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How to Sort and Maintain a Prewar car

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1 hour ago, 1937hd45 said:

Nice T Jeff, you don't see many 1913's. Like the doubled up wishbone. Bob 


Thanks Bob, one needs a wishbone brace on the early Ford cars. I also use a “belly band” as insurance against a 106 yr. old transmission arm breaking.

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On my 1912 Staver quite a few suspension parts had no bushings. Just malleable iron castings with steel pin connections. It is a mid market assembled car that I feel scrimped on some basic engineering to meet a $2000.00 sales price target. . I am fitting bronze bushings and pins with screw down greasers. Like what more upmarket cars of the period used. 

Hartford shocks were standard on the full elliptic rear springs but from what I have seen in all the Staver photos I can find not installed on the front springs except on the race cars. I am fitting them to my front axle as well. The very compliant rear springs no doubt need them , but it seems wrong to have the front undampened. Still not sure what to do about the drive shaft universal, it

is a very unusual, obsolete design. Pretty sure I am going to have to substitute a newer type. I doubt anything even close has been available for close to 100 years. It lives inside a leather gaiter so a newer u joint wont be unsightly.  I need to cast a new pair of steering box housing halves. I am going to use bronze rather than cast malleable iron. Bronze is something I can do myself, malleable  iron I would have to farm out. I have a teens Pierce box for a run down on how it should be done but the mounting is completely wrong.   Improvements ?

 

Greg

 

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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2 hours ago, 1912Staver said:

Still not sure what to do about the drive shaft universal, it

is a very unusual, obsolete design. Pretty sure I am going to have to substitute a newer type. I doubt anything even close has been available for close to 100 years.

 

I have a similar problem on a 1913 Studebaker. The problem is compounded because the car has a transaxle in the back, and the driveshaft runs at engine speed. Needle-bearing based u-joints wont last in an application like that. Does your car have the transmission right behind the motor, or is it in the back?

 

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The transmission is a separate unit with a very short connecting shaft  between the clutch and the trans. Sliding block style joint here . No need for a u joint because both the engine and the trans are mounted to a  fairly substantial subframe  which maintains alignment . Then the universal joint at the rear of the trans to the torque tube. I have the u joint stored away out in my shed. Its a weird one in design  and worn out plus badly rusted away. An interesting artifact but beyond restoring. Unfortunately the inner yoke also incorporates a square slip yoke for the driveshaft 

so it is difficult to substitute something newer.  

Greg

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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6 hours ago, kfle said:

There are probably differences between earlier brass cars to the early 20's to the big classics in the late 20's and 30's.  Also differences between the engineers at different manufacturers as well.  Here is a direct copy from the 1920 Cadillac Type 61 Shop Manual that was given to the mechanics and service departments for Cadillac.  This is their guidance on Spring lubrication and also from troubleshooting on the ride of the car.  The troubleshooting section points you to the lubrication as well as replacement if the lubrication doesn't work.  The Type 61 was the big Cadillac with the V8 engine.  I was lucky enough to find this shop manual and it is excellent.  I have two V8 Cole's from the early 20's that are similar to the Cadillac and a Cole shop or service manual is not known to exist.  A lot of what you see out there today is from people applying modern knowledge to fixing and how they would do it. I try to go by the recommendations of what I can find from original materials.  

 

 

IMG_0152.thumb.jpg.1c114ad05c63f96779206ec1299dcbfe.jpgIMG_0151.jpg


 

The v63 book is actually an updated type 61 book so has more “modern” processes 

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A tale of two long-time very good friends.

I like to tell this story,  and it truly does belong on this thread. But it will require some lengthy introduction. 

Names, I won't say. One of the long-time friends has been burned a couple times, even though he is well known. , so I won't mention his name. The other friend wouldn't mind, but if I say his, a hundred people would know who the other is. The car mostly involved will require some identification.

One of the friends is common folk, struggles like most us common folk. He and his wife work very hard to keep the bills paid, care for their modest home, and maintain a small collection of antique cars which they drive and enjoy often. The other, today, is quite wealthy. His family, and he (slightly older than I am) have worked very hard and earned it! They earned everything they have today. I would be proud to say that I knew them back when they too struggled to keep their house paid up (it is true, I did), but that isn't really part of the story. They have a fabulous private collection. Used to be very active in the major clubs, drove many fantastic cars on major tours, hosted many events for local clubs. A good friend to many people, they often helped others in the hobby. 

