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Duane's 1940 160 Sedan
#1
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Duane Gunn
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Let me start this blog by saying I have found an engine rebuilder that I will not use again.
Having said that, I have owned this car for 8 years. Or I have been the care taker of a 1940 160 touring Sedan for 8 years. I had the engine rebuilt, transmission rebuilt, installed a new wiring harness and started driving the heck out of it. It's been in 6 weddings so far and will go to more.

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Posted on: 2015/7/10 4:19
1955 Clipper Custom
1940 160 Touring Sedan
1953 Patrician
1948 Super 8 Limo
1948 Sedan, parts car
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Re: Duane's 1940 1160 Sedan
#2
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Duane Gunn
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While driving across Phoenix on a very hot Saturday afternoon, I smelled smoke and then saw smoke. I was on the freeway and pulled over when I found a spot to stop. I saw smoke coming from under the front seat so I pulled it out and threw it behind the car. I put the fire out inside the car, the fire was just the carpet burning. The bottom of the front seat was already on fire and I could not put it out. The picture shows the bottom of the front seat on fire. The floor plate under the driver's seat got loose and fell and landed on the negative battery terminal and produced a spark on the floor which caught the carpet on fire and the bottom of the front seat before I noticed it and was able to stop. What I would like to know is, is there a lid or top to the battery box under the floor under the front seat of my 40 160 Packard? Where could I find one and where can I get another floor cover as mine has a little bite taken out of it from the arcing of the battery. I can always make a top for the battery tray so this won't happen again. I like to drive the car, but want to preserve it for future generations. My kids are happy that it's insured and will be fixed soon. They all want this one or one of my other Packards.

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Posted on: 2015/7/10 4:30
1955 Clipper Custom
1940 160 Touring Sedan
1953 Patrician
1948 Super 8 Limo
1948 Sedan, parts car
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Re: Duane's 1940 1160 Sedan
#3
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HH56
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Wow. Too much excitement for one day.

John Ulrich has a cover plate for the opening as well as hold downs and trays. Not sure if that cover plate is the part you mentioned as falling down or if another piece is needed but he or flackmaster is where I would start looking.

What about a piece of insulating material or sheet rubber either cemented to the cover or possibly to the tray inside and arranged so it could fold over the top of the battery to prevent that from ever happening again...or maybe the formed boots that go over the cable terminals.

Posted on: 2015/7/10 8:30
Howard
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Re: Duane's 1940 1160 Sedan
#4
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Owen_Dyneto
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Never seen a car, Packard or otherwise, with an underseat battery that did not have a cover; many of Packard's earlier covers included a rubber gasket to make a reasonably tight seal. It's worth remembering that the natural chemical byproduct of a conventional wet-cell lead/acid batter under charge is hydrogen gas (remember the Hindenburg?). With all the air flow under and thru the body of the car, even with the cover off it would seem impossible for the hydrogen to ever even remotely reach a flammable concentration but even so, it's something best kept from the passenger compartment. Some of our older members will remember the old warning, "NEVER have an open flame or spark above a charging battery!!" Whether it was a factor in the intensity of your fire I don't know, but the covers were there for a reason.

I'm glad your episode ended without more severe damage or person injury!

Posted on: 2015/7/10 10:13
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Re: Duane's 1940 160 Sedan
#5
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Tim Cole
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It looks to me like you have the battery cover. Isn't it that piece of metal lying on the ground? I assume that's what rattled loose and fell onto the battery.

I've heard of these cases before, but never in the desert where the smallest spark will cause ignition.

Anyway, those covers suck and usually end up under the passenger's seat for the very reason cited here. In place of the dangerous metal cover, either a thick rubber mat, or nothing at all, or an oversized piece of wood with foam on it for a seal.

I've known a few people who, after this sort of accident, became fanatical about avoiding such fires.

Posted on: 2015/7/10 16:43
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Re: Duane's 1940 160 Sedan
#6
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West Peterson
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In my opinion, I don't think it was a "spark" that ignited the fire. I think that the metal cover that contacted both the battery and the chassis got so hot, that the spring covers soon caught fire. It doesn't take but a few seconds for the metal to get burning hot.

Posted on: 2015/7/10 17:17
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Re: Duane's 1940 160 Sedan
#7
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Duane Gunn
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I agree there was no spark under the floor. Here is a picture of the floor covering. There is a piece missing. That piece is a result of where the floor came in contact with the battery door. I will be looking for a replacement and I will be looking for a cover to go over the battery. Does any one have a picture of what it should look like? My battery door is suppose to have 2 tabs on it and I only have one. I am leaving the battery door on it right now while I am waiting for the upholstery shop to send the seat out to get new springs installed, mine were toasted (pun intended). The battery is out getting recharged. I am leaving the door on so my cats don't get in the car and get cozy, they also like my Packard!

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Posted on: 2015/7/11 0:30
1955 Clipper Custom
1940 160 Touring Sedan
1953 Patrician
1948 Super 8 Limo
1948 Sedan, parts car
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Re: Duane's 1940 160 Sedan
#8
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Duane Gunn
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Here is a picture of the damage to the carpet. I was able to get the fire out on the carpeting but not the seat. Both items will be replaced. But the battery door (or cover) needs to be replaced too.

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Posted on: 2015/7/11 0:59
1955 Clipper Custom
1940 160 Touring Sedan
1953 Patrician
1948 Super 8 Limo
1948 Sedan, parts car
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Re: Duane's 1940 160 Sedan
#9
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Duane Gunn
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Not having seen a battery cover, other than the floor cover, I decided to make one out of wood. I'm not a carpenter, just a backyard mechanic with no training. I just grabbed a loose piece of 3/4 inch plywood and made a cover for it. It's been primered and painted. If it lasts 5-10 years I'll be happy. No one should see this under the car and it will be covering the entire battery, so if the cover to the floor slips again, it will land on this piece of wood and I'll have no more fires under my seat.
As of this writing, the seat is rebuilt with a new frame and new springs. The shop asked me if I wanted the original back, $167 for shipping. I said no.
I just need to get busy cleaning it again.

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Posted on: 2015/7/27 10:53
1955 Clipper Custom
1940 160 Touring Sedan
1953 Patrician
1948 Super 8 Limo
1948 Sedan, parts car
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Re: Duane's 1940 160 Sedan
#10
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Tim Cole
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When I was in the Sahara we had fires start from static electricity. It doesn't take much. The situation in California is pretty dire. I'll bet an animal running fast through the brush could set off a fire. Or one of those flint strikers from a Bernzomatic. You have to witness a tree bursting into flames to understand that those warning labels are "I told you so" things.

Posted on: 2015/7/27 15:19
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