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Help needed with a 1939 Dodge D-11 Deluxe


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Greetings all,

I just came into a '39 Dodge Luxury Liner 4dr sedan. It is completely original, and is in pretty darn good shape for it's age. Body and frame are rock solid. It has been in storage since 1990, and has not been turned over since it was parked in 1990. It is all complete, but needs some work. I want to restore it and keep it as original. The engine is stuck, what is the best way to free it up? Currently I have pulled the spark plugs and poured a few cap fulls of Marvel Mystery Oil in each cylinder and have been letting them soak.

Second, electrically it appears to be needing work as well. No lights, no wipers, no panel lights when I hook up a good battery. Brakes go to the floor, one rear wheel is stuck and won't turn. Clutch does not engage or disengage. Where should I start?

Any help appreciated!

Regards;

Dan

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BE patient. Let the MM oil work a few days and don't force the engine to turn over. The clutch disc may be rusted to the flywheel, not a big deal. WHile the engine is still stuck prop the pedal in and put the trans in gear. Gentally rock the car by hand front and back, might free it up. Fix the electric one wire at a time, checking with a test light or ohm meter.

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I appreciate the reply. I notice that you are in PA, this car came out of PA. In fact there is still a PA inspection sticker from 1956-57 in the windshield. The owners manual, warranty card, warranty paper, and dealer brochure are all still in the glove box. It's up here in New York now, I'm the 3rd owner, with 64,000 miles on the odometer.

When you say prop the pedal, you mean prop the clutch pedal in so it is disengaged?

One person up here told me I should try pulling it with my tractor, another told me I should pull the starter and see if I can get access to the fly wheel teeth and try a pry bar.

Dan

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I think what he is saying, put it in gear and if you rock it back and forth while it is in gear. It will gradually free up the stuck trans, while pulling it with a tractor is probably to aggressive, and break something, and while prying the flywheel might break a tooth or bend the flywheel. Good luck with the project. Lets a least see a picture.

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Here ya go, here are some pics;

http://i171.photobucket.com/albums/u308/dahoude/Dodge/Dodge001.jpg

http://i171.photobucket.com/albums/u308/dahoude/Dodge/Dodge003.jpg

http://i171.photobucket.com/albums/u308/dahoude/Dodge/Dodge004.jpg

http://i171.photobucket.com/albums/u308/dahoude/Dodge/Dodge006.jpg

http://i171.photobucket.com/albums/u308/dahoude/Dodge/Dodge008.jpg

http://i171.photobucket.com/albums/u308/dahoude/Dodge/Dodge009.jpg

http://i171.photobucket.com/albums/u308/dahoude/Dodge/Dodge010.jpg

Mice and rats had a party inside. I had to vacuum out quite a bit of droppings, acorn shells, bones, and stuff. The interior is not bad, but they chewed a nice hole up in the headliner near the rear window package tray, and there is a big hole chewed through the kick panel on the drivers side. The seats are not too bad, but the drivers seat definitely needs work. Trunk is solid, jack and tools are still inside, original spare is there. It has the optional heater mounted under the dash, but it is a radio delete model.

Dan

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By holding in the clutch pedal and putting the trans in second or third gear you will have lots of SOFT leverage rocking by hand. The tractor doesn't know when to quit, could break something. When the disc comes free and the engine runs, the clutch will still be grabby until the clutch plate and flywheel get shined up. Looks like a pretty nice car from the pics, the paint will probably clean up. Seems to have the same poor aim at the garage opening every other old car had. Dryer sheets are supposed to help with the mouse smell.

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I find that automatic transmission fluid works better then marval oil and I would put in about a cup if the cyc. will take it. The ones that are at the top of the stroke will take less. While you are waiting to free it up drain the pan and put stoppard solvent or kerosane in it to free up the sludge. After it sits for a week drain it and blow air in your oil pressure gage hole to make sure that the oil pump filter is not fully clogged. Fill your points so it will be easier to start. When you do get it freeded up leave the plugs out and turn the engine over slowly to make sure eveerthing is loose and the bearings are not stuck or that the valve train is not hung up.

