Justin Pease

1947 Pontiac Torpedo boiling over

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On ‎10‎/‎29‎/‎2016 at 5:01 PM, Tinindian said:

While you are that far into the job, knock out all the core plugs and clean the block mechanically.

 

I agree, they should be replaced anyway and there is certain to be crusty deposits in there.

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Hi all

So, it's been a busy couple weeks. I pulled the head and had it blasted, fluxed and machined. It was .0014 out, not terrible for a 70 year old head. I managed, with a lot of hammering and even more cursing, to pull the freeze plugs out, and we made up an adapter for our shop vac with a bit of clear pvc hose, and ran a bunch of water through the block and cleaned it out.  Between that and a stiff piece of wire to loosen up all the snot, we got the worst of it all out and rinsed clean. 

Then we wire brushed the top of the block, and, at the suggestion of the machinist, did a block sand. Then I cleaned it all off carefully and... found a crack in the block.

The crack runs from the exhaust valve seat, between the valves, and down into the cylinder wall. overall I'd estimate it to be around during 3" in total length.

 

So, how screwed are we here? My gut says the motor is toast and we're now in the market for a replacement, and would appreciate any insight you all may have (or if you know of a flathead 6 for a 47 torpedo for sale).

Obviously we're  super bummed: We've done a lot of work on this old girl and this is not the outcome we were hoping for.

In the meantime, I'm very tempted just to button it all back up: We've solved the overheating issue by cleaning up the block and she was running like a top before. I figure the engine isn't going to be any more wrecked if I reassemble it and run it a bit than it already is. Am I correct in that thinking?

 

Thanks again for all your guidance,

Rubin

 

Edit: I think the reason we weren't seeing bubbles in the radiator while the car was running is that the cooling system was *so* clogged up that bubbles weren't making it that far.  Or (perhaps wishful thinking) the *massive* amount of stopleak and other crud in the block actually stopped up the crack, and the compression loss was only due to the snot in the valve seats. Yeah, I know... :^(

Edited by justinsdad (see edit history)

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So, it's been nearly a year since my last (sad) post so I thought I'd follow up with the latest on Old '47.

After finding that the engine block was cracked, we ended up putting the car back together and parking her for the winter.  Shortly after my last post describing our trevails, I was contacted by a longtime forum member who had a motor that had been rebuilt back in the 80s, and was only a few hours drive away.  My son and I trucked down their way, met him and his wife (nicest folks ever!) and brought the engine back home.

This summer, in amongst too many other projects and diversions (I may have a motorcycle problem as well), we managed to pull the old motor out and last night the 'new' motor went in.  Hopefully the next update will be to report that I didn't mess anything up in the transplant, and the car is running and happy with her new power plant.

I wanted to say a big thank you to all who chimed in on this thread to offer your experience and advice!

 

-justinsdad

20170925_200831[1].jpg

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I'm glad to read that you were able to transplant a new engine in your car.  It probably wouldn't hurt to do a chemical flush on it at some point as part of its maintenance schedule.

 

I would be careful about using CLR as Jelmar does not recommend it for this purpose.

http://www.jelmar.com/proline/product_use.htm

 

i believe citric acid is safe to use with iron, brass, and aluminum and I've used it several times with good results.

See Cooling System.

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Hey again, y'all

 

The adventure continues!

A little background, and response to fraso's good advise:
Before I reassembled the power plant and put it back in the car I pulled the head, and inspected it and the block carefully.  I replaced the head gasket with a new one, and before I assembled the water pump etc. I pulled the water distribution tube and replaced that with the significantly cleaner one from the original motor. I also opened the valve covers and had a look in there, and everything is clean as a whistle.  The old motor, on the other hand, was *completely* sludged up.  So if the cracked block hadn't killed it, the poor lubrication eventually would have.

 

When I put it all back together and filled it with coolant and oil, I watched carefully over a few days for leaks.  There was some very minor initial leakage (seepage) from 2 of the freeze plugs (well, shit...) that seems to have stopped the next day, and hasn't returned in the nearly 2 weeks it's been loaded up and ready to run (yay... maybe... those little b$*%ards were a right PIA to change out and I'm really not in a hurry to do that again!).

 

However, I've run into issues (probably directly related due to my thorough lack of knowledge about this) with getting the distributor set correctly.  In short, I think the distributor drive gear is oriented differently on the new motor.  I initially thought I'd installed the distributor 180 degrees off, so when it didn't start I flipped it, and succeeded in getting a rifleshot of a backfire that nearly made me have to change my pants, but that was all.

