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1920's Cadillacs


JV Puleo
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I have been following Matt Harwood's thread on sorting out his Lincoln. Lately, it has included some discussion of Cadillacs but not wanting to hijack that interesting thread I thought I'd start a new one. This was my first old car. In fact, it was literally my first car. I bought it in the Summer of 1970 when I was 19 and sold it in the Autumn of 1971 to finance the purchase of a 1929 American Phantom I.  For most of that year and a half it was my only car. I literally drove it all over New England, including into Brookline a few times to the Lars Anderson Museum. During that time, although it had its problems, it never came home on a hook. It may never have run as perfectly as it could have – I have nothing to compare it to so I can't tell. What I can say is that it was extremely unmolested. The sides were probably repainted in the late 50s but I suspect the black paint on the fenders and above the belt line was original as was the interior. It was certainly running the original carburetor and when I got it had tires on it that were likely at least 30 years old. I suspect the spare was older. My point in posting this is that I had none of "horror story" experiences otherwise cataloged on this site. It's a good thing the internet hadn't been invented because until I read this site I'd no idea these were considered troublesome. I'll add that I do not come from a family where anyone had any interest in old cars or other mechanical things and that I had no exposure to mechanical work of any kind. Until I owned this car, I'd hardly even met anyone who had a car like it. My friend who collected RRs only got his first, a 20-25, about 3 weeks before I bought my Cadillac.

 

I wonder if it's strong point was that it had always been well cared for and had never been "restored"... in the subsequent years, I worked on a number of RR SGs and PIs and the two that stand out in my mind as being effectively trouble free were the two fantastically well preserved original cars that had never been apart.

 

164368636_1926CADILLACINTEDSYARD.jpg.0cf881337963309c3f1935cdcfda1c2a.jpg

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JV- since you had you car almost fifty years ago, there are some issues back then you weren’t fighting. Having a correct intact unmolested car was and still is a great advantage. Today you would also have the following........

 

pot metal in distributor- almost all pre 29’s have failed- solution very difficult today.

modern fuel- vacuum tank doesn’t work as well with today’s fuel density - specific gravity and boil point

parts availability- much better back then for spare and consumables......try to get CORRECT points today(one size fits all...not!)

incorrect reproduction parts......lots of carb parts being sold are not correct.....big problem now

additional fifty years of tractor mechanics messing things up........

general lack of basic mechanical skills of most collectors today.......

modern road conditions......people drive their old car much too fast today....causing lots of problems.....

 

I can attest that from 1980 to today the Stewart Warner tanks are much more of a hassle, and the Cadillac carb is just plain terrible with no mixture control. Add in the funky float hinge and needle and seat modifications that almost all Cadillac’s suffer, and it adds up to a bunch of hassles. Also, in today’s modern world almost everyone is so short on time that they just don’t stick to getting problems sorted out. There is no shortcut for time spent sorting and maintaining a car. 

 

Its my my experience that most new collectors who start out with a 1921-1931 Cadillac get very frustrated with their cars quickly. They also get lots of bad advice........and usually don’t know when to accept good advice.....I often don’t even try to help sometimes.........people insisting on half assed repairs who have never driven a pre war car twenty feet. I suggest that today people looking for help ask only owners who have driven their car ten, twenty, or thirty thousand miles.........they are the best resource. In one of my clubs we have a guy we call the answer man.......has an answer for all problems and issues........but his car never runs and we never see it on tour.....

 

 

 

 

 

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I don't doubt what you say is true and I find it interesting. I detest pot metal but I don't remember that I had any problems with it on that car but, as you say, that was almost 50 years ago. I certainly agree that we did not have the fuel problems but I think your reference to "50 years of tractor mechanics" is most appropriate. The worst problems I've had to deal with all stem from ham-handed "I'll never have to do this again" so-called mechanics. That was my observation re these totally unmolested cars even then and it must be much more the case today.

 

I'm also of the opinion that the heavy emphasis on cosmetics and general lack of interest in the mechanicals has contributed a lot to this state of affairs. I've personal experience in the past few years (since I became re-involved with old cars – I was out of this world for 30 years) of cosmetically "restored" cars that I wouldn't have trusted to go ten miles. A noted engine rebuilder related a story to me a few years ago about an engine he was doing. The owner (a prominent collector/dealer) wanted him to skip something saying;  "after all, it's only a trailer queen". The engine man refused and said something to the effect "all or nothing" because it was his reputation that was on the line. If that part failed no one was going to blame the dealer – they were going to ask who'd done the engine work.