Above all take more pictures. have fun

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I really appreciate all the help and advice. My oldest car before this one was a 1966 Ford Fairlane 500 Convertible, and it ran when I bought it so all really did with it was a new top, carpeting, some body work and some paint. Sold that car after owning it about 15 years. My other current passions (projects) are my 1949 Case Model SC tractor that I am restoring, and my old outboards, a 1952 Mercury and an old Scott Atwater. This '39 Dodge is by far my biggest undertaking.

I poured ATF in the cylinders today and I am letting them soak. Another problem I have is that one rear wheel will not rotate, I am assuming frozen brakes? Until I get both rear wheels to turn freely I guess I cannot rock it back and forth. My neighbor is an exterminator by trade, and she said the same thing about the dryer sheets! Thanks again all.

Dan

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Put the car in neutral and then rock it. You should be able to free up the rear drum without freeing up the engine. As long as you have it in neutral and the one wheel will turn you can even drag it with your tractor. Get some penetrating oil with a straw and swuirt it from the back between the drum and shoe. Unless you have a locked up axle bearing it should free up. Get a bottle of frabreeze and use it on your interior. They also make a product call urine away which you might try.

Lots of luck

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Sprayed some PB Blaster between the drum and the backer plate, sprayed a lot of it. Let it sit a bit then tried dragging it with the 4x4 in 4 wheel low. Took it down the driveway about 100 feet towing it by the rear, then 100 feet back towing by the front. No dice. Wouldn't break free. Three wheels are turning, the passenger side rear still does not.

Dan

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I am not familar with that model but most cars have a brake adjustment that you shoudl try and back off. The reason the towing didn't work is your differential allowed the other side to turn without putting any load on the other wheel. See if you can back off the brake drum first and then try it again. If all else fails take a piece of steel and drill holes to fit the lug bolts. Intall the nuts and use it as a lever to rotate the wheel.

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Hey Dan, there should be 4 different adjustments on the differential side of the backing plate, if your '39 is like the '38. You should only need to turn the top two. To back off the brake shoes the one toward the front of the car should be turned clockwise and the one toward the rear of the car should be turned counter-clockwise, both as you look at the differential side of the backing plate. The bottom two should be the brake shoe anchor bolts, and if my memory is corect, you don't want to mess with them, as they are a headache to re-adjust. You have to take the drum off to do so.

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I had a 1939 Dodge Luxury Liner couple of years ago . It was stored in a barn since 1959 BUT the owner had put some oil to cylinders every once in a while. Starter needed some work and after oil change - IT RAN AND QUITE WELL!

39lato2.JPG

I might still have some literature left..

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Okay, today was a good day! Took the advice about the adjuster bolts on the backer plate. There was indeed four bolts just as you said. I turned the top two just as described, sprayed some PB Blaster, and tapped with a ball peen hammer around the drum. Tried pulling it with truck, and voila! Wheel is free now! MUCH appreciated!

Mika, that is a nice looking car in your pic! Looks to be in great shape indeed, and it even runs! (more than I can say about mine right now, but some day...)

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That sounds encourageing. Turn it over lots of times to circulate oil. I think I would change it even before it runs, maybe something extra light. Especially , depending how much penetrating oil you put in each cylinder. CAn you take an oil line off at the filter to make sure of good flow?

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I've still got some work ahead before I can try starting it. I do plan on changing the oil obviously, but I also need to get a good battery, I still don't know if the starter cranks or not, may need to be rebuilt. Then I've got fuel system work to do, someone had diconnected the mechanical fuel pump and installed an electric one. I want to get the system back to a mechanical pump. Then there is the fuel line, not sure if that is intact or not. The gas tank seems to be very good, nice and shiny underneath, must had been replaced at some point. The gas in the tank I am sure is no good. The radiator is not connected right now. I need a couple hoses, will probably replace the thermostat, I already found a new radiator cap. Not sure how the water pump is. I want to flush the entire cooling system. Then there is the charging system. I've got lots to do, but I'm on my way!

Dan

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I found a brand new thermostat for it yesterday. I'll be hooking up a battery soon to try cranking it. It appears to me that this car is a positive ground, is that correct? Also, I noticed that the ignition coil only has one side? There is the center tower where the wire comes in from the distributor cap, and then rather than having two electrical terminals, there is only one, one appears to be missing or broke off?