And unlike many large collectors, they liked most of their cars to be well sorted and ready for a major tour with a few days refreshing.

The common folk friend and I became good friends in high school. Out of four hundred students in our high school back in the '60s, two strange kids that liked horseless carriages better than 'Cudas. After high school, and a few jobs he didn't fit into very well, he ended up becoming an antique automobile restorer and detailer. A natural talent for quality painting, and a eye for proper detail to make cars look right, he had plenty of work for most his adult life. But, it was a good fit, that he eventually mostly worked for the other good friend, that we had both known since high school days. They would buy cars, often older restorations that just needed a little something. They usually consulted with him first, often took him along to auctions. They bought a car, and he did whatever the car needed, or farmed some work out to experts, things like machine shops or upholstery and tops. Several of the cars he did for them have been shown at Pebble Beach.

 

One car in particular. The funny thing was, that when we were in high school, we would often ride our bicycles over to a certain automotive service shop across town. The owner of the shop had a small collection of cars, maybe ten to twelve horseless carriage to nickel age cars. He had a fellow that worked for him that maintained and serviced the antiques as much as he worked on the (then) modern work. He got to know us and understood our passion for the cars. He would allow us into the windowed showroom and let us look to our heart's content (we never touched!). We also got to know him well enough that we would see him showing (even driving) one of the collection at car shows, and he would talk with us for quite some time. Eventually, the old owner passed away, and the collection was slowly sold off. The best car, was one of the last to go. 

So there is my good friend, now doing that kind of work for our mutual friend, for a much larger collection. And what do they buy? I won't give the exact year, lets say late '10s very early '20s, Stutz Bearcat! The very same car we had (figuratively) drooled over several years earlier in that other small collection! It had been very well restored (by standards of the day), and despite being a nearly twenty year old restoration by then, was still very nice looking! So he not only got to touch the Stutz, he worked on it and sat in it, detailed it and made it look better than it had looked since it was a new car!. But the best was yet to come. They (the Stutz's new owners) wanted the car ready to tour! AS nice as the restoration a couple decades before looked? It was not a well sorted car. The previous owner did drive the Stutz on some tours, even shipped it to Australia once for a major ralleye. He liked to brag about what a great driving car it was, but people that knew him, knew different. It was troublesome, difficult, and tended to overheat badly (yes some damage was done which my friend had to fix).

Like many engines of the era, the thing was a stack of crankcase and block over pan etcetera. No removable head, and on top of the cast enblock was a cast iron water manifold. A little research, coupled with some general understanding of engines of that era, quickly revealed that a piece was missing. Phone calls to several other Stutz owners found a woeful lack of knowledge on just what that piece was like, other than it was made from aluminum, and all known originals had long since electrolysised themselves into a single gaping hole. A few Stutz owners had made crude replacements that sort of worked, but the missing piece was needed to properly regulate the water flow throughout the engine. With a large gaping hole, the water rushed through quickly in a limited area of the block making that area too cold, while other areas got almost no circulation and was boiling the slow moving water (thermo-siphon would move the water in areas not served by the manifold and pump, but thermo-siphon had to actually fight against the water pump's force and was therefore restricted). The missing plate had to have a series of holes to guide the water in proper amounts through all areas of the water jackets, and varying speeds. Nobody they knew (and they knew several well known Stutz people), had a practical example. So, they had to experiment.

 

My poor friend. They had to make a plate, install it, and then drive it around for a bit to see how it did. They had to take the temperature of the block front rear top bottom side to side all over! Then they had to drive it some more, different speeds, different distances, then take the temperatures again. They would record what size holes went where, how it performed. Then alter the plate, or make another plate. Install it, and drive around again. More notes, more driving. New adjustments.

Repeat.

Repeat.

Repeat. That took about a week!

Then, once they got close, they had to test it even more. Longer distances. Faster speeds, longer times. Uphill and downhill and uphill again. On cold mornings, on hot afternoons. Trips of fifty miles, maybe some even farther. Stopping often to take numerous temperature readings to make sure the engine was cooling properly under all conditions. Make a few adjustments, then start testing all over again. That all took about another week.