 

I don't think that speaks well for the hobby...it makes us look like a bunch of narcissistic show-offs.

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3 hours ago, edinmass said:

... They also get lots of bad advice........and usually don’t know when to accept good advice.....I often don’t even try to help sometimes.........people insisting on half assed repairs who have never driven a pre war car twenty feet. I suggest that today people looking for help ask only owners who have driven their car ten, twenty, or thirty thousand miles.........they are the best resource. In one of my clubs we have a guy we call the answer man.......has an answer for all problems and issues........but his car never runs and we never see it on tour.....

2

 

 

Boy, do I agree with this.

 

jp

Quote

 

 

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)
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Ed/JV

 

I have also been following Matts Lincoln tread as well as every thing that both of you post. We are all better off with your shared knowledge, I know I am.

That's brings me to my own 1928 Cadillac issue. A few years ago I bought this car it looked great in the pictures and was supposed to run and drive. It did, barely. It was a nice older cosmetic restoration but the mechanicals were done halfway.

I knew it needed some " tinkering" but not what I got into. Lesson # 1 never buy a car sight unseen! Now I am not scared of anything with an engine in it and have restored a number of cars, boats and motorcycles. 

 

I have been into everything on this car, distributer, carb, vacuum fuel pump,fuel tank,exhaust valves,water pump/radiator,spring shackles,wheel bearings,steering box,brakes,transmission and more. Matt, I FEEL YOUR PAIN!

 

This car is now roadworthy but the vapor locking has been kicking my butt.

 

I did give Matt H call to see how his 29 is set up and I will follow his recommendation to run a rotary vane pump/pressure regulator.

 

I was close to fuel injecting it with a custom manifold and a TBI off of a Chevy 

 

Jim

 

 

 

IMG_0055.thumb.JPG.ab9323ec4f9f731b883b23ccdd0e9507.JPG

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Jim......I almost became a Vermonter before moving to Palm Beach........I love the Whitingham Vt area. The Cadillac’s can be and are a handful. Being a purist I won’t run a Caddy on an electric pump, but I sure understand why people do it. I have a 16 right now that runs perfect in the cool weather.......when it gets over 85 though you may as well bring a tow truck when you go for a ride. I think I can get it fixed.......but I will be out of hair and have a bad attitude by the time I get it done. Never, Never,Never buy a car without getting expert help, it’s the best return on investment you will EVER spend on a purchase. I have been noticing that in today’s modern world with instant gratification in most areas, people just don’t have the patience to get the cars sorted. Reguardless of what the car costs, and even if It just won a class at Pebble Beach, it’s going to need work. Currently I am keeping twenty complicated pre war cars running, sorted, and ready to tour on a moments notice............it’s incredible how busy it keeps me. I get help when needed, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. My best advice is when you need to service or make a repair gather all possible parts, gaskets, spares, and lots of photos of you car before you take it apart, as well as photos of other similar cars. Just yesterday I did a major job in a one off multi cylinder monster of a car, it’s been almost 9 months since I started locating parts, gaskets, had some items chromed, fabricated a few small easy parts, etc. To my amazement it all went rather smoothly and the car will be ready to run first thing this morning. I’m looking forward to tuning it and taking it for a drive.....it’s first real time out as a correct, properly restored and sorted car. No incorrect parts anywhere......including fuel line fittings, modern wiring, correct carburetor, correct distributior, overhauled steering box, new tires and tubes, and new wheels. All on a 100 point car that wouldn’t run or drive correctly. The original prototype Kelsey-Hayes wheels were failing and I had to make new ones.......it was a global proposition but I got them done in less than 90 days all in......I wasn’t easy, but very rewarding. Unfortunately the owner of the car likes to keep his stuff camera shy, so I can’t post a photo. I’m looking forward to today’s drive.

 

Thats right.....I forgot overhauling the brake system, water pump, fixing oil leaks, a rattle in the drivers door, installing correct hose clamps, and a bunch of other stuff that’s escaping me......all on a 100 point car. With luck, it will be called “sorted and ready to tour” by this weekend. We shall see............

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Ed, admitting that I have no fixed definition of "restored" - I'm curious to know what percentage of restored cars you think are mechanically sound? By that I mean, capable of going down the road with confidence if not optimum performance.