Dan

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I've been enjoying your progression on this project. Looks like your getting some good help. I have a 38 Dodge, which has similar motor. I'm not totally sure on the 39's, but on the 38's the ground is positive. If the coil has one post and is sticking out of the firewall, that post goes to the condenser. This kind of coil has an armored cable going to the ignition switch. One post on the ignition is threaded to the ammeter and the other to the gasoline gauge dash unit. The ignition key is the lock for starting the car.

If the coil is vertical outside the firewall, I would assume one of the posts is broken off. Good luck with your project. I might suggest picking up a service manual for this car if you don't already have one. These cars are fun, but expensive if keep everything original and bring all back to knew looking. Thom

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Thom,

Thanks for your interest and comments. My coil is horizontal and protruding from the firewall just as you described. So I guess that is why I only see the one terminal. I did actually find a 1939 Dodge factory service manual on ebay, it should be arriving here shortly. That manual should be a gold mine of info. Thanks again.

Dan

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Okay, here is where I am at as of today. I removed the old thermostat and did a reverse flush on the engine block water jackets, then I removed all the rotted hoses and flushed out the radiator. You would not BELIEVE the crap that came out of the radiator. The previous owner left the cap off since 1990, so you can only imagine. Nuts, shells, mouse droppings, nesting, etc... To my disbelief the radiator actually has good flow from the top tank to the bottom drain and lower hose.

Today I installed the new thermostat, and I was able to get brand new hoses today, these are the fabric covered rubber ones just like the ones that came off. I also poured a bottle of Prestone radiator cleaner into the radiator, then filled the rest of the way with water and I am letting it soak a bit, then I'll open the drain and let it out.

I also drained the oil engine today and let it drip for about two hours. Then I put in brand new 10w 30. I charged up a battery, and tried the starter, it WORKS! I added about 5oz.s of Sta-Bil to the gas tank, as there is about 3/4 of a tank. Pretty soon I'm going to try to start the old girl.

Dan

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3/4 of a tank of WHAT? If the gas is as old as the car was sitting I wouldn't try to use it. The tank MAY have a drain. If not I'd find a way to get the old gas out, and blow the line out from the tank to the fuel pump. Don't get in a hurry now. This thing is going to run. Is there compression in ALL the cylinders? If you have spark and want to try it, just trickle a small amount of gas into the carb. Were there any chunks that came out when you drained the oil? If there were you may want to drop the pan to make sure it's clean. Even so I'd dump the oil after running it a short while. Do you have a real oil pressure gauge? If not, you could put one in the line to the filter just to verify there is pressure. I've been involved in a few resurrections like this. They sure are fun to hear running the first time.

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Someone at my work place told me that sometimes you can activate the old gas by adding Sta-Bil. So that's not a good idea then I take it.

I don't have a compression tester right here, but my brother does, so I will be borrowing his. It's hard to not get in a hurry!

Regarding chunks in the oil, I did see some globs, so I am going to clean the inside of the pan.

I still need to check for oil pressure, and I still need to find a new filter.

I put a good battery on it, and poured just a tad of fresh gas into the carb and cranked it. No deal... wouldn't fire.

I pulled the coil wire at the distributor, no arching, no spark.

What do you think may be the culprit? Bad coil?

Dan

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My thought is you want everything to be as fresh as possible to eliminate any excuses for this thing to run. My opinion is Sta-bil will not rejuvinate your gas. I THINK it has lengthened the life of some gas for me, like over winter. Best bet is put the old gas in your lawnmower, just in case. My bet is it won't smell like anything you want to use for fuel. Check for fire at the points first,{key on and open points to se them fire} they are probably corroded. The book says you're not supposed to file them. What I do is rub them on a very abrasive cloth. Check them for continuity across the points to make sure you have contact. The coil should not have gone bad by sitting.

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Do not use old gas! It could gum up your motor for good.

Use the sniff test. If it smells like gas it's OK, if it smells like old stinky varnish run away! It will ruin your motor!

I prefer to use a motorboat gas tank for starting old motors, moving cars around etc. That way you know you have fresh clean gas. They are safer than an old tin can and they have a built in fuel pump. You can hook one directly to the carb if the fuel pump is suspect, or hook it to the fuel pump if it is OK.

