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Brass Era Carburetor Leaking Gas Question

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For those of you who tour with you brass era car I have a question. Although I have collected these cars for forty-five years, starting in high school, I have only 'recently' started driving and touring them. Currently I am using my 1909 Regal (with a Schebler R on it) and soon a 1912 Buick Model 28 (with a Schebler L I believe). Now I know that brass era cars are notorious for oil leaks, and these two leak also but not too bad. My question and concern is that after running the car, either standing still or after a drive, when I shut off the car gas leaks from the carburetor. I get a small pool under the car and then it usually stops. Both of these are updraft carburetors. I will also soon have an IHC J-30 ready to run and it too has an updraft Schebler. I have been told by a few Model T friends, and a professional restorer, that some gas leakage upon shut off is more or less normal. Do you who drive brass era cars have the same situation if you have an updraft carburetor? Is this something to have a serious concern about and, if so, how does one fix it or, is this just a normal situation with an updraft and I should just 'go with the flow' so to speak?

Just curious but, are there any modern replacement carburetors to mount for touring purposes? Any suggestions on that?

Thank you indeed! Thomas Edfors at brasscars@charter.net

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If you are on a tour, with other brass era cars, won't they ALL be 'marking' their parking spots? The only place I'd have any concern would be when I drive the car into the trailer, and I'd then put a diaper under it to soak up the gas, and throw the diaper away.. I don't like gas in enclosed spaces, but out in a parking lot,, it's not a problems...

Don't buy an early car with a 'lost oil' system.. I'm not sure that's the correct term.. some or many early cars had oil systems that were open, or did not have crank seals, or had no oil pan to catch and recirculate the motor oil.. It just dripped on the ground, and all over the underside of the car.. Can you imagine the mess that would make of a parking space or the floor of your trailer??

GLong

Edited by GLong (see edit history)

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If you are on a tour, with other brass era cars, won't they ALL be 'marking' their parking spots? The only place I'd have any concern would be when I drive the car into the trailer, and I'd then put a diaper under it to soak up the gas, and throw the diaper away.. I don't like gas in enclosed spaces, but out in a parking lot,, it's not a problems...

Don't buy an early car with a 'lost oil' system.. I'm not sure that's the correct term.. some or many early cars had oil systems that were open, or did not have crank seals, or had no oil pan to catch and recirculate the motor oil.. It just dripped on the ground, and all over the underside of the car.. Can you imagine the mess that would make of a parking space or the floor of your trailer??

GLong

I have installed shut off valves on all my gas lines that are easy to get to and shut off when I stop for a while

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Oh yeh, me too. but I think the OP is refering to the little bit of fuel that is in the intake, in suspension in any updraft car when running, It will condense on the intake and carb body, and drain down the drip out on the ground..

I have shut off valves on all gravity feed or pressure feed cars. The Stewart Warner vacuum tanks work very well, but gravity never sleeps, so the old needle and seats in the carbs have to be perfect, or the relentless gravity fuel pressure will eventually overfill the carb's float bowl, and then flood the carb and engine..

The Chandler has a pressure feed fuel system, so I usually just vent the pressure when I shut it down.

Mu cars with 'normal' mechanical fuel pumps and down draft carbs are not a problem: no engine rotation: no fuel pressure, if the needle/seat does leak a bit, the fuel is in the intake manifold..

GLong

I do have to say, that I am tired of opening the hood and turning off the gas every time I stop on a tour, or when out running around. But the brass needle/seats in the old round donut style float system with the center needle just are not perfect. They can look perfect, but will still seep a tiny bit of gasoline, and will eventually flood.. I do have one carb that does not leak.. and even using a 20x loupe, I can't tell the difference between this needle/seat and the other three identical carburetors that do slowly leak..

It's just part of the 'charm' of old cars.

GLong

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Don't buy an early car with a 'lost oil' system.. I'm not sure that's the correct term.. some or many early cars had oil systems that were open, or did not have crank seals, or had no oil pan to catch and recirculate the motor oil.. It just dripped on the ground, and all over the underside of the car.. Can you imagine the mess that would make of a parking space or the floor of your trailer??

GLong

Such a oil system is called Total Loss oiling system.

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For those of you who tour with you brass era car I have a question. Although I have collected these cars for forty-five years, starting in high school, I have only 'recently' started driving and touring them. Currently I am using my 1909 Regal (with a Schebler R on it) and soon a 1912 Buick Model 28 (with a Schebler L I believe). Now I know that brass era cars are notorious for oil leaks, and these two leak also but not too bad. My question and concern is that after running the car, either standing still or after a drive, when I shut off the car gas leaks from the carburetor. I get a small pool under the car and then it usually stops. Both of these are updraft carburetors. I will also soon have an IHC J-30 ready to run and it too has an updraft Schebler. I have been told by a few Model T friends, and a professional restorer, that some gas leakage upon shut off is more or less normal. Do you who drive brass era cars have the same situation if you have an updraft carburetor? Is this something to have a serious concern about and, if so, how does one fix it or, is this just a normal situation with an updraft and I should just 'go with the flow' so to speak?