 

I popped the distributor cap and looked at the rotor, and found that it looked different. On the old motor, No.1 spark was at about 5 o'clock as I looked down at the distributor.  No matter how I orient it, the new motor is putting the rotor between 2 plug wires on the cap. when No.1 cylinder is at TDC on the compression stroke.  It's landing at about 3 o'clock or 9 o'clock now, so right between 2 plug wires (!).

 

I've been reading a lot about distributors and timing, and will likely give setting and starting it another try tonight - I'm feeling bold enough to try setting the distributor to line up with no.1 cylinder at 3 o'clock and change the wires all by one position counterclockwise, and see if that works. Worst case I have pictures of how it was all set before I mucked with it and can set it back.  If y'all have pointers, I'd love to hear them :)

 

Thanks all for your input and interest as we bumble our way through this adventure!
-justinsdad

Edited by justinsdad
fat fingers and other sloppy editing (see edit history)

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On 10/5/2017 at 1:37 PM, justinsdad said:

I popped the distributor cap and looked at the rotor, and found that it looked different. On the old motor, No.1 spark was at about 5 o'clock as I looked down at the distributor.  No matter how I orient it, the new motor is putting the rotor between 2 plug wires on the cap. when No.1 cylinder is at TDC on the compression stroke.  It's landing at about 3 o'clock or 9 o'clock now, so right between 2 plug wires (!).

 

Doesn't this have a collar or clamp on the distributor that can be loosened so you can rotate the distributor any way you want?

 

If I remember correctly, the manual, at least for my 1936 Pontiac 6, is not super-clear about where number one is supposed to be. I think I have figured it out. I think they are all the same until the end of production. Newer flathead 6 owners can correct me if I am wrong.

 

Number one should be next to the terminal for the points wire. The vacuum advance port should point about straight to the front of the car. The wires connect to the cap in the firing order (1-5-3-6-2-4), going around the cap counterclockwise.

 

Here is a picture I found online of a 1946 Torpedo that seems to support my theory.

 

Pont46Stream4fastSedanTM39.jpg

 

If this is all true, then number 1 is at one or 2 o clock. This suggests that your old motor had the oil pump gear in correctly, but the distributor in 180 degrees out, and the spark plug wires rotated around the cap 180 degrees. This puts number 1 at 5 o clock. [EDIT: OOPS I MEANT 7 o'clock] The car will not know the difference.

 

Also, then it follows that the new engine has the oil pump gear in wrong. If you want to make it "right" you will have to pull the oil pump off. If you just want to make it run, maybe not.

 

If it is on #1 TDC on the compression stroke right now, rotate it ALMOST 2 full turns, to get to where #1 fires. This is probably 4 degrees btdc or something on the compression stroke of #1. Don't rotate it backwards, because you don't want to take the slack out of the timing chain.

 

Loosen the "normal" timing adjustment bolt, the one that runs in a slot, and threads to the block. Put it in the middle of its travel, tighten it down.

 

Loosen the pinch bolt that holds the distributor bracket to the distributor. Rotate it until some plug wire lines up to the rotor. It doesn't matter which one. Pick whichever one makes the vacuum advance line the most comfortable.

 

Rotate the distributor just a tiny bit further to the left, and then to the right until the points JUST OPEN. Tighten the clamp.

 

Look at which distributor tower the rotor points at. This is is your new #1. Put #1 wire here, and wire the rest COUNTERCLOCKWISE around the cap, 1-5-3-6-2-4.

 

This is close enough to run. When it runs, recheck the timing.

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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Hi all

Thanks Bloo for your post, you're correct, the oil pump gear was off by a tooth or two.  I reset it so that no.1 firing is at about 4 o'clock (matching where it was originally, and in agreement with the photo you posted).  I then marked on the distributor where no. 1 cylinder's plug wire is, then turned the motor until no.1 cylinder was at TDC on the compression stroke (turned the motor over with my thumb on the spark plug hole, stopped when I felt air escaping, advanced until the flywheel timing mark is visible).  Finally, I turned the distributor until the rotor was pointing directly at the no.1 cylinder mark I'd made.

When I tried to start it, it coughed briefly and stopped firing.  It sounded like 2-3 cylinders fired and then it just turned over.  I tinkered with it by changing the timing by a degree or two in each direction but the best I could get was a relatively consistent but weak fire on one cylinder.

