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Oil pressure problems, maybe.
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Joined:
2016/3/1 6:56
From Houston, TX
Posts: 156
Here is the story. I was driving my stock '55 Patrician up to a body shop to get my hood re-installed (long story for another post). The shop is about 18 miles away and it took me ~35 minutes each way. I made this same round trip a couple of weeks ago with no problems at all. This time i made it there without incident although while there there was a puddle of antifreeze under the car when we were done, maybe a cup or less of liquid. Drove home and after about 5 minutes, i felt the car 'surging' or 'straining' while driving at a constant speed and flat terrain. I started thinking the fuel pump was giving out or my fuel gauge was lying to me so I slowed down and started looking for a place to pull over. I looked at the gauges and Temp was a bit higher than normal (it was halfway between middle and Hot) but oil pressure was decreasing. Oil pressure got to "L" and I pulled into a gas station to see what was up. I turned the engine off and checked the oil level which was about a 1/2" above Full (normal for me). There was some oil smoke (light) coming out of oil breather cap and the dipstick hole when I removed dipstick. These are normal for my car. (Note I did a compression check and cylinder leak test with great results weeks ago and that data is in a previous post)

After a few minutes, I turned the car back on and Oil press rose to the usual middle position as if all was good. So I pulled it to the pumps and filled the tank (just in case there was also fuel sender issue). When I restarted, the oil Press started to rise, got to about 1/4 position but then started decreasing back to L. Shut it off again then started it a minute later and oil press came up as normal to the middle position. Figuring that this could be the sender unit, I decided to go for home and I made it without any problems at all (while staring at the gauges the whole time!). The car still seemed to struggle going over overpasses but Oil press stayed solid dead center in the middle and Temp was 3/4 to H. Radiator fluid was down about an inch from when I started the day but still above the level of the core.


I replaced the oil pressure sender just a couple of months ago with an Echlin OP6091 from NAPA as the old one didnt give any reading at all.

So the question, what's up? Could this new sender unit be flaky, could the pump itself be on it's last legs? It seems unlikely to go from no problems to multiple at the same time (oil sender/pump issue plus a transmission or fuel pump issue causing the strain... etc)?

BTW: I do have a Jack Vines Oil pump replacement kit in hand and have been waiting for to get my hood back so I can do that replacement. Probably not relevant but I do not have a working generator installed so I rely on battery strength to get there, charge it while I'm there and then make it home. It was at 12.6V when I arrived back home.

I'm also wondering if I should "tee" off the oil pressure sender port and run an independent set of a real sensor and gauges with numbers to keep the worry factor down. Anyone done that in a somewhat elegant way?

I appreciate any advice you can provide as I want to get this to be a reliable driver.

thank you,
Bob

Posted on: 2016/7/17 14:35
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Re: Oil pressure problems, maybe.
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2007/4/20 17:54
From Fresno CA
Posts: 15973
I am one who votes for a mechanical gauge discreetly mounted somewhere. Many of us have it in the engine compt to be able to verify the sender is functioning properly. Some even have an additional mechanical temp gauge although the lack of a good second position for the sensor in the water flow makes that one somewhat harder to implement.

Did the coolant come out the radiator overflow or was it somewhere else. If the coolant level is more than approx 1 inch lower than the bottom of cap opening it will often be forced out the overflow. A frequent leak spot if it was more in the middle on the right side is the thermal valve for the heater. The rubber seal can leak and coolant can run down behind carpet and out a mounting bolt location on the floor without the operator ever being aware it is leaking. Occasionally there might be a smell of coolant that goes along with a leak but no obvious puddles inside the car. Another frequent spot more toward the center of car is one of the radiator hose connections on the Ultramatic oil cooler rusting thru..

Did the valve lifters ever clatter. That is a typical symptom of low oil pressure. One cause of wildly fluctuating pressure could also be sludge in the oil pan shifting and covering the oil pickup. Engines have been known to self destruct if the pickup becomes clogged so if you never dropped the pan and cleaned it that might be a worthwhile project.

Did any of the other gauges --temp, fuel -- fluctuate? If they did then the instrument voltage regulator could be suspect.

Posted on: 2016/7/17 15:04
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Howard
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Re: Oil pressure problems, maybe.
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2007/2/18 18:55
From Canberra, Australia
Posts: 639
Engine surging..lack of power on overpasses etc sounds more like a fuel supply problem to me. Do you have an electric fuel pump to help feed your mechanical fuel pump on hot days? You may need one. PT

Posted on: 2016/7/17 19:38
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Re: Oil pressure problems, maybe.
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Joined:
2016/3/1 6:56
From Houston, TX
Posts: 156
Howard,
To answer your questions:

I am assuming the coolant came out of the overflow tube as the puddle was in front of the driver's side front tire. There is a puddle directly under the flywheel so I will check radiator hose connections esp to the ultramatic.