Just curious but, are there any modern replacement carburetors to mount for touring purposes? Any suggestions on that?

Thank you indeed! Thomas Edfors at brasscars@charter.net

Tom,

I have 12 Buick model 35 with new Zenith carb that will do the same thing sometimes as did a Tillitson that was on it before as does my Dad's Model T. It usually is when the car has been sitting for a while. After I drive it, it usually stops leaking. While my Dad's T will always stop with a tap near the float area, the carb on the buick does not always stop with a tap. I suggest installing a shut off near the carb which still means lifting the hood but better than crawing under the car each time. I always shut it off if I am not going to near the car for a while or towing or at home in the garage.

Tom Muth

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Thomas, After 50 years of working on early cars with updrafts I have found that many of them do this. Unless the needle and seat is leaking, what is happening is unused fuel in the intake manifold and the throat of the carb leaks out as it has no were else to go but to drain downward. If as you mention "I get a small pool under the car and then it usually stops." this is normal but is should be a small spot maybe only 2-3" in diameter.

It is not a bad idea to get in the habit of also shutting the gas off anytime the car is not being used, even for a short time, as if the needle and seat start to leak for any reason and the car is unattended it can continue until the gas tank is empty on any gravity feed system.

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Best fix is to add heat either to the incoming air with a hot air stove on the exhaust manifold or to the carburetor/ intake manifold if either have a jacket for water heating. The other benefit beyond no longer dripping will be the engine will run better.

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Don't buy an early car with a 'lost oil' system.. I'm not sure that's the correct term.. some or many early cars had oil systems that were open, or did not have crank seals, or had no oil pan to catch and recirculate the motor oil.. It just dripped on the ground, and all over the underside of the car..GLong

As mentioned above, its a "total loss" system but in most cases that does not mean there were no seals or oil pan. (Only the very earliest cars, before 1900, just dumped the oil on the ground. The 1899 Panhard chassis I had years ago had an enclosed engine, transmission and differential. The seals were either felt (which worked well and stayed in use well into the 1920 or 30s) or some sort of braided cord (If I remember correctly, these were in use well into the 30s also).

Any car with a separate "oiler" has a total loss system. The oiler is a pump that directed oil to the main bearings, pistons and timing gears. It is arguably a more "positive" system than splash lubrication. The problem is, it wasn't a "recirculating" pump so the oil pan would eventually overfill. Usually there is a gage of some sort or a threaded plug that can be removed, with the overflow running out on to the ground. Though no longer PC, in period I doubt anyone gave it a second thought. This probably describes about 90% of the cars made up to 08 or 09, by which time the recirculating pump was coming in. Total loss has its advantages. The engine is always running clean oil and in the day when the quality of lubricating oil was quite low, this was important. The oiler was adjusted to give x number of drips per line per minute and oil use was predictable although probably most people set them too fast. The more common problem was over oiling... people didn't drain the crankcase and constantly left puddles and an oily cloud in their wake but this was seen a being better than having the engine rebuilt. Very few owners of brass cars had any mechanical knowledge. Most didn't know how to drive when they bought their first car. Running them took a lot of attention but they work well within their limitations.

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Don't buy an early car with a 'lost oil' system.. I'm not sure that's the correct term.. some or many early cars had oil systems that were open, or did not have crank seals, or had no oil pan to catch and recirculate the motor oil.. It just dripped on the ground, and all over the underside of the car..GLong

As mentioned above, its a "total loss" system but in most cases that does not mean there were no seals or oil pan. (Only the very earliest cars, before 1900, just dumped the oil on the ground. The 1899 Panhard chassis I had years ago had an enclosed engine, transmission and differential. The seals were either felt (which worked well and stayed in use well into the 1920 or 30s) or some sort of braided cord (If I remember correctly, these were in use well into the 30s also).

Any car with a separate "oiler" has a total loss system. The oiler is a pump that directed oil to the main bearings, pistons and timing gears. It is arguably a more "positive" system than splash lubrication. The problem is, it wasn't a "recirculating" pump so the oil pan would eventually overfill. Usually there is a gage of some sort or a threaded plug that can be removed, with the overflow running out on to the ground. Though no longer PC, in period I doubt anyone gave it a second thought. This probably describes about 90% of the cars made up to 08 or 09, by which time the recirculating pump was coming in. Total loss has its advantages. The engine is always running clean oil and in the day when the quality of lubricating oil was quite low, this was important. The oiler was adjusted to give x number of drips per line per minute and oil use was predictable although probably most people set them too fast. The more common problem was over oiling... people didn't drain the crankcase and constantly left puddles and an oily cloud in their wake but this was seen a being better than having the engine rebuilt. Very few owners of brass cars had any mechanical knowledge. Most didn't know how to drive when they bought their first car. Running them took a lot of attention but they work well within their limitations.

