Jump to content

54 Pontiac chieftain


Recommended Posts

It’s been a while since I been on here but I haven’t lost interest! Little over a year ago (I think) I posted about the chieftain and truck load of parts I scored for cheap. I finally got my garage built and the car out of the car port into indoor storage. Now what?? I’ve never worked on a car this old before but am up for the task. I have a shop manual and a parts catalog. My plan is to just get the thing road worthy. Making it pretty will come later. I have a couple questions. I have a 6v. Battery I want to keep that system. I would like to get all new wires. Everywhere. But I really would like to see this engine running. Maybe enough to move it back and forth under its own power. I took the carb apart when I first got the car and i think it’s ready to go. So should I just clean all my contacts, hook everything up and cross my fingers? Also, just to make room in the garage I’d like to get both front and back seats and maybe the door panels installed. Thoughts? Feelings? Insults? Any input would be much appreciated! 

555FDC72-30CE-4C52-8F26-02A3F51F114A.jpeg

468794B4-7839-4ADF-AAAB-03E3243BDAAF.jpeg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't go changing plugs, points, condenser, rotor, cap or any wiring.  Get a battery, jury rig a gravity fuel tank to your carb after you install it and start it.  I am willing to bet it will start and run, perhaps without even filing the points.  The big problem most/many people have is they start taking things off and replacing perfectly good parts and then when it doesn't run they don't know if it is some other problem or if some of the replaced parts are wrong or are connected wrong.  You are already ahead of the game with a parts book, a shop manual and knowing that we are here for you.

Good Luck.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice! That’s what I’m talking about! I have a gravity tank I made for the bikes. I didn’t even think about using it for this. This is probably a stupid question but What about oil? Should I remove and inspect the pan or just fill er up? I plan on using a remote starter button that hooks straight to the starter but out of all these boxes of parts I’ve found zero keys. Do I need separate keys for the ignition and doors?

Link to post
Share on other sites

There's one key for the ignition switch and door locks. There's a second key for the trunk lock and the glove box lock. If you can't find the keys check above the driver's sunvisor, inside the ash tray, under the seat or in the glove box. It's worth a try, a previous owner may have stashed them there. Make sure there's oil in the crankcase by checking the dipstick. The engine does turn over and isn't seized, correct?  I would remove the spark plugs and squirt a little oil into each cylinder before I try to start it. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

ok good to know about the keys. Where do I get new ones? I’d need to buy the locks and ignition too? The motor can be turned by hand using the fan and my assistant did the oil in the plugs February of last year. Plugs are back in but it’s only had a car port and a tarp for cover. Maybe I should give them another round?

FFD4E7BF-E429-41EC-8FFE-089DA783F3E9.jpeg

0BA854D1-DE3A-4F2D-A8F6-195D9BFB3E17.jpeg

9517CAC3-F1F1-4908-8024-D41E7CF97E2A.jpeg

Edited by Grizz (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

You'll need to find an experienced locksmith capable of making keys for your lock cylinders. Then you remove the lock cylinders from your car and take them to him to have the new keys made. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Grizz long time no hear! Ya, what Tinindian said. I was lucky to have my engine to first start everything hooked up. Just needed to listen to the engine and like you said, move it. I had cleaned the carb meticulously and took it for a short drive. The next day it wouldn't start. Took the carb apart again and it had so much sediment! Turns out the inside of the gas tank was a mess. I figured if the engine ran and sounded good, then I needed a dependable fuel system and brakes to stop. That's where I had to start. I got super lucky, the hydramatic's been working good and all my wiring is in decent shape. One step at a time and set your priorities. My headliner still looks like crap! LOL! The one thing I'm jealous of is you've already got tons of room to work in the bayless engine bay. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 months later...

It’s taken me a while to get to the car but I think I’ve got all the wires  And contacts cleaned and somewhat figured out. They were totally covered in grime and I had to cut back the electrical tape to expose the tracers. So far I’ve got the ignition and starter switch to the coil, and starter and the generator to the voltage reg. I put in a new 6v battery And hooked up a remote starter switch. The plunger activated but the drive gear did not spin. Just one big “KA-chunk”. I’ve fixed bike starters in the past by simply replacing the plunger? Does this sound right? I removed the starter and discovered this cover band (very cool, first time I’ve worked with a starter this old) there was all kinds of copper(?) and grease debris so my next step will be to clean this thing according to my manual. Am I doing this right?! Will I be able to start this thing  by gravity feeding the carburetor? Also can my 12v charger maintain this new battery while it sits or do I need to get a 6v compatible charger? I know it’s a lot of questions. Forgive my ignorance. Spring is a long way Away but this chicken has already hatched. Here’s some pics for s’s and g’s. Any patient advice will be greatly appreciated.

