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51Packard's....51 Packard
Home away from home
Joined:
2008/1/17 7:25
From Racine, WI
Posts: 1430
Welcome to my "restoration" blog for my 1951 Packard 200 4-door sedan! If you came here for sound advice and help on how do to things right, you came to the wrong place! I am a total amaetur and never claimed to be otherwise. All that I have learned about cars has come from this Packard and others in my "fleet". Never took a class and never had a "mentor".

What do I expect to accomplish with this car? Not much. Most people would consider this a "parts car". It should not be on the road. I hope to change that. I want to keep it as original as possible. I am using it to learn about cars and body work. I know this will never be an award winner, but I hope to be able to at least drive it around again and make it look better than it did when I bought it. Should help with my welding skills too because of all of the holes in it!

Posted on: 2010/8/9 18:02
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Re: 51Packard's....51 Packard
Home away from home
Joined:
2008/1/17 7:25
From Racine, WI
Posts: 1430
History (as retold from one of my first posts here):

Why did I choose a Packard? Hmmm...well, I had always had a thing for old cars and never really got into the whole muscle car thing. I got a copy of a classic car auto trader type magazine and was thumbing through the pages. I didn't want something that I always saw at car shows. No boring '57 Chevys, 60's Mustangs or other common cars for me. I looked in the orphan car / independents section and came across an add for the Packard. Since I didn't have a lot of money, the $800 price seemed pretty good. I really liked the style of it and the chrome grill. It wasn't in the best shape, but I made my dad drive me all the way to Chicago to look at it. I knew I had to love it because he would have been pretty mad to go all that way and not get it.

I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it in person. It was the first time I had ever seen a Packard. The fact that it had this crazy straight 8 engine had me sold (never saw that either). How do you start this thing? Press the gas pedal down? How can you not want one? After we completed the deal (talked him down to $700) we went all over the place looking for someone who would tow it back to Mundelein, IL (about an hour away). Finally we found someone to do it (very questionable company). They towed it with a two wheel car dolly pulled by an early 80's Monte Carlo. When they got to our house and we paid them, they said "I think your car is on fire" and took off. The car was full of smoke. I don't know if they didn't put it all the way in neutral or what, but the smoke was coming from the transmission. It worked after that, but would not shift into high gear.

I lived in northern Illinois most of my life and in all that time, I have never seen a Packard at a car show. About 10 years ago, the Packards of Chicagoland started showing Packards, LaSalles and Porsches at Cuneo Mansion. It was awesome to see so many Packards in one place. Since then, I would see an occasional one at a show, but they were very rare.

My transmission problems didn't stop there. I wasn't too upset about the smoke because my plan was to have it rebuilt. About a year after owning her, I saved enough money to get it fixed. I found a company in Hemmings Motor News that would send you a rebuilt unit when you send in your core and $1800. I took the car to a local transmission shop. He removed the old one and shipped it. I never got a good feeling from this guy. My dad picked him out of the phone book and he didn't seem to know what he was doing. After about 3 weeks the new trans arrived and it took him another 2 weeks to install it. He called and said he was all done, but it wasn't working right. Great! I had to call the trans company and they figured it was the valve body and sent a new one free of charge. I really didn't trust this guy so I took the car back. On the way home, I noticed that the car was shifting fine and it just needed a tune up. At least I got an extra valve body for free! A week later, the guy's shop mysteriously burned down.
The car was working great for a couple of months and then it wouldn't go into low gear anymore. I dropped the pan and took out the valve body and found a metal plate that goes from the band to a hydraulic cylinder. That fixed it for a couple of weeks until the car stopped going in low gear again. By that time I was fed up having spent so much money and still had a car that didn't work. That was about the time I stopped working on the car.

Posted on: 2010/8/9 18:11
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Re: 51Packard's....51 Packard
Home away from home
Joined:
2008/1/17 7:25
From Racine, WI
Posts: 1430
Now fast forward some 16 years since I bought the car. I am now 34 years old and will hopefully do something with this thing! Here is a recap of what I had done in 16 years...

Bought a questionable rebuilt transmission

Had the starter rebuilt

Had the generator rebuilt - voltage regulator checked out OK

Had brakes overhauled and new brake lines put in when I first got the car at a local garage. On her maiden voyage, a brake line broke causing me to crash into our chain link fence with my then girlfriend, thus causing me to send it to the mechanic. I had never done brakes at that time so the experience of not being able to stopped scarred me too much to tackle it myself back then. Fence was almost completely on the ground, but no damage to the Packard!

