Brooklyn Beer

Advice / input on buying a late 20's - early 30's car

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I think all Chrysler company products, from Plymouth up,

had excellent reputations at that period.  They were known

for being well engineered cars.  They had hydraulic brakes

--a big improvement--even in the 1920's, when almost all cars

still had mechanical brakes.

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Franklins do not have temperature gauges and I vaguely recall that they run about 70 degrees  hotter then a water cooled car. I owned my 1931 series 153 for 40 years and never gave any thought to how hot it was running, didn't need to. Never ever overheated, if you read my previous posts I drove it in 80+ degree weather in August every year to the Franklin club meet from long island to just south of Syracuse ( about 300 miles) and never had any issue. Usually drove it a total of 1,000 miles that week. The 1930 - 34 cars can travel all day long at 50-55 or more all day long and get about 13 mpg.

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I just read through some of the earlier comments I hadn't had a chance to for a few days. The 1925 thru 1927 series 11 cars had a transmission brake, not four wheel brakes. Four wheel drum brakes started in 1928 series 12 cars. The series 11 is a great running and driving car but best if driven at about 40 mph, stops well but of course 4 wheel brakes stop better. I woud suggest before you buy anything , any make, any year is to see if you can find someone with a similar make , year model, and ask to go for a ride of some length.

In response to the comments regarding the 1931 Derham bodied car I had, I wanted to buy it from Jack Edmunds but he sold it to a dealer from Briarcliff Manor, NY , then known as The Imperial Barn. . I bought it from them, not him. I wanted to buy it from him but he decided to sell it to them because they had the cash and it would have taken me longer to come up with that by about a week. this was all 40 + years ago so perhaps his memory was a bit foggy. Three of us restored the car - me, Paul Fitzpatrick and Bob Patchke most all of the work completed in Bob's garage at his house in West Babylon, NY. .

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. As Walt said the Franklins didn't have a temp gauge. It wasn't needed because there's no water to boil over.

 

What some owners, who like to have a temp gauge anyway, do is install the aircraft type temp gauges that have one or two rings that fit under the spark plugs (usually number 2 and 5 cylinder) with a capillary tube that leads back to  a dash-mounted gauge.  

 

Typically, cylinder head temps are around 400F. 

 

 After years of hearing  worries about does oil get too hot in  Franklin engines I ran a few customer's Franklins with engine oil temp gauges as a test. They don't run as hot as many think an air cooled engine will get.  120 -130F is normal while cruising on level roads in Summer.  150F was the hottest oil temp I've ever seen and that was on a hot summer drive on long hill climbs coming from western Massachusetts to central NYS. Modern engines run hotter oil temps than that. 

 

Paul

Edited by PFitz (see edit history)
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Thanks for your time Walt and everyone.  I grew up in Blue Point,  Walt, just a little ways out from you.

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On ‎1‎/‎11‎/‎2019 at 6:46 PM, Brooklyn Beer said:

Franklins are air cooled cars which would have me question one where I live because in my part of TX summer comes in around May 1st and mid 90's stick around June through September.  Upper 90's - 100+ in August every day. So I would be curious to hear from anyone about how these cars handle heat. Even after dark our lows in July might be 85.

 

There  are quite a few Franklin owners in Texas and many other hot parts of the country. In 37 years in the Franklin Club, I don't recall ever hearing that their cars have problems with hot weather, other than sometimes vapor lock, which is not unique to Franklins. 

 

When we had the Franklin Centennial in Syracuse it was 102F that day and almost 100 Franklins drove into Syracuse. Only one broke down. It was a V-12 with a vapor locked fuel pump - after getting stopped at a traffic light. I got under it and wrapped the fuel pump with wet paper towels while police directed traffic around my big feet. Within a few minutes we got it started and the V12, with me  following in the break-down vehicle, had a police escort right to the gathering site in the center of the city. 