4528E1FE-65A1-43D2-AE97-BB8D9A9DD304.jpeg

B9F52696-4AAA-461B-B0CE-3A92B865C902.jpeg

FCE0059D-1DA6-41CE-A9D4-E14F50B47F0A.jpeg

Edited by Grizz (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Grizz said:

The plunger activated but the drive gear did not spin. Just one big “KA-chunk”. I’ve rebuilt bike starters in the past by simply replacing the plunger? Does this sound right? 

 

Well, assuming you had a battery cable on one of the large posts, and the other with it's little copper link going down to the big post on the starter, and you triggered it by the small post, and it went clunk, and it didn't spin, one of 2 things is wrong.

 

1) defect in the starter motor itself or

2) the copper bolts in the solenoid are shot.

 

It's always those copper bolts. When the solenoid engages the gear (CLUNK!), it knocks back a copper disc against the 2 copper bolts, and thats what turns on the starter motor. Over time, the heads of the bolts burn off and the disc won't reach anymore. When that happens, you either need to replace them or sometimes you can flip them around and use the other edge of the bolt head, if someone didn't already do that trick years ago.

 

You do need a 6 volt compatible charger. If the charger only says 12v on it, it is only 12v, and not compatible.

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

On your carburetor question:

 

You should be able to fill the carburetor bowl through the bowl vent. This will allow the engine to fire if the electrics are OK. There will be sufficient fuel in the bowl to allow the engine to run 5~10 seconds.

 

You will NOT be able to gravity feed the carburetor sufficiently to allow even a constant idle.

 

Jon.

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks to all who responded so quick. So I went out this morning before taking the kids to school and put the starter on the battery for a bench test and got nothing. Checked the voltage on the new battery and it was 0.0. Put the battery on my new 6v compatible charger, came back a few hours later and it indicated bad battery. Got  a replacement this afternoon and the bench test activated the plunger and barely moved the gear. So I disassembled.  Bloo I see what your saying about turning those bolts and I think your right. One looked ok, but the other was pretty bad (see pictures) In fact everything was caked with copper shavings and grease. The brushes have been kinda flattened out a chipped away. Everything looks burned up in general. I want to take my time with thing and get it looking fresh inside and out. I’m thinking a bench grinder with a wire brush wheel? I read in the manual to steer clear of grease dissolving chemical on certain areas but are there any other recommendations? I briefly looked on the internet for a rebuild kit. Do they make those? Can I buy a new rubber boot for the plunger? Also to answer Gary, both cables are marked 1 gauge. Should I invest in new cables then? If what I have is sufficient I might want to get new ones anyway for aesthetic reasons? Thanks for all the help! Enjoy some pictures....16EC0873-F7CD-43FA-8A04-B2635EDF4B15.jpeg.694bca98d4b5d95b836248b2ecde4c71.jpeg5947E1AB-6A7F-486F-BE5C-02180131D17E.jpeg.b3136e952d461d3dea567bc1e5608ba2.jpeg76760538-C69A-47DE-82C3-DBC32BE6EE01.jpeg.54ddcf40f03b9fa5d6bac1c084ad49a2.jpeg9FAE3194-7B75-45FF-963F-63A8A523D270.jpeg.42aec8361bc50b19725df31cf22da2de.jpeg299A9012-2027-4FD1-94D2-BE37193243BC.jpeg.0cfc9bc71ce0ed668eea06db7b748484.jpeg2F3F33BF-17E5-439C-95FD-D4EBCCC5C856.jpeg.21885e14b0ef07748dbc27fc5a80aed9.jpegD49A364A-EA15-42EA-871D-865A6E185EC0.jpeg.5b85659dac6b6ed3dc00f5e3d681eb22.jpeg

Edited by Grizz (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, one of those bolts in the picture has already been turned around, see the symmetrical wear pattern? You need new ones.

 

Don't get too upset about the copper in the motor part, just clean it all up and then have a good look after its clean. Starter brushes are copper and thats where it comes from. Look online at a new set of brushes, and compare the length to yours. New ones are flat on the face and have to wear in to get the curve, and that takes some off right away. If yours aren't 2/3 gone, I wouldn't bother. Starter commutators are not undercut, so you don't need to address that (like you would on a generator). You don't have to do anything to the commutator unless it is all torn up. Since you have it all apart I would inspect the bushings real good and probably replace them if they show any wear, or if there is any evidence of the armature dragging.

Link to post
Share on other sites

the rubber boot that protects the plunger linkage from the weather is the same as what is being reproduced for chevy starter, i bought one for a 1953-54 pontiac starter i was building for a good friend. i found the rubber boot on ebay.

Edited by pontiac1953 (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 9 months later...

Soooo I know it’s been a while but I didn’t forget! Replaced brushes, solenoid and cleaned up all the starter parts. I’m waiting on the plunger boot in the mail.  Looks fancy but still isn’t spinning! During the bench test I gave the clutch a little push and it would barely spin. I took the solenoid apart and noticed the plate and bolts are burned. I also noticed a wire that has been burned or soldered down. Is any of this normal? Thanks for the help!