Took fuel pump apart and cleaned it out. Noticed small tear in vacuum diaphragm. Still need to rebuild it properly.

Replaced spark plugs, distributor cap, wires and coil.

Stripped the thick peeling primer off of the hood, roof, trunk and drivers side. Repainted with a beautiful hunter green from Rustoleum. Kept the rust away pretty well except the hood, roof and trunk where I probably put it on too thin.

Stripped the thick black paint off of the air cleaner which revealed the original label.

Replaced broken drivers side, front door glass.

Bought two tail light lenses and put a "filler" turn signal glass on the grill. I bought it at a swap meet thinking it was the right one, but it is for a different model because the fluting is different.

Bought a new set of rocker panels off of ebay. They are not really correct because they are too square. I may try to use them anyway because they were like $80!

...and that's about it! Here are some current pictures. The passenger side pretty much shows what it looked like when I started.

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jpg  good side.JPG (156.33 KB)
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jpg  bad side.JPG (172.77 KB)
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jpg  grill.JPG (141.22 KB)
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jpg  engine.JPG (138.79 KB)
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jpg  engine 2.JPG (160.26 KB)
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jpg  engine 3.JPG (125.76 KB)
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Posted on: 2010/8/9 18:24
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Re: 51Packard's....51 Packard
Home away from home
Joined:
2008/1/17 7:25
From Racine, WI
Posts: 1430
more pics...

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jpg  air cleaner sticker.JPG (117.55 KB)
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jpg  front of car.JPG (153.50 KB)
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jpg  packards of chicagoland sticker.JPG (113.71 KB)
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jpg  new resting place.JPG (177.86 KB)
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jpg  front seat.JPG (132.79 KB)
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jpg  back seat.JPG (108.81 KB)
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jpg  trans looks full.JPG (169.00 KB)
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jpg  hole in trunk.JPG (140.98 KB)
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Posted on: 2010/8/9 18:36
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Re: 51Packard's....51 Packard
Home away from home
Joined:
2008/1/17 7:25
From Racine, WI
Posts: 1430
Current Priorities...

Not only is L not working, but H may have stopped working on the trans as well. Hoping to at least get L working again so I can position the car the way I want it and move it when I want to take my '66 Cadillac convertible out of the garage!

Passenger side rear wheel is stuck. Appears to be from lack of use causing brakes to seize. Don't know if this is keeping H from moving the car or not.

Car starts great once gas is up to the carb. Idle is too fast and won't kick down. Pressing on the accelerator has good response, but speeds does not reduce much once foot is taken off the accelerator. Bought a rebuild kit from Daytona to redo the carb.

Need tires bad! I am shocked that I can keep the current ones filled longer than 5 minutes! Totally rotted. Bigkev got some cheap ones from Walmart...I may go that route until the car is fixed up enough to deserve wide white walls.

Posted on: 2010/8/9 19:00
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Re: 51Packard's....51 Packard
Home away from home
Joined:
2008/1/17 7:25
From Racine, WI
Posts: 1430
8-10-10

Made a little more progress today. Now that the car is in a more favorable position, I was able to jack up the passenger rear tire. Following Ross's suggestion, I crawled under the car and used a screwdriver to turn the adjusting star wheel. Pushing DOWN on it, it wouldn't move. Kept working at it and it finally started turning. Turned it until I couldn't turn it anymore. Tried the wheel, but it still wouldn't move. Went back under the car and started jabbing the screwdriver at whatever it would reach in the drum from the access hole. SUCCESS! Wheel now moves!

Lowered the car and started her up. Tried the car in H and L again. Nothing in L. With all 4 wheels on the ground, I raced the engine and the car moved forward. When I say moved forward, the body moved but the wheels did not. More of a slight lunge. Really felt like it wanted to go. Jacked up the passenger rear wheel and tried again without a load on the wheel. This time nothing in L or H and tranny fluid is pouring out of it. I guess being at the angle forced more out the fill hole.

Next thing to do is drop the trans pan. I want to see if L doesn't work because of the holding plates slipping off the band. It happened before long ago. I can't remember if it was L or reverse that was affected back then. While the pan is off, I'll take the control valve body out and try cleaning it and the filter screen. Maybe that will fix the problems with H? That's for another day...

