2015 CTCC Tech Session April 18, 2015
29 CTCC members gathered at the home and garage of Joe Esdale in Highland Park. As we gathered and enjoyed coffee and rolls we admired four of Joes collector vehicles. Parked outside was a 60 Willys forward control V-6 pickup and a 48 Diamond T pickup, of which only 2,500 were made from 1041-49, with many of them going to the military for WWII. Inside the garage our host had a 57 Lincoln Mark II as well as his red 57 Thunderbird.
Ken began the Tech part of the session. Fifty cases of Accel Motor Oil with lead additive are in and ready to be picked up. Ken discussed the headlight switch. The dashboard lights work with a rheostat which becomes oxidized causing them not to work. A fix for this involves using a thermal connector, available at NAPA, which makes the dash lights bright all the time. There is a button on the bottom of the light switch; press down, pull the shaft out, and remove the bezel, to hook up the connector.
Kens next topic was the bellcrank linkage which is crucial on cars with automatic transmissions. The linkage is on the driver side of the engine toward the rear. The bellcrank wears out and the transmission will not shift or shifts at the wrong RPM. Later cars rely on vacuum pressure but with the early Birds it is all mechanical linkage. There is a spring that wears out and causes the shaft to go up, which does not pull the linkage to the carburetor. The spring is available from T-Bird parts suppliers, 9736 Throttle Spring F/M Kickdown 55/57. Replacing this spring solves 90% of shifting problems with the bellcrank. If the spring breaks, a temporary fix is a 3/8 bolt which can be used to keep the shaft from moving. Wear causes play in the slot on the linkage. The bellcrank needs resistance to operate. The 55 bellcrank is available from parts suppliers, but the 56 and 57 is not. This is the most important part of the shifting mechanism.
Proper adjustment of the gas pedal was the next topic. The clearance on a 55 or 56 should be 4 1/4 inch height while a 57 is 4 7/8 This is the proper travel for the pedal to move. The kickdown rod is another adjustment, there is a locking nut that can be turned out or in. The automatic choke should be open, with the car at operating temperature. Pull out the cotter pin and extend one revolution out or in. The transmission should shift at 26-28 mph. There are metering screws to affect the idle in gear. The car should idle at least 800 rpm. or the generator will not charge. With a 6 volt electrical system, especially, idling the car at 550-600 rpm. will discharge the battery. The harmonic balancer can slide back from age and rub the motor mounts. There is a specialized tool to remove the harmonic balancer.
Ken opined that aftermarket carburetors are not worth rebuilding and Holley will charge $600-800 to rebuild. At the conclusion of Kens presentation we went outside for group photos and saw Joes 62 Jeep Wagoneer engine running in the bed of the Willys pickup
Heading down the basement we viewed Joes radio collection. We heard Victor Borge on a professional reel to reel recorder and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in The Caddy on a vintage Bell and Howell recorder. Joe played a recording of the San Fillipo pipe organ on speakers from the late 50s weighing 300 lbs. He had a 46 Wurlitzer juke box that bubbled when warmed up. Telefunken U-47 microphones and a McIntosh amplifier were from the late 50s.
We next drove to Bacchus Nibbles in Lake Zurich for a lunch of Italian specialties and sandwiches. Lunch was followed by a visit to Phil Derrigs sign and car collection in Barrington. Phil reproduces vintage looking gas station signs in his work barn. He had a 40 Ford Woody station wagon, a 1990 Allard, two recent vintage Morgans, a 62 Jaguar Mark V, 94 and 95 V-12 Jaguars, a retro looking MG on a Pontiac 2000 chassis, a one-off 1903 Baker powered by a Briggs and Stratton engine, and a 90 Chrysler TC by Maserati of which only 1,500 were made from 1989-91.