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1927 Pierce Arrow Model 36 Limo


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Two  weeks  ago  a  friend  asked me  if  I  wanted to  go  up  to  a town  near  Chicago to  look  at  a 1927  Pierce-Arrow  limo that  he  was  interested  in  buying. After looking at  this car, I  was  truly  in the  presence of  one  of  the  most prestigious automobiles in  my  opinion ever produced. Chauffeur driven,  divided window the  passenger  compartment door  handles  and  foot  rest are  gold  plated.This  car  is  a piece of  history. At this  time  the  car  is  in  transit to  its  new  home.  My  friend purchased it.  I t  will  reside  in  a  heated,  air condition,  dust  free environment.  Here  are  a few  pic. 

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Wonderful automobile, I hope the new owner drives it. That series will run down the road all day long, they are most happy under 45 mph, but do just fine for short runs a little bit faster. A high speed rear would be a good choice for lots of driving or long distances.

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Ed,  I am  waiting for the books and  literature that  came  with  the  car. They  started the  car  when  we looked  at it. . I took  notes on  the  starting  procedure. The  gentleman  who  bought the car  wanted  me  to  make  sure  i  could  start  and  run the  car  when  he  received  it. It is  quite  a lengthy procedure to  start  this  car. I  made  a check list, it  works  fine. I  am  a Hupmobile  guy and  getting to  drive  a  very nice  car  like this  is like  winning  the  lottery. I  need to  know  all about  this  car  to  be  able to  service  and  keep it  in the  fine  condition  that  it's in. Being able to  work on a piece of  history  doe not  come  along  every  day

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We  took the  car  for  a  shot  ride today.  I leaned  out the  fuel  but  it  still  was  exhausting  black  smoke.Hope the  books   we  receive  from  the  previous  owner  will  help  me  tune  this  car.

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The owner called  me  and  said  he received the  owners manual  &  parts books from the  previous owner.  He is making  a copy  for me to  use  as  a  guide to  service  the  car. I am sure happy to  be  able  to know what  makes  a Pierce Arrow  tick and  keep it  ticking  like  a watch.

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With great respect for Ed, I must caution against running really rich, as this will dilute the motor oil.

 

A design defect in Pierce dual valve engines, including my "new" 1918, is that there is minimally adequate cooling for the exhaust valves. This condition is exacerbated when cylinders are bored out.  The exhaust valves, although small, can get very hot and burn under high speed driving and lean conditions.  So yes, we do want them running somewhat rich, but not pouring out black smoke at idle and at light acceleration or cruise.

 

A Best Practice during rebuild of these engines is to sleeve back to standard or even less-than-standard bore, and to chamfer the tops of the bores at the deck to minimize "sharp edges" which would get hot faster.

 

I mentioned in a PM to Chuck the OP that two things to check are (1) the float level as shown by the index mark on the carb bowl sight glass and (2) to ensure that there is some (little) slack in the cable which operates the primer--and that the primer needle and seat are clean and closing properly.

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I  will  be  taking the  car  out  for  another  run tomorrow morning. Before I do,  I  will  check the  fuel  level in the  carb. and  check to  make  sure  there is  some  slack  in the  primer  cable. The owners  manual  says to make  no  adjustments before the  car  is  up to running  temperature. A good run  should  do  this.

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Grimy or as I call him Uncle George comment is fine and not offensive. I wasn't implying to run the air fuel ratio at 8 to 1 but just be sure to be on the rich side. On his car I would always expect to see some black smoke, and depending on how and when the motor was built and what type of parts were used some blue smoke wouldn't be out of the question, even when the car was new. Not a lot of blue, but some on decelleration can and would be expected on this motor.

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Fast Eddie, "Uncle George" is a name I'm happy to answer to (I have several nephews and nieces and their offspring); I'm usually called much worse!  Actually the 48-B-5 was equipped with oil control rings from the factory, and it's the first year for a thermostat!  Speaking of thermostats, Hupp36 please check to see that the car runs at least 150*F at this time of year; if not, check for a failed safe or missing t'stat.

 

Hupp36, suggest you identify the mixture control setting at 40 mph where the engine is smoothest and doesn't lag when you punch it a bit, then add a tad more fuel as a running setting once warmed up.

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Thank you both for the information.Its  great to  have  people  who have  experience with  these  vehicles. The  run today should  tell me  whats  going  on and  what  I need to do  to make it run  at  its  best.  Again  thank  you Ed &  Grimy.

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Ok,  checked the  float  level,  ok and  the rod  and  cable  from the  primer  seen to  have  some  slack of  play  if  you will. Went  on about  a 8 mile  run had  a  follow  me  guy  saying  at  between  35-40 the  black  smoke  was  not  to  noticeable. By  advancing the  spark  at  40  it  seem to  run  smooth. I  will  try  to  lessen  the  fuel on the carburetor  main adjustment   just  a little to  see how  much  difference  it makes. Driving this  car  is a  hoot. It  makes  you  feel  wonderful  with  no bad  effects.

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Fully retard the spark for starting, then advance it all the way and leave it there.  With modern gas you don't need to retard for hills unless Ed has worked his magic on that Dual Delco system.  Full retard at idle also slows it 'way down to impress bystanders at shows.

 

If the car hadn't been driven in a few months, you might add a rich dosage of Seafoam to the fuel tank to do some internal cleaning--but only if someone has added an inline fuel filter--itself a very good idea.

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Yes,  there is  an  inline fuel  filter,  I  drained the  tank, flushed  it  with  new gas,  cleaned the  2  drain plugs in the  bottom of the  tank  and  installed a new  fuel  filter. Off we  go to  the  car  show,  see  how  the  public  likes  the  car.

