A Usable User Manual Is the Key to This Car

DN Staff

March 21, 2014

3 Min Read
A Usable User Manual Is the Key to This Car

As a younger man I was attracted to large, fancy, unique cars. In 1974 I purchased a 1971 Mark 3 Lincoln Continental. It was 5,200 pounds of rolling thunder.

The worst part of owning this car was that it was manufactured when the two-lane highway speed limit was 70 mph, Interstate 80 was 75 mph, and normal speed was anything under 90 mph. By 1974, the speed limit was a maximum of 55 mph everywhere. That speed limit meant the engine was running less that 1,000 RPM and it often bogged down.

The issue of bogging down gave me some trouble early in a trip to my wife's parents house on a cold day. The blower protector overheated because the blower motor was failing. When the protector failed it kicked the blower to maximum. So we took the trip to the parents and back without heat since the fan was automatic with the heater. When we got home I diagnosed the problem -- the heater motor was going out. Since I owned the 1971 shop manuals of every car until recently, this was going to be an easy exercise. I bought the motor and went to the manual. The manual at the time included all Ford products and each subset was handled specifically.

The manuals were about 6-inches tall and included everything from dealer prep to overhauling the transmission (which I did once) to engine rebuild. My problem occurred when the manual did not specifically say how to remove the Mark 3 blower motor. One option was to consider it a Thunderbird, since they shared a body, or a Lincoln Continental. Both were reasonable. The Thunderbird instructions were to effectively lay on the passenger seat with your legs over the back of the seat, looking face up under the dash.

I removed a basket of parts, including getting access to screws in places where an extra arm joint approximately three inches from your wrist would be handy. The Continental instructions started with "brace the hood while you remove the right front fender." After an internal debate I opted for the inverted mechanics method of the Thunderbird. I was lucky I chose to use the Thunderbird instructions instead of the Lincoln Continental instructions. I was able to remove the motor and replace it in a reasonable amount of time.

Producing an effective manual is an art, and the most insignificant slip, inclusion, or in my case exclusion, can cause undue hardship. The car would probably not have a right front fender if I had opted for that method and found out that I had been incorrect. Those were fun days of being able to diagnosis and repair almost every component of any car. Someday I'll get that car out of storage and put in a low-speed rear end and let it rev like it should. Watch out!

Tell us your experiences with Monkey-designed products. Send stories to Lauren Muskett for Made by Monkeys.

Related posts:

Sign up for the Design News Daily newsletter.

You May Also Like