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1940 Seems to be running on six cylinders


West Peterson
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I'm not very familiar with working on these (more involved with Packards). However, this one apparently belongs to me now, and while I brought it home almost a year ago, I haven't had any chance to do anything with it, let along play with it. Today, I wanted to make sure there was enough antifreeze in it, so took it out for a drive to put in fresh gas, etc. It seemed to run and idle just fine, other than it seemed like it was only firing on six cylinders.

 

Is this a common problem? Is there something I can try easily, before removing the distiributor? I made sure the covers were on tightly, but that's about the extant of my ability at the present time.

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You really need to go through the ignition system including plugs, wiring, distributor issues, fuel issues with the carb!   If you're not familiar with the V12 the you need to send the distributor and coil to Skip Haney in Florida to have him check it out, repair as needed and reset the distributor as it requires a machine to do it off the car.  The old coil....the black device sitting on top of the distributor can be rebuilt with new coils, and the rest of the distributor can be repaired and reset.  Also get new spark plugs and plug wires.  Plugs can be obtained at Napa and such, the wiring sets from Rhode Island Wire will work well.  There are people who will repair the carb too and put in parts that tolerate ethanol (alcohol) in today's fuels.  Once that's all done and working you can then see if that fixed it, or do you need to look further at the valves and engine compression tests.  Perhaps you can find a good mechanic in your area to help, but most of the good ones are gone!  These younger guys don't really understand these flat head engines with hydraulic lifters.  Lots to think about!  Good luck!

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Thanks, Ray. It was running fine (or so I'm told) before it was stored for a year. Spark plugs look brand new, as do the plug wires. I drove this car on the Glidden Tour in Tennessee/Georgia several years ago, and at that time we took off the distributor (Honest Charlie's Garage in Chattanooga), and they did a pretty good job of getting me back on the road without any more problems. I suppose its possible that the distributor is still giving us more problems. Sending it to Skip Haney sounds like a good idea. Will check out possible carburetor troubles first.

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Not bad idle, but sluggish acceleration can be bad coil on one side. There are two coils in one assembly, one for each side of the engine. Pull a plug wire off on one side of engine and hold close to plug with insulated pliers. Have some one start the car and see if there is a spark. If no spark, try the plug beside it. If still no spark, then the coil that serves that side of engine is dead. If there is spark on that side of engine, then try the same on the other side of the engine. I had this happen on my car. One side of the coil assembly went dead. Just something to try first before a big cash outlay to fix a bunch of things that might not need fixing. 

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Do you have spark at all plugs?  One set of points may have  corroded or a points spring arm is  broken or sticking  after sitting for a while or a condenser could have developed a short causing engine to run on 6 cylinders, if in fact it is. Does it rev. up from idle freely? Lincoln Zephyr V12s have 2 sets of points and  2  condensers, one set  for each 6 cylinders. The points arm has been known to snap and become inoperable.  Also you may have a fuel jet blockage in carb, there are 2 main jets in there, one for each bank and/or  you may have old/bad fuel in tank!
Interesting gear change pattern .What about a W/W II  GMC. truck  gear shift pattern?  

Edited by 38ShortopConv. (see edit history)
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All of the above are likely suspects.  You can check the points at the screw terminals on top with a dc volt meter.  Should have 2-3 volts when running,  Just keep fingers away from fan.  If one side says 6 volts or 0 volts you can suspect a problem.  I like to use a timing light on individual plug wires to avoid shock.  Otherwise, hook up a spare spark plug with a clip -clip on the ground electrode and watch for spark.  Lincoln distributor is an elector-mechanical marvel.  Engine is odd fire, and each set of points fires three cylinders on each side.  Nice looking vehicle.

Abe

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On 1/9/2021 at 7:06 PM, 38ShortopConv. said:

Interesting gear change pattern .What about a W/W II  GMC. truck  gear shift pattern?  

 

I believe it is unique to the 1930-31 Packards. First gear is a stump-puller, except if your car is equipped with the 3:31 rear-end ratio (which ours is). Otherwise, many many many 1930-31 Packard owners aren't even aware that their car has a first gear, as you have to move the shifter to the left and down to find it. Most start out in second, even if they DO know about the first. The 1930 Speedster is the ONLY model that used the 3:31 rear end, and I find that starting out in second is a little hard on the clutch.

