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Stalling & Not So Hot Re-starting


Chacheska
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Hi folks. I have a '36 Pierce Arrow V12 sedan. As I'm going down the road and make a fast left the car stalls out. What's worse is that when the car is fully warmed up it barely cranks over. I have to let it sit for about an hour before it has enough cranking power to re-start. I bought a brand new battery but it didn't do a thing to alleviate the problem. Whataya think?

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From the sounds of it, you need to make slow left turns to solve the problem. wink.gif" border="0<P>Any chance that when you turn left it either "dumps" the gas out of the carb flooding the engine. What about the gas level in the tank and it not being picked up by the fuel line when it splashes to one side? Also, for the starting it sounds you might need to clean and/or tighen both ends of the battery cables for a start. Any chance the starter is getting too hot?<P>Just some toughts as I'm not familiar with your car.<P>How about filling out your profile at so we have some idea as to where you live. A state would be nice. Thank you and we're glad to have with us on the Discussion Forum.<p>[ 05-27-2001: Message edited by: novaman ]

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Guest Hal Davis (MODEL A HAL)

I have seen carburetors that were loose on the manifold do something similar. At rest, the carb sealed tight enough to the manifold for the car to run, but when turning, accelerating, or decelerating, the forces on the carb made it tilt and leak air at the gasket. This happened twice to a truck I once owned.<P>As for your starting problem. I'd try Novaman's suggestion. It may be time for a starter rebuild, though.

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Make sure your starter cable is for a 6 volt system. If it has ever been replaced with a 12 volt cable, you will have a problem. You have a lot of engine there and need all the current flow you can muster to turn it over. hvs

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Thanks or the great suggestions. I didn't know there was a profile to fill out. I'll look into that. I'm in western N.Y., a great place to be this year as the Pierce Arrow 100 year anniversary is only 20 miles away in Buffalo in July as well as the Buick nationals. The Packard nationals will be in Canandaigua. The '36 Pierce gas tank is full, the cable connections are clean, the starter was rebuilt by the former owner as was the generator, the cable is (I believe) 0 gauge, I don't know if the starter is too hot and I don't know about the carb being sealed against the manifold but will try those suggestions. I got the car with 29,700 original miles on it last fall and put it away for the winter and haven't got it out yet this year to work on it but will soon. It was also suggested that the timing may be off since it runs at 185º when warm. I also read that hard re-starting when hot could be valves. Thanks very much for the tips and come on up for the 100 year Pierce celebration. There will only be one of those in our lifetime!

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These have all been good suggestions for your problems. Let me add an easy way to find a vacuum leak. Start the car,leave it idle, put some gas in a spray bottle and spray around the base of the carb, the intake manifold and everywhere there are some mating surfaces. The engine will speed up if you have a leak. If you're afraid to use gas, use carb cleaner in an aerosol can. it will work just as well. Spray vacuum hoses also. Older hoses crack and we may not see the crack. If you're really worried about using gas or carb cleaner, water in a spray bottle will work too, just not as well.

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Thanks for that tip, Alan. I've used carb cleaner on my 70's vehicles for that very purpose but somehow never applied that logic to any of my old iron. Sometimes you just need a little reminder to use the things you know. Thanks for the reminder!<P>Karl

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All the reply's are good advice, I would like to add that you should check carb. float for leaks. With 12 cyls. you can't aford to cheat them out of any fuel. Good Luck WALT.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Forgive me for providing the dumb answer, but if it hardly turns over when hot and OK when cold, are you sure you have everything lubricated?

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Hi there, Bux. This may be a dumber question but what do you mean by having "everything lubricated"? I've been finding out that a lot of Pierce Arrow V12 owners have the same problem I'm having. The V8's don't seem to have a hot starting problem. Once I figure out what's wrong I'll need to inform them of my solution. I'm currently in search of magnetic thermometers to attach to the starter and various areas of the engine to determine if and where there are any hot spots that may be impeding the hot cranking of the engine. If you know a source for these magnetic thermometers please let me know. Danka!

