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1954 359 Leaves me sit... again
Quite a regular
Joined:
2014/12/27 9:59
From State College, PA
Posts: 26
Hi fellas,

So I need to vent a bit. My 54 Pacific is mechanically sound so to speak but it's no show car. I've done the work myself bringing it back and when it runs I enjoy driving it. When it runs, that's the key, It left me and the kids sit this weekend and I was ready to sell it to the lowest bidder.

When hot, it's a gamble wether it will start.

I recently read the article on page 9 of the Packard Club News Bulletin, see attached. And got hopeful again. But what Id like to know from any of you is ... Does it work? I no longer want to guess if this thing will start. So I'm willing to install new heavier field coils as the note recommends OR Im considering moving to a 12volt system.

What would you recommend? What have you done?

Thanks guys,
Andy

Attach file:



jpg  News Bulleting page 9.jpg (285.73 KB)
78965_5cb625c1c648e.jpg 1956X1604 px

jpg  News Bulleting page 9.jpg (285.73 KB)
78965_5cb625d81f6b3.jpg 1956X1604 px

Posted on: 4/16 11:57:53
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Re: 1954 359 Leaves me sit... again
Quite a regular
Joined:
2014/12/27 9:59
From State College, PA
Posts: 26
Sorry - I attached the image twice.

Posted on: 4/16 11:59:42
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Re: 1954 359 Leaves me sit... again
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Joined:
2007/4/20 17:54
From Fresno CA
Posts: 15355
I think the field coil change is a good idea and well worth trying. When I had my Pacific it had very slow cranking when hot but not knowing about the field coil changes at the time I converted to a gear reduction starter that was used on the earlier large engines. I believe those were still used in 51 and maybe 52 but went away after that. You could possibly find one if someone has a 51 or maybe 52 Patrician parts car. I used an Autolite from an earlier Custom 8 356 but those are getting harder and somewhat expensive to find. The field coil change would probably be cheaper and at the same time the shop can go thru the starter and check for worn bushings or anything else which could be letting the armature drag and add to the problem. As Ross posted a couple of weeks ago worn bushings can cause starter issues that result in hard starts when warm. http://packardinfo.com/xoops/html/mod ... id=202438#forumpost202438

The relay is an excellent addition although it may not directly help the problem as much as the article indicates. It would be of benefit because it would lessen the current going thru the ign switch making more available to the coil and maybe provide a better spark but more importantly it would help preserve the life of the switch. The 54-56 key start ign switches when used with the large solenoid pinion shift starters pull a lot of current thru the starter contacts in the switch. The ign switch contacts overheat and suffer as a result. The later key start switches were IMO, a bit under rated for everything going thru them and seem to fail with more regularity than the earlier switches. To make it worse, 54 switches are one year only and being 6v which typically has more current flow for the same item as 12v cars, are on borrowed time. Being a one year item, NOS replacements are expensive and hard to come by. 55-6 switches will not fit -- not that they are in much better supply -- and there is no aftermarket replacements available that can use the Packard bezel. Anything that gets excess current out of the switch and helps the life span is a good idea. I have not seen the Packard 458652 kit mentioned in the article to know where they placed the relay but it is easy to do something with a modern cube type relay. 6v relays are available from Newark Electronics and some parts places, 12v are all over ebay and local stores.

If you do ultimately convert to 12v it would be a good idea to have the starter converted too. While many have made the car conversions to 12v most also continued to use the starter motor without change or only changing the solenoid. There have been several who have reported the nose castings of their starter cracking or breaking off. By a process of elimination it would seem the increased speed, torque and force of the pinion slamming into the nose end stop when running on 12v is a good candidate for the reason so many with unmodified starters have had the problem.

