Young drivers also were their own mechanics

DEL MAR — In the 1930s and 1940s, during the height of the Depression, kids who drove pollution-spewing cars were also junior mechanics. Of necessity.
There weren’t that many garages around. Paul Hillman had one on Carmel Valley Road but the kids couldn’t afford his services anyway.
Flat tires were common primarily because these were usually worn down to the fiber. An inner tube was encased inside the tire and nail punctures were repaired with patches of various sizes depending on the leak. Rubber cement was used to glue the patch to the tube. When tubes were no longer used on tires they wound up on the beach as flotation devices. No surf boards in those days.
Model A Fords, a favorite because they were economical, had a couple of negatives. Fuel pumps were prone to malfunction frequently. Usually at night on a date. No devastating problem, however. They were held in place by a couple large bolts that were easy to remove. The pumps processed the fuel to keep the engine running. Driving up the steep winding Torrey Pines grade (now a scenic walk) was a challenge. Second concern was the motor overheating. A radiator that resembled a honey comb circulated water in the engine as a coolant. The steeper the climb the more that water turned to steam. At the top of the grade it meant waiting for the engine to cool. If you were on a date there was no big hurry. There was always parking in the Torrey Pines Lodge.

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