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Another useful feature of timing control is to allow extremely low speeds in top gear with full retard. You can probably slowly and very gently accelerate out of 4 or 5 mph on level ground. Downhill , just pick up a bit of sped with the clutch in in top gear , then let the clutch out at idle. Just crack the throttle , and as speed increases , advance the timing. Chauffeurs back then used these techniques to give the smoothest gentlest ride possible to their passengers. This is even easier on modern 87 octane gasoline. Drive anticipating conditions ahead , and try to avoid exercising that crashbox as much as possible. Always use the lowest octane available. I would think your car has significant exhaust heating to the intake manifold. Block that heat if practical, and reduce thermal bridging as much as you can. Gasoline is very different today from the low volatile mixture used mid-teens to late '20s. What a spectacular car ! - Carl

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On A  little down hill slant,  i have  been taking off in 2nd. I  been having better luck  shifting quickly. Seems to  mesh  better.  Having  driven  big  trucks  for  a few  years  sure  helps. Again  thank  you  all  for  the  help. We are using gas  with out ethanol   and  using  a  lead  additive. 

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Spent  the  morning,  greasing the  Pierce.  Well not  being  in  my  shop &  not having  the  proper grease  gun  I  needed for the  early flow  through  fittings,  I  had to  improvise . Removed  each  fitting,  one  at  a time  and  replaced it  with  a Zerk  fitting  for modern grease  gun. After applying grease,  I  removed  the  Zerk  fitting  and  put  the  proper fitting  that  was  the  original with  the  car  back  where it  belonged. Needless to  say it  took me  all  morning  to grease the  car. Here is  a pic of  the  proper  fittings The  left    #  4  and  # 11 are the  ones.

Edited by Hupp36 (see edit history)
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I'd reinstall the modern zerks next grease job and save the originals for Pebble Beach.  The original tool roll (look under the front seat) had an item described as "compressor, grease" which was a pistol grip "liquid grease" dispenser (Liquid Grease being 600W gear oil (or as Pierce called it, Special Compound).  One pushes on the pistol grip and the gun dispenses a small squirt of 600W.

 

IMPORTANT:  Don't use modern chassis grease or a modern grease gun on the fitting on the steering box!  It will blow out the felt seal at the bottom of the steering box.  Unscrew the early zerk (has no check ball) and pour in 600W or Penrite steering box lube (latter from Restoration Supply Co. in Escondido, CA) in 900/1200/1500 weights, depending on how much leakage you have. This takes awhile to drain down and burp out air.

 

BTW, use 600W (the dark, smelly viscous stuff from Model T and A Ford vendors, NOT the honey-colored suspected-repackaged SAE 140) in both the trans and the (non-hypoid) differential.  I like to leave the diffs 1/2 an inch low due to felt seals around the axle shafts.

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Yes.  Pierce was tied to Enterprise Oil Co. in Buffalo, whose trade name for 600W was "special compound."  That also made Pierce owners seek factory-authorized service when they couldn't find "special compound" by that name at parts houses.

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Beginning with the 1929 model year, Pierces used modern-style zerks with check balls and no longer furnished the earlier push-type dispensers, and used pipe plugs on the steering box fill hole.

 

To save the next mechanic, you might want to put a pipe plug in the steering box filler hole, and save the no-check-ball zerk for Pebble.  No check ball meant it overflowed when full, so you wouldn't put too much pressure in the box.

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Thank  you  for  you great  help,  I  will  make  sure  that  I  do  the  right  thing  as  it  is  vary important to keep  this  fine  car  all it  can  be.  I will  get  the  proper  lubricant.. I  think the  owner  may  take  it  to  Amelia Island,  not  sure  about  Pebble  Beach.

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Glad to be of assistance, anytime.  I use modern chassis grease via zerks for spring eyes, drag link, tie rod ends, king pins, and other suspension parts because that lasts, arguably, 1,000 miles vs. the much shorter intervals specified in the manuals when Special Compound or grease cups are used--but then I drive the cars more than *seriously* show them.

 

For serious competition like Pebble or Amelia, by all means put the original fittings back in.  If you used modern grease and a grease gun in your all-morning process, that should be good for 1,000 miles.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well  I  got  the manual out  and  found the  main  needle valve carburetor setting. It said  too  turn the   needle  valve to its  seat  and then  turn it  back out 5/8 to 3/4 of a turn to the  right. I  measured the  turns  to the  seat  and  found it  to  be  1 and 1/4  turns. That  was  the  problem. After  starting the  car  with the  correct  carburetor setting  it  ran good. I  did  notice  by  using the  rich  and  lean knob on the  dash  , you  could  make it  smoke  black  by  turning it  all the  way to the  rich  setting. Did  not  have time to road test it  today  but  will  tomorrow.  Ask  me  if  I  am  a  happy  camper, YES

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Ed,  I  was  looking  forward to  meeting  you. The  owner has  made previous arrangements to show  the  car  at  a charity to  raise money  for autism. Me  living in  N.H.  in the  spring  till  winter hopefully we  will  meet in  person. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

April 3rd.  I will be  taking  the  Pierce to  the last  show  before  I head  north. I have  had the  time of  my life taking  care of this  car. Driving it ,  going to  car shows and talking  to  people  about  this  fine  automobile. We are having  a Hupp Club  meet in August 2016 in  Geneva NY.  I  hope to be able, after the  tour to visit the Pierce Arrow  museum in Buffalo.  

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