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West,

One possibility that I did not see discussed. There are two ignition resistors under the dash to the left of the

steering column mounted to a junction box. They reduce the voltage to the coils.

I have found these open (no voltage to the coil.)

If the car was running good before being parked, this is a likely suspect.

Dennis

 

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks, Dennis. I will certainly check that out before anything else.

 

Now, I'm wondering if there is any good advice on removing the distributor (if need be)? A quick look-see under the hood, and I can only "see" two of the three (or four?) bolts, and they aren't easy to get to, and coming up from the bottom is not an option (in my opinion). Do I need to remove the fan to obtain working space???

 

Thank you for all your help.

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Hi, its been a while, Have all the other suggestions  been checked?? There are only 3 bolts, all difficult to get at, dont need to take fan off, thats even more difficult. Sending  distributor away to someone who understands them to set timing and synchronizing is a good start. When you refit it note offset drive.
Happy Daze. Roy

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I have driven those small V-12’s. When running on 12, they feel like a stove bolt six. I recommend a five gas machine on the tailpipe. Don’t guess, diagnose. If it gets warmer where you live, I might fly in and fix it for you.

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To remove the distributor, I use a 1/4" drive short universal socket with an extension that is just long enough to allow the ratchet to clear the front of the distributor. The extension that I use is the Proto J4769 and the socket is similar to the SK 43608. Mine is a SnapOn 6 point socket.

 

https://www.napaonline.com/en/p/PTQJ4769?cid=paidsearch_shopping_dcoe_google&campaign=GSC-Tools-Equipment&campaign_id=8553470562&adgroup_id=107047174069&adtype=pla&gclid=Cj0KCQiAhP2BBhDdARIsAJEzXlGG1LCdMnO70_0sDifOZy8x4XfOOtN_Kxohwy7RhLTB5okrSVIfCbUaAjnMEALw_wcB&

 

To make it easier to install the distributor, cut the heads off of 2 extra bolts and use them to hold the distributor while you get the tang lined up and the 3rd bolt started. Then remove one of the studs and replace it with a bolt. Tighten the 2 bolts hand tight to make sure that the distributor housing is flush with the timing gear cover. Then install the 3rd bolt and tighten all of them.

 

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Thanks. I haven't tried anything yet, as the car seems to be fourth or fifth down the list of things that need to get done. However, I had a few minutes the other day to do a visual in regard to the possible things to do, and before I went through the aggravation of pulling the distributor, wanted to investigate that I shouldn't be removing something else, first.

 

I read another post somewhere else in regard to symptoms, and the poster's symptoms were exactly what I'm experiencing. He had the distributor sent out to specialist and all became fine. I will try a couple of the above mentioned tests first.

 

Thank you again for everyone's suggestions.

 

PS. Ed... starting to warm up here. Plus, we have that great airplane museum here.

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Because the engine has not run for a while, your problem could be either ignition or fuel related.

 

To determine if it is distributor related (coil, condenser, ballast and points):

Run the engine at a fast idle(about 1,000 rpm) and short out one spark plug at a time. Note which plugs do not change the rpm. If the plugs that fail to reduce rpm are all fed by the same side of the coil, check the input voltage to both coils. You can check the point dwell for each side by connecting your dwell meter to the condenser connection.

 

If the plugs that fail to reduce the rpms are not related to one side of the ignition system, you should check out your carburetor high speed circuit.

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  • 9 months later...
On 3/4/2021 at 11:09 AM, 19tom40 said:

Because the engine has not run for a while, your problem could be either ignition or fuel related.

 

To determine if it is distributor related (coil, condenser, ballast and points):

Run the engine at a fast idle(about 1,000 rpm) and short out one spark plug at a time. Note which plugs do not change the rpm. If the plugs that fail to reduce rpm are all fed by the same side of the coil, check the input voltage to both coils. You can check the point dwell for each side by connecting your dwell meter to the condenser connection.

 

If the plugs that fail to reduce the rpms are not related to one side of the ignition system, you should check out your carburetor high speed circuit.

 

Finally (!!!) got back to the warehouse to revisit the Lincoln. I appreciate everyone's help.

I got spark at each cylinder, so now I'm thinking possibly carburetor related. However, I took off the distributor cap on the driver's side, and found this. Would this broken terminal cause the problem I'm experience, or is it going to be a future problem?