 

My poor friend. What did he have to say about making this car run right? This car he had drooled over several years before? This Stutz Bearcat?

 

It was a horrible job. But, SOMEbody had to DO It! (With the biggest grin on his face you ever saw!)

 

You want it to run right? You gotta drive it! And fix it right.

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I should have first said "Thank You" for such a good (and important) thread. Many excellent points and suggestions from many different people. Most notably Ed-in-Mass and Matt H. Thank you Ed for taking the time required for so much excellent information.

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3 hours ago, wayne sheldon said:

I should have first said "Thank You" for such a good (and important) thread. Many excellent points and suggestions from many different people. Most notably Ed-in-Mass and Matt H. Thank you Ed for taking the time required for so much excellent information.

 

You are welcome Wayne.  I see my role here to come up with a thread title,  start the thread and sit back and watch.  😉

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14 hours ago, kfle said:

There are probably differences between earlier brass cars to the early 20's to the big classics in the late 20's and 30's.  Also differences between the engineers at different manufacturers as well.  Here is a direct copy from the 1920 Cadillac Type 61 Shop Manual that was given to the mechanics and service departments for Cadillac.  This is their guidance on Spring lubrication and also from troubleshooting on the ride of the car.  The troubleshooting section points you to the lubrication as well as replacement if the lubrication doesn't work.  The Type 61 was the big Cadillac with the V8 engine.  I was lucky enough to find this shop manual and it is excellent.  I have two V8 Cole's from the early 20's that are similar to the Cadillac and a Cole shop or service manual is not known to exist.  A lot of what you see out there today is from people applying modern knowledge to fixing and how they would do it. I try to go by the recommendations of what I can find from original materials.  

 

 

IMG_0152.thumb.jpg.1c114ad05c63f96779206ec1299dcbfe.jpgIMG_0151.jpg

 

My V-63 Cadillac (1924 Model) has exactly the same leaf spring lubrication instructions.

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Wayne, when did you begin to write like Kenneth Grahamme? I had a flashback of reading Wind in the Willows.

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It's Sunday night, I'm bored, so I thought I'd add a few more specifics about sorting a car rather than generalities. I'll make a few posts to address some basics I always address on any car that's new to me, regardless of where it came from, its apparent condition, or who owned it before and what they were doing with it. Fuel system, ignition system, battery, brakes, cooling system are the big ones. Even if a car was a "reliable driver" I'm not interested in rolling the dice. Let's start with the fuel system, since it's probably the #1 or maybe #2 (after cooling system) place for problems to happen.

 

With today's gas being kind of hard on vintage fuel systems, the system needs to be as healthy as possible. Age is the natural enemy and fuel system parts WILL deteriorate over time regardless of the care they receive. This is also a place where hack mechanics and do-it-yourselfers feel like they can reinvent the wheel and where temporary roadside fixes "just to get home" become permanent. We see all kinds of curious fixes on old car fuel systems coming through our shop, and I've never seen one where I thought it was a better idea.

 

1. Gas tank. Problem #1 is always the gas tank. If you aren't 100% positive it's new and/or professionally cleaned and sealed (preferably with a receipt and a date), pull it and replace/seal it. There are plenty of products that claim they do a good job and plenty of ways on the internet for doing it on the cheap--anything from filling it with molasses and Coca-Cola to sloshing a chain around inside with some kind of caustic acid. To be honest, doing it yourself is not much better than doing nothing. You can't possibly clean and seal it properly in your driveway, it just won't happen. You'll invest a ton of time and effort and get really, really dirty to save a few bucks, and you'll just have to do it again after you have the car towed home from a tour after it fails. Spend the money up front and do it right so you never have to worry about it again. I like Gas Tank Renu--they're within driving distance for me, it costs $400, and it's guaranteed for life. They cut the tank open, sand blast it, weld it close, and seal it inside and out. This is not an ideal solution for cars with exposed gas tanks, but if it's under the car or hidden by shrouding, then it results in a 100% cure for gas tank-related issues. They will also cut, blast, and seal just the inside and you can finish the outside any way you'd like, but it affects the warranty. Still better than whatever you were planning to do yourself. Note that just one flatbed tow will pay for most of a restored gas tank.

