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Old 09-24-2020, 09:57 PM   #1
cabrioletgalaxie
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Exclamation hunting a ghost problem in my '47

Problems with my '47 continue. You guys have been very helpful with all my questions and with some of the suggestions I have solved a few issues. However they still continue on an intermittent basis. Hence I have begun to call it a ghost problem.
A little history. The car has had a fuel problem and I am on my 2nd fuel pump. I didn't think I was getting enough fuel but with a pressure tester I found that I did. I found a small piece of metal in the gross jet and upon removing it the car would idle well. Carb of course has been rebuilt, gas tank replaced, fuel line blown out, in line fuel filter installed which has taken out a few pieces of junk from the new gas tank.
Car starts and runs most of the time. Sometimes it was hard to start. I found I was probably over choking. Changed my habits and it improved but still turned over slowly. I found my ammeter was not moving with fast idle or with light on.
Checked the voltage regulator and found the points on the cut out portion of it weren't closing. When I manually closed them the ammeter worked. These points are non adjustable but I did slightly bend the spring. This seemed to help but intermittently. So I ordered a regulator.
I still had slow cranking even with a freshly charged battery. I found the Neg terminal on the battery was getting hot. Checked and and found there was a 1/3 volt drop between the terminal and 1" down the cable. Corrosion I thought so I replaced the cable and there was no heat in the terminal and no more voltage drop and now the engine cranked faster.
I decided the car was ready again for a test drive so my wife and I got in and drove a 1/2 mile from the house and the car began to buck and lose power when I was going up a slight incline in 1st gear. So I tuned around and headed home, trying to make it back up the other side of the incline. But it died. Several times trying to restart the car it would fire, run badly and not sustain itself. I thought it might be a gas issue so I choked it a bit, even though it was warm, pumped the accelerator. This did not help. I took the gas cap off, and still no change.
A couple guys stopped and we pushed it up the incline and down the other side to a flat spot. Still it wouldn't start and sustain itself. So with less than a a 1/2 mile from home I called a tow truck.
Upon getting home I tried again to start it and had the same issues. It would fire and run badly for a few seconds and die. I thought maybe vapor lock but here in Maine this time of year it isn't that hot.
Today I went out to lry it again. It fired and ran fine. Since the new voltage regulator arrived today I decided to change it and polarized it.
So I let it on a fast idle for 25 minutes and it still ran well. I drove it up and down my driveway several times and still it ran well.
I am at a loss at this point. I've broken down with the car 3 times and had it towed twice. My wife is not happy. I am not happy.
My only hope is that it was an intermittent voltage regulator problem and by changing it I have fixed the problem. But since I have not found a smoking gun I am hesitant to drive it again unless I have the tow company on speed dial.
The old voltage regulator seemed just that, old. But I do not know if these devices can have this sort of intermittent problems. After all, this morning the car started right up and ran on the old unit.
Your thoughts would be appreciated.
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Old 09-24-2020, 10:25 PM   #2
deuce_roadster
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Default Re: hunting a ghost problem in my '47

Electrical problems often are intermittent and those are the hardest to find.
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Old 09-24-2020, 10:44 PM   #3
T Scott
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Default Re: hunting a ghost problem in my '47

I'm not familiar with your earlier posts and maybe this has previously been covered but this sounds like a condenser issue. There has been a lot of chatter on the barn recently about junk condensers where the engine runs well when first started and then quits or runs poorly when hot and then will run again when cooled down. You may also have the regulator problem you describe but I don't think that is contributing to the issue of the engine quitting. If the battery has enough power to turn the engine over it should have enough power to keep the engine running for quite some time even if the generator is not charging. How about your wiring? All good connections, nothing loose, shorting out or corroded, for instance the wire from the coil to the distributor? Just a thought.
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Old 09-24-2020, 10:53 PM   #4
cabrioletgalaxie
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Default Re: hunting a ghost problem in my '47

