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AVS619

Series 80 Carburetor Question

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Does anyone have experience in replacing the original Pierce-Arrow carburetor with a modern replacement (such as, perhaps, a Zenith) on a Series 80? My wife's 1925 Runabout continues to carburetor issues with the original carb and I would like to replace it or at least find a parts carburetor so that I may replace the all float bits. I will greatly appreciate any information. Thank you indeed! Tom.

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The Stromberg O-3 is an excellent carburetor of the day.

 

Other somewhat newer, and possibly (not always) less expensive units that would replace the O-3:

 

Stromberg SF-3 and SFM-3

Zenith 63AW12 and 263M2E12

 

The above are MODELS. Within each model there are dozens of different calibrations, many that would not work well on the Pierce. Do your homework, and you will be pleased with any of the above, including the brass O-3.

 

Jon.

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I have never seen a series 80 with an incorrect carburator on it in more than 30 years of PAS membership and 27 annual meets. The original works fine, just post on the club web site and you will find all the parts and assistance that you could possibly need. I have seen a similar but incorrect Seles 80 melt a piston with a swapped out carb at a meet, and there are not ten shops in the country that I would trust with the skills to set up a diffrent carb. There are lots of I can do that people, who have zero idea on how to properly do the job. The car should be set up on a chassis dyno with a five gas analyzer to get the correct stoichiometry for the engine. If you don't know and understand stichiometry you will burn the motor up in most cases. Ed

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Ed - I will respectfully mildly disagree with a portion of the above post.

 

First, I am not saying the carb SHOULD be replaced, only answering the OP's question.

 

Since Stromberg DID in fact furnish the O-3 carb as original equipment a couple of years later, and specifications are in print (how many have the specs, I will not attempt to answer); a competent shop should be able to build a Stromberg O-3 to the original specs and have it function well.

 

Similarly, as Stromberg did offer the SF-3 as a replacement unit, and calibration specifications are in print, again a competent shop should be able to build one that would function well.

 

And yes, I would certainly agree the dyno and the analyzer ARE wonderful tools if one if trying to put something totally non-original on any car; but in this case, actual factory specifications do exist. Now the question becomes, how many shops have the specifications, or actually follow them. This I cannot answer. Unfortunately, many enthusiasts or even "mechanics" read a carburetor "type" eg Stromberg O-3 in a manual, and think ALL Stromberg O-3's are the same carburetor. Here is a sentence from an article I am preparing on the SF series carburetors:

 

"SF-3, SFM-3 carburetors were used on engines of displacement of 242-1188 CID, with internal venturi sizes in inches 1, 1 1/16, 1 1/8, 1 3/16, 1 ¼, 1 5/16, 1 3/8, 1 7/16."

 

Obviously, all carbs by type are not the same.

 

Jon.

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AVS619, I agree that the brass O-3 Carb is a great driver carb for the series 80 owners. There are a lot of non show cars running them. Because they bolt with no linkage modifications they are the go to carb. They idle at a nice low RPM, and accelerate without hesitation. If carb king has one for sale I would recommend it. If not, run an ad someone will have one for your car. Karl

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Stale topic, but: my '27 Series 80 had a Carter BB updraft on it when I bought it. It starts easily and runs fine and the carb looks as if it belongs there so I am leaving it for now. I understand the best thing Pierce ever did was stop making their own carburetors anyway. Don't know from experience; just sayin'.

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Tom,  there recently was a correct Stromberg O-3 on Ebay, with a buy-it-now of $999.00 . It did sell.  

 

The Pierce-made carburetors were actually very, very good carbs. My 1919 has it's original carb and it is an amazing piece of engineering and quality construction.  The Series 80 carbs work well.  But they must be set up right, and the rest of the car be set up right.  

 

My extensive experience with Series 80 carbs shows that most of the problems blamed on the carburetor are either points and condense problems, or old gasoline, and problems from lack of use.  

 

I was at a friend's collection in early June, he had called said he had major carburetor problems with his Series 80.   When I took a look, the needle was stuck

[ more like GLUED ] in full up/open position.  GLUED? yep, by the varnish and residue from old gasoline around the float bowl top where the needle rides up and down under the domed acorn-shaped nut [if the nut is still there, most are missing].  Some carburetor cleaner and some manual moving of the needle soon had the carb working correctly.   

