Those of you unfamiliar with the definition of “Base Model” in the 60's era would be amused to hear the procedure for turning down the heat in a 1961 Ford F100. This isn’t even the lowest of base models; it has a V8 and real honest-to-goodness, shift-on-the-floor, hairy-chested Four Wheel Drive. That’s where the options stop.

Now, there is a heater control valve; it’s located on the intake manifold where the heater hose exits with nice piping hot coolant to warm your little toes in the colder months, or just all the time because the ducting isn’t exactly “tight.” Nor is the cab, so actually a little heat is welcome even on a cool summer evening. But not the kind of heat I was experiencing.

After driving this truck into the warmer months of May and June here in New Hampshire, I had resorted to stuffing a rag into the heat outlet near my right foot. This brings me back to “how to turn down the heat.” I bet you can guess. Step one, pull over. Step two, lift hood. Step three, turn off heater control valve (or set to desired position) by turning the valve like a garden hose faucet. Yeah, so I installed a more modern valve from a 70's pickup that you could control from inside the cab with any old control cable you have lying around, which you do if you own vehicles like this.

But yet, my feet continued to BAKE even with the heat “off.” I’m not willing to shut off the main valve completely because I do like some warm air in the cooler evenings, you know? Also not willing to pull over for minor comfort adjustments. Call me spoiled. So one day, I’m driving across town to the dump at a leisurely pace and I was able to look around in the cab a little. And I notice this little detail I’ve not seen before, despite it having passed through my general field of view dozens - if not hundreds - of times at this point.


I was more focused on systems like fuel, brakes, lights, seat betls, to notice this really obvious feature right here.

And I said, HEY! THAT looks a LOT like a duct valve/flap attached to a cable. Where does that cable go?! And I mean, there are not a lot of options, here. The controls on the dash are Vent, Wipers, Lights, Flashers, Choke (not functional), Blower. And now my heater control in the middle (see below). I know what you’re thinking, it’s the Vent knob, dummy! Nope, that’s a little side vent which is awesome for bringing in fresh air. But nothing to do with the middle heating duct, or anything heat-related.


you can see my added control right on the steering column. Not an ideal location but there was a hole drilled there already, so....

So I grabbed the little arm attached to the mystery cable with my hand and moved it over; sure enough, it closed a flap and greatly reduced the heat gun air flow onto my foot. But where was the other end of that cable? No idea. I found out when I went to turn off the blower, and found the blower knob (which rotates for Off - Hi - Low) protruding from the dash by about two inches. WOW DO I FEEL STUPID. From the driver’s seat, you can’t really see where it says PULL FOR DEF on the bottom part of the bezel, but with the knob out, it’s pretty durn obvious, cleatus.


pictured: I feel stupid.

I actually kind of love it. If only the temperature could be controlled with that knob somehow, too, it would be the world’s simplest heat control. Even so, it’s close.


Now back to your regularly scheduled discussion of which new, overly-complex, nannying, cloud-based, proprietary, black-box, land-to-air, passive-aggressive system is making us long for our nice simple cars that we used to have, back in the day.