"Ask the Man Who
|March 1, 2024 - Bella's exhaust got noisy again the second time I took her out, but this time it was the new flange gasket going bad. I tried a couple of substitutes with no luck, then visited O'Reilly's Auto Parts. The best match I could find was a solid metal flange gasket that slid into place and cost less than $10. Once tightened, the car is quite again. I need to see how this holds up, but so far it looks and sounds good.
|January 8, 2024 - Several issues solved - the overdrive turned out to be directly connected to the battery, and when I put the new battery in on Dec. 29th I pulled the wire loose. A new connector solved that issue. An exhaust leak at the headpipe was due to a stripped bolt, which I replaced along with the gasket. And I did lube the front end. The temperature started going up but never reached overheating levels when I took her for a test run, then I 'burped' the cooling system and the temp gauge settled back to just below the middle and stayed there. We visited Jere Avenson, Bella's previous owner, then made a few more stops before heading home again. All seems good now - you can see the temp reading is great and just make out the tip of the speedometer needle, which reads fast. I was rolling with traffic at about 60 MPH. As usual, she got lots of beeps and 'thumbs up' from other drivers.
|January 2, 2024 - The Packard is up in the air thanks to my little-used lift. Bella's overdrive is not kicking in, so I need to troubleshoot the issue. It seems likely that I did something when I had the engine apart - popped a fuse or loosened a wire. I'll also take the opportunity to give the car a thorough lubrication.
|December 30, 2023 - I replaced the thermostat housing gasket and bypassed the underseat heater with a new hose. That appears to have solved the issues - no visible leaks and the car idles with the temperature just below the middle. The head nuts were all loosened up, so she really needed the retorqueing. I also replaced the one standard nut so the car has all shiny chrome nuts.
|December 29, 2023 - Looks like the underseat heater for the Packard gave out on a trip to visit Chip today. It was running great and keeping cool on the way there, but on the way home the temperature needle started to climb. Then steam filled the interior. I was able to get home, but saw no indication of a coolant leak. Until I went around the far side and saw coolant on the floor under the passenger area. l had already pulled up the seat once to replace the 7-year-old battery that finally gave out yesterday. This time I found coolant alongside the heater box. There is also a very minor leak at the thermostat base (despite a new gasket and sealer on both sides), which I will replace again. Happily, I don't need the underseat heater so I will just reroute the hoses. Also, the replacement head nut came from Kantor today. I will swap it out when I retorque the head bolts.
|December 26, 2023 - The thermostat housing gasket that was included with the Kanter set leaked and had to be replaced. Since no one actually listed the gasket for a 1941 Packard, I took the housing overt to O'Reilly's and they matched up a FelPro 35063, which is for Ford trucks and AMC V-8s. The new gasket is installed and coolant added. I'll wait until later today to test it with the pressure cap on. Rain called for today and tomorrow - hoping to get her out to Jere Avenson's for a visit on Thursday.
December 23, 2023 - I changed oil and filter in the Packard today - first time since I bought it! That makes almost 4 years, but in actual mileage I am well within norms. The filter is the canister type, and the recommended replacement is the WIX 51010. The replacement filter is supposed to be the WIX 51080, which is half the size. In fact, there was a spring and retainer holding the old filter in place. I left them out and used the larger filter. It is the same as the one I used for Mildred, the 1937 Pontiac. I used a turkey baster to suck the oil out of the canister (that's what is in the jar with the filter.) Hearing the car run is still amazing - it has never run the way I expected from a Packard, and now it is smooth and even.
|December 22, 2023 - The Packard engine is back together, and is running perfectly! I was nervous when I finished her up and decided to start the car. So many things could go wrong (and actually did), but once fuel got to the empty carb bowl, she smoothed out and ran better than she has as long as I have owned the car! The intake/exhaust gasket for #6 cylinder has had a leak since I bought Bella, and having the manifolds decked and new gaskets makes a world of difference. I have a minor coolant leak at the thermostat gasket and I need to change oil and filter. Also, one of the chrome head nuts from Kantor stripped out, but I was able to use one of the original nuts instead. They are sending me a replacement.
|December 21, 2023 - I got the valve tool in the mail yesterday, and went to work on the Packard engine today. The first tries were unsuccessful, and I went in to try finding directions for using the valve keeper tool on Google. This is one of the few times I haven't been able to find anything online. Then I discovered the instructions on the tool itself! Following directions, I was abler to finally get the &^%$#@! keepers back on the valve stem to lock the spring. Now I can put the rest of the engine back together. Though I had rather foolishly thought I could get it back together easily - The cylinder head and side panels are back on, but the manifold is proving more of a headache than expected. Oh, well. Two steps forward, one step back is still progress.
