe operation. Al's inspection does not require any great deal of mechanical aptitude and, in conjunction with an annual inspection, would not only enhance safety but also provide an additional level of comfort and confidence while driving the car. This is not meant to replace a formal inspection but to supplement it.
The following is a shortened version of Al Neufeld's proposal. Hopefully, by the time you read this, the full text will be on the web site at

Vehicle Inspection

Vehicle inspection is the first line of defense in assuring a motor vehicle is in a safe operating condition.
To ensure that all critical components have been examined, an inspection needs to be made in a systematic manner listing all inspection items, keeping a written report listing all defects and deficiencies. By keeping a current copy of all vehicle condition reports in the vehicle, any mechanic, new driver, interested parties or government agency can, at a glance, ascertain the known mechanical condition of the vehicle described. A copy of the yearly mandatory safety inspection requirement, of all Antique and Classic Car Club members' cars will be kept on file by the safety representative for future reference.

Vehicle Inspection Standard Procedure

(Describing A Systematic Safety Inspection)

1. At a glance as you approach your car, you are checking the vehicle for broken glass, low or flat tires, weak or sagging springs, damage from foreign objects, leaks under the vehicle, vandalism, position of vehicle in relation to surrounding objects.
2. Unlock Driver's door. Enter vehicle, set driver's seat position (left foot should be flat on the floor under the clutch pedal or brake pedal for automatic vehicles). Driver's side window must roll down for hand signaling.
3. Check wheel lash (free play). Depending on size of steering wheel, this should be approximately 3-4 inches in either direction (see Service Manual).
4. Apply brake pedal. A firm pedal should be felt with floor clearance of approximately three (3) inches. Firmly apply emergency brake. Emergency brake lever should be in the mid travel position.
5. Place automatic transmissions in park, standard transmissions in neutral. Adjust rear view mirrors.
6. If seat belts are installed, adjust for proper fit and check for proper operation.
7. Pull hood release, give horn a blow and check driver's door safety latch as you exit the car, taking the keys with you.

8. Open trunk and check safety equipment. Mandatory item is a fully charged A-B-C fire extinguisher. Recommended safety equipment::
· Reflective triangular flare kit
· A first aid kit and a warm clean blanket
· Booster cables
· Spare Tire
· Jack and Wheel wrench
· A flashlight
· A rope
· Spare fluids
· Names of members with cell phones.
· Names of members with CPR and First Aid Training.

9. Circling vehicle - check remaining door safety latches, seat belts (if installed) and body integrity. Check that fuel cap is in place.

10. Open the hood and check the following:
· Hood latch safety catch, hood hinges.
· Radiator fluid level, leaks.
· Engine oil level, leaks.
· Windshield washer fluid level, leaks, cracked hoses.
· Master cylinder level, leaks at base of cylinder, at lines and fittings.
· Vacuum Booster (leaks, secure & corrosion).
· Check for leaks in gas lines, fuel pump, carburetor, filters and hoses.
· Check water pump, drive belts, radiator and heater hoses.
· Check battery fluid level and terminal connections.
· Power steering pump and belts, fluid level.
11. Re-enter driver's seat. Start engine. Immediately check oil pressure, amp meter for discharging and fuel level.
12. Turn on headlights (high beam). Check high beam indicator. Turn on left signal. Check indicator. Check instrument lighting. Turn on heater and defroster. Check blower operation. Check windshield wiper operation. Check dome light operation. Leave car and walk around, check left front signal, headlights on high beam, marker lights, tail lights and license plate light, left rear signal, license plate validation sticker and ACCCC Safety Decal attached.
13. Re-enter car. Turn on right signal. Change to low beam headlights, check gauges, oil, amps, and water temperature. Kick off automatic choke. Check engine idle. Also check accelerator pedal that it is not sticking and returns to idle.
14. Circle the vehicle - check the low beam headlights, right signal (front and rear). Check all tires for proper air pressure, valve steam caps in place, sidewall damage, proper tread remaining (mixing bias ply and radial tires is not safe). Check all wheel spokes. Recheck engine compartment for leaks and unusual noises. Check electrical wiring and connections. Close the hood.
15. Check windshield, windshield wiper blades and arms for proper spring tension.
16. Re-enter vehicle. With the help of someone, check back up lights, brake lights and parking lights (this can be done on your own with vehicle backed up to a wall or garage door).
17. Know the condition of your brake shoes, drums (ask your mechanic to give you this information if you do not know). A brake inspection can be acquired free of charge at many local brake shops.
18. Test hydraulic brakes by rolling car at approximately five (5) miles per hour and applying brake pedal. Apply emergency brakes. With light throttle, try to pull away. Brakes should hold firmly.
19. Valid ownership and insurance certificate to be with vehicle at all times.
20. Clutch pedal free play and clutch slippage can be checked after hydraulic brake test (approx. one inch free play).
21. Automatic transmission safety start switch (place car in any gear and try to start). Ignition should be dead.
This systematic inspection can be carried out by the car owner or driver, prior to vehicle operation in an Antique and Classic Car Club activity. Also the yearly inspection can be simplified if these inspections are observed.