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I should mention that I don't necessarily RECOMMEND using an electric pump, only that my car has been bulletproof reliable using one for more than 10 years. It has driven in 104 ambient temperatures and while it started to stutter, it never stopped running. I run a Carter rotary vane pump with an expensive Holley racing regulator that drops it down to about 1.5 PSI for the Johnson carb. There are times when I park it after a drive on a hot day and can actually hear the fuel percolating in the carburetor. However, I am completely convinced that using the electric pump makes my car more or less immune to the problems of vapor lock and heat soak. With the carb down in the V like it is and surrounded on three sides by exhaust manifolds, gravity might not be enough, even though there's a large reservoir of liquid fuel in the vacuum tank. I had a restored vacuum tank to install on the car but I was hesitant to mess with it simply because it works so well. I haven't driven the car in four or five months but I bet I could have it running in less than 10 seconds. In fact, I have twice won $20 at the local cruise night betting that my '29 Cadillac would start faster than some guy's modern fuel injected car. If it has been driven in the past day or two, I know it will start in half a turn. I also know that a modern fuel injected car takes at least three turns to start. But it's a great demonstration for those knotheads who think old cars are fussy and unreliable and "you can't drive that thing without a small block Chevy in it!"

 

Here are some photos of the fuel regulator I'm using:

 

Regulator2.thumb.jpg.5730342a3987df6ccb1461139d37b989.jpg Regulator1.thumb.jpg.54bc3bac97b48dfdca440ac80e5a8809.jpg Regulator3.thumb.jpg.a7e34a08b4417a10acf60b2980e73a56.jpg

 

 

42 minutes ago, JV Puleo said:

Ed, admitting that I have no fixed definition of "restored" - I'm curious to know what percentage of restored cars you think are mechanically sound? By that I mean, capable of going down the road with confidence if not optimum performance.

 

I can probably address this pretty well, too. I have come to the conclusion that ALL old cars have issues. ALL. Proper sorting is hard and almost nobody does it. Most guys do "close enough" and that's good enough for them. Given that more than 600 cars have passed through my shop in the past four years and none of them were perfect, I can only deduce that all hobbyists cut corners. Sorry, but the guys on this site are among the guilty--there aren't a few thousand perfectionists here and nowhere else. I promise that if you're reading this, you do hack work. Not meant to be an accusation or an offense, just that there's no way--statistically--that I can experience hundreds of cars and have it be an anomaly. All cars are full of hack work. Most of the time, it works OK, some of the time it doesn't, and sometimes it leaves you stranded.

 

There are a lot of temporary fixes where a guy obviously meant to go back and fix something, but since it worked he just left it alone. My fuel regulator, above, is an excellent example. I installed that rubber hose when I was trying to figure out how to make both the vacuum tank AND the electric fuel pump work by installing a check valve between them--I removed the existing hard line and installed the check valve, but it wouldn't open with just gravity feed from the vacuum tank so I stuck the rubber hose on it so it would run so I could move it and it is still there now--a temporary fix that became permanent because it worked. Now that I'm reminded it's there, I'm going to make a new hard line for it this weekend and do the best job I can. I'm embarrassed to show those photos and I don't want to seem like a hypocrite, but many people just don't care if their cars are hacky as long as they're good enough to get to the cruise night and back again. That's sadly a vast majority of the hobby, including a lot of people here I bet. 

 

As an experiment, go sit by the entrance of a car show sometime and just listen to the exhaust note of any car with a carburetor. I guarantee that most of them, at idle, will sound odd. That's tuning or a bad combination or some kind of hack work. The snuffly, irregular sound. A lot of guys mistake that for "high performance" and "that's how it's supposed to sound" and "it's the cam" but it's not. It's just that they don't know the difference between good enough and right.

 

THAT is the crux of the matter in its entirety. Most folks just don't know the difference between running 80% and 100%. They don't know that hack work is hack. They don't know that rubber hoses and worm-drive hose clamps on their fuel system is wrong and they don't know what else they should use--they feel smart just because they used actual fuel hose instead of rubber hose from Home Depot. They don't realize that the mechanic they're paying $100/hour to fix their car isn't really doing it the way the factory recommended, he's doing it the way he thinks it should be done. This phenomenon is largely what has led to at least a portion of the hot rod market: when your mechanic doesn't know how to fix what's there, he tells you it can't be fixed and talks you into installing something he CAN fix like a small-block Chevy. What other explanation is there for those grotesque Full Classic hot rods that were built because the owner "just wanted something reliable he could drive without worries?" 

