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39 zephyr running well but no power


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We just converted our 39 zephyr to a 12 volt system.  After a few missteps we got the engine running well but trying to drive it,  the car will only go a few feet and then almost stall.   It was running well previously.   At a loss as what to do next.  It is almost like the brakes are stuck (goes well in reverse) or there is a problem with clutch or transmission.  It jerks badly before stopping.  Any help will be appreciated.   

 

Robert and Wesley

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My first inclination is to say return it to a 6 volt system. I suspect that you have ignition problems, check the spark at all spark plugs for a nice blue spark about 1/2" long at idle.

 

To improve the response, you will need to detail what parts you changed in your conversion.

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Thank you for your reply and help.  We changed to a 12 volt system on my sons 50 ford 2dr coupe and it ran great.  This conversion was a little more complicated because the previous owner had rewired things, put in an electric fuel pump etc. and it took us a little while to figure it out because we could not always use the wiring diagram from the vendor.  We changed the starter solenoid, coils, condensers, battery, 12 volt ground and had to change the fuel pump to a 12 volt one.  (I might go back to a rebuilt standard model).  I checked the spark and it looks good (running well) but will recheck.   Perhaps it might be the vacuum advance, dwell, or points?   Will start checking those.  The way it jerks, it either has no power or the brakes/clutch are locked. 

Our 50 ford was baby blue, so Iove the color of your 53.

 

Thanks

 

robert

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Jack up each wheel to determine if the brakes are locked up.

Check the spark at each of the 12 plugs. If the problem is in the ignition circuit, the spark will be weak at one or more of the plugs.

Check for a vacuum leak around the carburetor and windshield wiper hoses.

Connect a vacuum gauge to the windshield wiper vacuum port and use this chart to interpret the readings.

 

http://www.secondchancegarage.com/public/186.cfm

 

The photo doesn't do the car justice. It is much prettier in real life. Thank you for the compliment.

 

Both of my collector cars are still 6 volt and they are both driven regularly in the summer months. They start easily with the Optima battery and could not be more reliable with a 12 volt system. Problems are easier to solve, because the cars are just like they were when new and you can follow the Shop Manual procedures.

 

IMHO the most reliable collector cars are restored to or left in original factory specs. If it was my car, I would order a wiring harness from Narragansett Wiring, have the original coil rebuilt by Skip Haney and install a 6 volt Optima battery. Next I would replace the fuel line from the tank with one from Narragansett and install a rebuilt fuel pump and carburetor from Charlie Schwendler in NY. Then I could enjoy driving my car and not fixing it every time that I wanted to use it.

 

w

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Hello Tom,  thanks for the input.  We  went thru some of the same problems with fuel filter, pumps etc with the 50 ford and after that, drove it trouble free for 4 years.    We will get there on the Zephyr.  It is really good shape but needs a little tidying up here and there.    It is stock except for a few things and we do have the manuals.  i will let you know what we find.  Thought you might enjoy a picture.  Thanks again for the help.

 

Robert

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Did the conversion include re-wiring the coils for 12-volts?  You can get away with the old one with a 1.2 ohm 50 watt resistor in the ignition circuit.  Beware it gets hot.  The gauges still like 6 volts, should be a converter circuit somewhere.  If now negative ground, need to re-thread the ammeter wire in the opposite direction.  Measure voltage at the coil low voltage terminals while running, should be 2.5-3 volts.  Watch  out for fan!  I like your car color.

Abe

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Ditto to what  to that 19tom40 said,  install a new wiring harness , go back to six volts get the Optima Battery in a Zephyr case, change everything back to six  volts. I have a 41 Continental set up with 6 volts and it starts instantly, hot or cold.  The secret to this is flawless grounds and using wiring meant for a 6 volt system.  

 

Tom

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Properly setup and proper parts installed, these cars will give good service as they did in their day.  New wiring, good ground bonds, proper ignition setup will insure good running and driving.  In my own case I replaced the entire wiring looms with new ones from Rhode Island Wiring, Optima battery/cover, new 6  volt alternator to replace the old generator that looks the same, rebuilt coil by Skip Haney.  The temptation to upgrade everything to today's technology sorta defeats the whole purpose of the restoration of these great automobiles. The last thing we want is to turn them into a 'ratrod'!   I did rebuild the radio with new electronics, but it's in an original housing and looks the same yet gives better AM/FM performance, all on 6  volts!  Sometimes a little camouflage doesn't hurt and accomplishes a lot!  

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Gentlemen,  thank you for your help and advice.  I am happy to report that the 39 Zephyr is running very well and much better than when we got it.  We did many of the things you mentioned and which we had done before on our 50 Ford Custom.  Changed the fuel pump, cleaned the carb,  changed out the ballast resistors, one for each coil (new 12 volts)   The car is completely stock and will remain so with the only difference you  might note is the battery and the top of the distributor.  Thanks to Mr. Jerry Richmond for his advice on some of the electrical issues.  The right rear brake was locked and the car was at the bottom of a steep hill.  One of the graphite (carbon ) brushes in the distributor was broken and of course,  it does not like running on six cylinders.   We will eventually replace the wiring harness.  It will not be show car but a fun member of the family. 

 

Thanks again for your help.

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Glad that you found and fixed the problems. Now you can enjoy driving the car. I would encourage you to join the Lincoln Zephyr Owners Club, so you can enjoy going on driving tours with them and exhibiting your car at their meets. They accept and honor all Zephyrs, not just 100 point cars. Other clubs that honor the Zephyr are the Early Ford V-8 Club of America and the Lincoln Continental Owners Club. Your car would be a treasure to any of these three clubs.

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Thank you for the nice note,  my son has joined the Zephyr's owners club and is enjoying the magazines (I am just the assistant mechanic).  We hope to make it to some meets after we do a little more work.  As you know it is a fun long term project which is really fun to drive.  We were stopped the other day to let a 95 year old women sit in it.  It makes us all young.

 

 

 

 

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