Replaced the condenser this Spring. But sometimes the new ones have an issue. Easy enough to carry one and when the car craps out change it. That could make the ghost appear.
Wiring looks quite new under the hood. I checked the obvious wires and found nothing loose, or missing insulation, etc. I had thought about that myself. I did replace coil to distributor wire as it was incorrect. The coils is OEM but rebuilt by the guy in NC, who's name eludes me. But he is the well known coil rebuilder using the original case and installing all modern components.
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Old 09-24-2020, 11:06 PM   #5
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Default Re: hunting a ghost problem in my '47

There shouldn't be any junk in a new tank. While I understand that you blew out the existing line, did you check the condition? A partially plugged fuel line can cause the issues you described. Ask me how I know.
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Old 09-25-2020, 05:06 AM   #6
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Default Re: hunting a ghost problem in my '47

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Put a magnet on the bottom of the gas tank near the outlet
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Old 09-26-2020, 01:52 PM   #7
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Default Re: hunting a ghost problem in my '47

I had blown out the line using air pressure but also tried to flush with lacquer thinner.
The particles and pieces of crud were the same silver color material as the new tank. I think left over from what ever coating they used on it.
That being said the inline filter should stop it. Upon inspection when I died along the road there was no visible particles in the filter.
I am thinking perhaps the problem could be as simple as a bad condenser. Do they go bad and stay bad or can it be intermittent? I added new condenser when I replaced the points last fall.
I can buy a new steel and copper coated fuel line for about $20. but it doesn't look like a fun job uncoiling a steel line and snaking it where it needs to go.
Bottom line is I'd like to identify the problem before I just replace parts.
I am thinking I buy the condenser, drive the car and if it breaks down along the road again I can replace the condenser then with the hopes it will start back up and be fine. Probably wishful thinking.
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Old 09-26-2020, 02:05 PM   #8
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Default Re: hunting a ghost problem in my '47

Coil??
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Old 09-26-2020, 09:57 PM   #9
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Default Re: hunting a ghost problem in my '47

Yes, by all means, replace the condenser because they can give all the problems you have listed. It seems you are approaching this problem by just replacing parts. Not the way to do it. You should wait until the fault happens and then do some TESTING right then to establish if you have high tension spark or loss of fuel into the engine. Automotive shops cant afford to spend days and many parts to solve a problem. They would soon go broke if they followed the parts swapping method. Change that condenser because its quick and easy to do. How long is it since you inspected the distributor contacts ? Regards, Kevin.
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Old 09-26-2020, 10:26 PM   #10
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Default Re: hunting a ghost problem in my '47

Regarding your generator or voltage regulator problem. The cut out contacts should close of their own accord when the engine is revved up a little. You should not push them closed or bend parts because now the original factory setting is compromised. To test the generator remove the field wire from its terminal on the reg and connect it over to the A terminal on the reg and rev engine up to see if the ammeter shows a charge. If it does not charge then the generator is most likely faulty. BUT having already messed with the regulator it might not now work anyhow. Having knowledge of all these systems is essential before you mess with them. Regards, Kevin.
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Old 09-26-2020, 10:45 PM   #11
cabrioletgalaxie
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Default Re: hunting a ghost problem in my '47

Thanks for you comments. Just to clear things up. I have not changed parts helter skelter.
Gas tank was full of sheets of rust, gas was brown in color so changed the tank, fuel pump and rebuilt carb.
Adjusted float in carb, installed in line fuel filter as there was crud swirling around int sediment bowl.
I tested the generator which turned out to work fine. Found the cutout points not closing on their own so closed them manually as a test to see if ammeter registered and it did.
Replaced the voltage regulator. Some regulators actually have adjustable points. Not on the Ford but others did.
The points and condenser I replaced last year just to do a tune up as I had no history on the car. All of these things done with a friend who is an SAE certified mechanic with 40 years experience who now is semi retired and works only on vintage cars.
Both times I broke down I had no testing tools with me. Otherwise I could have done something to determine the problem. Believe me I do not want to just replace parts so I have only replaced parts that I know to be faulty, like the voltage regulator which was pretty old.
I just watched a video of how to test a condenser which I may try.
I have heard that condensers go bad and stay bad and are do not go bad intermittently.
Looking for confirmation on that.
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Old 09-27-2020, 06:31 AM   #12
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Default Re: hunting a ghost problem in my '47

These problems many times are heat related. The times that it ran poorly and quit on you, then later, started and ran fine, may be more than coincidence. Electrical components develop higher resistance when they get hot, fuel pump valves can operate sluggishly, the flex line softens and collapses, the condenser connection to ground can loosen, the ignition switch can offer high resistance, as will dirty connections, and even the wiring itself will produce more resistance when hot.