 

I feel confident that I could drive my '29 Cadillac to California tomorrow with no more prep than checking the oil and tire pressure. I am equally confident that my '41 Buick Limited could do it right this moment. I don't need a small block Chevy. But most people's experience doesn't mirror mine. My father's old cars broke down every time he took them out. He was definitely a hack. He understood the principles of how a car worked, but wasn't so good at the application and his cars were full of hardware store solutions he made up himself. All he ever wanted was an old car that would get him there and back again, but he never owned one. When the two of us did a long-distance tour in my '29 Cadillac a few years ago, he was very concerned about going more than a few miles from home and when we returned 980 miles later without doing anything but put gas in it, he thought it was miraculous. He didn't think such a thing was even possible in an old car.

 

Hack work is why people have the mistaken impression that old cars aren't reliable. Everyone does hack work. Every car is full of it. And most folks just figure that's OK, including, most likely YOU, the guy reading this right now. No offense, but statistically, it has to be true. I know you have cut a corner or did something just good enough to get the thing back on the road. 

 

Strive to do better. Doing it properly and skillfully takes more time and more money. But it's worth it.

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I'd be very hesitant to say, EVERYONE. I don't consider using an incorrect hose clamp, flare nut or a piece of plastic coated wire to be "hack work." I do consider using JB Weld to patch up a cracked block or using vise grips to tighten a gland nut to be hack work and wouldn't even consider it. Of course, I may not live long enough to finish my project.

 

I've worked on several very good, unmolested pre-war cars that showed no sign of ever having been in the hands of a hack... although I admit that I've seen a lot more that have. I've also known some very good mechanics that were careful, thoughtful and thoroughly understood how cars should work. In my first mechanic job, I worked with a gentleman named Don Dugal. Don went about his work very quietly and I now realize that he was astonishingly efficient. I only remember one job that had him scratching his head and all he had to do was sleep on it and come back the next day with the answer. Once, when we were faced with a complicated electrical problem he got out a wiring diagram of the car. It looked like colored spaghetti to me but Don spent about 5 minutes studying it, went right to the problem and fixed it. "How did you do that," I asked. "I was a radar repairman in the Air Force" he replied.

Edited by JV Puleo
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23 hours ago, JV Puleo said:

Ed, admitting that I have no fixed definition of "restored" - I'm curious to know what percentage of restored cars you think are mechanically sound? By that I mean, capable of going down the road with confidence if not optimum performance.

 

I think the true numbers of cars "sorted" and operating as they were when new is less than three percent. Maybe 10 percent are adequate to operate as intended with only a very few minor issues. I once took a Pierce to the PAS meet, and there was an identicle car there, also restored. I offered to swap cars with the other owner just for feedback. After an hour he gave me my car back again and said he was stunned how much better my car was overall, in ALL aspects. No magic about it, we do EVERY component, nut, bolt, and washer on a car. In the end its worth all the effort. I attended a meet about fifteen years ago, and another gentleman asked me to drive his car and evaluate it for him. I never even left the parking lot.....another 100 point turd..........I told him the car was not safe to operate on the road. He decided to drive it anyway, and fortunatly it broke down early before anyone was hurt. Steering and brakes were terrible........the guy just had no clue. So, to answer you question, if you can jump in your car, and drive it two thousand miles without doing anything but gas, oil, and air........I would say its a sorted and reliable driver.......how well it runs, stops, and steers would be another issue. I don't carry tools with me....I get the car sorted bumper to bumper before I take them out. There are exceptions to the rule........certain cars we tour with are just plain high maintenance and you need a few spares and tools........example, Model J Duesenberg. Even when properly restored, tuned, and dialed in, they need constant attention especially the brakes.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Thanks, Ed.

