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Old 10-10-2017, 11:00 PM   #1
Bubsyouruncle
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Smile Ancient History

Back when Harry was dealing with Joe, and Doug had a whole bunch of guys in foxholes, my dad showed me how to start a flathead in winter in Chicago.

I am somewhat amused by the problems the newbies are having.

But

The fuel is different, and no where near as volatile. The engines are ancient. The easily replaceable parts are marginal. And the newbies are used to the wonderful modern replacements for those old cantankerous old boat-anchors.

Would I go back to carburetors and points and distributors for day to day transportation? No way.

Can't remember the last time in a quarter century that I had a problem starting my car. Even the Chrysler Sebring ragtop (sorry, Lee, I bought a Mustang in April, 1965. Other than the Deuce, my favorite car.)
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Old 10-11-2017, 07:33 AM   #2
slowforty
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Default Re: Ancient History

When I was a kid ,we had a 300ft sloped driveway, worked every time. But now I dont think I could give the car a push and run and jump into the front seat and pop the clutch.

My friend had a old tractor with a winch with a 100ft cable. he used to hook up the car and start the tractor and run back to the car and start the car and then run back to the tractor and shut the tractor off. One day he slipped and fell. the results were not pretty.

Amazing what you will do when you dont had $5.00 for a new battery.
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Old 10-11-2017, 08:52 AM   #3
19Fordy
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No doubt about it, electronic ignition and fuel injection are two the best improvements
ever made to vehicles. Disc brakes are another.
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Old 10-11-2017, 10:13 AM   #4
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Everybody used to carry jumper cables. Not so much anymore. HEET in their yellow bottle, was a fixture at the checkout stand in the wintertime. In truly frigid temperatures those without garages had an early morning ritual. I remember my neighbor, an old guy with a big ass boat was always tinkering and tuning. In the wintertime he'd place an incandescent light bulb on the intake or somesuch and let that run all night to keep things warm enough to light off. Short trips tend to leave batteries less than fully charged and sulfate reducing capacity. An engine slightly out of tune usually meant a flooded engine, and that meant a dead battery.

It is possible to tune and maintain points & condenser ignition and carbureted engines for good extreme cold weather performance but it is a periodic, routine preventive maintenance practice. People then as now, can't, or won't, do this. A good hot battery is key, and if the battery terminals, cables are corroded poor grounds etc the battery will be spent quickly.
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Old 10-11-2017, 10:21 AM   #5
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The good ole days are best left in our memories.
I bought my '36 Ford coupe in '52, I was living in Eastern Idaho where winter temps generally hit 30 below. It was common practice to remove the batteries at night, bring same into the house to keep them from freezing. During the winter of '48-49 my father had a '39 Dodge pickup that would not start in the morning if it had not been started several times during the preceding night.
Of course that job became mine. I was 14, I had to get up every three hours, go out and start the truck, sitting in it to keep it running, once the heater blew hot air I could shut the truck down for another three hours.
My '36 has enjoyed the comfort of sitting in a garage in So Cal every since I moved here in 1956... "How Sweet it Is"....
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Old 10-11-2017, 11:02 AM   #6
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I had a 1000 watt "Tank Heater" in my '52 Ford. I'd plug it in when the temperature was predicted to go below zero. Not only no problem starting, but instant hot air blowing from the heater! It was better than fuel injection in that aspect. "Headbolt" heaters usually go the job done, but "Dipstick" heaters were, well, for "dipsticks".
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Old 10-11-2017, 02:24 PM   #7
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Default Re: Ancient History

I remember my Dad draining the oil at night and putting it in a pan on our franklin wood stove. In the morning he put it in and start it up. Only on the coldest days of winter.
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Old 10-11-2017, 02:58 PM   #8
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I remember my Dad draining the oil at night and putting it in a pan on our franklin wood stove. In the morning he put it in and start it up. Only on the coldest days of winter.
Now that right there is dedication!
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Old 10-11-2017, 04:24 PM   #9
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The good ole days are best left in our memories.
"If you want to bring back the good old days, just turn off the air conditioning."

Once in a while I'll hear the advice in cold weather, to turn the headlights on for several seconds prior to starting attempt to "get the battery ready". This never made much sense to me, as it is only going to reduce available current by some amount. I have found that batteries will "bounce back" to some degree. If an engine seems to be flooded or stubborn it's best not to panic and grind on the starter excessively. Wait at least 15 minutes. Anything that will warm the battery up - taking it inside someplace warm - will help. Fully charged batteries won't freeze except at some ungodly temperature but their ability to provide current is severely reduced when cold. Similarly warming the crankcase and oil will reduce the current needed to turn the engine over. I've had to thaw starters out with a torch to get them to work one last time, changing starters is a little better inside a garage.