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I live in the UK so I can't help you on the thermometer question.<P>Regarding the lubrication, my understanding of your problem is that when the engine gets hot it is hard work for the starter even to turn the engine over. But there is no problem when the engine is cold.<P>To me this suggests a possibility that part of the engine (or conceivably the starter motor) has got so hot that it has expanded and no longer moves freely (which would also explain why your car stalls once it gets hot). This can happen because<BR>i) there is not enough oil in the engine<BR>ii) the wrong type of oil is in the engine (ie at hot temperatures the oil has lost too much viscosity)<BR>iii) the oil is not running freely through the engine (blockage or pump failure)<BR>iv) something has contaminated the oil<P>Perhaps you've done this, but at a minimum I would check the oil level, change the oil filter, check the radiator cap for mayo, and check the oil pressure. Plus, if you have the container that the oil came in, check that the oil grade matches the spec of the car.

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Thanks very much for the suggestions, Bux. Here are some answers to your questions. I spoke to the gentleman who owned the car for 12 years before I did. He had the starter rebuilt as well as the generator. I changed the oil when I got it about 100 miles ago and used a 10W - 40 detergent. The car has 29,700 original miles and always ran on non-detergent which is a whole debate in itself (see the forum). I did check oil level and it was fine and looked clean. The oil filter is an original L-8. I'm looking into a spin on conversion kit. The car only stalls when I make a fast left turn. A normal speed left doesn't affect it. Thanks for your suggestions. I still need to find time to play with it. As I was putting it away last fall it stalled on the way to it's resting place. After about half an hour it re-started but stalled again after only a couple of minutes. I had it towed and tried it the next day. I didn' hear the familiar ticking of the electric fuel pump but it started right up. After a couple of minutes it stalled out again. I haven't tried it since so I also have that problem to deal with. I suspect a fuel delivery problem, a plugged line or a bad electric fuel pump. Ah, the fun of owning old cars!

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Ah Ha - Did I miss something, or is this the first we have heard about the <B>ELECTRIC FUEL PUMP</B>?<P>Now we are entering as whole new world of trouble shooting. Can't do a thorough job without all the facts.<P>When an electric fuel pump doesn't tick after sitting for a long period of time, it probably ain't workin. If you have another one, put it on and see what happens. If not open the outlet end, turn on the switch and see what happens I would be very suspicious of the pump. It could be pumping OK on the level but malfunctioning on the hard turn.<P>Just a thought. smile.gif" border="0 ~ hvs

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I need to second Hal's suggestion of a loose carburator mounting. I had the same problem with a 1960 Falcon (how far from Pierce can you get?). The mounting nuts were loose and in hard left turns the air would rush past the gasket, starving the motor. <P>If this is the problem, be sure to replace the gasket and check to see if your bolts/studs aren't stripped or weakened.<P>Also, in some cars a hard-starting condition when hot is a classic (Classic?) symptom of a worn/stretched timing chain. If the fuel delivery problem doesn't pan out you might check this. <P>Good luck! smile.gif" border="0

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Thanks Howard and Dave. I'd be surprised if it was the timing chain with only 29,700 miles on it but I'll keep that in mind. The car has been sitting for 8 months so when I get over there on Tuesday (it's stored 20 miles from my house) I'll turn on the ignition and listen for the ticking. If, after that length of time sitting, it isn't ticking I'll know what it is. My guess is that you're right, Howard. Either the pump quit or it's plugged with crapola from the gas tank. I'll also check for a sticking float. I recently read a segment in Old Cars Weekly that suggested hard re-starting could be valves. At least I have several options now. The Pierce Arrow 100 year celebration is only 1 month and 20 miles away! Gotta get the old boy running. Thanks for the great suggestions, gents. Now if I could just get a couple of resonses to my water based paint post ......

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Adding to @Moon's timing chain comment - you should also check to see if the timing chain tension is adjustable, and if so get it in spec. It's surprising how just a little slop effects timing. On my '23 Dodge (also a low mileage car), when I finally got the proper tension and alignment on the chain and the starter/generator unit it solved a lot of little problems with steady idle and strange performance like uneven engine performance under hard acceleration and hard turns.