|December 7, 2023 - The valve finally came out today - I had to use a ball joint fork to tap it out, but no apparent damage was done. After putting the end in an electric drill, I used 600 grit, then 1500 grit, and finally metal polish on the stem. That got the stem smooth enough that it now goes up and down with the lifter without the spring. I have a new spring to install, though the one in the engine looked perfect. It is obvious the engine was fully rebuilt - pretty much all of the internal components cleaned up like new. Now I have to get the ^%$#@ valve spring keepers back in. Tight space, small parts, and fat fingers make a terrible combination. Once I get that done I can button the engine back up. (12/12/2023 - Follow-up: Chip came over and we tried again on the keepers. to no avail. However, turns out there is a tool for installing them, which I have coming via eBay.
|November 20, 2023 - The manifolds got picked up today - decked smooth to stop the gasket leaks. I taped off the intake and painted it with Packard engine green, then brushed on the cast iron paint on the exhaust. The result looks very nice, and should seal up well when I bolt everything back together. I found a YouTube video that shows how to change the valve springs, so I will attack that soon.
|November 18, 2023 - I have had sinus trouble keeping me up most of the night, and I didn't want to try my first side valve spring replacement with 3 hours sleep. So I cleaned and painted the side valve covers and finished wire-brushing the head and manifold surfaces. The old gaskets were petrified and glued on so I had to scrape off what I could with razor blades and wire brush the rest off. With the inside surface clean, I bead-blasted the scorched and peeling paint and gave the covers a couple of fresh coats of Packard engine green.
|November 17, 2023 - I bead-blasted the manifolds and took them over to Magnum Machine, a shop that did a lot of work on a friend's 1931 Chevrolet. Once I got them off the car, it was obvious the exhaust manifold had some warpage. I could see daylight in a few places when I used a straight edge across the mating surface. The manifolds should be decked and ready Monday. I also got in the valve spring tool I needed plus the new chrome headbolts from Kanter. Looks like the hardest job will be cleaning off old gasket material and glue from the side covers. I'll try to paint everything before I put it back together.
|November 14, 2023 - Lots of disassembly today. The exhaust gasket was obviously bad, and I plan to repaint the manifolds while everything is apart. Two tools that have come in handy are my electric ratchet wrench and the iPhone. With the valves exposed, I think I have figured out how to install the new valve springs and also adjust the valves. A correct valve spring tool should be here by the weekend. And all my efforts to clean the head bolts are for naught, as I ordered the chrome acorn nut set from Kanter instead!
|November 13, 2023 - Well, the sticky valve hung up again, so I am going to replace all of the valve springs. Since I have to pull the manifolds to get the side panels off, I can go ahead and paint them as well. I wire brushed the bolts and washers, and scraped the pistons down to get the carbon off. Happily, I already have a full set of valve springs for the engine, and the new gasket set from Kanter arrived Saturday. As usual, a simple job is getting more difficult, but still something I can do with the engine in place..
|November 9, 2023 - I pulled the head off the engine and got a surprise. As in, 'none of the above' causing my zero compression. The intake valve on #6 was hanging open. I had to tap it down with my finger a few times, but after that it was smooth and steady. I have sprayed the head with Seafoam cleaner and sprayed a lot down the valve, then cranked the engine over. Since it was off, I bead-blasted the head and then cleaned the mating surface with a wire wheel and razor blade. Happily, I had a can of Bill Hirch's Packard Green engine paint. When the new head gasket comes, I can put it all back together. Odds are it is the Ethanol in the gas that is causing issues - I'll run cleaner in the gas and oil and drain it, then see if that fixes it.
|November 8, 2023 - Chip came over with his handy-dandy compression tester and I pulled the plugs and charged the battery on the Packard. Readings were #1 = 80 PSI, #2 = 79.5 PSI, #3 = 80 PSI, #4 = 82 PSI, #5 = 70 PSI, and #6 = 0 PSI. Looks like there is a 'flapper' break between cylinders 5 & 6 that finally let go. I have noticed the car ran a little rough until it warmed up. I will have to pull the head to know for sure, and will have fingers crossed that is the issue. The suspected problem is logical, and also fairly easy to rectify. A new gasket set is coming from Kanter Products, complete with a copper head gasket. I'll pull the head and get it cleaned, surfaced, and painted. I can do the exhaust manifold gasket at the same time.
|October 30, 2023 - I got a shock when I tried to start Bella today - she is running terrible. Popping, maybe hitting on 4 cylinders at best. I checked the plugs, which are all clean, reset the points, and replaced the distributor cap in case it had cracked. No improvement. I suspect the car has jumped time. I can't think of anything else that might cause the issues, other than possibly a blown head gasket. A compression test should sort that out.
|October 5, 2023 - Hopeful find - I discovered several packs of Packard manifold gaskets today at Hershey. They are marked for the 1900 (Bella) but I have not been able to verify that. They were cheap enough I can resell them if they don't work. The design is unique to me - the side gaskets have protruding sleeve that will hold the gaskets in place. I can see where they would also be superior sealers.