I didnt hear the valve lifters clatter during this event. They did clatter when I first got the car a few months ago which is why I ordered the Vines oil pump upgrade. In the interim I overfilled the oil so that the level was about 1/2" above the Full line and that stopped the clatter so I haven't been in hurry to install the new pump/pickup.

The other gauges appeared to work just fine during the whole drive.
For your secondary mechanical oil gauge, where did you plumb it to the engine? Did you tee off where the current sender goes or is there another available location? I was thinking of an electric one so that I can view it inside the car while driving but still need to install its associated sending unit.

Peter: It did feel like a fuel issue to me as well based on fuel pump issues on more modern cars. I do not have an electric fuel pump for hot days. Temp was about 95 degrees when all this happened. I have a dual action fuel pump installed by a PO, although the vacuum section isn't working so I guess it's possible the fuel section could be failing. Maybe there is a way to rebuild those.

thanks for feedback, guys.

Posted on: 2016/7/18 10:53
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Re: Oil pressure problems, maybe.
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2007/4/20 17:54
From Fresno CA
Posts: 15973
Coolant is probably from the overflow tube if in the front but the Ultra oil cooler is also up front near the vibration damper so still a possibility. Anything leaking coolant at the rear of the engine would be on the end of heads. On the left head is the temp sender and on the right head is the heater take off. Those items are both threaded into brackets bolted over a water opening with a gasket to prevent leaking.

An additional oil sender can be placed in a couple of spots without interfering with anything else. Easiest and place most use would be a spot located just below the oil sender. It is a plugged 1/4 NPT port coming off at about a 45 degree angle to the original sender. Because of the 45 degrees, if you are going to add another sender then depending on how large the new sender is you might have to add a couple of other fittings to clear the head.

The other empty spot is a plugged 1/8 NPT port on the right head just to the outside of the heater connection. Unless the engine is out and accessible, that one is harder to work with because of the limited space to firewall and the heater box and hose connection you would have to work around. During a rebuild, an elbow can be easily installed in the location with a tube for a mechanical gauge attached. There is a corresponding port on the front of the left head that the oil filter attaches to and while it could be used, because of the filter there would be more involved.

The fuel pump should be rebuildable but you would need to identify it to get the correct kit. If you don't know what application the pump is from Then and Now automotive http://then-now-auto.com can help identify which pump you have and provide a kit. They are moving to a new website and all their kits are not shown yet so it may take a phone call. If you know the application then probably a regular parts store can provide a kit.

Many of us have installed a pulse or solenoid type electric pump near the fuel tank and let it pump thru the mechanical pump. By pushing fuel and pressurizing the input side line it is felt by many to be the most effective location for helping avoid vapor lock. Place a fuse and on/off switch in the power line so the pump can be used for priming and possible vapor lock situations but switched off for normal use. Pulse style pumps will allow fuel to be pulled thru by the mechanical pump but most rotary styles will not.

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Posted on: 2016/7/18 12:08
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Howard
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Re: Oil pressure problems, maybe.
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2016/3/1 6:56
From Houston, TX
Posts: 156
Great info as always especially on where to mount an additional oil pressure sense line.

I'm concluding from this post that two independent things happened last week (odd to believe they are coincidences but sometimes that really happens, I guess):


1. oil pressure problem caused either by flaky pump or sludge intermittently clogging up oil pump pickup.

2. Fuel flow problem due to possible weak fuel pump and/or vapor lock onset.

Regarding the Oil pressure problem, I have been meaning to change the oil. But as long as I was doing that I wanted to drop the pan to clean it up. As long as the pan was off I want to replace the oil pump with the Vines solution. I have hesitated doing this because I'm now thinking of pulling the engine so I can clean up the firewall and other hard to reach places on the body and the engine as well as repaint the engine back to ivory etc etc etc. If I do that, replacing the oil pump and adding another oil press sensor will be much easier(and I haven't pulled the engine because I need to drive the car to get my hood fitted and need to do drive it again on Friday.)... So once I get my hood back on, I'm going to take it off and pull the engine and start this process (assuming pulling/reinstalling the engine is relatively straight forward).

Regarding the fuel flow problem. I have not experienced what I consider to be classic vapor lock (car not starting after running etc). BUT I do think I either have a fuel pump problem or a fuel line issue. When I first installed this plastic fuel filter (replaced a PO metal one) the fuel level (at idle) was fairly high at the exit side although the element was probably more than half out of the gasoline. Now you can see the gas level is very low and just dribbling down the inlet side. The downstream glass bowl filter housing is always full though. SO maybe while my engine is out I will rebuild (or have rebuilt) the fuel pump. I'll also consider adding a pulse type fuel pump near the tank as per Howard's suggestion.

