The Intro Story, "Vacuum-Powered Wipers Needed Upgrading as Well."

What a Wonderful Trip down Memory Lane… “Vacuum-Powered Wipers Needed Upgrading as Well.” The Intro Story on the Main Web Page on CarTalk…

The by-line is labeled Ray Magliozzi, but I have to wonder if Ray really wrote it as I am sure he remembers that automobiles that had Vacuum-Powered Wipers also came from the factory with a Duel Action Vacuum-Assist Fuel Pump.

Back then, the 40’s, the 50’s and even into the 60’s, various vehicles still had vacuum-powered wipers. I know my '59 Ford Ranch Wagon, 292 CI V8, with “3-on-the-tree” had that type of wiper motor.

As a teenager in the mid 1960’s, I image that like me, some owners got cheap and when the fuel pump need replacing, they opted for the standard fuel pump, since it was a few bucks cheaper. And that was fine for the most part, yeah the wipers slowed down under acceleration, but that was only when it was raining… When the Sun was shining, the wipers “worked great…”

However, one very wet and rainy night, I was pulling a trailer on an interstate highway and we hit a long, long hill and climbing that hill, with that trailer, the wipers stopped completely and I had to open the window, hang my head out in the wind and the rain just to see.

Within a couple of days, I found out that they sold Rebuild Kits for Fuel pumps then and I rebuilt that old Duel Action Vacuum-Assist Fuel Pump, and I never had an issue of the wipers stopping like they did that faithful night…

Under normal driving conditions, the Wipers never slowed down; under hard acceleration, yeah, they did slow down a bit, but not much…

With the advent of Intermittent, multi-speed (even rain activated…) wipers no longer suck… (LoL)

I have no idea about the fuel pump but our 62 ford falcon had the vacuum wipers. If the slowed to much you just let up on the gas a little.

I don’t think all vehicles that had vacuum wipers came with a vacuum booster section on the fuel pump from the factory. The 1950 Chevrolet one ton pickup I once owned did not have the vacuum booster. The vacuum hose went right from the wiper motor to the intake manifold. The school buses I ride to school did not have vacuum boosters. One bus was on a 1939 GMC chassis and the other was on a 1946 Chevrolet chassis. The wipers would stall out when the driver accelerated.
The last vehicle I owned with vacuum wipers was a 1968 AMC Javelin with a 232 cubic inch 6 cylinder engine. It did have the vacuum booster and the wipers did not stall when I accelerated.
My dad had a 1940 Chrysler and it had electric wipers. Chrysler products had higher output generators, and were the car of choice of many amateur radio operators with vacuum tube mobile equipment.
My guess is the reason other manufacturers back then didn’t switch to electric wipers was the load it would put on the generator. The switch to alternators changed the situation, although my 1968 Javelin and my 1965 Rambler Classic 550 had alternators and vacuum wipers.

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Now. That’s interesting. Like I said my dads 62 falcon had vacuum wipers. I borrowed it for a date and he warned me not to use the radio. I didn’t listen and used it anyway. I had to get a jump start at the chicken house. Never told him. I guess that would be due to a poor generator combined with the tube radio. Just didn’t have the juice too for wipers.

One of life’s mysteries, my prior 70’s VW Rabbit had a vacuum storage canister in the engine compartment. The mystery is, I don’t know why it was there, it didn’t appear to be used for anything. Car’s configuration was Bosch k-jetronic cis fuel injection, manual trans, & no cruise control.

I would suspect it is easier to just include other items on the assembly line whether they are used or not on that model. Wire harnesses often include non used connectors.

All Rabbits, Jettas, and other VWs of that era had that vacuum reservoir. I think it was to help operate the HVAC.

edit - yep, here’s the diagram:

It’s been so long ago I can’t recall how the heater worked. I remember it as a simple cable-operated control for where the heat goes. And a 4 position switch for the blower speed. That car had no AC.

The vacuum canister looked different than above, more like 3 tennis balls glued together in a row. But its defintiely possible the hvac doors worked on vacuum. Never had to fix any problem w/heater.

One interesting thing about the Dodge models from 1946 through at least 1950 is that the upper trim line had electric wipers and the lower trim line had vacuum wipers. My Dad had a1947 Dodge Deluxe which was the lower trim line and it had vacuum wipers. A family friend had a 1947 Dodge Custom, the upper trim line,and it had electric wipers. My Dad had the lower trim line Meadowbrook and it had vacuum wipers. The upper trim line 1949 Dodge Coronet had electric wipers. Both the 1947 Dodge Deluxe and the 1949 Meadowbrook had a vacuum booster section on the fuel pump. It seems to me it would cost as much to have vacuum wipers with a vacuum booster fuel pump as to have electric wipers with a simpler fuel pump.

Perhaps the Duel Action Vacuum-Assist Fuel Pump was an option… I have often written about my first car a 1954 Dodge Meadowbrook with the Red Ram V8. I still have the original manufacture’s booklet and here are two pages below that list the “Standard Equipment” which included Electric Windshield Wipers…

What it does not show is that the Radio (with 7-buttons…), the Directionals, the Heater, the Defroster, (yes, they were separate options, each had its own hoses and core and you could have one, without the other…), the Sun Visor (over the front windshield…), and the Air Conditioner (Electric powered and installed on the rear hump, behind the rear seat, in the trunk… The vents ran along the drive train hump and vented under the rear seat and front dash…).

I’ve also included a sales slip from a 1964 Oldsmobile; if you did not get Option “C14”, the 2-speed electric wiper with washer, what was standard? Also, note option “U40”, a light to tell you the Parking Brake was on for $3.98…

Oh that 64 olds. I can still see it heading out of town after graduation. The last time I saw her before she got married.

Maybe that was used on ones without a/c. Fewer things to operate?

Thanks for posting the 1964 new car sales-invoice LT! What first strikes me (besides the prices) is that it appears to be hand-typed, probably on one of those old manual typewriters, Underwood or the like. The probability of being able to hire someone who could do that amount of typing with the needed accuracy these days, pretty slim. I wonder how the individual item prices were determined? Paper and pencil calculations, slide rule, mechanical calculating machine, etc?

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Wars were won with manual typewriters. If you wanted to stay out of the front lines you demonstrated the ability to type I’m told. I’m one who wrote the letters on the blanked out keys in class.

Then came electrics, then selectrics, then memory typewriters. I remember when clerks had about five different color of correction fluid so if they made a mistake with carbon copies, the could blank it out. Wow computers are nice.

In bce time I had to update job descriptions yearly for everyone using the multipart carbon forms. Big pain in the neck. So I determined where everything had to be on the computer and could put the form in the printer and crank them out. Changes and boilerplate were a breeze. The only people that ever looked at them were underworked hr people. But I have sidetracked.

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