|September 16, 2023 - A lucky eBay purchase today - not only is this original 1941 radio waterfall plastic piece in good shape, it's the correct dark blue for my car! Very unusual for a 1941 Packard to have the blue interior pieces - most tend to be tan plastic. I had asked about a reproduction made by LeVine Restorations three years back and was told that I should wait as they were going to make a 3D print version that would be much cheaper than the $940 reproduction they currently had. Imagine my surprise when a box appeared on my front porch a few months ago with the reproduction piece and a bill for almost $1000 including the postage! Even more surprising was finding out the reproduction was a shell only, missing all of the built-in metal tabs used to mount it to the dash. In other words, useless. I sent it back, and was looking at painting a better tan plastic waterfall. Then today this correct item showed up on eBay. I even have some radios to work with!
|August 19, 2023 - I took Bella to the 31st Annual Khedive Fun 'n Shine Show today. There were 291 vehicles registered with quite a few nice original antiques as well as a broad assortment of mods and rods. I got there early and stayed most of the day, but was sure I wouldn't get an award with so many really nice cats in the same class. I left an hour early, only to get a message from a friend at the show who picked up my First Place trophy! I was very surprised, but happy for the recognition. I should never have doubted Bella!
|February 4, 2023 - The second of two 1941 Packard radios arrived today. This one is supposed to work, but is missing the station preset buttons and the tuner knob. Better yet, the chrome is in great shape. I should be able to locate the pushbuttons and radio knobs. I should be able to get it in the Packard one of these days.
|March 26, 2022 - We had a good tour today, driving more than 100 miles round trip to Big Island Aquaculture in Hayes, Virginia. As you can see, the roads leading to the facility are scenic, but not exactly highway travel. As a touch of irony, Tim Hund asked if Chip and I wanted to ride with him in his 1966 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser yesterday instead of taking a chance on an 80+ year-old Packard. When he showed up this morning, oil pressure on the Olds was down, and he ended up riding with us! Bella did great as expected, and got to visit with 'sister' Patricia (1954 Packard) and 'mom and pop' Jere and Carol Avenson, who also came on the tour.
|March 25, 2022 - With just about zero issues in more than two years, I tend to forget Bella is more than 80 years old! I got a reminder tonight when I tried to get her ready for a car club tour tomorrow. She was running terribly, missing and shaking. First check was the points - they were too close, and the spares I had been carrying in the trunk were the wrong ones! Happily, I had several sets of tune-up parts, and soon had a properly gapped new in place. But she still ran just the same. So I replaced the distributor cap and rotor - this cured the issue and she is running smoothly again. Just in time for a long tour tomorrow!
|November 25, 2021 - The 'new' fog lights have cheap flat rubber gaskets that do not seal or lock the lenses into place properly, so Bella was looking a bit cockeyed during the Square Car Tour this past Saturday (The lens is supposed to be vertical, not horizontal). Happily, a search of Amazon turned up some 6" o-rings that were not only cheap, but provided a much better lock and seal. Hopefully the next drive will have the lenses staying in place.
|November 20, 2021 - A 47-mile tour and about 30 miles each way to get there totaled well over 100 miles for Bella today. Her new accessories were admired and she performed flawlessly, as usual. It was really nice to be following the glass wing holding straight and steady - it helps to have all of the mounting bolts in place!
|November 18, 2021 - I have had one specific upgrade to the Packard's front end in mind since I got the car - a set of really nice reproduction fog lights that I originally bought for the 1937 Pontiac but which were replaced quickly by a set of period Trippe Lights. I had stored the fog lights away, and have put off installing them on Bella because I did not want to cut holes in her rare splash pan. Then I realized that none of the cars with fog lights had the splash pan installed anyway. The pan was simple to remove, and the new lights are the perfect size and add just the right touch of color. The only consequence was having to remove the restored license plate and NOS bracket. We have the TRAACA Square Car Tour this weekend, which is a great debut for her 'new' look.
|November 12, 2021 - The upswept Cormorant wings on Bella's hood ornament would poke through the car cover unless I put a plastic cup over them, and the ornament wiggled a lot while you were driving around. One of my favorite Packard hood ornaments is the glass-winged 'donut chaser,' which was offered 1938-1942, and I found one on eBay that not only included the needed base, but looked to be in great condition. Multiple strokes of good luck followed - no one else bid on the ornament, it turned out to be a perfect fit, and the condition is both excellent and appears to be original. I even scored a spare glass 'wing' which is difficult to find. The Cormorant I removed was only held on by the front bolt - both the middle and rear studs were missing - that explains the dancing. It will go on eBay to help pay for the Donut Chaser, which is now gracing Bella's hood. (November 13, 2021 - UPDATE - I cleaned up the Cormorant and put it on eBay - it was sold with the Buy It Now option in 12 hours for enough to pay for the donut chaser. I have to admit that the Cormorant was pristine, while the original plating on the donut-chaser is a little worn, but I am very pleased with the switch. And the Cormorant is going on a really nice 160 Packard coupe with sidemounts!
|October 16, 2021 - My antique car club's annual Chili Cookoff was a huge success, with 78 people and more than two dozen old cars in attendance. Bella was second oldest, beat out by a 1924 Model T Ford. She ran great for the long drive, rolling along at 60 MPH without a quibble. The chili I made was safely enclosed in a crock pot that had a lock on the lid, with the whole thing packed in a storage box.