 

Paul

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I have to do a little more reading about the Franklin. Is there a recommended book?  I have to say they are starting to grow on me. Quite the dedicated owners group.

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 Have you been to the Franklin Club website ?  www.franklincar.org 

 

There are books about Franklins that are for sale in the merchandise section of the site.  I think they may also be on Amazon, too,  but don't hold me to that.

 

Paul

Edited by PFitz (see edit history)
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Well I am now a member of the Franklin club.  I just have to learn more about this car and the fascinating history of it.  The 1929 and up cars just seem to talk to me.  I have read that maintenance on these cars is best scheduled on hourly drive time VS miles which is basically what my other cars are on. Are there things on these cars though that require a different series of maintenance scheduling? Special oil for higher temps? ect.  And what are some of the typical mechanical "upgrades" done to make these cars just a little more friendly with increased drivability for today's world?. I.E electronic ignition conversions, modifications for the fuel of today, etc.  I see a club member has taken it upon himself to offer a solution with a better carb.

Edited by Brooklyn Beer (see edit history)

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I no longer own my 31 Franklin but do not recall any modifications - absolutely no eletronic fuel pump! Keep it the way the factory built it, they got it right the first time around!  SOme Franklin owners say they use oil, well they don't actually "use" it , most often the nuts at the bottom of the push rod tubes which are external on the right side of the engine are not tight enough or perhaps looen up because they were not tight enough to start with. There are several people that specialize in working on Franklins mechanically and it may be worth the $ to have them look at your car once you buy one if thats what you decide to do. Get it sorted correctly before you start to extensively use it and you wil have decades of great motoring ( that applies to any old car not just Franklins)

My perspective is from someone who has drive pre WWII era assorted makes - most;ly Franklin and Packards, over a period of 50+ years and well over 100,000 miles. Never frustrated nor disappointed because I did spend the time and/or the $ to "get it right" the first time. Think about it, it is like living in a house of the same era, until you sort out the electrical, heating, roof etc for any issues after 80+ years you can't complain about it if it doesn't work exactly the way it did when new.

Other cars I have owned and really liked and if I had the space and $ to own all of them still would - 1933 Chrysler Royal 8, 1941 Packard 120 ( column shift car that after many years would need to have the shifting fork at the bottom of the steering column sorted for wear) and just to touch upon my current toys 1930 Packard std eight ( big car that is just so easy to drive and stops on a dime,) , 1940 Buick Roadmaster - very very fast car, yikes.

Just from personal experience and interchange, the Buick Club people are as nice as the Franklin Club people are. Packard people are great too.

My 1930 Packard is a national senior AACA car, finished by someone nearly 40 years ago and then stored in a heated garage and really not driven , I never have it judged as I am not into awards of any kind at all. The 1931 Franklin I owned is now with its new owner who not only drives it but shows it as well and it has won all kinds of CCCA and AACA awards.

Pretty cars that aren't driven are just , well  "Pretty" ,but for me personally , going down the road with a car full of friends , even at night is just such a wonderful experience, here is an 80 - 90  year old car functioning as it did when it was new despite perhaps a lot of neglect over the years .

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I have to say that this is one of the best threads going on anywhere on the internet about cars from this era! I too am looking at this vintage car and have been fascinated by the passion and expertise shared here. Thank you for starting it Brooklyn, and thanks to everyone who has shared their personal experiences with us all  

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4 hours ago, Brooklyn Beer said:

Well I am now a member of the Franklin club.  I just have to learn more about this car and the fascinating history of it.  The 1929 and up cars just seem to talk to me.  I have read that maintenance on these cars is best scheduled on hourly drive time VS miles which is basically what my other cars are on. Are there things on these cars though that require a different series of maintenance scheduling? Special oil for higher temps? ect.  And what are some of the typical mechanical "upgrades" done to make these cars just a little more friendly with increased drivability for today's world?. I.E electronic ignition conversions, modifications for the fuel of today, etc.  I see a club member has taken it upon himself to offer a solution with a better carb.