Automotive Air Conditioning

Some time ago I mentioned a new refrigerant that we heard about from a Manitoba visitor to our web site. The following is in answer to the query for further information. John Stephenson is the secretary of the Durham Electric Vehicle Association.

R12a Refrigerant

Re your question in the SVAO Newsletter, and our recent conversation.

R12a is what is called a 'natural refrigerant' because it is a mixture of stable organic compounds, which have been around forever (?). It is a mixture of stable hydrocarbons to which the name 'paraffin's' was given in the early days of the study of Organic Chemistry. The mixture consists of approx. 40% butane, 59% propane and 1% ethane. Note that these materials are said to be 'highly purified' in order to use them as a refrigerant. You should not try to mix these materials out of a standard cylinder and expect that the air conditioning system will work perfectly.

It is well known that ethane, propane and butane are flammable in air and, when mixed in certain proportions with air, will burn with explosive speed. Nevertheless, propane and butane were used as refrigerants, along with ammonia, carbon dioxide, and sulphur dioxide, before the development and commercial use of freons in the early 1930's. It was an explosion involving propane in a school air conditioning system, which resulted in the death of a number of students, which lead to the banning of the 'natural' (flammable) refrigerants, in favour of the 'freons' in North America. At that time, the damaging environmental properties of the freons were not even imagined. As a family of products they were considered to be unreactive, non-toxic, non-flammable, i.e. the perfect refrigerants.

In the late 1970's the environmental effects of the freons began to be known and understood. They are, as a group, very damaging to the stratospheric ozone layer, and very strong global warming agents. As a result of the damage done to the stratospheric ozone layer, the freons, known as the cfc's or chloro-fluoro-carbons, have been banned by international treaty (although still available if you know where to buy them!). The fact that they are very strong global warming agents is less well known, and to some extent the chemical manufacturers have tried to keep this a dark secret.

The chemical manufacturers have introduced new compounds of the freon type to replace the banned
cfc's. The new compounds are hydro-chloro-fluoro-carbons (hcfc's) and hydro-fluoro-carbons (hfc's).

The hcfc's are in the process of being banned because they still affect the ozone layer (at about 5% or less, than the cfc's) and because they are strong global warming agents. The hfc's have no adverse effects on the ozone layer, but are still very strong global warming agents. There is one other group that must be mentioned - the per-fluoro-carbons, which are extremely stable compounds (have long lifetimes in the atmoshpere) and are strong global warming agents.

The following table summarizes the ozone depleting and global warming characteristics of the common refrigerants, with the 'natural' hydrocarbon refrigerants included for comparison:

Note: Global warming potential is calculated by using carbon dioxide =1 (i.e you can compare the effect of releasing 1 tonne of the various agents). Also, the lifetime of the various agents in the atmosphere has to be taken into account. For this reason the global warming potential (GWP) is calculated for time horizons of 20 years, 100 years and 500 years. Thus the GWP for an agent which has a short lifetime in the atmosphere will be at its highest when averaged over the 20 year Horizon and an agent with a long lifetime will be highest when averaged over the 500 year Horizon. In general, we are most immediately concerned with the 20 year time horizon, because it affects the most immediate future of the planet.