|August 28, 2021 - I took Bella out to Chesapeake this morning for the Cars 'N Coffee held at Great Bridge United Methodist Church just down from my Mom's house. Some nice cars, but no coffee - they had run out. I parked next to a 1941 Ford that has been in the same family for 80 years! Other standouts included an original-looking 1962 Cadillac, a restored 1957 Thunderbird, and a stunning Jaguar XKE. As noted in the photo, Bella got plenty of attention, and made the drive to and from at 60 MPH in 90-degree heat with no complaints.
|August 24, 2021 - An unusual goodie for Bella arrived - a reproduction 1941 Virginia State inspection sticker! Made by Robert Hoyt Classic Windshield Stickers, it looks great and adds an authentic touch to the car. One small niggle - the instructions said that VA stickers from 1920 - 1960 should be installed in 'upper windshield back of mirror'. Since Bella has a split windshield, that was not a good solution, and I did some research. All of the period photos I could find have the inspection sticker in the lower right corner of the windshield, which is also where I recall seeing them in junkyards. This works out well for Bella, and that is where I installed it!
|August 14, 2021 - Bella's trunk lid stay came apart recently, and I just got around to getting it fixed today. The stay had popped apart at the top pivot as I closed the trunk, and I discovered why today. One of the mounting bolts for the lid-mounted pivot had either been overlooked or vibrated out some time in the distant past. The brace had been twisting long enough to rub the paint off a section of the inner lid, and finally broke out the retainer pin which was pressure-pit into the stay. You can see the difference between the damaged end (top) and the good end (bottom). I was able to straighten the stay and find a round-headed screw and nut that replaced the pressed pivot really nicely, and also located a 7/16 fine thread bolt and washer to properly secure the upper pivot. All back together and working smoothly!
|May 18, 2021 - Bella has very few flaws, some of them being incorrect or badly warped plastic parts. The passenger front window crank was from a different model and was the wrong color. I located the correct dark blue (advertised as black) Junior Series handle and installed it tonight. The hard job lies ahead. I bought very decent used dash plastic a little over a year ago and finally took it apart tonight. Despite appearances, the center radio grille is in very good condition, requiring mostly some adhesive and minor crack repairs. Even the wire screen grille mesh bead-blasted clean. A bigger surprise was how well the chrome garnish strips cleaned up - at right you can see the first one cleaned and the other still looking rough, then both cleaned up below. Along with the set of good plastic, I got an extra top center (with the rectangular hole for the ash tray) that is cracked in one spot. I plan to clean it up, smooth the surface, and paint it to match the dark blue currently in the car. If that works, I can refinish the good pieces to match.
|May 9, 2021 - About three months ago, West Peterson, friend, fellow Packard owner, and editor of AACA's excellent Antique Automobile magazine noted on an old post that my bumper bolts needed to be turned 90 degrees. For most of that time, I thought that the red hexagonal bolts were supposed to be turned, but when I finally looked I realized he meant the two outer chrome bolts. Today I finally got out the 3/4" socket and ratchet and installed them correctly. Thanks, West!
|April 24, 2021 - Bella and I went on another 'Flash Tour' today, this time about 115 miles round trip to Smithfield, VA and the Farmer's Market. Friends Hilary and Jack Pavlidis were also participating in the 1967 Mercury Cougar XR7 that used to be mine - but then, it was theirs before it was mine, too. We had the three Packards on the run - mine, Ken Packard's 1935 Packard 120, and Doug and Bill Grosz's 1947 160 long wheelbase. Bella was great, happy to cruise on the highways or roll through back roads with equal ease.
|March 13, 2021 - The points cleaned up with a bit of fine sandpaper, and I also installed a new rotor Friday night, so Bella was eager to go this morning. We ended up traveling about 130 miles today, quite a bit of it at high speed. Eleven antique vehicles showed up for our 'Flash Tour,' and the drive was fun. Bella even got to taste some ethanol-free gas thanks to a station in NC we stopped at for a break. The car managed about 17 MPG, quite impressive for an 80 year-old luxury car! Oh, and car buddy Dan gave me a really nice set of Packard floor mats left over from a previous car he had owned - they fit great and even tie into Bella's turquoise and blue interior colors.
|March 11, 2021 - Poor Bella - a very wet few months kept her mostly idle, but the prospect of a group drive this coming weekend prompted a long-overdue look at her plugs. Since the car has been running OK, I have not checked them as long as I have owned it, and who knows how long ago the prior owner checked them? Long enough that the spark plug wire connectors got corroded and rusted onto the spark plug ends, as it turned out. Happily, I had both new plugs and a plug wire kit and was able to replace it all tonight. Tomorrow I will delve into the distributor and probably replace the points as well.
|January 16, 2021 - Somewhat ironically, I got a call that the new heater core was ready about 30 minutes after I bought a complete heater assembly off eBay. The spare unit is guaranteed to be fully operational and leak-free, and while I will probably never need it, you don't find the parts at O'Reilly's. After getting the new core installed (I left the back plate with the radiator shop so they could fit the core) and ran the engine to test for leaks, I installed the new glove box. It went in without problem and is about as close a fit as I could ask for considering they were making new parts for an 80 year-old car! The old one is still usable, just somewhat battered over the decades - I'll hang onto it.