 Welcome to a wonderful Club.

 

Nothing special except to hand oil the felt pads on the rocker arms about every 600-800 miles.

 

In 29 Franklin used Delco Remy ignition, starter and generator all fairly common, reliable, and parts are not hard to find. In fact the distributor cap, rotor, points and condenser are 48-52 Chevy, available at any autoparts store and total cost is less than many other makes of NOS caps.

 

Rhode Island Wire Service has available duplicates of the original Franklin wiring harnesses, along with the option of adding a turn signal unit and it's wiring built right into the harnesses to look original. All you'd need is to find a second tail light for the right side. For the rest, it uses the car's original lights.

 

That Club member is only selling replacement updraft carbs for the 1928 and the early production 1929 because those used pot metal carbs. That is the era that many automotive die cast pot metal parts are crumbling from inter-granular corrosion. The pot metal carbs of the late 1920s can be a risk to use.  For the last half of 1929 and on until end of production in 1934, Franklin used cast iron Strombergs - which are one of the best updrafts ever made.   If you go looking for a 29, bring a small magnet and see if it sticks to the fuel bowl. If it doesn't don't fret, that member has replacement carbs for each of the two size 29 engines that are sized to work properly with  that engine and they are a true auto carb, not an industrial stationary engine carb like some that have been sold in the past.

 

Tire sizes and tubes are not an oddball so you have choices.

 

The Club is reproducing and selling many of the parts that are no longer available. That project has been going for many years, is well funded, and is still growing as demand shows up.

 

There's a few things different about the engine as far as rebuilding and proper assembly, but the Club's website has 15 years of indexed Q&A from two long-time members who own/operate full-time restoration shops very familiar with Franklins. Between the two of them they have at least 70 years experience with Franklins of all ages. That Q&A section has answers/solutions to pretty much any question or problem you would every encounter with a Franklin.  The rest of the drive trains are fairly common and use top of the line components, such as Spicer drive shafts, Detroit, or Warner transmissions, etc..   Many of the ball bearings and seals are still being made.  

 

If  I can help with anymore questions about Franklins, please feel free to pm me.

 

Good hunting. I look forward to someday meeting you and your Franklin !

 

Paul

Edited by PFitz (see edit history)
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Fellowship is what it is all about. Paul and I have been friends for 40 years. He knows his stuff and is a skilled craftsman.

Old cars give us the pleasure and relief from all the everyday stuff we have to put up with, have to cope with - the old cars are the "fun" thing we can always count on to give us pleasure , even when they get a bit difficult to sort out. We have great respect for stuff that has survived several world wars where they could have wound up in scrap drives for the materials that they were made from.  All old cars in some way are unique and great, and of course we all have our favorites. AACA recognizes cars/vehicles 25 years old or older and thanks to them a lot of machinery is being preserved. I can appreciate  post WWII era cars very very much, love them. but if it comes down to a point where you can only keep one old car then some of us "seasoned" collectors ( substitute 'old buggers' for that if you want) still think that "Running boards rule".😏

Walt G.

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All right, this question has always bugged me when I see a car of this era with the extra levers on the wheel hub. (no horn?)  I know they are for throttle and for spark advance and retard(?).   Why would you need to advance and retard the spark?  

 

And something else I guess I will have sort out here in my county in TX.  Cars 25 years and older only need a safety inspection.  Lights and horn.  How does that work in other states?  Franklins only had one rear light and was that a brake light as well?  No turn signals?  

 

And where was the hot air from the air cooling expended too in relation to the passenger compartment ?  And how was the air circulated evenly among the cylinders?  If it started in parallel from front to back then would not the last cylinder be getting much warmer air being last in line?  How exactly is the air pushed through the line of cylinders that gives them equal cooling ?

