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Fifth Avenue Antique Auto Parts Makes Donation To McPherson College Automotive Restoration Department

Fifth Avenue Antique Auto Parts of Clay Center, Kan., recently made a sizeable donation of original antique automotive training materials to the automotive restoration department of McPherson College.

Curt Goodwin, associate professor of technology, said that they couldn’t give enough thanks to Randy Rundle, owner of Fifth Avenue, for the donation.

“The department is extremely grateful for Fifth Avenue’s donation,” Goodwin said. “This kind of training material is difficult to find in any condition, and the quality of Fifth Avenue’s donation is remarkable.”

Among the donations were items from Cowie Electric Company in Wichita, Kan., which was established in 1917. Until it closed in 2012, Cowie Electric served as a Midwest regional automotive parts distributor and rebuilder of starters, generators, carburetors, magnetos, and all types of automotive electrical parts, with customers in all 50 states.

The company also served as the regional training center location for all of the major automotive manufacturers including Delco-Remy Ignitions, Rochester Carburetors, Wico Magnetos, and dozens of aftermarket companies. Automotive mechanics could attend six-week classes at the Cowie Company location, taught by various manufacturing representatives, to become certified by the those manufacturers.

The donated training materials include 33-1/3 rpm records, filmstrip presentations, 16 mm movies, classroom workbooks, and large flip charts detailing the inner workings of all types of automotive systems manufactured from the late 1920s through the 1960s.

“I found out by accident from a friend living in Wichita that the building was vacant and that all of the 50 plus years of training materials were still upstairs in the old classroom. So I tracked down the building owner and bought all of the training materials that were left,” Randy Rundle said. “I was happy to support the school with this contribution.”

Brian Martin, director of auto restoration projects at McPherson College, said these materials are a wonderful resource.

“For students to have access to original teaching materials from 70 years ago is really valuable,” he said. “These materials will be used and appreciated for many years to come.”