Run some tests before you start it in the morning, and compare to identical tests when it runs poorly. While it's hot, you should be able to quickly determine if it is either fuel or electrical, so you can concentrate on one system only. You might even perform these tests a third time after it cools off again, but remember, doing any replacements or adjustments in the interim can muddy the waters on what the cause is/was.


Metal flakes from a new tank sounds fishy. Your fuel filter may be plugged, even though it may look to have just a few flakes in it. You may pull the bottom plug in the tank, to drain and flush into a clean container through a paint filter. Debris found here may be from the tank, or may have been in the fuel put into the tank.


If the filter is under the hood, it may be the fuel line that you don't want to tackle. Even if it's near the tank, the manipulation of the fuel line to disconnect and reconnect to the new tank can disturb the fuel line internally, producing flakes of rust or surface oxidation.


There is a saying, that a problem is likely related to the last thing that was done, but as you've had multiple problems and made so many corrections, the best that can be done to diagnose going forward is to limit future corrections to one system at a time.


The best of luck to you to actually find the problem rather than to correct it with never knowing what you did!
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Old 09-27-2020, 11:53 AM   #13
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Default Re: hunting a ghost problem in my '47

From what I have read here, a condenser can work as intended when it cools off, only to fail again when it gets hot, same with the coil. Where is your fuel filter? If the rubber line between the metal one and the fuel pump is as old as your old tank, Iím sure it needs changing. If it runs good, when itís running, donít get discouraged. Youíll figure it out and have many miles of fun. Oh, you may want to wait till itís fixed before taking the wife for another ride....LOL....Mark
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Old 09-27-2020, 12:40 PM   #14
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Default Re: hunting a ghost problem in my '47

Let’s just say it’s not a electrical problem i’ll tell you my story on my 50 ford cpe I started to notice a lag in performance on heavy acceleration this went on for @ two weeks then one day died and won’t start till it sat for awhile long story short finally traced it to a collapsed rubber fuel line from tank to fuel pump the hose got soft and sucked together that’s when I quit using fuel with corn in it I replaced all rubber lines 8 years and no problem just something to check hope this helps
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Old 09-27-2020, 08:46 PM   #15
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Both new comments and suggestions appreciated. The only rubber fuel line is the 12" connection between the engine end of the steel fuel line and the fuel pump. This was new and I cut a section out to install the inline, clear plastic fuel filter. I will start and run the car again and even try pinching the ends of those rubber lines to see if they are sold and collapse. I have inspected the carb several times and tempted to do it again looking for some crud that gets lodged and then dislodged causing the intermittent problem.
Good idea to drain the new fuel tank through a filter. I was shocked to see those silver and black specks in my sediment bowl. Draining is a good way inspect what's in the tank and should eliminate that.
Ignition switch is new, I replaced it when we found it finger burning hot after my first break down when it wouldn't start. The 3 brass contacts were blackened. We also found there was no ballast resistor in the system despite looking everywhere under the dash. We know the ignition likes 4 V and not 6V as it heats up as we found.
Coil was original rebuilt with new components by the coils guy down south, forget his name right now. Condenser was new. Checked as many of the wires under the hood looking for loose or broken connections and found none.
I agree I don't want to suddenly fix it without knowing the problem as I would still worry about while driving it.
Currently I can't get it to die again on me while in the garage or driveway despite running at high idle for 3
20 mins or driving it in the driveway. We had it in my mechanic's friend's shop for 4 hours and found the batt cable issue and replaced it and the problem with the voltage regulator which we replaced. The cable replacement allows the car to turn over much faster when starting. And the new voltage regulator now functions so it shows a charge on the ammeter.
When it was running we could hold the plug wire off the plug for 1/2 and the spark with jump that distance. What we don't know if we have that when it bearing starts and then dies.
So I agree testing is important.
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Old 09-28-2020, 12:22 AM   #16
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Default Re: hunting a ghost problem in my '47