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That terminal probably is not causing your problem. That cap should be replaced if you can get a good one. Check your rotor to see if it is damaged.

 

You said that the engine idles fine and you have spark at all 12 cylinders. Now you need to check to see if they are all firing at 1,000 rpm and above by doing the cylinder balance test that I described in my previous post. The engine will idle smoothly with a weak spark but miss when the engine is running at higher rpms.

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  • 7 months later...

Finally was able to spend a couple of days working on the car.

1. I replaced BOTH distributor plates with NOS. No change in serious stumbling in more than one cylinder. Still produces smoke on heavy acceleration.

2. I replaced BOTH condensers. No change. 

3. Spark Plug Spark Test:

          Driver's side bank is really good, except for rear-most plug.

          Passenger side bank not good at all.

3. Lincoln wiring diagram shows the 2 condensers do not share any common electrical node, whereas my car has one lead that branches to each condenser. (Have I stumbled onto something big here?)

 

This illustration shows my data. While at first glance, a rookie (me) would assume that one side of the distributor is bad. However, this rookie, having replaced both distributor plates, knows that 3 plugs on each distributor plate go to the opposite bank.

 

Before I next replace all plug wires, and/or send out the whole distributor/coil to the specialist, I thought I'd get your opinion on my data, and perhaps one more thing to check. I'm certain this is not a fuel problem at this point.

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6 hours ago, West Peterson said:

3. Lincoln wiring diagram shows the 2 condensers do not share any common electrical node, whereas my car has one lead that branches to each condenser. (Have I stumbled onto something big here?)

 

I don't completely understand how this is wired, but I suspect yes, you have. Can you post that diagram?

 

 

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Disregard the red circles. The resisters are located under the dash, and the wire leads to the condensers, where it then splits to each. I haven't yet looked under the dashboard, where a spaghetti of wires will greet me, so I'm not sure how / if the resisters are connected in tandem... or what???

 

I have ordered new plug wires, and will run a separate line from the resisters to the condensers. If still no solution, I will send the coil/distributor to specialist.

 

This car has had a lot of little modifications done to it, which makes things a little bit harder to trace. Power brakes, air conditioning, two batteries.  

Screen Shot 2022-08-05 at 3.54.48 PM.png

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Thanks for posting the diagram. It Is like I thought. You can think of this as 2 complete 6 cylinder points ignition systems firing alternately (never mind where the rotor and caps are actually sending the sparks).

 

Each system should have a "hot" wire coming from a resistor connected to the "hot" side of the coil. I am using the deliberately ambiguous "hot" because I think this car is positive ground but I am not sure.

 

The other (less hot?) terminal of each coil goes to a set of points, and each set of points has a condenser in parallel with it, as shown on the diagram. They are in no way connected together as you noted earlier.

 

Ignition hot >> resistor >> hot coil terminal,   Other coil terminal >> points and condenser in parallel >> ground. Separately, twice.

 

9 hours ago, West Peterson said:

 

I have ordered new plug wires, and will run a separate line from the resisters to the condensers. If still no solution, I will send the coil/distributor to specialist.

The resistors carry current from the ignition switch to the hot side of the coils, not any condensers. If there are condensers connected here on the hot side of the coils, and there might be, they are for radio interference. You can have as many as you want connected together at that spot, but they are not the ones that make the car run. The ones that make the car run are connected to the opposite terminals of the coils, in parallel with the sets of points.

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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In searching for a remedy of your problems with the ignition, if you think your distributor has any issues, I'd pull it off and send it with the new plates to Skip Haney in Florida for a full check out and calibration just to eliminate that part of the problem.  When I checked my 41 Zephyr for distributor problems, I would mount the new (reburbed) plates on one side, measure the gate between the points inside the distributor between the rotor and the 6 points on each side of the distributor and make sure they only have about a ten- thousandth of a gap or distance between the rotor and each plate point that is connected to the spark plugs.  Wide gaps mean weak spark delivered to the spark plugs!  Do it with the distributor off the engine and do each side while observing it through the open side of the opposite gap with the rotor.  Rotors also need replacing at times!   If that's OK then the timing on the distributor needs to be reset.  Without a setup you won't get it properly syncronized! That's why I recommend you have Skip check it out and sync it and you can put it back on the engine and see where you're at.  You also need 2-3 volts dc on each terminal where the caps are.  New capacitors should be on it too!  These are simple items, but if you want it to run you have to know what's going on with the diatributor.  Yes, new 7mm plug wires are also important!   Make sure you terminate each end of the plug wires properly so they make good contact.   It should run properly if you do these things!  Good Luck!