I remember when my parents first bought a house that had a garage, an enclosed garage. Dad said that was the greatest thing. Those of you who live in warm climates have no idea - it's almost surreal going out to a car in the open in truly cold weather, especially at night. Nothing works right. Doors don't want to open, sounds like an episode of "The creaking door"; the seats hard as stone. Plastic parts break, lubricants turn to sludge or jello. When started, engine sounds rude, ornery and wounded. Groaning and whining of pumps, belts, etc. In high winds at road speeds even the best heater will be marginal at best, the engine will not warm up. That's why the cardboard in front of radiators you'll see sometimes.
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Old 10-11-2017, 05:25 PM   #10
Sid the Maineiac
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I can remember folks using a roasting pan full of hot wood coals from the woodstove to start vehicles.Placed as close as safely could be to warm the oil and engine somewhat. Usually would start if tuned close to right! Usually necessary if temps were below 0.and Maine used to get a lot of those days!
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Old 10-11-2017, 05:58 PM   #11
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My stepdad talked about putting big blankets on their engines and a pan of coals underneath. Also, they did not have anti-freeze that could take the cold temperature of the Dakotas (or they couldn't afford to buy it) - anyway, they ran diesel fuel for coolant in the cold part of winter.

Also, it was a running fight amongst the Chevy versus Ford owners - as to whose care would start in the morning. Seems the Fords had the edge on the old 6 cylinder stove bolts (for reasons that I don't know).
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Old 10-11-2017, 06:14 PM   #12
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For starting aids, are you guys forgetting the ball peen hammer for carburetors and starter motors? And what about the old faithful tow rope? Remember the road flares as part of every automotive tool kit? Didn't any of you guys have an Army blanket to cover the engine at night?
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Old 10-11-2017, 08:35 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Bored&Stroked View Post

Also, it was a running fight amongst the Chevy versus Ford owners - as to whose care would start in the morning. Seems the Fords had the edge on the old 6 cylinder stove bolts (for reasons that I don't know).
I can't say any one make was better than the other. Seen various flathead V8s, sixes, ohv sixes as well, and some of them started great any time while others were always a bit of a gamble when you hit that starter button (or floor pedal).
Dad had the head bolt electric heater on the Merc but the Merc's biggest drawback was that automatic transmission. That ruled out pull starts from the tractor. I think it put a heavier load on the starter and battery too. Combined with the little six volt battery they put in those cars, cold weather starting could be a challenge.
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Old 10-11-2017, 11:34 PM   #14
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I can't say any one make was better than the other. Seen various flathead V8s, sixes, ohv sixes as well, and some of them started great any time while others were always a bit of a gamble when you hit that starter button (or floor pedal).
Dad had the head bolt electric heater on the Merc but the Merc's biggest drawback was that automatic transmission. That ruled out pull starts from the tractor. I think it put a heavier load on the starter and battery too. Combined with the little six volt battery they put in those cars, cold weather starting could be a challenge.
That automatic had a rear pump turned by the driveshaft so you could pull or push it to start it. Only thing was, you had to get up over 20-25 MPH to spin the innards in the torque converter fast enough.

The Operator's Manual for the 8N tractor of the forties said to pour about a pint of gasoline into the crankcase before shutting off the tractor, and let it run a minute or so to mix the gas into the oil. That way it would start the next day, and as it ran the gas would evaporate out of the oil.
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Old 10-11-2017, 11:52 PM   #15
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In the late '50's Dad had an English made Ferguson tractor (Lucas starter, which failed). It had a hydraulic pump running off the front of the crankshaft so couldn't hand crank it. Did he buy a starter (expensive import)? No! He drained the trans/rear axle and filled it with 10W oil with an extreme pressure additive. Every morning we had to jack up a rear tire, put it in 4th gear, pull the choke, turn on the switch, and flip that tire! When it started (and it always did) you had to reach past that spinning tire to pop the trans out of gear and get the clothespin off the choke rod before it flooded. Fun times for a skinny 16 year old!
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Old 10-12-2017, 06:45 AM   #16
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And with self driving cars we'll be saying remember when you got behind the wheel and actually steered, shifted and braked your machine.
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Old 10-12-2017, 07:31 AM   #17
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I'm still trying to get my head around Slowforty's story of the man with a winch on a tractor. Sheesh!
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Old 10-12-2017, 08:24 AM   #18
barnfind
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Lived in Minn one winter about 50 years ago.
There were folks that had multiple batteries mounted in the back of their jeep
who made a living at $10 or $20 to jump start us dumb folks living in apartments that
were too far away to run an extension cord for a block heater. Had to pay them a few times even with a new battery(high compression GTO muscle car).

As a kid at 8 or 9 in MI, I was tasked with starting our 52 Ford in the winter for my mom.
Don't remember having a problem - just had to follow whatever procedure my dad taught me.
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Old 10-12-2017, 09:26 AM   #19
RalphG
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Originally Posted by 40 Deluxe View Post
That automatic had a rear pump turned by the driveshaft so you could pull or push it to start it. Only thing was, you had to get up over 20-25 MPH to spin the innards in the torque converter fast enough.
Yes, I've since heard that was possible with the old Mercomatics but the catch was that my dad did not have a tractor that would go that fast. 10 mph did not do a thing for pull starting it. And he did try.
I'd say that adding a manual choke and learning how to use it was one of the biggest improvements to cold starting. The automatic chokes were fine when new and well set but after a few years of neglect they could cause difficult starting. Is it flooded or not? Need somebody to hold the automatic choke open? By the time we figured it out the already cold battery was getting too weak.
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Old 10-12-2017, 12:37 PM   #20
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I am surprised that no one mentioned starting fluid. A couple of good whiffs and a fully charged battery will beat towing or heating. I leave the top of the air filter in place and apply the spray to the element. If you overdo application, that will save your eyebrows.
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