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Turn gas shutoff to off position, but let engine idle until it starves and dies. Then turn off ignition. There is no gas in carb. To leak on ground. Works on my old John Deere.

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My 1913 Buick has a Total Loss Oil System, but it does have a collection pan with drain valves. So I can capture the used oil after I empty a quart container into the fresh oil sump. So, don't discount all brass cars with this oiling system.

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I guess I should not have worded my comment about the 'Total Loss Oil System' quite the way I did. [thanks for the correct name]

To put my comment in context, I was intending to point out to Tom, the original poster, that his concerns about a small wet spot or puddle of gasoline under his car from his carburetor was very minor compared to other drips and puddles under many cars.

I do know now that my 'carte-blanche' comment about the oil systems could be interpreted as a rather negative comment about the early lubrication systems, my intent was NOT to 'slam' the early cars or their oil systems. But to point out to Tom, that many early cars left plenty of spots underneath when parked.

ONe of the many things about owning and operating an old car is you have to get into a different mindset, both to own, repair and drive the old machinery.

My first contact with a 'total loss' system was with an early [i hope my memory is correct] Packard, I can't remember now what year, probably 1910, or '11. It sat next to a 1912 48hp Pierce in a collectors showroom. I thought the Packard was very interesting, attractive and and being much smaller than the Pierce, it looked like it would be much more fun and manageable to drive. So I asked the owner which was his favorite, and if he had to sell one, which one would go.. His comment was he'd sell the Packard, that it had an oil system that did not have an oil collection pane pan and it was messy, that it lost oil while it was driven. He pointed out the big deep drip pan under the car.

He showed me tha oil system on the Pierce, it had an oil pan, which had an oil pump that merely pumped the oil up into an oil reservoir above the engine, where the oil gravity fed to the engine main bearings. He told me that Pierce went to a more conventional full pressure oil system in '13 or '14. Yet another bit of automotive history, and stepping stone in improving technology in the day.

Many years later, I was on one of the MODOC tours out west, there were several early motorcycles, as well as several early cars, and they all left a real noticeable 'mark' on the road or parking lot where ever they were parked..

I spoke with one motorcycle driver, about his machine, and how it rode etc.. he said that the biggest problem was the poor brakes, due to the 'total lost oil system'.. I said I had noticed the many drips under the motorcycle, and he said the engine had no seals on the crankcase, that the the tank he pointed to was the oil reservoir for the engine, and when it was being ridden down the road, that the oil leaked back onto the chain, the tire, wheel, and worst: the brake lining and hub. it had an external contracting band rear brake. The owner said that the best option for the old motorcycles was a front brake that stayed oil free, and actually had friction.

I then noticed that his 'chaps' that I thought were more for 'show', ie: period attire for the tour, were funtional, they kept much of the oil off his clothes. But his shoes and socks were rather soaked.. His motorcycle may have been an exceptionally juicy one, but it has stuck in my feeble memory.

So I apologize to anyone who I may have upset with my comment, I certainly did NOT intend to demean any of the early cars.. And to be honest, I have some not-as-early cars with full oil pans, seals, recirculating oil systems, and I leave as big a mess at each parking spot I put them in.. and make a mess on my trailer's floor.

I'd be quite pleased to own one of these interesting early cars, with a 'Total Loss System'.. Another bit of auto history to learn more about.

And, Hey, I flew an old Hawker business jet that had, believe it or not, a similar lubrication system, the 'Viper' jet engine, had rear bearing that did not have a seal, the lost oil was burnt in the tailpipe by the jet exhaust. Sso the standing joke for this very antiquated jet plane was 'fill the oil, and check the fuel quantity'.. Much like flying many of the old radial engined prop airplanes.. They used a lot of lubrication oil.

GLong

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Best fix is to add heat either to the incoming air with a hot air stove on the exhaust manifold or to the carburetor/ intake manifold if either have a jacket for water heating. The other benefit beyond no longer dripping will be the engine will run better.

Layden, That used to work real well, but since ethanol has been added to our gas I have have nothing but problems with the carb heat causing vapor lock and even fuel boiling in the float bowl after shut-down in the warm summer months. Have you found a way around it? I have tried adding kerosene to the gas to lower the boiling point on several vehicles but it did not end the problem.

As soon as I removed the carb heat, the problem has always gone away.

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"Less is more" or maybe just better! It is very easy to get too much heat. Just a very little heated air does the job especially here in California with low humidity. Most original hot air systems have an air bleed for control but it often still gives too much heat even when full open. Yes I have seen the glass bowl of my Stromberg carburetor look like a glass of Champagne! Try making the hot air stove on the exhaust manifold fit less well or add holes in the flex pipe from the stove to the carb (big holes). Water heated carbs and water ( or exhaust gas) heated manifolds are harder to control and are much more prone to trouble as the amount of heat doesn't follow the engine speed very well.

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