5, 2020 - I pulled Bella's heater core today so I can get it fixed.
First step was to cut a piece of copper pipe as a bridge between the two
heater hoses. Then I pulled the glove box (for which i have ordered a
new replacement) to get easier access to the heater/defroster unit.
Everything came apart easily, and I was pleased to find no other damage or
even wet spots. It looks like the core is starting to separate - I'll
take it over to Virginia Beach Radiator to get it easier fixed or rebuilt.
I also ordered a NOS exhaust manifold set - actual Packard parts. When
they come in I'll pull the exhaust manifold and have it surfaced before
installing the gaskets. That should seal up her exhaust leak.
January 9, 2021 - FOLLOW UP - Beach Radiator finally got the estimate for the heater core replacement - a little over $300 to get a new core made and shipped, and then have the tanks from the old heater core transferred. The new glove box arrived and is waiting for the heater core installation. I got the NOS exhaust gasket set, but will wait to pull the manifold until other projects are completed.
|December 1, 2020 - Bella and I went out to help celebrate TRAACA member Ron Hartman's birthday with a drive-by honk and wave. About twenty well-wishers gathered at a nearby park, including one other antique vehicle - the 1956 DeSoto driven by Patrizia Ludovici. The Packard ran very well, but as sometimes happens with older ladies, developed a slight issue with incontinence. Her heater is starting to seep coolant, as evidenced by the condensation forming on the inside of the windshield. Time to pull the core and get it serviced!
|November 10, 2020 - Another day of rolling about in Bella. No issues at all with the car. Lots of honks and 'thumbs-up' as usual. She's a great car. Two winter projects planned - replace the exhaust manifold gasket to stop a minor leak, and possibly install some nice Guide driving lights, if I can figure out an authentic way to mount them. She has the original front splash pan in place, and I am not putting holes in it!
|October 18, 2020 - A nice long drive for Bella today, with a visit to 'Papa' Jere. The car rolls along nicely at 55-60, though the Speedometer is off by about 10 MPH due to the added overdrive. The charging system continues to work well and no unwanted noise from the fan belt.
|October 2, 2020 - No news is good news - Bella has been out several times, but with no attention needed. One minor issue that she had before I got her was an occasional belt squeak or squeal from the fan belt. The one on the car was slightly too big and rode up on the pulley enough to create a ridge at the outer edge. Some research turned up a recommended application from NAPA, which is exactly flush with the outer edge of the pulley. So far, no noise.
|June 21, 2020 - The TRAACA Fathers Day Parade at the Georgian Manor Senior Living Center in Chesapeake kicked off at 2:00 PM exactly, and ended at 2:01 PM as the lone attending vehicle (Bella) made two full circuits of the 50-foot entry drive with colors flying. Naturally, it started raining just before the start, but that did not dampen the enthusiasm of the spectators - if there were any looking through the windows. In any case, Bella got a nice workout! I found out later that several others had planned to attend, only to be scared off by the rain. Bella's wipers worked too well - the 'park' switch is bad and now they won't turn off! Power is disconnected temporarily while I sort the issue out.
|May 24, 2020 - Bella has had a couple of 'no charge' events since I owner her - but not the good kind that doesn't cost me anything. While driving along the ammeter would suddenly go into the negative and stay there for quite a while, despite being on the highway. Then just as suddenly it would indicate a strong charge. That pointed to a weak voltage regulator, so I located an NOS correct AutoLite unit and installed it today. Very easy, and the unit in the car had been an aftermarket item. I'll clean the points and keep it as an emergency spare since it worked most of the time.
|May 8, 2020 - A phone call from Bella's former 'Dad' let me know there were more goodies to pick up - in this case, a fitted car cover with her name embroidered on the front and some paint. The cover fits great, and I was able to move the nice cover i bought for the Packard over to the Pontiac to replace a slightly shabby and much cheaper cover.
|May 3, 2020 - Bella got some exercise today taking part in a 'Flash Tour' arranged by the Historic Virginia Peninsula Region (HVPR) of AACA and opened up the Tidewater Region as well. No, we did not drive our cars naked - it was a spontaneous drive, like a flash mob - although we all wore masks and maintained safe distancing. With too many projects going for me to take the full tour, we still managed to do about sixty miles round trip. Part of those miles was spent behind Bella's former owners who had their red Porsche 944. The 12-volt ports worked great, allowing me to use the GPS to verify the speedometer is almost exactly 10 MPH off due to the overdrive. The car cruises comfortably at 60-65, which would have been 50-55 without the overdrive assist. And of course, there were honks, waves, and smiles all along the way.