5D10FC0A-893E-4A60-8E4F-FF1BA5C0CF6D.jpeg

FEA67018-0C9C-4B24-B9AB-1725D14A75CA.jpeg

F76055FF-609E-4968-9D8A-DB87A5E7427B.jpeg

Edited by Grizz (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Normal. That wire is the ground of the "hold in" winding of the solenoid.

 

The other winding (pull in) gets its ground through the starter windings, until the disc kicks back. Then it is out of circuit.

 

The disc and bolts (mainly the bolts) burn up in use and are typically the only thing wrong with a solenoid. As long as they still touch with the solenoid bottomed out, they work.

 

What is the little clip laying on the starter body? Is that an extra? I don't have a solenoid handy to look at right now, but I think that clips on the moving assembly somewhere.

 

Before putting the boot on, push back the solenoid plunger (only the outer edge, not the linkage), and check the clearance between the front of the starter drive gear and the starter nosecone casting. I don't know what the measurement is, but the manual should have it. It's 1/8" on 30s Buicks..... It needs to be right. There are threads at the plunger that will only adjust with the plunger removed.

 

5 hours ago, Grizz said:

 Looks fancy but still isn’t spinning! During the bench test I gave the clutch a little push and it would barely spin.

 

Not sure what you mean by that. Do you mean it doesn't work?

 

The clutch (inside the drive gear) when the gear is turned by hand, locks to the shaft in one direction, and will move in the other. It usually feels a bit draggy as it moves.

 

For a bench test of the starter itself you will need to use a 6v car battery, because a lot of current is required.

 

Good luck! It looks like you are getting close.

 

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think I figured it out! The bolt connecting the solenoid to the starter has come “un soldered” what would be the best method here. I haven’t done a whole lot of soldering before

7CCC8926-4EEA-4534-9374-9677E2C28BA1.jpeg

Edited by Grizz (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

A really big powerful soldering iron and some old school 40/60 or 50/50 tin/lead rosin core solder.

 

The copper you are soldering has to get hot enough to melt the solder, in other words you can't just melt the solder with the iron directly. The solder will only flow on metal hot enough to melt it. You can cheat a little and feed a little solder to the iron to help get the heat transfer going, but mainly you feed solder to the parts you are soldering.

 

If you can't get your hands on a really big soldering iron, take it someplace where they rebuild starters, usually called an "auto electric" shop and have them solder it.

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, I got a friend with a solder gun.  Or I was just going to buy one for about $40 at Home Depot. But your saying I need one of those BIG irons? I’d like to try to learn a new trick and I’m sure I could use it the future on various wiring jobs. I do know of a place that rebuilds starters. Might be cheaper to just take it in there. I’ve already managed to clean the old solder off pretty good so that might be a cheaper route to just carry the case in there?

Edited by Grizz (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

You do need a lot of heat. The trick is to get in, get it really hot, and get done before the heat spreads all over the place. I don't know if a gun will do it. It might but I have doubts. It would have to be a big powerful one. It might be easier to take it in.

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Got the starter squared away. I took it to a shop. I told the fella that I had a solder gun and asked him if I could have done it with that. He disappeared to the back all the while laughing and shaking his head. So I guess that was a no? He came back about 7 minutes later warning me that it was still hot and there was no charge! I offered him a $20, only to have him disappear again. Thanks A&B! I cleaned and gapped the plugs. Squirted oil in the cylinders. No luck on the start (not surprised, car hasn’t run since the mid 70’s). First thing I checked was the coil.  Coil is getting power but the inside is corroded. So is the wire going to it. I removed the cap inside the coil to clean it and it’s cracked up pretty bad. Also didn’t know coils had oils?! So... I think I need a new coil for now? Unless there are better ideas? I figure if I can’t get one from the local parts store I’ll find one online. Anything specific  I need to look for besides 6v. Thanks for the help. It was cool to see it cranking for The first time!

E8D71C1D-3DA0-4CE5-ABA0-07337548C31C.jpeg

0CE555E3-7153-401C-96E0-B68F092DF653.jpeg

Link to post
Share on other sites

The oil inside that is particularly nasty- make sure you throughly scrub your hands! It's filled with oil to keep it cool, dissipating the heat from the coil into the oil, which circulates and cools off through the case.

You'll need a new coil if it's leaking.

If you're ordering a new one, order at the very least a new condenser too.

 

Phil

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Phil! Guess I better have a look under the distributor cap before I start ordering. I’m might as well get new plug wires, mine have seen better days. Any suggestions on where to shop? I found some stuff on parts rock auto, and a little more at parts geek. Got the starter boot off eBay like bloo suggestioned. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...