 

The problem is we have with cars that sit for a year or two, with gasoline evaporating in them, leaving behind all sorts of goo and gunk is not the fault of the carburetor, it is just what is.  The standard series 80 carburetor is simpler than the carburetor on your Briggs and Stratton lawn mower's engine.  It just needs to  be kept clean, and be understood.  

 

The needle and float assembly and the two 'teeter-totter' arms that move the needle in the opposite direction of the float are subject to being gummed up from evaporating gasoline, and get wear on them from vibration.  The pivot pins often get notches worn in them causing erratic action of the float and needle, and the pivot holes sometimes wear oblong.. Treat these pivot pins and holes like the parts of a clock,  replace the worn pins, and rebush the oblong holes.  The carb's main-jet needs to be understood and used, that is drive the car often.  

 

My 1926 Series 80 Town Car, Durham Bodied, is kept on display in the Pierce Arrow Museum at the Gilmore CCCA Museum in Hickory Corners Michigan.  Each year when the Pierce Arrow Society has their 'Gathering at The Gilmore' late-August meet, I open the fuel shut off under the vacuum tank on the firewall, I watch the needle in the carburetor drop as the float bowl fills, then I start the engine with a short squirt of primer from the driver's seat.  Shutting off the fuel and running the carburetor dry is critical to have this reliable start up each August.. Do not leave the gravity-pressure from the Stewart Warner vacuum tank on, to slowly leak past the brass needle/brass seat.  Gravity will win, the carb will have more evaporation residue.  

 

Take care, 

GLong

 

 

StrombergNeedlePivot.jpg

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I agree with Greg, a properly sorted and dialed in car will in 99 percent of the incedances run fine. There are many cars that take lots of experience to get dialed in perfectly. I find that most people just get frustrated and give up too easily. If you think a Series 80 Pierce carb is hard to deal with, buy a 1930 V-16 Cadillac.......two junk carbs, and two vacuum tanks.........now that is a disaster from new..........you are NEVER done with a early Cadillac carburetor ever. Greg is a very talented mechanic and has better skills than many people working at restoration shops.......I have driven many of his cars, and they all operate as new......or better. Sorting out fuel and ignition issues can be very difficult, and they take one thing that most people working on cars don't have, the ability to keep at it till is right. I spent three month once working on a 100 point car before I got it to start, stop, steer, ect.......... just remember, pre war cars aren't easy.........but thats half the fun of them is overcoming the challenges. 

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4 hours ago, edinmass said:

I agree with Greg, a properly sorted and dialed in car will in 99 percent of the incedances run fine. There are many cars that take lots of experience to get dialed in perfectly. I find that most people just get frustrated and give up too easily. If you think a Series 80 Pierce carb is hard to deal with, buy a 1930 V-16 Cadillac.......two junk carbs, and two vacuum tanks.........now that is a disaster from new..........you are NEVER done with a early Cadillac carburetor ever. Greg is a very talented mechanic and has better skills than many people working at restoration shops.......I have driven many of his cars, and they all operate as new......or better. Sorting out fuel and ignition issues can be very difficult, and they take one thing that most people working on cars don't have, the ability to keep at it till is right. I spent three month once working on a 100 point car before I got it to start, stop, steer, ect.......... just remember, pre war cars aren't easy.........but thats half the fun of them is overcoming the challenges. 

And I thought I was the only one that threw rocks at the Cadillac (Johnson) carburetors :P

 

Jon.

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Hello to all who responded (Hi Greg, if you remember me). I appreciate all the information. I did track down the problem (I think) to the needle and levers (and I believe the pins are worn).  But, just after I posting the original question in 2016 both my wife and I became hipsters. By that I mean we both underwent surgeries to replace hips, she one and me two. So, no work has been done on the Pierce. I would like to find a parts carburetor to have replacement needle, arms, pins and cover (anyone have a Series 80 parts carburetor or those parts they would part with?). Despite deeply in love with Pierce-Arrows and other early automobiles I am not a good machinist/mechanic so I really could use some parts. As I write that I kind of wonder why I am in the hobby with many brass-era and classic cars without the skills to repair them but my hips have retired me and perhaps I can learn them now with my new 'free time'. Thank you again for all who replied. Tom

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