|April 29, 2020 - When I bought the car, the prior owner pointed out the passenger side vent window handle which he had paid $250 to have fixed by a local 'restoration' shop. The dull casting was not only unplated and held in place by a bent nail, it was also for the wrong side! The reproduction handle from John Ulrich Packard Parts was $75 and included the proper roll pin to secure the vent handle in place. I also got in a spare NOS AutoLite voltage regulator and a rebuild kit for the generator, as well as a Packard flat rate manual and a great 1941 Packard 110 magazine ad my sister sent me!.
|April 21, 2020 - Bella has a front license plate for the first time in at least 27 years. I was able to pick up a reproduction bracket off eBay, and the other license plate was restored by Wayne Tyler. There was a bit of trouble, first because the car has an apparently rare front pan over the bumper brackets, and then because the reproduction bracket's mounting hole was too small for the bumper bolt. Once I got that drilled out, getting the bracket and license installed was fairly easy. I made some rubber washers out of grommets to go behind the license plate mounting washers to protect the finish. It all looks very nice!
|April 20, 2020 - Another minor but noteworthy fix today - Bella's driver-side visor would flop down in front of the windshield unless it was stuck up high. Cleaning the spring did no good, but I found a really nice-looking visor arm on eBay and ordered it. It came in today, but when I compared it to the original, it was obviously for the opposite side! I wrote back to the seller to inform him that the arm had been mismarked, and immediately AFTER I sent that took a closer look at the new part and discovered 'LH' clearly stamped in the metal. I had to clean the back of the old bracket a bit, but sure enough it was marked 'RH'. The visors had been switched 27 years ago when the interior was redone and nobody had caught the error until now. After a hasty note of apology back to the seller, I painted the base the correct Packard Blue and was able to install it tonight. I have a request in to the seller for a right hand bracket, but have cleaned up and painted the incorrectly installed one in hopes that it might work OK on the correct side. If not, I can keep the one in place since it is working, if slightly off. (04/21/2020 FOLLOW UP - The passenger side visor worked fine in the correct position, so both are now in the right location and look and work great.)
|April 18, 2020 - A couple of small projects, one with major results. I started off small with the interior light switch. Time had not been kind to the plastic, leaving the base and sliding knob deformed and barely able to move. A NOS switch of identical color and appearance appeared on eBay, and I snagged it for $20. However, I discovered that the Packard has two wires instead of one wire and a ground. I was able to drill out the rivet for the ground strap and bend it up to create a second post to fit the Packard wiring. All I had to add was the brass screw and nut. The next project was far more serious, but actually faster and easier! Bella's starter was hanging up, and then stopped working from the starter switch completely. I had to use the external solenoid pushbutton to crank the car. I realized the ammeter was showing a discharge when the starter button was pressed, which indicated a bad starter solenoid. Searching by part number (SS 4001) I was able to find a NOS in the box solenoid which was delivered this afternoon. It is a perfect replacement complete with the pushbutton cap, and took minutes to install. Most importantly, the car starts great now.
|April 11, 2020 - The instrument light switch was not working right, and I ended up spending 4 hours getting it fixed. It took a mirror to figure out how the knob comes off - there is a spring-loaded tab that works like the stop on a screen door closer (bottom left). When I got the original switch out and compared it to the new one, I discovered they were very different (top left). Same mount, but the new control rod is much longer and uses a setscrew. Mine was mis-wired, and also had a broken resistor spring that dims the panel lights in the second position. I was able to fix that, but dropped the switch and broke it! After many dirty words, I opened the switch and found that a sliding plastic platform had cracked in half (bottom right). I was able to superglue the base back together, and after reassembling the switch, was very relieved that it worked perfectly! I used a grinder to reshape the new switch's control rod and remove an extra tab on the body so I can use it if I have to later (top rght). Then I used the car for a long errand run, stopping off at former 'Dad' Jere's for a visit. While there , fellow TRAACA member Paul F. brought his newly-acquired 1931 Chevrolet Sport Coupe over for a mini-car show!
|April 7, 2020 - I took advantage of wonderful weather this evening and took care of a loose rear license plate bracket. This required pulling the trunk latch assembly off, which also turned out to have loose screws! I put everything back together with Loctite. Of special note is the recently added Tidewater Region AACA tag-topper - an original from the 1950s gifted to me by Merritt Horne before he passed, which had been sitting in my desk drawer the past decade. I also fixed the stuck interior light switch. And I also located an NOS light switch on eBay, so the repair may be too little too late. Little successes, but still accomplishments.
|March 25, 2020 - Bella's previous owner generously included a nice set of original 1941 Virginia plates which I transferred over to my name. The car only uses a rear plate, which is in very good shape. The 'spare' was badly creased and chipped up, so I sent it off to Wayne Tyler in Richmond to be restored. The 'new' plate arrived today, actually looking way better than it ever did. He managed to get the crease out so well you have to know where it was to see any trace, and the paint is prettier than that of some cars I have seen at shows!
|March 23, 2020 - As expected after 79 years, some of the switches are getting a bit tired. The instrument light switch has a rheostat spring that increases brightness over three positions. Bella's only works in the full on position, indicating a bad spring. Happily, I was able to pick up a NOS switch (far right) for $20. The starter switch is hanging up a bit, and one of those showed up in the original box (left) on eBay for $39! And last but not least, a brand new overdrive kickdown switch (center) was also provided by eBay for $29. It may take a while before they all get installed, but when you are dealing with a classic Packard you snag parts when you can find them! That includes the period, and possibly dealership Packard key fob which also arrived today.