I thought maybe the plug wires were bad, since I'd been mucking around with them in my efforts to adjust for the incorrect oil pump gear. One had lost an end in the distributor cap when I was trying to re-order them before I changed the oil pump position.  So I replaced the spark plug and coil wires with a new set from CPR, and just for good measure the battery.  It cranks very slowly considering that the starter and generator were rebuilt about 10 miles but a bunch of starts ago, and the new battery surprisingly didn't help all that much.  I've tried jumping it with my 6v charger, charged the battery ad nauseum, and even tried jumping it with my jumper pack in 12v mode (yikes), all resulting it it feeling like it *almost* wants to start but not quite.  It fires some, so I know there's power going to the sparkplugs, and the plugs smell like gas so I know they're getting fuel as well.

 

I may pull the carb just to make sure the jet isn't blocked, but it barely fires even when I give it a shot of ether, so I don't think it's a fuel problem.  I suspect the timing is still off somehow, but have once again exhausted my skills (which are getting better, but I'm not exactly drawing from a deep well there...).

 

At this point I'm at a loss for ideas again.  The car has a 'new' motor, new plugs & wires, rebuilt carburetor, fresh, non-ethanol gas etc.and she just won't fire up.

 

And I've just carefully re-read Bloo's post and realized I missed this part:

"Rotate the distributor just a tiny bit further to the left, and then to the right until the points JUST OPEN. Tighten the clamp."

 

I bet that's where I'm off, and I'll give that adjustment a try tomorrow.  In my usual fashion I managed to invent my own way to do it that almost but didn't quite work.

 

On an almost completely unrelated note, I found an incredibly clever old trick for reinstalling the hood springs - I put it in my bench vise and bent it to one side. While it was bent, I slipped a bunch of washers in between the coils, bent it the other way and put in more, and then was able to pop it in place with the hood up as high as the springs would allow it to go.  When I let it down most of the washers fell right out (when the spring was stretched).  Slick.

 

My wife keeps reminding me (often mid-Tourette's episode) that we do this for fun, right? :)

Pontiac Motor 2017-11-04.jpg

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You are close, really close.....

 

Actually I am fairly sure that #1 goes at 2 o'clock (right next to where the points wire exits) as they were built, and the distributor can go in 2 ways... one (correct) would point to 1 or 2 o'clock, the other (180 off) to 7 or 8 o'clock.


It is just a theory of mine, thanks to a confusing diagram in my 1936 shop manual, and looking at probably every Pontiac 6 engine picture online while trying to reproduce that spark plug wire loom thing without a pattern to work from.

 

None of that matters to make it run, as long as the wires are in the right order, with number one going to the rotor when number one is on the compression/firing stroke, and the wires go counterclockwise from there, in the firing order 1-5-3-6-2-4.

 

Ok, so to get this car started....   What has to happen is the points must break right at the timing mark when you are coming up on compression. So, lets say you have the piston coming up to TDC #1, on the compression stroke, you should reach the ignition timing mark before you get to the TDC mark.

 

Ok, you are only turning the crank clockwise, right? (otherwise timing chain slack will screw you up) With the engine at the timing mark, which comes right BEFORE the TDC mark, and the cap off the distributor (so the engine cant try to kick), hook a test light to the points, either inside or just outside of the distributor.

 

You still have the crank at the firing mark, right? and the distributor with the rotor pointing roughly at #1, right?  Verify that the rest of the wires follow the firing order going left around the distributor cap.

 

With the ignition on, turn the distributor body to the left (counterclockwise) until the light goes off (points closed), and then to the right (clockwise) until it just comes on (points open). Lock it down.

 

Keep away from the cap or any of the ignition wires because it will try to spark when the points open. Better yet, you could just ground the coil wire.

 

This SHOULD be timed now, but don't quite believe it. Now rotate the engine clockwise, past TDC, which is coming up right away, on around to the ignition timing mark again. The light should come on EXACTLY when you get to the firing mark. If it does, you are done. (This is #6, by the way, not that it matters)

 

If it does not, make a slight correction. If the light came on too soon, turn the distributor body very slightly to the left. If it happened too late, move it slightly to the right.

 

Bring the crank on past TDC and back around to the Ignition timing mark and check again. (this is #1 again). Keep doing this until you have it set so the light comes on right at the ignition timing mark.

 

Check the rotor one last time. With the crank at the firing mark, the rotor should be pointing at #1 or #6. This is just to make sure you didn't move the distributor body one whole cylinder away by accident while setting the timing.

 

It should run now. Got gas? Can you see the accelerator pump squirt inside the carb when you pump the throttle? The choke should be automatic, and partly closed because the engine is cold. Is it?

 

Good luck!