 

Tank1.thumb.jpg.7ff6a488ed26fffb6cd75476f85c71c6.jpg

Hey, that gas tank looks pretty good. Someone painted it and cleaned

it up fairly recently. I think I'll leave it alone. I'm sure it's fine.

 

Tank4.thumb.jpg.612415d292d7ce2a7bd56520722c9560.jpg

No, it is not fine. This particular car would run great...until it

didn't. Symptoms mimicked heat-related vapor lock.

 

GasTank1.thumb.jpg.d9d153acc452ba9fe4bf8e662958ab95.jpg

Finished gas tank looks the same, but will now outlast me.

 

2. Fuel lines. No rubber, or at least minimize its use in your system. Rubber is always temporary, no matter what kind of rubber you use--modern fuel hose is pretty durable and resistant to ethanol, but it is still not permanent and will fail from the inside out. It'll eventually go bad and you'll never know it. It's also fragile, and if you hit something on the road, it's a piece that can be easily damaged by debris. And if your car isn't a race car, for God's sake, don't use the braided stainless stuff unless you really know what you're doing and don't mind the very incorrect look (and REALLY don't use braided stainless with hose clamps--you don't deserve to own a car if you do that kind of shiat work). Metal fuel lines, as specified by the original manufacturer, are always the right choice. Stainless is nice but a bit hard to work with, copper is probably OEM for many early cars but gets work-hardened by vibrations and can crack and fail, mild steel will work but it's susceptible to the same rust issues as an untreated gas tank. I personally like Cunifer tubing, which is a copper-nickel-brass alloy that is easy to work with, bends easily, doesn't work harden, is impervious to rust and fuel, and has a nice gold/bronze color that looks suitably vintage. In short, it's as close to permanent as you'll get.

 

Examine the fittings used in your original fuel system and try to duplicate them. Many will use a single flare, which was common throughout the 20s and 30s, while later cars may use inverted flares or even double flares or something the manufacturer made up themselves. Duplicate what the factory originally used if you can and in many cases the fittings are still available or you can buy decent used ones on eBay if you really must have it 100% correct. If you're splicing in an electric fuel pump, mount it solidly and use correct fittings to connect your hard lines, not hose barbs, rubber hoses, and hose clamps. That's just a failure point waiting to happen. Every hose clamp is a potential leak. Every bend is a place where the hose will crack and split. If you MUST use rubber hose, use as little as possible, usually just as a strain relief between the lines on the frame and the lines on the engine to account for engine movement and vibration. Cars with rigidly-mounted engines shouldn't have any rubber line at all.

 

If you're re-using the original lines, disconnect EVERY SINGLE FITTING and blow the lines out so they're clean. Many are brass or copper so they should not be corroded, but examine them carefully for internal issues, kinks, or other damage. Now is the time to replace it, not by the side of the road when it's getting dark and you're forced to just slap it together with a McDonald's straw and hose clamps.

 

It doesn't hurt to add a filter back by the tank. I like the clear ones so I can monitor its condition and whether there's still trash in the tank (there shouldn't be if you did step 1 correctly). Most old car fuel systems don't need hi-flow filters, but your mechanical pump/vacuum tank still needs to be able to easily pull through it, so you want one that flows well. You don't need a super fine 1-micron filter like for an EFI car, that's going to cause too much resistance. And again, buy one with threads so you can install it with proper fittings, not hose barbs.

 

FuelPump1.thumb.jpg.9379493e31970feaab76f636d4e7811b.jpg  Fuelpump2.thumb.jpg.737286e83c630b2150404f4bff7a8017.jpg  8-3-19a.thumb.jpg.9973c95b2ab598f20cdc11b9c6a1f3ae.jpg

This car came to us with a 100% rubber fuel system. Every joint had a hose clamp on it, and
there were two fuel lines from the tank--one for the mechanical pump and one for the
electric pump. I counted more than 18 different hose barbs , a bunch of scary bends

(how long until that fuel line hanging off the carburetor cracks and spills fuel on the hot

exhaust manifold?), and 100% hack workmanship. It all had to go.

 

8-3-19b.thumb.jpg.97e20f8b7d8f42019bcc7d029de308e5.jpg

All new hard lines and fittings (never mind the incorrect carb).

