Monday, June 10, 2013

2013 Tech Session


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Fifteen Thunderbirds filled Bob Wenderski's driveway - from the rear of the property out to Waukegan Rd. - for this annual dust-off event. Mother Nature provided a beautiful spring day from start to finish. Dan Anderson drove his Black '57 Thunderbird with the top off, Gary Smithe -a Red '05 Retro 'Bird, Sue Wenderski - a Vintage Mint Green '04, Lee Bakakos - a Coral Sand '57, Tom Wolfe - a Bronze '57, my Colonial White '57, Len Keil - in a Willow Green '57, Ken Srnizinski - a Green '56, Tom Bruin - in a White '57, Jerry Peterson - a Yellow '57, Joe Wintz - a Gray '57, Joe Esdale drove a Red '57 "E" 'Bird with an interesting late '56 air cleaner, Jim Elijah - a '66 Teal hardtop, Joel Greenberg - a Yellow '55, Gordon Gluff - a Rangoon Red '56, and Lloyd Schellin in a screaming Yellow '66 Falcon.,

Other Club Members in attendance included Joe Kraatz, Pete Kramer, Ed Levin, Bob Lindsten, Dan Mrozek, Dick Murray from AACA, Rich Peterson, Dave Pogorski, Doug Rogers, Len Vinyard and Kami Woody. Bob provided coffee and rolls and the Club library was out for our perusal as Ken Smizinski began the session. The first topic of discussion was the need for zinc in motor oil used in our Thunderbirds to prevent excessive wear on the cam. Shell Rotella T no longer contains zinc. Using a zinc additive in oil defeats the lubrication properties in 1OW40 oil, like mixing medications. Diesel oil contains too much detergent for our use. For preventing excessive metat-on-metal wear, Accel Motor Oil for pre-1988 cars appears to be the answer, Ken then discussed antifreeze. Unless you have a new block, radiator, and heater core, DO NOT use extended life antifreeze. It has chemicals that combined with residue from conventional antifreeze are corrosive to cast iron blocks. He recommends conventional green antifreeze that is available at Carquest and Auto Zone. If you are using extended life antifreeze, drain it out and put in conventional. Extended life is no problem in a new aluminum radiator.

Headlight wiring was the main topic of the Tech-Session. Wires become brittle and insulation cracks due to heat. Oftentimes, all the insulation is gone and you have three raw wires going in to the socket. Remove the headlight bucket, turn the chrome ring, and examine the wires. The red, green, and black ground wire can short out easily if they are exposed and touch. On '55 and '56 Birds there is a short wiring harness for the headlights with a block on both sides. On the '57, the wiring harness is next to the radiator and it is more difficult to access. Ken said in many cases there is nothing left of the wire. There is a short harness on the '57 from the generator to voltage regulator, and a longer harness on the '55 and '56. Wires become brittle and if they short out, everything bums up.

Generators were the next topic of discussion. Two pulleys are found on generators: 2 3/4" and 3". The 3" is correct for the Thunderbird. Many 'Birds have a problem with the generator light staying on at low engine RPM. Ford issued a service letter and suggested putting a diode in the circuit to make the glowing red light go out. In some cars, the red light goes out at 650 RPM, while in some cars it is 1,000 to 1,100 RPM. There is a wide variation in generator output. Using a photo tach to check generators. Ken found that weak generators have a problem with the fields wearing out from age. If a generator is rebuilt, the fields should be replaced. With an alternator, it may take driving to Florida and half way back, to fully charge a battery. A generator may take even longer. Sometimes the '55 generator does not put out enough power to kick in the overdrive solenoid.

Some 1157 replacement bulbs come from the factory with too much solder on the end to fit in the bulb sockets, and the solder must be filed down to make the bulb fit. The electrical ground for the turn signals goes through ceramic blocks to small screws. Cleaning the screws will improve the ground. A replacement for the wiring harness is a partial wiring kit, part # 14401-FX. This replaces all the main wiring coming through the firewall. Wiring under the dashboard is usually OK, but under-the-hood wires become brittle and crack. The way to install the replacement partial wiring harness is to splice and tape the wires one at a time and stagger the splices along the harness wires. Ken concluded by saying he has seen many Thunderbirds with exposed wires and this leads to damage.

The cooling system holds 4 1/4 gallons, 2 water, 2 antifreeze. The aluminum radiator holds 4 1/2 gallons. There is no set time to change antifreeze; it should be changed when dirty. Using CLR will loosen sediment in the block and radiator. When using it, flush the radiator, DO NOT start the car. There is no filter in the antifreeze line to catch sediment. An aluminum plate between the water pump and the block does not help much, while an aluminum radiator DOES provide superior cooling. Ken has found that most temperature sending units read hotter than the car actually is and a mechanical gauge may be the answer. The '57 gauge can be adjusted, (if) the voltage regulator for the gauge acts up.

We then posed for group photos and many of us went to lunch at Oregano's in Hawthorn Woods. After lunch, we viewed Jim Manz' collection of memorabilia and antique cars in two locations, each encompassing everything from Ford Model T's to Lincolns, Mercedes, and Rolls-Royce.

- Jim Wilson


Anonymous said...

Thanks for including the comments on generators. We are in the process of diagnosing a problem with ours'55 and whether to replace the regulator and/or the fields. Any extra input would be welcome. Jeannie Speakman

Anonymous said...

Thanks for including the comments on generators. We are in the process of diagnosing a problem with ours'55 and whether to replace the regulator and/or the fields. Any extra input would be welcome. Jeannie Speakman

Anonymous said...

According to the PETROLEUM QUALITY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA TEST PROGRAM, zinc and phosphorus levels in 15/40 Rotella oil as of later part of 2014 were still well above 1000 pts!