Refrigerant Ozone depletion Global Warming Potential
20 yr 100 yr 500 yr
Carbon Dioxide No
R12 Very strong 7,800 8,100 4,200
R11 Very strong 4,900 3,800 1,400
R134a 0.05 3,400 1,300 420
R12a No 8 0 0
Per fluoro-methane No 4,400 6,500 10,000
(Source International Panel on Climate Change 1994)

R134a is the currently used substitute for R12 in automobile air conditioning systems. R134a is a very good cleaning agent - it will remove deposited gums in the interior of the system. It is also very acidic if moisture is allowed into a system, and it needs special lubricants, because it is not compatible with the lubricant used in R12 systems. On the other hand,

R12a is a direct drop-in replacement for both R12 and R134a systems.

Because R134a is a strong global warming agent the government has decreed that all refrigeration systems must be built to 'contain' the refrigerant, for the lifetime of the system, i.e. the system must not leak. However it is by no means certain that this requirement is being met in current automotive systems. Conversely, it must be true that if a system will contain a freon, then it will also contain a 'natural' refrigerant.

The table (above ) illustrates the environmental benefits of using R12a. However it must never be forgotten that it is a very flammable refrigerant - although I personally know of no cases where R12a has been associated with a fire in an automobile - even as the result of a crash. There are three or more possible reasons for this:

1) the weight of refrigerant charged into the average automobile system is only about 12 to 16 ozs.
2) In the event of a sudden release of refrigerant only about half of the charge is released - the rest is retained for a short time in the oil in the system.
3) In the event of a slow release, the gas is heavy and will sink towards the ground where usually it will dissipate without problems.

However, it is extremely important that the air conditioning system be clearly labeled that it contains a flammable refrigerant. Many refrigerant technicians are not conversant with the properties of R12a - the name is too close to R12 to be comfortable (for me) - I think that this may lead to an accident.

Finally, although propane is used in Europe in many refrigeration type appliances, its use on this continent is being resisted by the freon manufacturers, and the current Canadian Standard (B52-95 Mechanical Refrigeration Code) is deficient in its treatment of flammable refrigerants. That is to say that its use may not be properly covered by insurance companies on the grounds that it is a flammable refrigerant.

If you need additional information I suggest that you talk to Mr. Lawrence MacNeil of HCTech Inc, Biggar Av., Hamilton, ON. L8L 3Z4. Phone 905-547-5693, Fax 905-547-3155. Their web site is and e-mail is
John Stephenson

Pro-Hobbyist Street Rod Bill Introduced in Alabama
A bill has been introduced in the Alabama legislature that would create a vehicle registration classification
for street rods. The legislation defines a street rod as a
vehicle produced by an American manufacturer prior to 1949, which has undergone some type of modernization. It also provides for distinctive license plates to be designed in consultation with the National Street Rod Association. These plates will be inscribed with "street rod" and be valid without renewal following an initial registration fee.

H.B. 16 also exempts street rods from some motor vehicle licensing requirements and from payment of a license tax for the privilege of operating the vehicle on public roads, as well as any property tax. Finally, vehicles registered as street rods would be considered collector's items and could not be used for general transportation purposes.

Green Fuels Threaten Britain's Bird Population
Chemicals used to make environmentally friendly fuels may be disastrous for many British birds. Scientists leading an 18-month probe into the sharp decline in sparrow and starling populations in Great Britain believe that two of the chemical components of unleaded petrol, benzene and MTBE, could be directly responsible. Researchers have found a correlation between the reduction of the bird population and the introduction of unleaded fuels, particularly in areas of high traffic congestion. It is unclear whether the chemicals are having a direct effect on the birds, or are impacting the invertebrate populations on which the birds feed.

The European Union has set targets to reduce the level of benzene found in petrol by 80 percent, while MTBE is being phased out in Denmark, as well as sections of the USA. As far as we know, MTBE is not used in Ontario's unleaded gas but I think that benzene is used.

And last, but far from least, from Honest Nate Salter comes the following bit of good advice:
Be careful what you wear, or don't wear, when working under your vehicle, especially in public. From the Sydney, Australia Morning Herald comes the story of a couple who drove their car to K-Mart only to have it break down in the parking lot. The man told his wife to carry on with the shopping while he fixed the car there in the lot. The wife returned later to see a small group of people near the car. On closer inspection she saw a pair of male legs protruding from under the chassis.

Although the man was in shorts, his lack of underpants turned private parts into glaringly public ones. Unable to stand the embarrassment she dutifully stepped forward, quickly put her hand up his shorts and tucked everything back into place. On regaining her feet she looked across the hood and found herself staring at her husband who was standing idly by. The mechanic, however, had to have three stitches in his head.

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