 

7-4-18no9.thumb.jpg.53e7135a06a5e66955b399a78d1d7dfc.jpg

I'm ashamed to say this was my own workmanship when I was
simply trying to get The Car Which Shall Not Be Named to run

even for a minute or two. It was temporary, but that's not an excuse.

It's always cheaper and faster to do it right the first time rather than
having to do it twice. Ultimately my problem was that the gas tank

was full of trash, so this pump didn't do me any good anyway.

 

Fuel3.thumb.jpg.c089f40d2b40de9ad2b953d8093b8fc2.jpg Fuel11.thumb.jpg.fa0afab82e5274a6e3ae533771981987.jpg

This is what I replaced it with. 100% new, from tank to

carburetor, 0% rubber. Do it right.

 

3. Fuel pumps. For a majority of cars, there are rebuild kits available, and if you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself, have a professional rebuild your fuel pump (or vacuum tank). Most kits and all rebuilders, as far as I know, use modern neoprene parts that are ethanol-resistant so they should be a long-term solution. Most fuel pumps are simple devices that work until they don't, and there's not really much tuning or tweaking. If you're rebuilding it yourself, spend the $100 for a good rebuild kit, not the $13.99 kit on eBay. There's a difference. NOS pumps and kits are trash simply due to age and obsolete materials, so pass on those, too. Be methodical and careful and follow the shop manual (you do have a shop manual for your car, right?). As I said, if you're even a little concerned about getting it wrong, just send it out and pay the $250 or whatever it costs to have a pro do it. Money well spent for peace of mind.

 

4. Carburetors. Carburetors should probably have their own category and I'll defer to the guys who know more about them than I do, and I won't go into tuning here. But the problems I see most often are floats that don't float, jets full of junk and/or worn and/or modified by some guy in the past, and improper tuning. Tuning is a separate issue, but you should make sure that your carb's internals are right. Again, kits should be readily available (Jon AKA  Carbking makes some of the best kits around) but you can also send it out to be rebuilt. Choose a reputable rebuilder who is familiar with your specific carburetor. There are thousands of carburetors out there, and not everyone knows every carb. Seek out a specialist if it's something unusual. A quality rebuilder will make sure that the carburetor body parts are machined flat and fit properly, that the bushings for the throttle shafts are fresh, and that the linkage is properly aligned, all things that you may not even be able to see when you're doing it yourself. Spend the money to get it right--a good carb kit might cost as much as $250 and a rebuilder might be twice that much, depending on the carb. Worth it!

 

I won't go into tuning because that's a big category all its own, but you should not assume that you can just bolt the carburetor on and it'll work right out of the box. We're sorting a car, remember? Fresh parts is only step one. Manage your own expectations so that you aren't disappointed or frustrated when the car still idles poorly or stumbles on the road. Tuning and tweaking are a big part of this process and until all the supporting cast members are fresh (fuel, ignition, battery, cooling, etc.) you can't start that part of the process anyway. Focus on renewing the parts, then you can move on to the tuning.

 

I'll try to chime in later with more information on other subjects, as I expect others will, too. It's now Monday morning (I started this post at 8:00 last night) and I have to get back to work.

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Matt -thanks for the plug ;)

 

Which brings up a question. I have very little experience on pre-war cars other than their carburetors.

 

Just took an order for another obscure Marvel kit (all Marvels are obscure the first time ;) ) The thread on the fuel inlet valve seat is a perfect 31/64 by 20. Being weird is pretty normal for Marvel carburetors; Marvel did not adhere to S.A.E. standards, period. I guess this was one way of preventing anyone else from making aftermarket parts.

 

So I get to have another custom die made. I currently have more than $10,000 invested in taps and dies, virtually all of which are 1/2 inch or less!!!!!!

 

Marvel was the worst, but Schebler came in a close second. Zenith and Detroit also used a few unusual threads, but only a couple of sizes.

 

So my question, just for my own information, do those of you that regularly work on these early cars, have issues with odd ball thread sizes; or is this just a Marvel and Schebler thingy? 

 

Jon

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15 hours ago, 1912Staver said:

On my 1912 Staver quite a few suspension parts had no bushings. Just malleable iron castings with steel pin connections. It is a mid market assembled car that I feel scrimped on some basic engineering to meet a $2000.00 sales price target.