|March 22, 2020 - I took Bella on a one-car tour of Norfolk today. We visited the Chrysler Museum, explored the parking lot of the Harrison Opera House, made a circuit of Norfolk Park and the Zoo, and toured some of the old waterfront neighborhoods. Only one classic car, but plenty of waves and smiles (including my own). With the concerns about contagion, it was a great way to get out and enjoy the car and nice weather without putting anyone, including myself, at risk.
|March 19, 2020 - A little time in the garage tonight took care of a couple of annoying issues and netted a surprise. First of all, the passenger side mirror has been useless, offering a view of the ground well off to the side of the car. I cut a slot in the mirror head base with a Dremel tool, added a round spacer, and was able to get the mirror showing the lane just beside the car, like it should. Another oddity was the modern radio antenna on the right side of the cowl in a car that has no radio. I installed a plug for the hole that looks much better. Lastly - while checking out the back of the dash in preparation for future panel light wiring, I discovered that Bella has a battery cutoff switch on the firewall!
|March 17, 2020 - Some minor tinkering after work tonight. I bumped the idle up a bit as it has dropped down to about 500 or so. It idles much better at about 800. Then I swapped out the clamp-connected Battery Tender plug for a hard-wired version. I cleaned up the left side instrument panel light bulb and got it working, only to have the power lead fall off the light switch! I need to get the car outside so I can open the door all the way and worm my way under the dash to get things hooked back up. I had some issues with the starter pushbutton switch hanging up Saturday, and was lucky enough to find a NOS unit on eBay.
|March 14, 2020 - A car club activity about 35 miles away not only provided a great road test for the adjusted brakes and accessory port, but also allowed the discovery that the overdrive unit is working after all! The shift point is set so low that the car is already in overdrive speed by the time I shift gears. I was able to confirm this by engaging the lockout, which immediately dropped the car into normal second. The brakes are great, and the accessory port kept the Garmin GPS happy. Better yet, the displaced Studebaker was there with its new owner, as was Bella's former owner. Everyone was happy, making it a great time out for all.
|March 12, 2020 - Bella's parking brake wouldn't hold the car on any sort of incline, so I put her up on the lift tonight for a brake adjustment. First thing was amazement at how clean the underside is - remember, she was restored about 27 years ago. There is no doubt the car had a frame-up restoration. It took a few tries to figure out the right way to turn the adjusters (down, in case you are wondering), and the car turned out to be in real need of the effort. What had felt like decent brakes for a 1941 car now work like power disc brakes - I have never owned an old car that stopped better. I also got a chance to check out the overdrive relay, which is mounted on the side of the battery box. The main power point (circled in red below right) is getting power, so the trouble is somewhere in the system. At least with the lift, I can get underneath pretty easily. It's been a good week for Bella - I got the window crank fixed properly, installed the accessory port, and have the brakes all working great!
|March 10, 2020 - Bella will be a great tour car, but for longer trips I still prefer to have a GPS handy. The 1941 Packard, like most US cars before 1955, has a positive ground 6-volt system that doesn't play well with modern 12-volt negative ground accessories. I put together a converter setup using three pieces available off Amazon and/or eBay for cheap and installed it last night without making any modifications or drilling any holes. The power outlet assembly (1 - bought from Amazon for $13.69) has two USB ports for phones/tablets and a standard cigarette-lighter socket. That is zip-tied securely to the front seat frame so it moves with the seat, and cants up for easy access. It is nearly invisible unless you look for it, and no holes were drilled. The outlet block is wires to the 12-volt output side of the voltage converter (2 - 10-amp unit bought from Amazon for $28.99 - lower-power units are available for half that, but I wanted the greater power just in case.) The converter is also zip-tied to the seat frame where it has plenty of cooling and also moves with the seat. Connection to the battery is through a Battery Tender plug-in connector (3) that was extra with one of my Battery Tenders, but they are available off eBay for cheap. This works great because I can disconnect the outlet when I am not using it, and it uses the same connector to the battery that I already had in place for the Battery Tender. I tested the output with a multimeter and had exactly 12 volts. As the final test, I put the seat cushion back and hooked up a GPS - success!
|February 25, 2020 - One of the very few flaws Bella has is a badly warped plastic waterfall grille in the center of her dash. New replacements can be had as a set for $2000, which for now is a bit steep to contemplate. However, a full set of very decent 1941 Packard dash plastic came up on eBay today and ended up mine for the not-so-princely sum of $75! Granted, it will have to be cleaned and painted the correct dark blue, but it even has the metal trim. The ashtray border is $150 just by itself, and not even part of the $2K set. It is a bit of a gamble, but really worth the risk to see if I can get a nice center for less than 5% of the cost of repops. Besides which, I can probably sell what I don't use and recover most if not all of the $75!
|February 24, 2020 -
When I went out to hook up Bella's battery tender, the driver's window
crank fell off! The handle is held in place with a hardened pin, which
in turn is retained by the handle escutcheon that is usually under pressure
from a spring. Both the pin and the spring were missing, so I made a
temporary pin from a nail, and found the correct hardened pins and springs
at Max Merritt Packard Parts. Two of each costs $12 plus postage,
which should be cheap.