 

Your 3% / 10% estimate makes sense to me, at least in terms of the cars I've personally seen. I've had very little to do with "100 point" cars as, 40 years ago when I was working on old cars none of my customers were interested in restoration competition and none were overly interested in the cosmetics. The one car that might have fit that description was a 1921 American Ghost roadster that my friend Andy Mowbray had restored. I finished assembling the car after it was painted but had nothing to do with the engine work. We drove that car for a few months before he sold it... somewhat unhappy with the way it ran although the mechanicals had been "rebuilt" by a well thought of shop. When I was assembling it I found a small, but critical, brake part in a box of miscellaneous leftovers and ended up having to disassemble both rear brakes in order to put it back (as luck would have it, I took the wrong one apart first). Were it not that Andy had also owned another Ghost that was spectacularly well maintained and totally unrestored (it only 14,000 miles on it when he bought it) we would not have had anything to compare the restored car too but the fact was, it simply wasn't quite as good. We later had another unrestored car in similar condition and this confirmed our estimate of the restored roadster.

 

I do tend to carry a few tools - mostly because I have a superstitious fear that things only go wrong when I don't prepare for them!

 

Edit... an addition. Those tools came in handy when I drove my 1910 REO from Rhode Island to Long Island. On the way back, getting off the Orient Point Ferry, I broke the drive shaft. This was my own fault... a repair that I made then that I wouldn't make today but at the time I no other way of doing it and it did work fine for a year or two. In any case, I pulled over in front of a power generating station and started taking it apart when a crew working at the station arrived. They insisted in helping... it took us half an hour to get the part out. The foreman took me around to the welding truck where their head welder was working and he put the parts that had separated back together. We put the drive shaft back in the car and I was off again. The broken drive shaft had delayed me about 2 or 3 hours.

Edited by JV Puleo
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Dad and I have had seven 1931 Cadillac V-8's over the years and helped plenty of friends with theirs too.  Fine running cars, but ....  We restored the first car (a V-8 Town Sedan) along with a fellow restoring his, John Tornquist of Bloomington, ILL (both should be out there somewhere - tu-tone powder and dark blue with orange wheels and painted blue undercarriage, sidemount covers, and ...).    John finished his car first and successfully tours it for years - incredibly comprehensive restoration too.  John had an electic fuel pump in his car and ran a straight line through the vacuum tank (eliminated vacuum tank  guts).    We ran our car with the factory set up (all be it had a electric pump to prime - which you have to be careful of as the vent for the vacuum tank sprays on the exhaust manifold if it overflows).   A key was perhaps that our exhaust was wrapped, the fuel line re-routed, insulation on the fuels lines, and ...  Inevitable though, it would be 5pm/6PM on a Sunday on the way home from some AACA tour and the thing would just have so much heat sink related to carbeuration that it would die on the roadside  and at 8:00/9:00pm my parents would pull into the drive and let's just say no one was pleased.  And thus why we no longer have 1931 Cadillacs.   As a sidenote:  regarding the vacuum tank,  I will always recall the day the 1931 Opera Coupe was left alone for a few minutes and just purring along in the driveway with flames shooting out from under the hood - the vacuum tank was overflowing and spraying gas on the manifold.   Additional side note:  A good friend drove his 1930 LaSalle with an electric pump and a big Holly sitting on to of the manifold cross over - actually was an incredible performer.

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Via my post 31 Cadillac work helping friends - you have to spend a lot of time with the carb, electric pumps (+ regulators) are great, and 1.5 lbs pressure seems to be right on the money (per Matt's comment). You have to spend a lot of time unthinking the original mentality when car was build of pre-heating fuel and a big fan of insulating exhaust, fuel lines, and ...   I  have been wondering if you can Jet-Hot coat the manifold crossover too or maybe even block off the exhaust exchange within.  

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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Matt

Thanks for the pictures of your pressure regulator on your Cadillac 

 

Ed

Whitingham is a lovely area and I have some friends that live there. I am in Dover.

 

Getting back to the subject of cars being done correctly, when I was a kid my father had a 29 Packard 7 passenger phaeton. It was a car that he had restored himself. I remember a number of trips from our home in Longmeadow Mass to beaches in Connecticut and Rhode Island. That car never broke down.

 

When I was about 10 years old Dad sold the car to a gentleman who lived in town and as I recall his name was Mr Blake. I have always wondered where that car is now and if I could buy it back.

 

Here is a picture of it.