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On 1/12/2021 at 9:02 AM, West Peterson said:

 

I believe it is unique to the 1930-31 Packards. First gear is a stump-puller, except if your car is equipped with the 3:31 rear-end ratio (which ours is). Otherwise, many many many 1930-31 Packard owners aren't even aware that their car has a first gear, as you have to move the shifter to the left and down to find it. Most start out in second, even if they DO know about the first. The 1930 Speedster is the ONLY model that used the 3:31 rear end, and I find that starting out in second is a little hard on the clutch.

Franklin cars also had this same gear shift pattern in some years and models.

 

My 1931 Series 15 Deluxe Coupe has the Warner T-77 transmission with this shift pattern

 

image.png.12955c75d95b9cf974d3dfc11be6f84c.pngAs West says - it's an Emergency Low gear.

 

Roger

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On 8/7/2022 at 8:46 AM, West Peterson said:

I just noticed something based on the wiring diagram: The rear part of the rotor operates the bank that is weak. The front of the rotor operates the bank that is strong.

Wanted to post here rather than starting a new very similar thread...

 

I was volunteering at the Gilmore Car Museum today - project of the day was a 1946? Lincoln with V12 engine - determined it's only running on the right bank of cylinders - thanks for the diagram above, that equates to the front rotor of the two not working.

 

I've switched the condensers from side to side (because easy) and that made no difference - still the left bank is dead.

 

So culprits I guess are points or coil.

 

Before getting into removing the distributor, if we lift the coil box off the top is there a test for them - can we check for continuity from the carbon plug to see if the coil for the front has gone bad on either the primary or secondary side?

 

Thanks for any insights. I'll be back down there next week (Monday) again.

 

If I wanted to buy some points to have "just in case" - where does one get them from?

 

Thanks

 

Roger

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The KIWI

Resistance measurements seldom give a good indication of a weak coil. Old coils break down under heat conditions first and then finally stop working. your problem sounds more like a bad coil.

 

My recommendation is to send the distributor and coil to Skip Haney. Incorrect dwell will damage a coil.

 

You can measure the voltage at the input to the coils with the ignition switch on for a sort period. With the contact points closed the voltage should be near 3V and with the points open it should be battery voltage. If the voltage is below 2.5V at the input, the current flow is too high or the resister has corroded connections. Too high current flow is caused by a bad condenser or bad coil.

 

I also STRONGLY advise you to start your own discussion. Jumping into someone else's discussion adds confusion because the problem discussions do not necessarily relate to each other.

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I am not looking forward to dealing with an identical issue on a similar car when I get home from Pebble......please keep posting about these units....its been 35 years since I had my hands on one. 

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On 8/9/2022 at 9:23 AM, 19tom40 said:

 

I also STRONGLY advise you to start your own discussion. Jumping into someone else's discussion adds confusion because the problem discussions do not necessarily relate to each other.

 

I think Kiwi and I are fighting the same problem. So, I have no problem with him jumping in on this thread.

 

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On 8/8/2022 at 8:22 PM, theKiwi said:

Franklin cars also had this same gear shift pattern in some years and models.

 

My 1931 Series 15 Deluxe Coupe has the Warner T-77 transmission with this shift pattern

 

image.png.12955c75d95b9cf974d3dfc11be6f84c.pngAs West says - it's an Emergency Low gear.

 

Roger

 

Graham-Paige, too, I just learned.

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West, you may not have a problem with him jumping ito your discussion, but I do. In order to answer each of you correctly, I have to read through the complete topic to make sure that I am giving the best advice that I can to each of you. I am limited on the time that I can give, so I consider that a waste of time.

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On 8/9/2022 at 9:23 AM, 19tom40 said:

 

My recommendation is to send the distributor and coil to Skip Haney. Incorrect dwell will damage a coil.

How does one contact Skip Haney?

 

I have the distributor off, and don't see anything obvious in the points, so it is likely the coil that runs the front rotor. 
 

Roger

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