Installing Windshield Wipers in a '36 Pickup

by Flat Ernie

I've been working on my 1936 Ford Pickup and hope to bring it to the UK with me sometime later this year (2009). And while I can get by with the abysmal vacuum wiper setup and some rain-x here in the sunny southwest US where it hardly ever rains, that just won't cut it in Ol' Blighty!

I had used a Newport Engineering setup on my '40, but nobody made a similar bolt-in setup for the mid-'30s cars/trucks. I could use one of those oval motors, but they'd stick out of the header panel and I've used two of those in the past and didn't like them (self-park often failed to...well...park!)

I was scouring eBay for some other '36 stuff and found a seller with a kit to put wipers in these early cars. I did a little research and a few companies do, but they all had one thing in common - expensive. However, while looking at the pics, it looked like something I'd seen in the UK.

And I also recalled some of the UK rodders using the early Mini wiper setup on some of their rods and set out researching again (NSRA UK!). It looked like it should work well for what I was trying to do and so I hit eBay again and scored this:

Basically, the motor turns a wheel with an offset pin that pushes/pulls a cable through the metal tubes. Around the cable is a coarse heavier gauge wire (almost like a spring) that serves as a rack, if you will, to actuate gears in the wiper transmissions.

I didn't feel like fabricating metal tubes specific to my application as it seemed quite a lot of work. I also didn't want the cable going back and forth inside the A-pillar (besides, the wipers wouldn't work), so I got this: This is just plastic tubing used to run small water lines like to the ice-maker on your fridge. It should have less friction than metal tubes as well. I'll use the metal tubes cut off about an inch or so and the plastic tube can slip over and clamp to them.




First, I have to drill a hole for the passenger side wiper and enlarge the hole for the drivers side wiper. I enlarged the existing hole very carefully with a 5/8" drill bit (size of the wiper transmission shafts), but used this to make the new hole:

I slightly mis-measured and the passenger side is about 1/16" higher than the drivers side, but damn
hard to tell (this pic looks like driver's side is higher, but it's not):

I used some temporary PVC spacers to mock up the transmissions:

I didn't show it, but I cut a slot under the channel and ran a large hose clamp around the channel and motor to secure it to the bracket.

Then it's a matter of installing the tube stubs on the transmissions and motor, mounting the transmissions, cutting the plastic tube to length, snaking the cable up through the tubes, and mounting the motor.

When I tried to use that plastic tubing, I found that despite it being listed as 1/4" ID, the same as the metal tubes, the cable wouldn't move through it. I was looking for some similar 5/16" ID tubing, but couldn't find anything locally (and didn't want to order 100'), so used 5/16" ID vinyl tubing instead:


Got it all in & tested out - works well, but I need a slightly longer piece of tubing in the A-pillar and I need to put some clamps on the tubing over the metal stubs. Here's a shot of what a completed section looks like:

I used MG wiper arms and the stock 10" blades should work well, but I haven't got any yet. I like the brushed stainless arms and they're about the right length:

Wiring is not too hard. I asked over on the NSRA UK site and was directed to this great website:

It shows how to wire up both speeds and self-park feature with a simple cube relay.

So there it is - I still need to take it all apart and grease the cable, re-do the tubing, wire it up to a two-speed switch, and find or make some rubber washers for under the exterior mounting nuts to keep the water out.

This was super easy and will work in any of the top-mounted wiper setups found in mid-'30s Fords and most other makes. It's a helluva lot cheaper than the kits sold by Specialty, Auto-Loc, and others. I think I paid about $15 for the wiper setup on eBay, a few bucks for the plastic line, and that's about it - I'll bet I've got less than $40 total in it (including eBay shipping).



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