Monday, February 11, 2013

In the Shop: 1934 Packard

by Willy Vinton
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

A few weeks ago we moved our 1934 Packard 1107 convertible touring into the shop for the first time since its arrival in Fairbanks. This was the only museum car we hadn't driven yet (not counting the handful of too-fragile cars like the 1905 Sheldon and 1904 Stevens-Duryea).

When we fired her up, water poured out the top of the radiator and made a mess over the hood and radiator shroud. We discovered that the overflow tube had been plugged and there was no room for any expansion. So, we set about fixing those problems, only to find that the drain cock for the radiator had been brazed shut.

Once that was fixed, we drained and flushed the system several times and then took a test drive around Wedgewood Resort. When driving one of these big cars in the snow, you best keep awake, as those old tires have no traction! Also, with all the weight up front, stopping and going are a challenge.

Otherwise, the Packard seemed to run fine. Of course, at 10° F, things don't heat up much! After we let the car sit for awhile while warm, we started it again. We saw signs of compression leaking out under the left head, which meant it was time to tear into the engine.

Once we started on the head removal, it became apparent that we would have to do more than just replace head gaskets. All the manifold bolts were loose, as were the head nuts. Several of the head studs are set too deep and threads are stretched, so we will remove all the studs and replace them with new acorn nuts. The short block looks like it was built by someone other than whoever put the top end together. After removing what must have been two large tubes of silicone sealant, we are now cleaned up and ready for the new gaskets to arrive.

I think my Tuesday work crew had a lot of fun pulling the engine apart, and I sure appreciated the help. Lifting the manifolds off is a rather heavy project in itself! Stay tuned for a report on the finished project.

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