 

 

I think this pretty much sums up your problems, which are much the same as mine with the Mitchell. The original makers knew their cars had a very limited life expectancy and often took that into consideration where saving money was an issue. We are doing something different and it's something that no one who built these cars ever took into consideration. It's all well and good to be a "purist" but where mechanical devices are concerned I'm not convinced there are any. If we want these cars to be something other than a static display we have to make them work and making them work well often involves  modifications the maker felt were too expensive to undertake.

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Thread sizes were largely standardized after WWI because the Army had so much trouble with strange threads during the war. After the war it was made clear that all the threads would have to meet a standard and, for the most part, the government wouldn't purchase items with odd-ball proprietary threads.. What we think of today as SAE threads were agreed upon by taking the most popular sizes then in use and making them the standard. Half-inch bolts are a good example... 1/2-14, 1/2-13 and 1/2-12 were all fairly common and the SAE settled on 1/2-13. Large sizes are often quite uniform as well. Cadillac used 12TPI for many parts regardless of the diameter (there are good reasons for this from a manufacturing point of view). So, to answer your question, it usually isn't much of a problem although I regard the ability to make non-standard threads as one of the most important skills I've developed. It isn't that you need it often, but when you do need it, it's invaluable.

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1 hour ago, JV Puleo said:

 

I think this pretty much sums up your problems, which are much the same as mine with the Mitchell. The original makers knew their cars had a very limited life expectancy and often took that into consideration where saving money was an issue. We are doing something different and it's something that no one who built these cars ever took into consideration. It's all well and good to be a "purist" but where mechanical devices are concerned I'm not convinced there are any. If we want these cars to be something other than a static display we have to make them work and making them work well often involves  modifications the maker felt were too expensive to undertake.

 

I agree fully. Mitchell and Staver Chicago were closely linked. I am sure they shared engineering info to some degree. Mitchell family members were involved with Staver Chicago management. And Stavers downfall came at least partly from a investment in Mitchells line of horse drawn products. Staver was also linked with Teetor Hartley, { best known as American Underslung's primary engine supplier} one of the Teetor cousins was Stavers chief engineer. I am sure a 5 year or so life time was expected of the automobiles. And probably less than 10,000 miles use. Even 5000 miles was a great deal of driving in the 1910 - 1915 era. The typical buyer of an automobile in that era was replacing or augmenting a horse. Very wealthy car buyers may have embarked in in extensive touring,

but most people went about their lives in much the same way as when they were horse owners. Just with extra ease and speed of a automobile. Rural life was based on distances that were able to be undertaken by horse transport. It took a few decades for life to really adjust to the mobility automobiles provided.

 

 

Greg

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)

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1 hour ago, JV Puleo said:

 

I think this pretty much sums up your problems, which are much the same as mine with the Mitchell. The original makers knew their cars had a very limited life expectancy and often took that into consideration where saving money was an issue. We are doing something different and it's something that no one who built these cars ever took into consideration. It's all well and good to be a "purist" but where mechanical devices are concerned I'm not convinced there are any. If we want these cars to be something other than a static display we have to make them work and making them work well often involves  modifications the maker felt were too expensive to undertake.

 

That's a good point. There are always compromises when a car is being designed and built. I frequently point out to guys buying inexpensive cars (like, say, a Nash Metropolitan or Rambler American) that the cars were not particularly good cars when they were new and the intervening 60 years haven't made them any better. When it's easy to spot the corner-cutting, it can be easy to fix. But when something was engineered down to a price, it's hard to out-smart the guys who did it because it often sets off a chain of upgrades that would also be required to work with the one you spotted easily. Like I said, they weren't dumb and when they cut corners, they compensated as best they could.

 

You're also right in saying that all cars had a finite life span and were not designed to last as long as they have. It's completely unreasonable to expect them to behave like new cars (or as if they were new) simply due to that fact. My 2012 Cadillac CTS still feels extremely good going down the road, but that's only because I don't remember how it was when it was new--I'm certain that it has degraded in a noticeable way. I suspect anyone riding in it today would not even notice the degradation in ride quality, NVH, or other little things that are surely there simply due to age.

