1950 Packard 288 distributor service.

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Michael Thompson
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2022 8:13 am

1950 Packard 288 distributor service.

Post by Michael Thompson » Thu Jan 27, 2022 9:06 am

Hey gang my very first post here. I am completely green to the Packard world so go easy on me. I am helping a friend with his ‘50 Packard sedan.

I checked out the car yesterday for an overheating problem. The owner has taken all the normal steps of cleaning the block and radiator. It has been checked by someone else for combustion contamination and that checked out okay.

I believe the car to be in good health. When I looked at the car yesterday I began to suspect a late timing issue. I couldn’t get it started I think also due to an ignition problem. The owner installed a Pertronix ignition in the car and I believe those are prone to fail if the key is left on which I believe is what happened.

Anyhow long story short I’d like to eliminate this whole variable by having the distributor checked out, strobed and return to stock points and condenser.

Do you fellas have any suggestions as to someone who can get this distributor back in shape?

Thanks in advance I appreciate any and all information.

Dave Czirr
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Location: New Jersey

Re: 1950 Packard 288 distributor service.

Post by Dave Czirr » Thu Jan 27, 2022 5:38 pm

Hi Michael, and welcome!

Your timing issue may or may not be related to the overheating, as they've aged the 1948-1950 Packards have proven themselves to be more prone to overheating issues than earlier and later models. But regardless, the Pertronix ignition in 6-volt positive ground systems has proven for many to be less than wholly satisfactory and for maximum reliability a return to conventional point and condenser system is a good idea. The Pertronix conversion normally does not require any changes to the distributor breaker plate so simply buying and installing the correct point set and condenser should be all that is required.

That said, it would be an opportune time to thoroughly check the distributor for such things as cam and bushing wear, centrifugal and vacuum advance, etc. I'm a bit out of date on current sources for such work but if he is still active I can recommend Jason Smith at AER in Grand Ledge, Michigan. Also giving a distributor a good checkup is within the capability of the average home mechanic.

But assuming other than the oveheating the car was running well previously, before going for a professional distributor rebuild, why not just install the conventional points and condenser, reset the timing to spec., and see what affect if any that has on the overheating situation?

Michael Thompson
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2022 8:13 am

Re: 1950 Packard 288 distributor service.

Post by Michael Thompson » Fri Jan 28, 2022 9:20 am

Thanks for the warm welcome and thoughtful response Dave.

I’m jumping into this heating problem midstream. The Packard has been to several shops and the usual steps have been taken to improve the situation.

The problem I have is the cat is a pretty good distance from my home so I’m limited in that way. Also I could not get the car to fire while I was there. I suspect the ignition was left on and burnt out the Pertronix setup.

To do a basic check and to confirm my suspicions I connected a hose to the vacuum advance and pulled on it. The action seemed notchy. I do plan on disassembling the distributor and give it a thorough cleaning and checking.

I was just trying to get out ahead of the problem if I found something broken or worn.

I have a garage full of Flathead Ford parts and many distributors I don’t have and known good Packard ignition parts to compare this unit to. This is the first Packard I have been involved with.

I’ll get this apart and see what I have. At that point I may ask if you or anyone knows where I might find good USA made points and condenser and ignition coil.

Thanks very much for the response Dave and also the possible contact person. I really appreciate you.


P.S. I find this beautiful Packard to be amazing. I’ve always loved the Packard line just never had the chance before to be up close and personal. This car is impressive.

Dave Czirr
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Location: New Jersey

Re: 1950 Packard 288 distributor service.

Post by Dave Czirr » Fri Jan 28, 2022 11:28 am

Points, condenser and coil all available at NAPA.

A point on hard starting with Pertronix, you don't have a lot of cushion between system voltage and the minimum triggering voltage that the Pertronix requires. Just a slightly run-down battery combined with some resistance in old, dirty connection, and you can have a no-start situation. Also likely that a starter motor which might have some wear in the bushings and less than ideal brush/commutator contact is adding to the situation.

Here's some info on Jason.
Jason at AER.jpg

Michael Thompson
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2022 8:13 am

Re: 1950 Packard 288 distributor service.

Post by Michael Thompson » Fri Jan 28, 2022 8:25 pm

Thank you so much Dave!

eidsness
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Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2021 3:03 pm

Re: 1950 Packard 288 distributor service.

Post by eidsness » Mon May 02, 2022 8:02 am

At the beginning of this thread it was stated the 1950 Packard engine was subject to overheating more than prior or later ones. I am having that problem with mine, as explained in the post I made in another section of this forum and copied and pasted below. I don't believe my distributor has anything to do with it. Are there any suggestions as to what can be done to eliminate or mitigate this problem?

I purchased my 1950 Super 8 Delux sedan last fall, when it was still fairly hot out. Driving it then it would heat up quite fast. Just this Sunday I drove the car again. It was fairly cold out. It still heated up quite quickly. The prior owner had installed an auxiliary fan in front of the radiator. Can anyone tell me if this is a chronic problem for this year and engine, or is it just more likely my unit? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Carl Eidsness. carleidsness@gmail.com 406-765-7674
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Dave Czirr
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Location: New Jersey

Re: 1950 Packard 288 distributor service.

Post by Dave Czirr » Mon May 02, 2022 10:02 am

Hi Carl:
There are literally dozens of reasons a car overheats, and more often than not the problem may be the result of several, there are some comprehensive lists of these reasons elsewhere on this site. But for starters, as a car ages, the cooling system begins to degrade as very slowly mineral deposits begin to accumulate in the engine water jackets and within the radiator core, these originate from the minerals in the coolant. At some point, maybe decades later, you can finally reach the point where all the excess cooling capacity designed into the system has been robbed by the slow degradation, and overheating begins. The 22nd and 23rd series Packards perhaps had less surplus cooling capacity than other years as they are certainly more prone to overheating in their later years.

First thing I'd do is eliminate some of the lesser possibilities that take only a few minutes to check. Do you have the proper fan belt and is it properly adjusted? Any obstructions to full air flow thru the radiator? Excess paint on the radiator (radiator paints are special, low solids paint so as to not impair heat transfer)? Is the proper thermostat installed? Are the brakes dragging? Any pinches or obstructions in the exhaust system? Manifold heat riser valve either functional or if not, then wired fully open?

If you've eliminated those, then focus falls on the internal condition of the radiator and the engine block water passages, and possibly the water pump. So how about checking the things mentioned above and get back to us, and we can go from there.

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