Posted on: 4/16 12:20:38
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Howard
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Re: 1954 359 Leaves me sit... again
Home away from home
Joined:
2008/9/29 7:39
From Cordova, TN
Posts: 989
Andy, could you give us a little more information about your starting problems? All I get is that it starts fine cold. (assuming it's been setting over night). And later it won't start after it's warmed up. I'm guessing it runs fine and it just won't start (fire) after you shut it off. What kind of outside temps are we talking about? Also other questions would be are you using a mechanical fuel pump and ect.
Also there's a good factory troubleshooting manual on this web site, take a good look at it.
Good luck!
Wes

Posted on: 4/16 15:55:15
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Re: 1954 359 Leaves me sit... again
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Joined:
2007/3/14 16:01
From New Jersey
Posts: 15669
My own 359 was very reliable and always a quick starter, hot or cold. And so have several others that I've been lucky enough to tour in. But I suspect that reliability comes with critical systems like ignition, carburetion and electrical being at or near peak condition with not a lot of latitude on the downside. I'm with Wes, lets have some more particulars, you may find you need a good, comprehensive tuneup, or basic starter motor service with brushes, bushings and bearings and perhaps armature service.

Something as drastic as conversion to 12 volt should absolutely not be required, it would simply be masking an existing problem.

Can we assume your battery cables are adequate? At least 0 gauge with good terminals and clean connections?

Posted on: 4/16 18:53:11
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Re: 1954 359 Leaves me sit... again
Home away from home
Joined:
2006/6/4 7:52
From WA
Posts: 1089
Does this example still have the aluminum cylinder head or has it been converted to cast iron?

jack vines

Posted on: 4/17 11:22:23
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Re: 1954 359 Leaves me sit... again
Quite a regular
Joined:
2014/12/27 9:59
From State College, PA
Posts: 26
Thanks fellas, I appreciate your insight.

Outside temp hasn't seemed to make a difference in starting, Saturday it was in the low 60s. It starts cold, then once the engine is hot is turns over very slowly.

The starter & generator were rebuilt within the last two years.
The battery (Optima) charges fine and uses over sized battery cables I think 00 but need to confirm that.
The regulator has been tested and is older but good.
It does have a mechanical fuel pump, also new two years ago. I
The head was replaced and now has a cast head.

The car still has a push button on the dash to start (left side) The key turns one click to the right and you push the button to engage the starter, I don't know if it's aftermarket or factory.

What else can I tell you?

Posted on: 4/17 14:50:10
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Re: 1954 359 Leaves me sit... again
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Joined:
2007/4/20 17:54
From Fresno CA
Posts: 15355
Quote:
The car still has a push button on the dash to start (left side) The key turns one click to the right and you push the button to engage the starter, I don't know if it's aftermarket or factory.


Definitely not factory. 54 was the first postwar Packard to ditch the accelerator start and go to the key start like almost all cars had after the 60s. They moved the ign switch to the right side where the ashtray used to go and put the antenna switch on the left where the ign switch used to go. If the car didn't have that option or the rear speaker the left dash space was mostly empty except for the light switch and relocated ashtray. I would almost bet the original ign switch failed in the manner I suggested above and a P.O. couldn't find or didn't want to pay for another. Is the ign switch bezel the rounded Packard item? If so they might have mounted a 49-53 ign switch instead of the 54 type and then had to add the button as a way to start the car.

Posted on: 4/17 15:06:29
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Howard
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Re: 1954 359 Leaves me sit... again
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Joined:
2007/3/14 16:01
From New Jersey
Posts: 15669
With the cast iron head chances are your compression ratio is elevated, are you experiencing spark knock? You've got some classic symptoms, I'd strongly suggest retarding your ignition timing a few degrees and reevaluating your hot start problem, I suspect you'll notice an immediate improvement.

Posted on: 4/17 15:28:55
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Re: 1954 359 Leaves me sit... again
Home away from home
Joined:
2006/6/4 7:52
From WA
Posts: 1089
Quote:
With the cast iron head chances are your compression ratio is elevated, are you experiencing spark knock? You've got some classic symptoms, I'd strongly suggest retarding your ignition timing a few degrees and reevaluating your hot start problem, I suspect you'll notice an immediate improvement.
Exactly the reason I asked that question, Owen. The 359" required the aluminum head to have any possibility of dealing with that 8.7 compression. Switching to an iron head can cause the problems mentioned.

To get one to start, I rewired the starter switch so as to have the starter cranking the engine over before turning on the ignition. Not for everyone, but it solved the problem.

Premium fuel and an octane booster are also good crutches.

jack vines

Posted on: 4/17 16:06:57
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