Aha. Rubber fuel line that you cut. Here's a good place to start (continue) making improvements that may also fix the problem. I'm sure you must have heard that ethanol destroys rubber parts on old cars. Even new rubber will soften to mush from alcohol, the corn fuel we get in most places now. Go to your V8 Times, find an ad by Shewman, and buy his flex hose, the one without the valve. It won't deteriorate and won't collapse with the new fuel.



With your '47, you will have a glass sediment bowl on your fuel pump, into which you can install a ceramic filter. Visibility is good, you can see not only sediment, but you can see bubbles if any, which will indicate sucking air at one or more connections. If bubbles appear, start the search at the glass bowl gasket itself, which should be cork. I soak mine in motor oil before installation, and tighten gently, as it will deform if over tight. Symptoms caused by air bubbles is a lack of flow to the carb, which will show up as intermittent starving under load, the fuel bowl running near empty much of the time. This will never show up simply idling in the garage, nor will it get hot enough to fail, especially if sitting there with the hood open.


Your '47 will not have a resistor under the dash, but should have one mounted at the coil itself. A static test with points open should read battery voltage, and when closed, will drop about 2 volts. If you have no resistor, the coil will overheat and may fail, producing less and less secondary voltage until the engine stalls at a stop light. Once cooled down, the coil will return to service. If this is happening, you may get your coil rebuilt once again, and the name you want is Skip Haney in Punto Gordo Florida. Skip can also provide you with a new condenser, and can also rebuild your distributor if points are damaged by faulty condenser.


About draining the tank, I meant flush the tank, by whatever means you can, to wash sediment that otherwise would not drain with the fuel.


Once again, do these corrections in a priority indicated by your testing for a definitive diagnosis.
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Old 09-28-2020, 01:40 PM   #17
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Default Re: hunting a ghost problem in my '47

Thanks. I had hood closed when running at fast idle, then drove it in the driveway. Did this several times. Squeezed the two short sections of rubber hose and could not make either one collapse.
Understand about the ethanol in gas. Hoping they may have changed the composition as there are rubber type products which tolerate the ethanol better.
There was a cylinder coil in the car when I got it, no ballast resister. I did not find one anywhere in the car so installed it inline ahead of the ignition switch. Never have seen a resister by the coil and they are not shown anywhere that I have seen. Checked the green bible and could find nothing in there.
Who sells the ceramic filter? I like those but haven't found any.
I have driven the car last fall before dying by the roadside. That is when we found the burnt contacts on the ignition block. What you are saying I could have damaged the coil during that trip.
I will call Skip Haney and ask him about that. Easy enough to send it to him. I know they can be tested but not sure if it would read bad unless the car stopped.
There was a guy on youtube who demonstrated how to test a condenser but not sure if is correct or not.
Thanks again.
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Old 09-28-2020, 02:49 PM   #18
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Default Re: hunting a ghost problem in my '47

I've heard that the quality of Skip's coil rebuilds are declining. This is from a couple people who have gone back to a cylinder coil with great results.
For this reason I am going to do this. At the same time I will remove the ballast resister which I installed. The modern coils have this resister within.
And I will carry a spare condenser on my next drive.
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Old 09-29-2020, 08:58 AM   #19
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Default Re: hunting a ghost problem in my '47

ford38v8, my '47 is pretty original...at least I think it is....and I have a resister under the dash...not down by my Skip's rebuilt coil. Doesn't look like an "after market" modification.
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Old 09-29-2020, 09:14 AM   #20
cabrioletgalaxie
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Default Re: hunting a ghost problem in my '47

RKS, can you text me a photo? That would be helpful.
Thanks. D
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