IMG_0297.thumb.PNG.a0a41c6083131cd9f19da601d4f1d6a5.PNG

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15 minutes ago, John_Mereness said:

Via my post 31 Cadillac work helping friends - you have to spend a lot of time with the carb, electric pumps (+ regulators) are great, and 1.5 lbs pressure seems to be right on the money (per Matt's comment). You have to spend a lot of time unthinking the original mentality when car was build of pre-heating fuel and a big fan of insulating exhaust, fuel lines, and ...   I  have been wondering if you can Jet-Hot coat the manifold crossover too or maybe even block off the exhaust exchange within.  

 

When I got my Cadillac, the crossover was already blocked off and removed--just a custom plate over the opening and some gasket material. The mechanism for the dash control is still in place, but there's zero exhaust heat going to the carburetor. AROUND it, yes, but not into any longer. I don't have any photos handy, though. Sorry.

 

I'm planning on blocking off the crossover  between the exhaust manifolds on my '35 Lincoln as well. Looking at the design, it actually appears that the carburetor is bolted DIRECTLY to the exhaust manifolds. I'm just going to slip a gasket in there to block the exhaust crossover just to cut down on heat going into the carb. It can't hurt, especially since we don't drive in winter and our gas is so much more volatile today than in 1935.

 

 

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Just now, Matt Harwood said:

 

When I got my Cadillac, the crossover was already blocked off and removed--just a custom plate over the opening and some gasket material. The mechanism for the dash control is still in place, but there's zero exhaust heat going to the carburetor. AROUND it, yes, but not into any longer. I don't have any photos handy, though. Sorry.

 

I'm planning on blocking off the crossover  between the exhaust manifolds on my '35 Lincoln as well. Looking at the design, it actually appears that the carburetor is bolted DIRECTLY to the exhaust manifolds. I'm just going to slip a gasket in there to block the exhaust crossover just to cut down on heat going into the carb. It can't hurt, especially since we don't drive in winter and our gas is so much more volatile today than in 1935.

 

 

SMART MOVE !!!

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Actually, here's a picture of the engine when I first got the car. Not pretty, but you can see the block-off plates on the exhaust manifolds:

 

DSCN3009.thumb.JPG.39984de5bb904047a0453d4c01d0c90a.JPG

 

Here's how it looks today (more or less). You have no idea how hard it was to find that carburetor cover, which I go back and forth thinking either traps a lot of heat around the carb or acts as a kind of heat sink or radiator for the carb. I usually leave it in place unless it's brutally hot.

 

IMG_1111a.jpg.1c41fd33eeff68e7d6d4072d167d4c3b.jpg

 

I'm at the shop today installing that hard line from the regulator to the carb and doing some work on the '41 Buick exhaust manifold project.

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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On ‎11‎/‎28‎/‎2018 at 8:26 PM, edinmass said:

JV- since you had you car almost fifty years ago, there are some issues back then you weren’t fighting. Having a correct intact unmolested car was and still is a great advantage. Today you would also have the following........

 

pot metal in distributor- almost all pre 29’s have failed- solution very difficult today.

modern fuel- vacuum tank doesn’t work as well with today’s fuel density - specific gravity and boil point

parts availability- much better back then for spare and consumables......try to get CORRECT points today(one size fits all...not!)

incorrect reproduction parts......lots of carb parts being sold are not correct.....big problem now

additional fifty years of tractor mechanics messing things up........

general lack of basic mechanical skills of most collectors today.......

modern road conditions......people drive their old car much too fast today....causing lots of problems.....

 

I can attest that from 1980 to today the Stewart Warner tanks are much more of a hassle, and the Cadillac carb is just plain terrible with no mixture control. Add in the funky float hinge and needle and seat modifications that almost all Cadillac’s suffer, and it adds up to a bunch of hassles. Also, in today’s modern world almost everyone is so short on time that they just don’t stick to getting problems sorted out. There is no shortcut for time spent sorting and maintaining a car. 

 

Its my my experience that most new collectors who start out with a 1921-1931 Cadillac get very frustrated with their cars quickly. They also get lots of bad advice........and usually don’t know when to accept good advice.....I often don’t even try to help sometimes.........people insisting on half assed repairs who have never driven a pre war car twenty feet. I suggest that today people looking for help ask only owners who have driven their car ten, twenty, or thirty thousand miles.........they are the best resource. In one of my clubs we have a guy we call the answer man.......has an answer for all problems and issues........but his car never runs and we never see it on tour.....

