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Thread: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

  1. #1
    Senior Member dei's Avatar
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    PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    I know this forum is about cars but could not resist! I went to the Sloan Museum Auto Fair (June 27th, Michigan) and saw this incredible boat with four Packard V12's built in 1932! They reproduced the paper / press release and stated that this boat clocked at 124.91 miles per hour and used 70 gallons of gas to set this record in a half an hour!
    Not being an engineer or true motor head found it fascinating and exciting to see what was done back then! Just have to wonder what those guys could do with the technology today?
    If you notice on the left of the boat several Oldsmobile' s that Hurst performance produced. This show had everything from brass cars to street rods to boats and I will make it a must for next year!
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  2. #2

    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    Impressive! those look like airplane engines, I'd love to hear that thing running!
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  3. #3
    Senior Member keiser31's Avatar
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    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    I bet you need hearing protection to run that beast!
    1931 Dodge Brothers DH6 business coupe w/ wire wheels
    1931 Dodge Brothers DH6 business coupe w/ wood wheels (my 1st car and still have it)
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  4. #4

    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    The Packard Motor Co. is best known for its "super-luxury" cars. Sadly, it is not as well-known for its incredible contributions, far out of proportion to its corporate size, to engineering - establishing standards for drafting, machining, etc.

    That is why it, for many years, Packard correctly used asits advertising slogan "master motor builders". What you saw in that boat was just one example of the wide variety of incredibly high quality over-head valve and over-head CAM - yes, OVER HEAD CAM engines they designed and produced, clear up to their failure as a business in the mid 1950's.

    Absent a closer and more detailed photo, my best guess is that what you saw was something from their product line of marine engines from the 1920's.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Jim Rohn's Avatar
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    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    thanks for posting that, that boat is spectacular ! I would have to agree that those are aircraft / marine engines, certainly not passenger car engines
    Last edited by Jim Rohn; July 8th, 2009 at 20:59.
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    Senior Member dei's Avatar
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    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    Kind of wished I had taken a few more pictures for details too. I`m a pleasure boater also along with my many car interests as is my 20 year old son who is currently taking mechanical engineering. When I showed him the pics we spent a couple of hours discussing how this development could take place (to him) way back then. I made the comment to him that yes while we have incredible technology at our disposal today, where is the foundation of where things developed from. He was truly intrigued to think that the capability to put this package together happened so many years ago. Wish in hind site he had been with me to see it in person.
    One other interesting thing about the boat, where I took the pic was outside the transom (back of the boat) on a platform the group provided for viewing. The two drivers backs literally rested on this 4inch (padded of course) wood hull! It really would have been SOME RIDE!

  7. #7

    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Rohn View Post
    . . . .! I would have to agree that those are airplane engines, certainly not passenger car engines
    = = = = =

    O.K...I'll "bite"....why would you "have to" agree ? Almost POSITIVE those Packard motors were NOT from their aviation product line.

    Absent photos with closer detail, those engines were probably from Packard Motor Co. extensive line of marine engines.

    Best as I can tell, each one is a "4M2500" meaning TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED CUBIC INCHES of super-charged Packard power !

    As a side note, the Packard V-12 passenger car engines bore NO resemblence to their commercial line. No reason for them to.

    Think what kind of typical buyer Packard was shooting for, for its largest, most powerful luxury cars. What would be their typical age and social bracket. NOT the kind of people who were "car buffs" as we are today.

    They wanted to be distanced as far as possible from the mechanical world. That dictated they would want SIMPLE engines that were QUIET, and could be geared so they could be driven with as little shifting as possible.

    This is not to detract from the automotive V-12, which had some pretty neet "hot rod" tricks engineered into it - such as a wedge shaped combustion chamber, over-sized cooling system for extreme speeds in extreme weather, wedge-shaped pistons, "angled" valves with BOTH intake and exhaust manifolds designed for FAR freerer breathing than ANYTHING of that era (with the exception of the "J" Dusenburgs). etc.

    Some guy showed up at the LOS ANGELES CONCOURSE D ELEGANCE last month with a hot rod that looked something like a '32 Ford "low-boy". Cept it was about 30 ft long, and had under its hood an engine very similar, if not identical, to the above picture. Talk about needing ear plugs !
    Last edited by Trunk Rack; July 8th, 2009 at 15:35.

  8. #8

    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    Packard was heavily involved in Gold Cup speedboat racing. Jesse Vincent, Gar Wood, and Chris Smith. The marine engines were just that, but the design was certainly influenced by Vincent's work on Liberty aircraft engines.