Posted on: 2010/8/10 16:12
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Re: 51Packard's....51 Packard
Home away from home
Joined:
2008/1/17 7:25
From Racine, WI
Posts: 1430
Was 1951 the last year Packard used wood in their cars? While under the car I just noticed my inner rocker panel is actually a 2x4! Also noticed the floor isn't as bad as I thought, but almost all of the body brackets are rusted off or the mount is rusted away. I guess I'm going to have to learn to weld for sure now!

Does anyone know the Packard part number for the rubber hose that connects the transmission to the cooler line? Anyone? Oh yeah, that's because it's not supposed to have one! Remember my previous post when I thought the trans fluid on the ground was coming out of the car because I overfilled it? Well it turns out this rubber hose pulled off the metal line. Looks like further proof that the idiot who put my trans in was a crook. Instead of removing the fitting from the trans, he cut the metal line and put a rubber one on with hose clamps.

Could that hose have been leaking, causing a loss of pressure and keeping H from working? I don't know if that would do it or not. Since the trans is drained anyway, I continued to remove the pan. Once I got that off, I took a quick look at the screen and it looks OK. Too dark to see if the plates are still on the L band. Here are some pics...

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jpg  wood frame!.JPG (77.86 KB)
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jpg  rusty body brackets.JPG (86.36 KB)
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jpg  trans pan off.JPG (58.52 KB)
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jpg  valve control body.JPG (89.72 KB)
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jpg  rubber hose trans cooler line.JPG (121.23 KB)
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Posted on: 2010/8/11 18:28
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Re: 51Packard's....51 Packard
Home away from home
Joined:
2008/6/8 18:11
Posts: 1509
Ha ha ha Packard never made cars out of 2X4's!

I believe the last Packard to use wood in the body was the 1950 Station Sedan station wagon model with wooden rear body and wooden trim on the doors.

Seriously, have you considered buying a better car? You could buy a rust free car from the west or south that would save you thousands in repairs. In fact considering everything your car needs, you could buy one in nice shape with good upholstery, body, paint, etc and still save money not to mention time and grief.

Posted on: 2010/8/11 19:20
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Re: 51Packard's....51 Packard
Home away from home
Joined:
2008/1/17 7:25
From Racine, WI
Posts: 1430
Oh, believe me, I have thought about getting rid of her. I know it needs a lot of work, but you have to realize that I'm not expecting a lot out of her either. I want to keep it as original as possible, but I'm not putting a lot of money in her either. I know it doesn't look pretty, but a lot of stuff works too. I'm learning a lot and if it becomes a 20 footer, I'll be happy. Heck, I'd be happy just driving it around town like I did so many years ago. Got a lot of thumbs up, even in it's sorry shape. The motor is good. A lot is going to depend on the transmission. If it is shot, then I think this project is over. I have to admit this too...the wood is actually working and hasn't rotted. Maybe I'll make a wood body! LOL!

Posted on: 2010/8/11 20:03
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Re: 51Packard's....51 Packard
Forum Ambassador
Joined:
2006/11/29 20:35
From Western Pennsylvania
Posts: 2841
51Packard -

I'll bet that the installer ran into a badly rusted cooler line on your car and simply patched things up with a hose just to get by. That's pretty common practice in places that just want to "git 'er done". It could also be that the installer made the mistake of using common fuel hose, which doesn't hold up well to ATF. Just idling, the converter will push a lot of fluid out of a breached cooler line in short order.

If nothing else seems out of sorts, visually, I'd suggest you put the pan back on, replace that hose (Gates makes ATF-compatible hose in a couple of diameters), fill the trans back up with ATF, and see what happens. If the trans works, THEN you can go back and fabricate new cooler lines WITHOUT hose.

If you want a cooler line that will last, look for copper-nickel coated steel tubing at your local parts stores; the part number is usually prefixed with "CNC". It should be widely available, now, in 3/16" and 1/4" diameters, which are commonly used with brake systems, but I've also found it in 5/16" and 3/8" - all sold in 25' coils. That stuff ain't exactly cheap, but it's well worth the extra money if you plan on keeping the car. Though I prefer to use a tubing bender for precision, several mechanics around here tell me that the copper-nickel coated tubing can be bent with nothing more than your bare hands. However, you'll still need a proper flaring tool to to finish the ends.

Meanwhile, looks like both the inner and outer rocker panels have rusted away on your car - including the ends of the braces that run across the underside of the floor pan to tie it all together. This is not an uncommon issue for the 51-56 bodies.

To get a better idea of what you may be in for, you might want to spend some time with the blog, Keegan's 55 Clipper Deluxe, where a many of his posts cover similar sheet metal repair.

Posted on: 2010/8/12 7:26
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