 

Ed,   This is the only time I have read anything you have written that I have disagreed with.    Cadillac 314 of 1926-7 were the last to use air pump driven by the engine to pressurize the fuel tank, with a hand pump on the left of the dash to bring the fuel up if needed,  and a fuel pressure gauge on the instrument panel.   They did not use vacuum tank.  The car which my friend Bob Craddock owned for around 60 years until recently had been owned by three generations of the original family before that,  and total mileage before Bob exceeded  five hundred thousand miles.    The only problems I faced with the fuel system were keeping a coating on the cork float that was impervious to fuel,  and  the aged leather seat for the air valve flap of the carby.  I was much less equipped and technically competent in the mid 1960s than I have become since, yet I had no fuel problems for several years before I traded that car and a 1923 Cadillac for my 1918 Mercer.  If the float and float level are right, and likewise the air valve seat,   the mixture adjustment is simply a knurled screw which adjusts the setting of the air valve spring.   I found the man who had been the Cadillac dealer in Melbourne in the 1920s.   He told me that the original owner of a 1927 sedan he sold and serviced had kept careful records, and over 70,000 miles the car had returned 17 miles per gallon.  I was very happy with the road performance of that Cadillac.  The total area of brake lining for hand and footbrakes combined exceeded that for any other car that was known here;  and it could be driven quickly and stopped quickly at the time.

 

 

 

 

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I wondered if I was missing something. The car I had in the 70s didn't have a vacuum tank although I was never able to get it to hold pressure in the tank for very long. There must have been an air leak somewhere but I never found it. Of course, I have learned a few things in the last 48 years. I suspect that if I had the car today I could fix it.

 

I had the same problem with the cork float. Actually, I had the carb overhauled by an old Cadillac mechanic that was a friend of a friend. He was in his 80s when I was in my 20s so he had been working on cars like mine when they were new. He claimed to actually know the car and had maintained it for WH Vanderbilt who, I'd been told, was the original owner. Vanderbilt was later elected Governor of Rhode Island. I take that with a grain of salt...but he was a nice guy. His everyday car was a beautifully maintained early 50s Cadillac.

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)
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Of course Ivan is correct with his comments on the 1926 & 1927 cars with the hand pump and pressurized gas tank. I was too short in my comments to call out the all the cars and their differences(I was up for 24 hours straight buying a Packard with a friend, spending most of the day on an airplane, thus I was over tired and short winded....a rare occurrence!).......I was basically implying that the Cadilac’s Ignition pot metal issues, and Cadillac-Johnson carburetors are all very difficult to deal with today, and toss in the Stewart-Warner vacuum tanks and you have a rolling disaster on your hands. The hand pump/pressurized tank set up worked fine.....for many cars. Only issue was a leaking float and you had a huge mess on your hands with the pressurized system. My 1914 Cadillac was also finicky, and often would puke so much gas and oil I was too embarrassed to park it at someone’s home due to the mess. I have had a Cadillac cork float last for twenty years and have no problems, and have had a brand new cork float sink in less than a few hours. Lesson learned........you have to be insane to run cork in today’s modern fuel era.........I run brass......and make them myself. I don’t care for the modern material that has been offered for the last twenty years......it’s just me.......I understand many people run them without any issue. The years from WWI to 1928 were not great years for MOST cars........styling was mostly lame, engine and chassis development was stalled for many companies, and one can fairly say that the low and mid price market were offering better driving cars than many of the high end brands. I would take a Stude or a Buick over most of the luxury cars from this era.........most, not all.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Possibly the best way to make a difficult shaped float is to cast the shape in wax. ( An equal alternative is Woods metal.)   If using wax, you coat the surface with powdered graphite.  You electroplate copper onto the graphited wax or woods metal as case may be, until you can assess the thickness of the copper shell at around five to seven thou thick.    You empty the float of Woods metal in a hot water bath, or whatever method and temperature is appropriate to recover the wax.  The cylinder water jackets of the first racing 6 cylinder racing Napier, called "Sampson" were electro-deposited on graphite,  but Bob Chamberlain chose to make new cylinders by a different method when he constructed a replica of Sampson using design notes from Arthur Rowledge's note books.

Similarly, Alan Morgan, who was a long time Chamberlain employee, told me that during the war they had to make cartridge tube radiators for certain aircraft.  They made a casting die to produce myriadds  of woods metal formers, which they electroplated to suitable wall thickness.  Then they assembled the shell tubes in a jig to tin and solder them into a radiator core.  You can do much with patience and determination.

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