 

Hell, I still get started when I look in the mirror and my father is looking back at me. I didn't see him sneak up on me like that, I was 20 years old just yesterday, yet there he is...

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1 hour ago, Matt Harwood said:

l feels extremely good going down the road, but that's only because I don't remember how it was when it was new

 

In the used car business around Rochester, New York we used to call that "minga mint".

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My big issue is BRAKES

 

Everyone seems to think pre war car have no brakes....BS.... most are bad restorations.  My 1929 Graham-Paige will throw everyone out of their seats easily (it even warns about the braking in the owners manual "dislodging occupants").   You MUST get the correct Coefficient of Friction brake lining or they will never work correctly.  Actually did some digging on my 1933 Graham with old auto magazines and brake tests, my 1933 Graham and 1978 Chevy Blazer have the identical breaking distance on gravel, not many tests on pavement in 1933 and not many 1978 tests on gravel, the Blazer had an off road test.

 

And 100% agree with driving them, and YES, pre war engineers, were much smarter Engineers than we give them credit.  Sometime we forget these car were driven on dirt roads most of the time, 45mph was taking your life in your hands.

 

View from rear left of a car belonging to a United States Resettlement Administration field worker stuck in a muddy road. A man stands at the front of the vehicle.

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1 hour ago, Matt Harwood said:

My 2012 Cadillac CTS still feels extremely good going down the road, but that's only because I don't remember how it was when it was new--I'm certain that it has degraded in a noticeable way. I suspect anyone riding in it today would not even notice the degradation in ride quality, NVH, or other little things that are surely there simply due to age.

My wife had a 2007 Sonata with 170,00 km on it.  We thought it drove fine.  I had it out one day and got t-boned.  ICBC our Government insurance company wrote it off and gave us $6,200.00.  Being in our seventh decade we did not need a brand new car.  One hundred miles away I found a 2008 Sonata with 70,000 Kms.  Price with tax $7,200,00.  We thought this was a good deal and when we drove the new to us car home we discovered that it was a Great deal.  We had never noticed the gradual deterioration of the 2007.  Obviously 100,000 kilometers wears everything but is so gradual that we didn't notice.

I found the same thing on my daily driver.  One day after having driven it for more than 300,000 miles I noticed some wear on the brake clevises and the clevis pins.  I took a day and replaced all the pins and some clevises.  What a difference in the brake action.  There didn't seem to be anything wrong before but after was amazing.

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It was 1912Staver that put me on to P.M. Heldt's book on gasoline automobile design...easily the most valuable book of it's type I've ever used and I've collected this sort of thing for 30 years or more. What is clear from reading it is that the engineers knew a LOT more than they are commonly given credit for. The problems I have with the Mitchell stem more from shoddy workmanship than from bad engineering...things like the use of Babbitt metal for bushings that should be bronze or drilling the holes for the intake valves in the blocks and not bothering with valve guides. In five years you'd probably not even notice but 100 years later you have a real problem finding a way to bring something like that back to near new condition.

 

I've tried to keep my modifications in the context of Heldt's book, using techniques he recommended but that were usually seen on only the best cars. Steel bolts threaded into aluminum are a good example. Heldt warned against it but the alternative was to make threaded liners for the holes - an expensive alternative. RR did it and I'd bet other makers of top end cars did but Mitchell just threaded the aluminum and I've got to drill out the broken off bolts and make the liners they didn't.

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)
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17 hours ago, 60FlatTop said:

Wayne, when did you begin to write like Kenneth Grahamme? I had a flashback of reading Wind in the Willows.

 

Bernie, Thank you for that! I do tend to be a bit verbose. However I also like the Mr. Toad's reference.

 

Graham Man, Very good comments about brakes on antique automobiles. I often get annoyed by people's perception that "brakes just weren't any good in those days." I also do not favor the proliferation of modernized brakes for model T Fords and other antique automobiles. Properly restored and maintained era correct brakes on a model T are quite adequate for two-wheel brakes. There MAY be some argument for going to four-wheel brakes, due to the reduced stopping distance with four braking wheels. However at model T speeds, the real issue is not braking distance anyway.