 

P.S. Don't use ether. It breaks things, and you don't need it.

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)

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If it still wont run with the timing set right and the firing order verified, there is one more thing you should know. The Pontiac 6 intake manifold and heat riser used a piece of steel tubing (probably exhaust tubing) to separate the exhaust from the fuel/air they were trying to warm up. It can rust out. When it does, exhaust blows into the intake. This makes the car run horrible. If you suspect this, take the carburetor off and look down inside the intake manifold with a strong light. The tunnel the carburetor looks through is the INSIDE of the piece of steel tubing (exhaust is on the outside). Look for holes.

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One more update in this loooong thread and associated saga!

 

Last fall, I ran out of warm-ish weather before we were able to get the car running, so we parked her for the winter. Last week, I was finally both inspired and had a little free time, and was able to take the advice of a family friend who came and looked at the Pontiac.  His observation was that it sounded like everything was set as it should be, and that 6v was just not enough to turn her over fast enough to start it.  S we put a tow strap on my truck, and pulled her around for about 150' until she fired up!  It smoked like a locomotive for a bit and then settled down to a steady but low idle, and was even able to start back up under her own power.  However, the victory lap was postponed due to the multiple jets of coolant coming from the freeze plugs that I neglected to change out before the engine went into the car (I mean, I'd changed the freeze plugs in the old motor, so in my mind that had been done, right?!  Well, the 'new' motor had other thoughts about that...).

 

I'm sure you can all imagine what a feeling it was to have that engine running after all the busted knuckles and time sunk into it!

 

So Wednesday night, I got my new freeze plugs (Dorman 555-041, 1-61/64" in case I'm not the only person who didn't know that...) and changed them out in pretty short order. My lesson from the last time: it's really easy to just drive the plugs right into the block and fish them out - the whole job was about 1 1/2 hours including pulling the generator, flame arrestor, stomp start and accelerator linkage and putting them all back together again.  After that work, she fired right up. She was idling slow, but running OK and not steaming or smoking. She started up and restarted just fine in the ~10minutes I had her running. Sweet.

 

Thursday I decided to take a victory lap/ shakedown ride to the farm next door to pick my daughter up from camp, and it died on the way back. It was a 1/4 mile trip each way, so it made it roughly 5/16" of a mile in total :)  We towed it back home and today I did some diagnostics.  From what I can tell she's perfectly happy to start when cold, but hot starts are hit or miss (often miss).  If I pour some gas down the carb throat she'll usually start up and stay running.  She's got a barely running, loping idle, and my tinkering with the various idle adjustments on the carb are not having much effect.  It's clear that I've found (yet another) new area where my enthusiasm far outstrips my knowledge.

 

I put a rebuild kit into the carb shortly after I got the car,so it should be fairly clean and grime free inside - I pulled the cover off the float in the fall and it was clean.  Any ideas for what might be causing the hot start issue?  Related: The carb was pulled and reinstalled in the new motor, but I don't think much changed so I'm not sure why it's suddenly so far out of whack with the new motor.  Maybe I just did something dumb and linked something up wrong?

 

Thanks all again for all your help!  Happy summer!

 

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Glad you go it running!

 

Make sure your heat riser is opening properly. If the heat is staying on, it could be boiling your carburetor. The weight should stick about straight up (or have it's weight at the highest point), and then fall in toward the engine as the spring warms up.

 

Also make sure the choke is doing what it should. At room temp, it should be sort of sloppy loose, just barely closed. The shop manual, or the little sheet that came with your carb rebuild will tell you what notch to set it at. The choke should come open when the car starts (a little vacuum piston in the choke housing pulls it open). The choke comes the rest of the way open using heat it draws up that little pipe from the choke stove in the exhaust manifold. it looks like that is going to exhaust, but it isn't. It's hot air.

 

You mentioned a barely running lopey idle. Is this all the time? Look for vacuum leaks. Also look at that pipe/tunnel thing inside under the carburetor flange. That can sure make it run horrible.

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)

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Hey Bloo

I'm happy to report that Norman (that's what we've decided to name the car) is running great.  I tinkered with the carb and it started nearly every time.  The hot start issue is caused by something with the accelerator pump, and if it doesn't fire right up when it's hot, holding the accelerator to the floor will usually do it. Once in a blue moon it needs a short shot of ether to start when it's hot (like, it's happened twice now, the above being one of them).

 

Thanks everyone for your help on this long running thread, I'm very happy to report that we've move to other repairs and updates on the car, including a tip to tail re-wiring that I started today!

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