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1932 Packard 902 no start


Tom Tom
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Hi All,

 

I have a 1932 Packard 902 that ran ok a few years back but sat for a couple of years and now won't start. I drained the gasoline and flushed the tank and after going through the fuel system, ended up rebuilding the carb and getting a rebuilt fuel pump. I believe the fuel system now is adequate to start and I am now checking the ignition system.

I have searched the forums and the internet quite a bit and can't find much on some specifics. 

I found the thread below and a few others, but I have a few questions.

 

In the past, I have never had luck doing the spark check where you crank the engine and see if you can see the spark jump from either the plug or a screwdriver that is grounded. I remember a few years back when I was checking for a spark and even though I couldn't see one, ended up getting it started. Should the 6-volt system have a spark strong enough to be able to see it when grounding the plug and watching for spark? Should it be nice and bright or blue and dim?

 

My father may have moved the distributer slightly trying to get the thing to start and I'm looking for the best way to determine if the timing has jumped a tooth or is off. I'm assuming I can turn the crank until I see the #1 piston at the highest point and then remove the starter and see if the TDC mark is aligned and then make sure the distributor rotor is centered on the #1 spark plug wire, I'm good. Any other tips on this?

 

I've also searched the internet and my selection of Packard manuals along with the Packard archive and cannot for the life of me find a description of what the detent adjustment on the side of the distributor is for. Does anyone know what the two positions are for?

 

Also, my points are old and have been dressed a few times, but it looks like new dual points are not available. I see that there is a conversion kit to convert to single set of points, but it is pricey, and I would rather keep the stock set-up. Does anyone know if the dual points are available anywhere?

 

Also, I don't see a listing for the condenser other than the Packard parts book shows it as a NE5022901 (which the pars stores can't cross). Does anyone have a replacement source for these?

 

Any other tips or any answers to these questions would be helpful.'

 

Thanks,

 

Tom 

 

 

Edited by Tom Tom (see edit history)
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To answer one of your questions, doing a spark check requires that you disconnect the wire from the spark plug and hold it somehow close to a ground. You should get  a nice 1/4  inch spark.  Trying to see it from a connected spark plug means you are competing with the spark plug gap of .030 or so,  and so the spark will be very small. 

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Old cars are simple and easy to work on……..NOT!     Please understand my answers are intended to be short.  I’m not trying to be difficult or impolite. Your questions indicate that you are a shady tree mechanic. That system is simple and basic. Instead of wasting time and causing additional problems or possible damage, get some on the spot help….internet posting of this type will often get you off in the wrong direction with well meaning people who can’t fix themselves out of a brown paper bag. I could give you a list of fifty things off the top of my head….and they all include things like special diagnostic tools, and a much better understanding of the system than you have currently. Not sure where you are located…….find the local,Packard club……..a helpful bunch of people. Keep it stock. They run fine without any modifications. Post a photo or two……..you will get more answers that way. 

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I've been a professional GM mechanic for 20 years, ASE master, etc. I've been working on cars for over 40 and I am not a Shady Tree Mechanic. My first question is not about all cars. I can always get a nice spark to jump on 12-volt systems. For some reason, this Packard has never had a strong spark. I'm asking if this is typical for this specific car. The other questions are specific to this car, also. I have every diagnostic tool possible, but they don't mean squat for a 1932 Packard.

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Any 32 engine should have good spark.  If not, basic troubleshooting applies. What voltage are you getting to the coil when the car is cranking? Is the starter sucking up all the energy? 

If the voltage cranking is 5 or so then the points, condenser or the coil is suspect. I would try a different coil if one is available just to see. Condensers can be flaky so try a different one. Any ignition condenser will work for a test. 6 volt ignition parts are pretty generic. 

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6 volt or 12, it makes no difference. On a 90 year old car, photos help because so much gets changed out over the years. It’s a positive ground system. Simple as a Briggs and Stratton. I’m showing our 32 Packard this weekend at the San Morino Concours. Things like added in electric fuel pumps can cause weak spark, as can a bad coil, bad condenser, arcing inside the cap……again, the list is endless. Coils that will start a car will often fail under load or heat in seconds……….so, start with the basics and report them. Battery voltage, voltage at the coil, cranking amps at the starter, compression……….do you want to run a diagnostic flow chart, or jump around. 
 

Here is a coil test unit from 1946……..

 

 

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Tom Tom……come fix my GMC with a cam sensor issue…….I’ll fix your 32 for you. If you like, I can send you my number by PM and walk you through it. On the phone is easy, typing will take pages.

I use modern scopes and ignition analyzers along with five gas machines on all our pre war cars…..just a different skill set than a scanner. 

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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38 minutes ago, edinmass said:

Tom Tom……come fix my GMC with a cam sensor issue…….I’ll fix your 32 for you. If you like, I can send you my number by PM and walk you through it. On the phone is easy, typing will take pages.

I use modern scopes and ignition analyzers along with five gas machines on all our pre war cars…..just a different skill set than a scanner. 

 

What year GMC?  Also what engine?

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For a condenser just buy one that another 8 cylinder engine uses. Try rock auto and search for a 1930's Buick Eight cylinder or something along that line.

 

I would be shocked if the timing chain jumped. Its a pretty wide and heavy chain. You can pull the Queen Mary out of the ocean with it. The indent/ knob on the distributor lets you move the distributor head advancing and retarding it.  The indent is for a cold weather setting moving it back toward the firewall, and a warm weather setting moving it towards the front.

 

Check your battery voltage and check all of your battery ground wires. A drop in voltage when cranking will rob volts from the ignition system. You can never have enough or large enough ground straps.  Do you have power at the distributor? Does that car want to kick over when using starting fluid?

 

Go down in the forum to the Packard page. If you click on the Packard Club web page you will be directed to their site and they have a good tech tip page that you can read.

 

Its probably something simple, if it ran a couple of years ago it should run now.

Best of luck in getting it running again.

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