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the one rear light is also a brake light , there are several bulbs in that light, most often one for the brake light, one for the license plate ( clear class at the bottomon of the light) and one for the light itself when you turn on the headlamps that light goes on as well. For Franklin I bleieve that 1928 was the first year that a extra light was offered at the rear so you colud have two lights - hel;ps today as moist drivers do not know about carts with one rear light.

Turn signals, Franklin never had them, hand signals - if you use hand signals now be prepared to have people wave "Hi" back at you as they think you are being friendly ( SERIOUSLY) In my pre war cars if they didn't have turn signals I had them wired in, if I had a new harness for the entire car I told the harness maker to run extra wires for this before he had the cloth wrapped/woven around it. A simple turn signal switch can be mounted on the bottom edge of the dashboard or you can get a strap on lever/handle to mount on the steering column , many NOS units can still be found and bought at flea markets or on line auctions.

Advance and retard of the spark was a way you started the car in that era. most of the time now that can be set up and left, but it is a simple task usually done when the car is cold and has sat for some time. It is not a big deal and the instruction book will inform you of when and how to set the hand levers. Most horns are a button at the center of the steering wheel.

Re air distribution - Franklin engineers sorted this out for you, nothing to worry about and you won't fry a cylinder because it is further back in line. Have you ever really looked at the size of one of the fans on the front of a Franklin? It is mounted to the end of the crankshaft , a very effective unit. Death Valley Scotty did not ha]ve a problem with it in the desert proving that Franklin's did not over heat. One of Franklin's sales efforts had a kid sit on/straddle  the hood of a Franklin and then they drove around town in the car with him there and holding a sign that said "I ain't hot".

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It takes time for fuel mixture to burn. Not much time, but then an engine turns very fast. For easy starting you want the spark when the piston is at top dead center. As the engine speeds up you need to lead the spark the way a duck hunter leads a fast moving duck. The faster the speed the more lead. But not enough to make the engine knock or ping, which it will do especially when under a heavy load.

 

Today this is all taken care of automatically. On really old cars it is controlled manually by the driver. In practice all you need to do is retard the spark for starting, advance for running. At one time you might need to back off the spark on a long steep hill but today's gas makes this unnecessary.

 

As a rule cars are only required to have the equipment they had when new. Turn signals were not required before 1951. Seat belts before 1967 etc.

 

Air enters at the front through the fan, goes through a duct on top of the engine, passes down and between the cylinders and exits on the sides. Then disperses under the car. See one run on the test stand.

 

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49 minutes ago, Brooklyn Beer said:

All right, this question has always bugged me when I see a car of this era with the extra levers on the wheel hub. (no horn?)  I know they are for throttle and for spark advance and retard(?).   Why would you need to advance and retard the spark?  

 

And something else I guess I will have sort out here in my county in TX.  Cars 25 years and older only need a safety inspection.  Lights and horn.  How does that work in other states?  Franklins only had one rear light and was that a brake light as well?  No turn signals?  

 

And where was the hot air from the air cooling expended too in relation to the passenger compartment ?  And how was the air circulated evenly among the cylinders?  If it started in parallel from front to back then would not the last cylinder be getting much warmer air being last in line?  How exactly is the air pushed through the line of cylinders that gives them equal cooling ?

The levers on the steering wheel hubs of Franklins are just a hand throttle up until 1929. In 1930 and 31 they  retained the hand throttle lever and added a ho/low beam lever at 12 o'clock position.  In 1932, also the hand throttle, but the top level became the head light switch.   Yes, single tail lights on the left, but in 1930 there was the option of a second tail light. Many owners have added that right light and Rhode Island wire has the measurements to include it in their tail light harnesses. They went to two fender-mounted tail lights as standard starting in 32. 

 

The air is drawn in through the lower half of the grill shell (we don't use the term "radiators" in Franklin land). Up until 1929 it is forced through a removable "hood" over the top of the cylinders, down through the copper cooling fins surrounding each cylinder, and out both sides of the engine base. In 1930 the "cross draft" engines have the cooling air forced through a duct on the driver side, across the cooling fins, and down and out the passenger side.  