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    Senior Member durant28's Avatar
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    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    Wasn't it Packard engines that powered the PT boats of WWII?
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    Senior Member keiser31's Avatar
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    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    One of my books says "The company switched to war production in late 1941. Their engines powered British and American ships and planes, making one of the most significant contributions of any automobile manufacturer to the Allied victory."
    1931 Dodge Brothers DH6 business coupe w/ wire wheels
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  11. #11

    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    Quote Originally Posted by keiser31 View Post

    One of my books says ."
    = = = = =

    That's the problem. LOTS of books say LOTS of things. Then well-meaning guys decide since they saw it in a book, must be true.

    Then they run across someone who has actually worked on something they READ about, and he explains to them that they were mis-lead - that what they read is so much hogwash, they take offense. I am no expert; hopefully, someone who knows Packard's commercial division products well will take over and get us squared away. But here's some thoughts from an ole wrench-turner....

    Yeah - there are a lot of similiaties between the World War I "Liberty" Engines" and the Packard marine engines that you see in that photo, (wish we had better detailed photos so I could figure out what I am looking at). Yeah - right. BALONEY!

    Packard's various divisions designed and built splendid motors for various applications in both surface and air machines . But what is the relationship between the World War I "Liberty", and the later products ?

    They had cylinders, pistons, a V-12 layout, and a data plate that said PACKARD MOTOR CO ! And that's about it !

    The story of Packard's brilliant contributions to automotive engineering, including the first certified radial aircraft DIESEL engine, makes interesting reading IF you can find legit. sources from people who know what they are talking about. Good luck trying to sort out the nonsence from the real-world facts.

    As noted earlier, Packard had cross-flow induction, over-head cams, and all kinds of other hi performance "tricks" in production way back in the World War ONE era.

    Incidentally, if you are trying to figure out which Packard division product you are looking at, here's some things that can tell you:

    1) FINAL DRIVE - The airplane engines had provisions for a propellor on the front of the crankshaft.

    The marine division engines were sold with a reduction gear case assembly already attached to the BACK of the engine, ah la automotive practice. The factory photos match the installations I have seen - these things came WITH a big marine reduction-gear transmission, again, attached to a bell-housing type mounting arrangement at the rear of the engine casting that the motors designed for aircraft had no provision for.

    2) INDUCTION - (air intake) The aviation-designed engines had their induction (carbs and/or supercharger intake) typically sucking air from BELOW. The marine engines (take a look at the photo - you will see the intake stacks for the superchargers, typical of the later MARINE div. design. drawing air from ABOVE.

    AFTER World War II, lots of World War II AIRCRAFT V-12's from both GM and Packard were 'converted' to be used in all kinds of weird applications, not just race-boats. Those engines did not exist during the time period the engines in this photo are supposedly from.

    The marine division engine blocks were SO much heavier per horsepower than the aircraft-based designs. Rather doubt if any racer would have chosen them for any civilian sport /marine racing application after the war, when the MUCH LIGHTER per lb/hp. aircraft engines became avail.

    As for an aircraft application, it would not be at all practical to take the VERY different & way-too-heavy marine Packard V-12 engines and put em in an aircraft.

    As side-note, studied the photo again. I remain puzzled by the photo and what era that boat is from. A modified restoration? Orig. engines "swapped"..? ? ? The dash instruments are confusing - appear to be a "mix" of both early PRE-war and some late 30's or even World War II style aviation-style indicators. very common to see that amongst serious boat racers.

    I cant tell from the photograph (at least as it appears on my screen) whether the valve covers have a "bump" for an over-head cam (, which would definitely "date" those engines as early post World War I - 1920's).

    I am also puzzled by what appear to be "dry stacks". My VERY limited knowledge of early big engine racing competition (way before my time! ) is most race rules REQUIRED water-cooled exhaust. Not sure about that - but many (again, not all) photographs of big race-boats of that era clearly show water-cooled manifolds. This photo looks like relatively modern-style stainless steel header pipes. ? ? ? ?

    Those Packard water-cooled exhaust manifolds were HEAVY HEAVY HEAVY, so if the rules permitted it, damn right someone would have taken em off !
    Last edited by Trunk Rack; July 8th, 2009 at 20:27.