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I agree do not use the old gas and make sure you dispose of it properly. The fumes will make you sick. I keep an old lawnmower tank around with a shut off valve on it and about two feet of hose which I connect to the gas line where it goes into the fuel pump. I put a tire valve stem on the cap and I can presurezie it if I need to. Make sure you disconnect the oil pressure gage to make sure you have oil coming out of it. You do not want to spin a bearing due to lack of oil pressure. You can back fill the oil pump by using the another lawnmower fuel tank with a valve stem arraingement and connecting it where the oil pressure gage connects and then force oil into the engine which will also prime the pump. Hope this helps.

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I'm going to drain the old gas from the tank then. I think I can just disconnect the fuel line just before the electric fuel pump and get it out that way by gravity. Or better yet, can I disconnect the line after the electric fuel pump and let the pump do the work? I picked up a new set of contact points and a new condenser today, I'll be changing those on Thursday if I get some time.

Dan

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Okay, today's progress...

I installed new points and condenser, along with a new rotor. I got sparks at the points, good sign.

I poured a tad of gas into the carb and she fired and burnt the gas in the carb! Blew a bunch of mouse nesting out the tail pipe.

Okay, new problem... I bent a new steel gas line to run from the fuel pump up to the carb. When I removed the old line from the carb, something fell out of the brass fitting where it connects to the carb. I caught it, but I am not sure how it goes back in? It is a small silver colored metal piece, about a half inch long, with a rounded end on one end and a pointed end on the other. kinda looks like a tiny pencil. Does the pointed end go into the carb or the towards the line? It honestly looks like it could go either way so I am not sure? My service manaul has not arrived yet so I have nothing to reference or look at, so any help would be appreciated.

Also, I ran a piece of new neoprene line from the pump to a gas can, when I crank the engine it does not suck gas, will not pump anything, so I am thinking the fuel pump is bad.

Dan

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Hi There sounds like you have found the needle valve going into your carb. Put it back point first into the carb. To by-pass your faulty fuel pump put a can of gas on the cowl in front of the windscreen and with a flexible fuel resistant hose connect directly into the carb. Allow gravity to feed the carb, and the needle valve should regulate how much enters at any time. Expect a bit of seepage form the carb as old seals have dried out. Follow the wise words about the oil/priming etc. If she fires and revs don't rev it too hard, just let it settle to an idle for a few minutes. Keep us posted this is a great thread you have started !!

Rgds Dave

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a rebuilt fuel pump on the way. I emptied the gas tank today. I've got a few questions;

When I disconnected the line just before the electric fuel pump, which is under the drivers side on the frame rail, nothing poured out? Shouldn't gas have run freely out of the line? I'm thinking I'd better blow air through the line as recommeded to be sure it is clear. Second, the fuel gauge now reads full instead of empty. Someone must have the fuel gauge leads crossed? I definitely have the battery connected with the starter cable going to the negative post and the positive post is grounded to the frame. This car is indeed a positive ground correct?

Dan

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The gas wouldn't necessarily run out. If the highest point on the gas line was above the gas in the tank. But blowing the line out couldn't hurt.

Yes your car is positive ground. Fuel gauges can go on the fritz for any reason or no reason on a car that old. Usually a bad ground or loose wire or bad sender, very seldom does the gauge on the dash give any trouble.

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I blew compessed air into the line today, there seemed to be resistance, not free flow. I'll try blowing into the tank next. Regarding the fuel gauge, the tank looks to be pretty new. I'm wondering if maybe when the new tank was installed, the sending unit leads were wired to be a negative ground? Couldn't this cause the gauge to read backwards?

Dan

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Okay, now I'm confused... I have taken the gas line off at the gas tank, still could not blow air out of the tank. I put the blow gun in the filler neck, wrapped up tight with a rag, nothing would blow out the gas line fitting. At first I thought the line was clogged, so I took the line off. Line is clear. I can run a stiff wire into the fitting hole and into the tank freely. I then pushed a wire coat hanger through the fitting hole and clear into the tank, so I know it's open. Yet still, nothing would blow out, and I could not blow air into the tank from the fitting hole either? Is there some sort of check valve inside that prevents gas from running out in the event of a gas line break? I took the drain plug out, air freely blows out from there when I blow air into the filler neck. I took the sending unit and float out and shined a light down inside and the tank is definitely empty. So I don't understand. I installed new line and called it a day. On another note, the gas gauge leads were indeed crossed at the sending unit, that explains why the gauge was reading full instead of empty.

Dan

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