Thanks for help, guys. Any words of wisdom or caution on pulling the engine would be appreciated.

-Bob

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Posted on: 2016/7/20 8:47
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Bob
1955 Packard Patrician
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Re: Oil pressure problems, maybe.
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2007/4/20 17:54
From Fresno CA
Posts: 15973
One other thing on the fuel could be an older pump. If you are running fuel containing ethanol thru a pump that still has old type rubber, the rubber could be deteriorating and will soon fail. If you do not know the age or type rubber the pump rebuild might need to be done soon before it leaves you stranded.

I can't tell if that is a ceramic or paper element in the factory type glass bowl filter under the air cleaner. If ceramic, those can have problems with flow if gas repeatedly dried in the bowl and the old gas and varnish plugged the small passages in the element. It can be hard to determine if there is a problem because air will flow thru the element nicely but fuel can be restricted. If the pump is putting out the correct pressure and rate, if an air bubble doesn't get smaller or never completely disappears and the fuel in the bowl is continually at a low level after a period of running then the flow thru the element might be suspect.

The rubber hose between the line on frame and pump can also cause flow problems if it is old or was twisted during a pump install.

Posted on: 2016/7/20 11:37
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Re: Oil pressure problems, maybe.
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2006/5/29 17:21
From Pahrump, NV
Posts: 2053
Good advice from all above and I believe you have arrived at the correct conclusions. I'm also glad you had the foresight to buy the Vines oil pump adapter kit.

I will add one thing though: "classic vapor lock" is not just hard/no starting after turn off and sitting for a while. It also happens in hot weather during stop/go driving or on long uphill grades on hot days like I experience here in Southern Nevada High Desert. An electric helper fuel pump somewhere in the feed line is the ONLY solution. The one on my 55 Pat is located below the D-side front door on the frame and has never failed in its job

Craig

Posted on: 2016/7/20 11:56
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Re: Oil pressure problems, maybe.
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2016/3/1 6:56
From Houston, TX
Posts: 156
Actually, there is no element in the factory glass bowl filter. That's the way it came from the PO. Since there was the other filter upstream I figured that was okay as the cartridge filter would do all the filtering work and the glass bowl just looks nostalgic. I've always seen it full but haven't played much lately to see if the level falls at higher rpm's. The cartridge filter used to be about half full at idle and now it's practically empty.

I can't tell what kind of double action fuel pump it is as there is no obvious markings from the limited vantage points available. Might have to wait until I pull the engine to see it (which could be real soon without a working/reliable fuel pump.....)

As far as adding an electric fuel pump, are you suggesting something like this?

http://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo.php?pk=4383534&jsn=4

thanks again
Bob

Posted on: 2016/7/20 15:10
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1955 Packard Patrician
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Re: Oil pressure problems, maybe.
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2016/3/1 6:56
From Houston, TX
Posts: 156
So the plot thickens...

I pulled off the existing double action fuel/vac pump and took the fuel section apart. The rubber looks very good and rather new. Unless the spring or other parts are worn, I wouldn't think it would be a problem. There is no name on it anywhere and just a little metal tag with 4293A stamped on it. I haven't been successful in finding a rebuild kit for it yet with limited info. So, I bought a $18.00 Airtex one from Advance Auto (thanks to the Parts X-Ref) to keep me going until I get around to rebuilding the other. That required a little replumbing of the metal fuel line (used a brake line which worked out great) and some of the hoses. I decided to take off the plastic fuel filter and noticed that the inlet side had constricted. See pic below. Don't know if it got too hot or if I overtightened the clamp when I installed it a few months ago. Wonder if that constriction is why the car was straining on overpasses if it was starving the carb. I still had the metal inline one that I replaced and put that back on. It all seems to work.


So still being worried about the intermittent oil pressure drop, I decided to look inside the bypass oil filter. The filter element looked almost new with no oil on it. The only oil was a 1" or so green sludge at the bottom. In looking how to take the unit out, I noticed that tube from the block to the side of the filter housing was NOT connected to the block and a bolt was installed in it's place (hard to see in the mirror shot). No wonder the filter looked new, it wasn't doing anything.

Why would someone disconnect the filter?? This adds a lot of credence to the oil sludge theory of why oil press dropped last week then regained itself, I think.

Any thoughts would be very appreciated.

thx,
Bob

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Posted on: 2016/7/24 9:50
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