  12. #12
    Senior Member keiser31's Avatar
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    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    That is why I said "my book says". I did not say I knew it to be the gospel truth.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member Jim Rohn's Avatar
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    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    so sorry to ruffle your feathers

    will not do it again
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    Senior Member keiser31's Avatar
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    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    Quote Originally Posted by keiser31 View Post
    That is why I said "my book says". I did not say I knew it to be the gospel truth.
    My comment here was for Trunk Rack....I think "got up on the wrong side of the bed" applies here.
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  15. #15

    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    nobody should get ruffled feathers over chatting about matters of historical interest ! Dont be so sensitive. DO be skeptical ! Cool, dispasionate critical analysis - help us all learn better !

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    Senior Member dei's Avatar
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    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    Ladies and Gentlemen,
    With several points well taken I will state again that I wish I had taken more pictures for detail sake (hind site is always 20/20). The information I received was only a hand out of the 1932 reprint from the Algonac Courier paper dated September 16, 1932 and has nothing technical about specific engine specs but more about the fact of setting a new speed record with driver Gar Wood and co-pilot Orlin Johnson. Just to maybe aid anyone that would like to follow up on more information here is the wed site of the group that put this boat on display Algonac/Clay Township Historical Society Home Page (Algonac/Clay Township Historical Society). Their e-mail address is achs@algonac-clay-history.com
    I can't speak to any restoration/recreation issues here as I did not see anyone at the time that appeared to be talking about it just grabbed one of the hand outs. With over 700 cars and a swap meet plus meeting at another show two hours away I'm guilty of being in a hurry and only captured a pic when coming upon this boat which I had not expected to see here.
    I'd like to agree with Trunk Rack that more information on this boat will help me learn more and better, Doug.

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    Super Moderator R W Burgess's Avatar
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    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    "That's the problem. LOTS of books say LOTS of things. Then well-meaning guys decide since they saw it in a book, must be true.

    That is why I said "my book says". I did not say I knew it to be the gospel truth.

    so sorry to ruffle your feathers
    will not do it again

    My comment here was for Trunk Rack....I think "got up on the wrong side of the bed" applies here.

    nobody should get ruffled feathers over chatting about matters of historical interest ! Dont be so sensitive. DO be skeptical ! Cool, dispasionate critical analysis - help us all learn better !"


    Gentlemen, this is supposed to be fun. Don't take every statement so seriously. Hopefully, no one will have to appear in court to prove or disprove their statements!


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    Last edited by R W Burgess; July 9th, 2009 at 10:39. Reason: corrections

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    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    Miss America X was built by Gar Wood for the 1932 Harmsworth Trophy race which she won, she also won in 1933.*

    She was powered by 4 Packard 1m2500 engines.*

    She still exists and is owned by a private collector.*

    Can you imagine the condition of the driver and his rideing mechanic after sitting behind those open stacks at full throttle? Must have been deaf for hours after.

    By the way, most if not all unlimited class boats ran with open stacks all the way into the 80's when turbines became the power of choice, hence the name Thunder Boats. I personaly miss the noise at the races.

    * Packards at Speed, R.J. Neal

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    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    Quote Originally Posted by durant28 View Post
    Wasn't it Packard engines that powered the PT boats of WWII?
    Yes, PT boats were powered by 3 Packard V12 engines. The PT boats were built for speed and had very little protection. Their defense speed and stealth. They would quietly sneak up on their targets at night on the center engine. Then when they were within range, they'd launch 2 torpedos, turn around and open up all 3 V12s and blast out of there as fast as possible.

  20. #20
    Senior Member abh3usn's Avatar
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    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    I have a picture of a Packard PT boat engine that I saw at the Warren, OH musem. Of course posting that would require documentation, cirtified letters and the like. Very impressive del thanks for sharing. -Steve
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  21. #21

    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    Quote Originally Posted by durant28 View Post
    Wasn't it Packard engines that powered the PT boats of WWII?
    Yes, they were Packard engines and the 4M2500's pictured at the top of this thread were the ones in them (and there were two of them in each boat).

  22. #22
    Senior Member Jim Rohn's Avatar
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    Re: PACKARD V12 ENGINES

    Quote Originally Posted by abh3usn View Post
    I have a picture of a Packard PT boat engine that I saw at the Warren, OH musem. Of course posting that would require documentation, cirtified letters and the like. Very impressive del thanks for sharing. -Steve
    ???? huh ???

    anything that is on public display can be photographed and YOUR photograph can be posted anywhere you want (other than for commercial uses)

    post em here!
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