When I bought the 1915 built Studebaker touring car I used to have, the test ride included comments about the terrible brakes. I ignored them. I wanted the car, I had plenty of engineering and mechanical background, and I just knew it could be fixed. I actually did not drive the car myself until I got it home. On my first short drive, I was VERY careful because of the comments by the previous owner. THE BRAKES WERE THE WORST I HAD EVER EXPERIENCED!!!! (A much longer version of the tale is buried somewhere in a couple years past forum thread here.) After driving about a hundred yards, I carefully parked in my driveway and crawled under the car. The problem was obvious, and easily fixed. After a trip to the hardware store, and about an hour, I could lock both rear wheels easily if I wanted to. Control was good and maximum for two-wheel braking could be achieved with ease. And, yes, it would try to throw passengers out of their seats.

I found it hard to believe that the previous owner had actually driven the car on several club tours the way it was.

 

Properly restored and adjusted, mechanical brakes can be just as good as almost anything designed since. The only significant exception to that is that non-power brakes do require a bit more physical strength to push the pedal. However, the fact is, that properly working, most people are plenty strong to use them. It is mostly laziness that makes power brakes preferable to the masses. (By the way, I hate ABS in my modern cars!!!)

 

Alsancle, I enjoy many of the threads you bring up! And I always look forward to your comments and contributions as well.

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10 minutes ago, wayne sheldon said:

Bernie, Thank you for that! I do tend to be a bit verbose. However I also like the Mr. Toad's reference.

 

Graham Man, Very good comments about brakes on antique automobiles. I often get annoyed by people's perception that "brakes just weren't any good in those days." I also do not favor the proliferation of modernized brakes for model T Fords and other antique automobiles. Properly restored and maintained era correct brakes on a model T are quite adequate for two-wheel brakes. There MAY be some argument for going to four-wheel brakes, due to the reduced stopping distance with four braking wheels. However at model T speeds, the real issue is not braking distance anyway.

When I bought the 1915 built Studebaker touring car I used to have, the test ride included comments about the terrible brakes. I ignored them. I wanted the car, I had plenty of engineering and mechanical background, and I just knew it could be fixed. I actually did not drive the car myself until I got it home. On my first short drive, I was VERY careful because of the comments by the previous owner. THE BRAKES WERE THE WORST I HAD EVER EXPERIENCED!!!! (A much longer version of the tale is buried somewhere in a couple years past forum thread here.) After driving about a hundred yards, I carefully parked in my driveway and crawled under the car. The problem was obvious, and easily fixed. After a trip to the hardware store, and about an hour, I could lock both rear wheels easily if I wanted to. Control was good and maximum for two-wheel braking could be achieved with ease. And, yes, it would try to throw passengers out of their seats.

I found it hard to believe that the previous owner had actually driven the car on several club tours the way it was.

 

Properly restored and adjusted, mechanical brakes can be just as good as almost anything designed since. The only significant exception to that is that non-power brakes do require a bit more physical strength to push the pedal. However, the fact is, that properly working, most people are plenty strong to use them. It is mostly laziness that makes power brakes preferable to the masses. (By the way, I hate ABS in my modern cars!!!)

 

Alsancle, I enjoy many of the threads you bring up! And I always look forward to your comments and contributions as well.

 

The brakes on my Cadillac are certainly acceptable at low suburban streets when you come up to a curve or a stop sign, where they're not great is when some idiot pulls out in front of you. Mine are 'reasonably' well adjusted now but certainly didn't start out that way (the book is also quite confusing about how to adjust it and without it I have no idea how you would do it), they slow down the car, hold it on a hill and lock up if you jump on them (and they don't pull at all) so in terms of expectations I'm not quite sure what else you would want from a car with rear wheel brakes and weighs the best part of 5000lbs

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After making sure all my components are up to spec and in working order I adjust the brakes on my Model A according to Ford service bulletins. They work very well and my friends are amazed at the good braking. I feel totally comfortable driving that car in under 45 mph roads. No freeways for me!

Edited by Jeff Perkins / Mn (see edit history)
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Earlier on another poster noted understanding the limits of a prewar car.  I never quite get the obsession a lot of A folk have w highway ready driving.  I have done short bursts, an exit or two out of necessity, but not as a matter of course.  Not being the ideal car for interstates is a reflection of changing times, not a 90 year old car.  

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