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Torsion-Level Manual Operation Accessory


Packard Don
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The factory manual override switch is a 3 position push/pull switch that stays in whatever position it is placed in. Center is for normal operation but pushing the knob up will disconnect the automatic level circuit and manually cause the rear to rise until the limit switch stops the action. Same with pulling the knob down. It disconnects automatic and lowers the rear until the limit switch stops in that direction.

The above was quoted from another posting and I'm curious as the manual override in my 1956 Clipper Custom does not work this way. The switch is spring-loaded and returns to center when released. In fact, as far as I can tell, it's the exact same switch as used for the power antenna. On mine, the leveling shut-off switch is moved to the off position, then the override is moved up or down until the car reaches the desired level. When released, it returns to center and the level remain wherever it is at that time. My question is, is my switch the wrong one? Edited by Packard Don (see edit history)
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Yes.  Someone has installed a power antenna switch.  If you look at the switch I think you will find 3 terminals with the center grounded and the end terminals connected to up and down terminals on the level switch -- at least I certainly hope they are connected there or at least on that side of the limit switches.  There have been a few non factory switches and wiring that totally bypass the limit switches with resulting damage. 

 

In that spring type switch or even a common momentary spring loaded toggle switch which some have installed there is no provision to disconnect the power to the control switch. You do use the on/off switch and leave it off while doing manual operation and the car will do exactly as you describe.  The issue with that type operation happens the one time you forget to turn the the system off.   As soon as the car moves out of level manually,  7 seconds later the automatic will kick in and try to drive the opposite direction back to level. Most of the time the manual operation is over and nothing happens except it tries to level again so you quickly turn the switch off.  If the travel is a long haul and manual is still engaged when auto kicks in that results in both solenoids being energized and motor getting power to go up and down simultaneously.  Hopefully the fuse blows before the locked motor is damaged.

 

The factory switch is not spring loaded and has 3 rows of two terminals each but only 4 places for a wire.  The center two terminals are in the light green wire in the feed circuit. Those terminals are placed in series with the on/off switch to interrupt power to the control switch and disable automatic when manual operation is used. The other two terminals on one side of switch goes to the control switch up and down.  If you look carefully their opposite terminals have a solid connection to the case to provide the grounds.  

 

As to which is better, it is a tossup.  With the spring switch you can control exactly where you want to stop and the system is already off.  With the factory switch you can control too but then you still have to turn the system off so it stays where you want it.

Edited by HH56 (see edit history)
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That's very interesting. My switch exactly matches the information that I saw in one of the Packard Service Counsellors (I believe) down to the color coding of the wiring and looks like a professional installation but perhaps those instructions were intended for use by the dealer to cobble together a kit from parts they may have on stock. The way mine is, with the toggle switch off, you can adjust the height however you want and when you turn the switch on again, full automatic action returns. As I recall, it does not work manually when engaged into auto mode.

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Yes, that's the document that I remember seeing and my switch looks just like the one shown. On my car it is spring-loaded and returns to the neutral position when released. In all honesty, I've driven my car only a couple times in several decades but I was just recently looking at the leveling system in general and the switch specifically.

Edited by Packard Don (see edit history)
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It is possible the switch was modified.  Its been a few years but IIRC a poster at one of the other forums mentioned buying a kit from Max. He didn't like that it was all or nothing  so took the switch apart and said the inside looked a lot like the antenna switch.  He was going to see if he could make it work the same way by adding springs and bending or removing the tab that kept it in position.  Don't know if he did but said it didn't look too difficult.

 

I know the poster referred to in the PAC thread that started this discussion had taken delivery of a 55 that had been shipped overseas. When he went to claim the car the tail was in the air.  We worked thru possible reasons  and he found some damage underneath with the limit switch bracket bent and some shorted wiring.  He corrected that but car still did not level.  Was tracing wiring and he found the extra switch that appeared to be in the circuit.  After it was described it became obvious someone had installed the override on a 55 -- something I hadn't considered.  Anyway, that turned out to be the real problem because the knob had been bumped so the switch was in the raise position.  The car was doing as it was being told to do.

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A lot of these are added using a momentary single-pole, double throw switch and are wired INCORRECTLY, some going right to the solenoids, some going to the wrong side (non-limit switch side) of the T-L compensator boxes, such that the limit switches are bypassed. I have fixed two cars Boojed this way, and had to replace the link arms coming off of the compensator gearbox rotary arm, as the drive lever assembly had been allowed to turn beyond its normal stop limits and the arms bent. 

I dare say many of these switches were added by electrical invalids who couldn't figure out how to repair the T-L "Control assembly" (black switch/timing box on the frame). 

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