The following scenario will be familiar to everyone who has ever driven a car equipped with vacuum windshield wipers in the rain. The wipers slow down as you approach an elevation; as the gradient becomes steeper, you depress the throttle pedal, the wipers come to a complete stop, and you find yourself driving blind. The only thing you can do is take your foot off the pedal for a few seconds to allow the wipers to make a couple of passes and restore your eyesight, then get back on the gas to avoid being run over by the automobiles in front of you—and the whole process starts over from there.
Car Folks recognized a need for an alternative to vacuum wipers and began manufacturing replacement kits using 12V electric motors to fill that need. As an alternative to creating a universal kit that would fit all vehicles, Bob created full assemblies for certain years, makes, and models of vehicles.
Wiper drives are powered by bulletproof OEM motors and are designed to fit to the factory mounting brackets. They also include nylon bushings to replace the factory rubber grommets in the linkage arms (if necessary).
For use in conjunction with wiper motor installations, most vendors offer a number of accessories, such as stainless wiper arms and wiper blades, intermittent delay switches, washer pumps, washer pump switches, and other parts and components.
We’ve installed wiper systems in a variety of vehicles and have always found them to be flawlessly functional and to fit like a factory component. Consequently, the first time we drove in the rain in a 1956 Dodge with vacuum wipers, we knew exactly what we had to do with our newfound freedom.
It wasn’t uncommon for cars equipped with vacuum wipers to have a vacuum source other than the engine’s intake manifold at one point in time. Buicks from the 1950s featured a vacuum pump that was driven from the bottom of the oil pump, and a manufactured electric vacuum unit known as the Electro-Vac that was available for purchase. A dual-diaphragm fuel pump, on the other hand, was the most typical source of additional vacuum in those days. One such pump was installed in our car’s original engine. One component was responsible for delivering fuel to the engine, while another portion (together with manifold vacuum) was responsible for operating the windshield wiper motor.
Although a dual diaphragm fuel pump was used in this instance, vacuum wipers were only marginally effective, and in this particular instance, a lumpy cammed, dual quad equipped 392 powered by an electric fuel pump was located in the engine bay, so there was no other source of suction than the intake manifold. When you combine that with a worn-out wiper motor, it was clear that it was time to upgrade.
Using the wiper system, which included an optional delay switch, we spent a couple hours on a sunny afternoon installing it. The mounting bracket and linkage were a perfect fit, and other than the need to locate an accessory terminal on the ignition switch, the wiring was a simple plug-and-play affair. During normal operation, the wiper blades sweep in the same direction as they did originally, and we’ve grown to like the intermittent function. When the skies open up, we can drive with confidence thanks to the new electric wipers; it’s one of the benefits of having wipers that don’t suck in the rain.