March 9, 2020 - I am not impressed with Max Merritt Packard Parts - the springs they sent are incorrect and had to be cut and reshaped. Still, I was able to make it work, and also mixed up some dark blue paint that let me recolor the knob where it had turned grey-white!
|February 22, 2020 - My antique car club had a tour of Downtown Norfolk and I took Bella for her first official outing. She started up without complaint despite it being 31 degrees outside, and ran beautifully. Overdrive is not cooperating, but that should be a minor fix. She got a lot of waves, honks, and 'thumbs up' from other motorists, and served as a limo for friend Linda Pellerin at the end of the tour. The only complication was trying to find the car again in the enormous parking garage - she was not alone when I went back to get her!
|February 20, 2020 - The rush of eBay purchases is starting to arrive - some practical and some frivolous. Roughly from left to right are a dated 941 children's Three Little Pigs story set, a 1941 Junior Series folder, 150 1941 pennies, two factory shop manuals for 38/39 (one for work and one to show) as 40/41 just referred back to that one, a 110 DeLuxe brochure, a Junior series (110/120) brochure, Life and Look magazines from 1941, and just visible on the Look magazine, a new decal for the air cleaner.
|February 15, 2020 - And home! I picked up Bella today after delivering the Studebaker to its new owner, which freed up space in the garage. As an added bonus, the trunk was full of parts he ahs gathered over the years - new water pumps, tune-up parts, a new fuel pump, and many other items. There is also a logbook of fuel and service, plus a real find - the 1941 Packard Facts book, a spiral-bound factory publication used by salesmen. I have also started to get eBay purchases - sales folders and a factory shop manual. A couple of minor repairs today - the clutch pedal pad was coming off and I got it reinstalled, the clock needed a fuse, and the license plate light power wire needed a new connector.
|February 9, 2020 - It has been a busy week, with me out of town for most of it. The Packard is expected to be brought to the house by this coming weekend, and I got back from a trip to Philadelphia this afternoon in time to paint a rebuilt water pump that will be installed as soon as it arrives. In the meantime, paint, brochures, and other items have started to appear.
|February 3, 2020 - Despite being the first business day of the month, I was able to walk right up to a DMV window and take care of the title and tags! With that done, I added the Packard to my insurance. So now Bella is legally mine and ready to drive!
|January 26, 2020 -
Although my garage is full, this was one of those cars I couldn't pass
up: FOR SALE: 1941 Packard 110 Deluxe 1900DE Touring Sedan, A driver
with 80K plus miles that was given a frame-off restoration nearly 20 years ago and
still shows well; for sale at book value. Most recent round trip was from
Chesapeake to Blacksburg this past spring. Owner looking for a good home
with garage to preserve this six cylinder w/ Overdrive, all original Packard
Blue, pristine example of Packard quality.
As a bonus. I've known the Packard for a very long time - the owner is a member of my antique car club, and he takes wonderful care of his cars. I was lucky enough to find out about the ad before anyone else saw it, and decided to take a look. The Packard was even nicer than I had remembered, the 27 year-old off-frame restoration (The work was done 1991-93) still looking very good. It needs some minor cleaning and detailing of the engine bay and dashboard, some touch-up of the steering wheel, and that's about it. The engine is smooth and strong and the car drives great. There is some noise that sounds like the water pump going bad, but a new one is included.
Of course, there is a price to be paid - not including the purchase price. I had to make room in the garage, so the 1951 Studebaker I have owned for 16 has been sold to another friend in the club. Once the Studebaker is moved, I will be bringing the Packard to its new home!
|KNOWN HISTORY - This 1941 Packard 110 Touring Sedan was purchased new from Packard Portland, Inc. at 1333 W. Burnside Avenue, Portland OR (shown at right). From there history jumps to May 14th, 1991, when Mr. Charles H. Wood of Vancouver (1915-2003) contracted with Mr. Kenneth R. Huber (1937-2018) to perform a complete restoration of the car from 1991 to 1993. The Packard, with 54,181 original miles at the time, was completely disassembled, the body removed from the frame, and all components restored to as-new condition. Mr. Huber dealt with the body and chassis, while mechanical work, upholstery, brakes, and other work was sent out to other local businesses. The car was sold about 2004 to Mr. Earl Bellamy of Bainbridge Island WA, who owned the car until October 13, 2009, when it was purchased by a local car club friend Jere Avenson. Jere had a refurbished Packard overdrive unit installed, and also had the dashboard and door panel inserts beautifully re-grained. The car has been lightly used for touring and pleasure driving by all of the previous owners, resulting in a total mileage at time of my purchase of just over 74K original miles.
Back to Caroholics Home