 

The cooling fans create quite a lot of cooling air volume and some pressure. There is more air being forced through than can easily fit without some resistance,  so that makes for more even distribution. But because of using a squirrel cage type fan it doesn't create horse power robbing back pressure on the fan.

 

I know of one owner who hadn't installed the hood panels yet while restoring his 28 Franklin. He forgot to fasten down the air hood to the top of the motor and then started the engine.  The sheet metal air hood and fasteners weights  about 15 pounds.  As soon as the engine started it blew off, hit the garage ceiling, and then came down putting a dent in the front fender.  I never doubted that a Franklin lacked for cooling air capacity after he told me about that. 

 

Paul

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Two things that I will suggest, 

1. Avoid a car with external contracting brakes bands, like my '28 Chrysler, 'Chrysler from 29 onwards had  internal expanding brakes. Why? In the wet, the contracting brake bands slip....😕

2. Avoid cars with generators intergrated into the block and  turn with the timing chain. Again my  '28 Chrysler  had this but not from '29 onwards.

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1 minute ago, maok said:

Two things that I will suggest, 

1. Avoid a car with external contracting brakes bands, like my '28 Chrysler, 'Chrysler from 29 onwards had  internal expanding brakes. Why? In the wet, the contracting brake bands slip....😕

2. Avoid cars with generators intergrated into the block and  turn with the timing chain. Again my  '28 Chrysler  had this but not from '29 onwards.

So does this fit in with Franklins?  I usually never drive in the rain.  What type brakes do Franklins have say from 28 onward?And do Franklins have a bracket mounted genny?

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"Many owners have added that right light and Rhode Island wire has the measurements to include it in their tail light harnesses. They went to two fender-mounted tail lights as standard starting in 32".   

 

 

So this would require a new wiring harness correct in total?  How simple are they in nature?  And to think about it, how are the circuits protected with fuses?  type?

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3 minutes ago, Brooklyn Beer said:

So does this fit in with Franklins?  I usually never drive in the rain.  What type brakes do Franklins have say from 28 onward?And do Franklins have a bracket mounted genny?

Sorry mate, I know nothing about most things, especially Franklins

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26 minutes ago, Walt G said:

the one rear light is also a brake light , there are several bulbs in that light, most often one for the brake light, one for the license plate ( clear class at the bottomon of the light) and one for the light itself when you turn on the headlamps that light goes on as well. For Franklin I bleieve that 1928 was the first year that a extra light was offered at the rear so you colud have two lights - hel;ps today as moist drivers do not know about carts with one rear light.

Turn signals, Franklin never had them, hand signals - if you use hand signals now be prepared to have people wave "Hi" back at you as they think you are being friendly ( SERIOUSLY) In my pre war cars if they didn't have turn signals I had them wired in, if I had a new harness for the entire car I told the harness maker to run extra wires for this before he had the cloth wrapped/woven around it. A simple turn signal switch can be mounted on the bottom edge of the dashboard or you can get a strap on lever/handle to mount on the steering column , many NOS units can still be found and bought at flea markets or on line auctions.

Advance and retard of the spark was a way you started the car in that era. most of the time now that can be set up and left, but it is a simple task usually done when the car is cold and has sat for some time. It is not a big deal and the instruction book will inform you of when and how to set the hand levers. Most horns are a button at the center of the steering wheel.

Re air distribution - Franklin engineers sorted this out for you, nothing to worry about and you won't fry a cylinder because it is further back in line. Have you ever really looked at the size of one of the fans on the front of a Franklin? It is mounted to the end of the crankshaft , a very effective unit. Death Valley Scotty did not ha]ve a problem with it in the desert proving that Franklin's did not over heat. One of Franklin's sales efforts had a kid sit on/straddle  the hood of a Franklin and then they drove around town in the car with him there and holding a sign that said "I ain't hot".

Have not seen the fan cross section or schematic. 

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