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Chacheska ~ Put a filter between the gas tank and the electric fuel pump. You need to keep any of that crapola from getting into the electric fuel pump. The instructions with my electric fuel pumps clearly state to use a filter <B>BEFORE</B> the pump and that the warranty is void if used without a filter. ~ hvs

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Thanks everyone for the mention of timing chains and their adjustment. That will be the next thing I will get into in trying to remove a breakdown in firing under heavy load or at high speed in my '24 Buick 6.<P>So far new points, plugs, condenser, rotor, distributor cap and setting the timing have resulted in no improvement. I am in the middle of new plug and coil wires. The coil is relatively new and a modern type, but I will check that too. After all of that it will be on to the timing chain.<P>The engine starts on the first turn and idles smoothly and is smooth at low speed. Of course it does have the original Marvel Carb, but then aren't 90% of all carburation problems electrical? wink.gif" border="0 <P>Anybody have any other ideas to offer? ~ hvs

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hvs -<BR>I've found that my problems of several years ago were a whole bunch of little things, both electrical and carburation, and several mechanical adjustments. I would look at the coil for breakdown, especially if this happens when it's hot. The Dodge Bros. thoughtfully placed the coil directly under the exhaust manifold. Also, I stopped buying the repro condensors, which tended to have a short life at $25 a pop and made my own for about $1.75 each. Key thing to check is the quality of the spark by jumping it live to the plug terminal. Something so basic that I learned as a teenager, I ignored because the plugs looked OK.<BR> <BR>And all that talk about the old automotive knowledge disappearing as the old timers die out. Bah! During the problem period I had DB Club tech advisors tell me I should call this old time DB mechanic still alive and sharp in New England. Surely he could diagnose my problem. So this nice old guy listens to my story and then tells me what they always did with DBs back then, first thing, was drill a hole in the side of the distributor and attach a supplemental ground wire to the frame, because NorthEast distributors were notorious for bad grounds. Glad he didn't get to all the distributors in his career.<P> grin.gif" border="0

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Thanks Ted. The coil is inside the car on the firewall behind the instrument panel. The engine misses equally when hot or cold. The spark jump from the wire to the plug terminal is long, strong and blue.<P>I have not done anything much for several days due to a pulled back achieved hauling and stacking firewood to dry for next winter. shocked.gif" border="0 I can bend over a fender but straightening back up is excruciating. I may try to work over the fender from a sitting position. Getting old is hell. mad.gif" border="0<P>Rick Hoover -- Why do you live so far away.<BR> frown.gif" border="0 Do you make house calls? rolleyes.gif" border="0 <P>~hvs

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Sorry to hear about your back. As you can imagine, this has always been a problem for me. rolleyes.gif" border="0 I've usually been able to alieviate problems by completely relaxing spread out on the floor. wink.gif" border="0 <P>For the Buick, you may have to resort to something that usually works for me - the Thomas Edison method of repairs, lots of trial and error. Good Luck! grin.gif" border="0

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Ted ~ I think I have the solution smile.gif" border="0 <P>Advil for the back, lay on the floor, supervise and have Judy do the repairs cool.gif" border="0 <P>After all, her name is on the title too rolleyes.gif" border="0 ~ Howard<P>I believe this thread is wandering shocked.gif" border="0 <BR>SORRY.<p>[ 06-18-2001: Message edited by: hvs ]

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Howard,<P>Does your '24 have a mechanical and/or vaccuum advance for the distributer? It sounds very much to me like a bad vaccuum advance. If it were happening only at high rpm, I'd suspect the mechanical advance.<P>If the cars too old to have those, are you sure the spark advance control lever is working? (and are you using it?)<P>Finally, is there any play in the distributor? It's possible that the plate could be moving around inside there.<P>Also, Gunson makes a tool which gives a rough measure of spark voltage. It clips inbetween the plug and the wire, and 2 electrodes produce an open spark which is lengthened by sliding the electrodes apart. There's a scale on the sliding mechanism for reading the voltage of the spark. This thing's a British tool (figures, doesn't it?), and you can get them from Moss Motors or most other Brit part houses. I think I paid about $10 for mine.

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Dave ~ Good ideas all. It is a mechanical advance, no vacuum. I believe it is a centrifugal advance.<P>The manual spark control lever works and does retard when moved to retard. My next plan, when I can move a little better and bend over, is to advance a little more so that you need to move well into retard to start and operate smoothly at low speed. Then accellerate to the point of missing and advance the spark mechanically and see what happens. <P>As for play in the distributor, there was always a certain amount of slop in there and it used to run great. This miss is a relatively new condition, but it has come on gradually. ~ Howard

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Yikes! I looked at my post and saw that I got 10 more replies and was so excited until I saw only the first two had anything to do with the actual post. Oh well, the first two were good so I can't complain. As long as problems are resolved (mine or someone else's) I'm a happy man. Thanks once again.

