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Do Some Book Learnin And Make Your Project A Little Easier...



We actually have it pretty easy when it comes to getting our projects back on the road. Even though we are working on 60 year old technology original factory documentation is readily available. Original and reproduction shop manuals, parts books, factory technical training material are available from many parts suppliers. Think about how difficult it would be if you didn't have any reference information and everything was passed by word of mouth (or the internet)!

So what should you have in your garage library? First two purchases should be a factory service manual and factory parts book for your vehicle. The factory service manual typically has wear limit specifications so you can determine when service is needed, general maintenance and tune-up specs and the the proper process for different repairs. A careful reading of the service manual before you start a repair is recommended as many times tips are provided to make the job easier or expose some less than obvious service procedure. The proper replacement of valve guides (they don't all go in the same way) or the correct process for lubing rear axle bearings comes to mind. It should be at your side when you are working on a repair.

The gold mine for me is the factory parts manual. It answers many, many questions about what is the right part, what will interchange (mopar factory part number), how does this go back together (exploded diagrams) and what options were available. When I took ownership of my first P15 their was a steel bracket in the trunk. It was about 5" long, couple holes drilled in it with some angle cuts. No idea where it came from or it's purpose. Years later when I finally discovered a factory parts manual I figured it out. It was the bracket that held the spring so the clutch rod would fully return. (bracket 6-27-6 in the illustration) It held the spring that kept the rod (6-24-1) from falling out of the lever to activate the clutch! Because the lever had fallen out many times I had ended up taking a throttle spring and wrapping it around the clutch shaft to hold the spring in place. Many of us are the victims of the actions of previous owners and the results ending up in the trunk. A parts book is like having a native guide to find the path back to way the factory originally put it together. The parts book also lists factory mopar part number. This is critical for finding parts with many vendors that stock their inventory by factory part number, not application. With a factory parts number you can use a site like PartVoice.com to search many suppliers at once for a part.

Picture of clutch linkage from Parts Book

Another really helpful book is a Hollanders Interchange manual. They cover different years (I use a '40 to '56 version) and are a wealth of information you won't find anywhere else. Originally targeted for garages and junkyards they basically list what parts will interchange with other cars. Will a club coupe rear window fit a sedan? What ignitions can I swap? What are the bearing numbers I need for the front wheels? I would also add an owners manual to the list of must haves. It provides basic operation instructions, maintenance and care information for a driver unfamiliar with '40s-'50s technology.

To finish out the library I would add sales literature for my vehicle, paint chips and some third party reference info. For example, Bunns B Series book is a fantastic resource for truck owners loaded with factory pictures. For more wrench turning support a Chiltons or Motors manual provides practical "how to" information. Stockel's Auto Service and Repair is also a great reference guide.

To help you get started building out your garage library three of our site sponsors, Andy Bernbaum Auto Parts, MoParMall.com and Vintage Power Wagons have extensive in-stock inventory of factory manuals, part books, owners manuals and associated literature. Check them out now!

Now it's your turn. What have you added to this list as a must have book for your shop?


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Motors Auto Repair Manual. I have a 1953 edition and it covers 24 makes (Buick to Willys) for the years 1935 to 1953. I also have a 1948 and a 1974 edition. These books are loaded with information that covers in great detail all mechanical repairs. You can find them on e-bay and at swap meets.


A book that I would like to have is a "flat rate" book. These books were used to generate estimates to customers on how long it takes to make specific repair and by the paymasters to judge if the mechanic could meet or beat the average time to do specific repairs. This book is not any help in making the repairs but it is fun reading.

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I have numerous catalogs and manual that I have scanned onto CD. These cover from mid 30 to mid 50 cars and trucks.

Some of the topics and or manuals/catalog are Autolite Parts from 38-54, Bork and Beck pressure plate and clutch plates, Cater Carbs, Thompson Products - Suspension mid 30 to late 40, Detroit U joints from the 30-50's, Sorenson catalog and other brands, Cross reference lists to other parts manufacturer.

Write to me at Desoto1939@aol.com and I will send you the list. This makes a great reference library for your individual car or truck.

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I agree with Don and want to mention Motors Auto repair manual, a second time, the first part of the book is general service and repair procedures (that I find aren't in the factory manuals) including generators, early voltagare regs, and carbs for all models etc.  I would move this one to number two on the must have list.

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After I got the engine running on my '48 back in '95, I heard about Hemmings Motor News, found a reproduction shop manual, stuck a check in the mail and 6-10 weeks later got some highly informative reading in a brown paper wrapper.  I've amassed a small collection of Service Reference Manuals featuring Tech the trainer; they're entertaining to read, full of useful information, including service charts, exploded views, and allll kinds of diagrams.  I've also collected a few sales brochures from back in the day...pictured in the corner of a B-2 brochure is a small black & white picture/sketch of a Spring Special...others have cutaway views of cabs, motors, transmissions, axles...GOOD STUFF  :cool:

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I have both parts an repair manuels that cover my 50 Ply.

Repair mamuel 46-50, parts 1950 for all mopars ! many pics of parts Not shown in other manuels!

Hollender reprint parts exchange manuel also very helpful covers 46-56 all brands, excellaant reference.

Worth the money spent. Expand search parameters for parts needed and better prices?!

My 2 cents!


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Through interlibrary loan I just received a very helpful text.  It's called the Mopar Body and Sheet Metal Quick Reference List and covers the 1940-1948 models.  Each division starts with a series of exploded view illustrations that included codes.  For instance, the illustration for the 1942 Plymouth rear fender shows a code of 12-18-5.  The 12 refers to "fenders and sheet metal," the 18 refers to "rear fenders," and the 5 refers to the specific part.  The illustrations are followed by tables of codes and part numbers.  At the 12-18-5 section I get all the part numbers for 1940-1948, and can determine that no other rear fenders will interchange.  I can also quickly jump to the 12-18-5 section of the Dodge section and learn the same thing.  The fuel tank filler tube fender hole cover, on the other hand, interchanges between all 1940-1948 Plymouths, Dodges, Desotos, and Chryslers.


It's great, but I have to return it at the end of the month.  I was hoping to have it scanned and then share it here, but it's going to cost $75-80.  If someone else wants to chip in, I'll pay half and we can share it on this forum.  The scan would also be OCRed so the text would be searchable.  Please PM me if interested.

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I went ahead and had it scanned, and the forum adminstrator put it in the download section.  If that doesn't work, contact me and I'll get a copy to you.  Jeff

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