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Chacheska, make sure you have a good ground on that fuel pump. These cars sit so much and many times loose their grounds. Also, stop one of your local tool guys and ask him about a hand held temperature guage. They cost about $100.00 which isn't too bad. You just point at the object, pull the trigger and it tells you the temperature of the item. Drag racers have been using for a couple of years to determine things like track temp, exhaust temp to see if cylinders are firing evenly, etc.<P>Howard, move into the 20th century and install an oil or propane tank. Then, you won't hurt your back adjusting that little thing on the wall. That wood cutting stuff is for the young. I'll deliver one for you if you want me to; might be a little pricey though. wink.gif" border="0wink.gif" border="0

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Tod - there are a couple of mail order DB suppliers that have all kinds of parts, some new, some refurbished and some NOS or NORS. They sell a refurbished condensor for the early DBs, which is a modern chip type unit placed in one of the old condensor cans that fit inside the distributor. Last time I bought one it was $25.<P>The DB Club magazine has a tradition of "how to" articles to keep DBs on the road. Several years ago an enterprising member bought several different small condensors and scoped them to find if any matched or came close to the original DB unit's electrical characteristics. An almost identical match was a 1977 Dodge Colt small engine condensor. I bought four or five of these from a import parts store for about $1.75 each and installed them in the spare condensor cans I have. Works very well so far.<P> grin.gif" border="0

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Chacheska ~ My apologies. I got your thread moving in a different direction because something came up on it that might have related to a problem I am having. Sorry. frown.gif" border="0<P>Rick ~ Firewood's done -- Buick isn't.<P>Al ~ The wood is for Judy's fireplace. It has nothing to do with heat. You know, pretty crackeling flames and all that. rolleyes.gif" border="0 <P>hvs

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Alan Terek,<P>I picked up one of the remote IR thermometers like you mention. You have to be careful though: Most of them are not designed to run in the high EMI/RFI environment of an antique car engine compartment. The unshielded, unsuppressed ignition system can actually distroy some of the cheaper units.<P>Using mine on a part anywhere near the spark plugs or spark plug wires, I have to get the engine hot. Then turn off the engine then measure the temperature. If I am more than a foot or two away from the ignition, then it seems to work okay even when the engine is on.<P>I have heard the same about using digital volt-ohm meters near a running antique car ignition system too, but mine seems to work okay.<P>Tod

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Guest Hal Davis (MODEL A HAL)

That expains it, Tod. I was trying to read the voltage from my generator and was getting all kinds of erratic readings. I thought I was just getting a bad connection. I would never had thought it was interference from the ignition system, but it makes sense. No shielded ignition on a Model A. Heck, it ain't even insulated.

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Thanks for some good suggestions regarding temp reading devices. I'll cantact the local Snap On distributor to see what they have or suggest. Hey Howard - I turned the ignition key after 8 months of inactivity over the winter and not so much as a tick from the electric fuel pump - AND - the fuel filter is in line AFTER the pump before the carb. Will check the ground tomorrow but methinks she's a goner. Danka, driving dudes!

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Chacheska ~ If you need to replace the fuel pump, and you can't find a 6v model, J.C. Whitney used to carry them. Get the one with the built in pressure regulator. They are great. I have used them for years. Now, be sure to move that filter to the inlet side. smile.gif" border="0 ~ hvs<P>I just got out a current J.C. catalog and in the fuel pump section found that they do still have electric fuel pumps. Bad news is that it appears that the ones with a built in pressure regulator are listed only for 12v systems. No mention of 6v. However they do list 6v w/o the regulator, so you would probably need a separate pressure regulator in the line. ~ hvs<p>[ 06-20-2001: Message edited by: hvs ]

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Howard, just a suggestion. Set up a video camera and tape the fireplace burning. Then next year you can build a fake mantel around a TV and pop the tape in the VCR. Judy will have her burning fire and you can spend more time in the garage instead of splitting wood. grin.gif" border="0grin.gif" border="0

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Chacheska,<BR>I can't agree strongly enough with the fuel filter before the pump. Like a jerk I ran my Dodge low on gas and you would not believe what a state the pump was in!<BR>Incidentally, I didn't take the existing fuel filter (just before the carb) out, I just added another one before the pump. At first I was worried that I would be creating too much resistance in the fuel line, but I've had no problems at all.

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