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Frustrated with a '57

This is a discussion on Frustrated with a '57 within the Early Birds [1955-1957] forums, part of the Thunderbird Model Years category; Hello again! Two issues with my bird that are driving me bonkers right now... 1) I have replaced the entire ...

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  #1 (permalink)   IP: 24.180.21.99
Old 07-12-2008, 07:57 PM
 
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Frustrated with a '57

Hello again!

Two issues with my bird that are driving me bonkers right now...

1) I have replaced the entire cooling system (High output water pump, hoses, 4 row radiator, thermostat, 6 blade fan) and the car still overheats! I have checked the gauge accuracy and replaced the temp sending unit. I even went to the trouble of taking the new thermostat out, resealing the housing and running it without a thermostat in it... still overheats!!! Suggestions? Love this car (used to be my grandma's, has alot of history for me) would love to be able to drive it for more than 10 mins at a time.

2) Much less important right now, but still a pain: I cannot get the reverse lights to work. I have replaced the neutral safety switch, still no luck. Is there a fuse in the wire somewhere that I can't find?


As always, thanks for all your help... without you guys I would be lost!

Dan Nelson
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Old 07-14-2008, 09:40 PM
 
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Dan,
You say that you checked the temp gauge's accuracy. Just how did you do that? My 55's temp gauge started acting erratically a couple of years ago, and like you I replaced the sending unit and now have temp readings that are far too high for comfort, and occasionally move into the overheating range. So I installed a totally independent temp gauge that I got from Grainger's Industrial Supply, a Taylor 9940. Its a totally self contained tiny temperature bulb about and inch long and a bit smaller in diameter than a lead pencil, attached to 10 feet of very thin wire, and a digital readout box measuring one inch by one inch by 3 inches. It takes one AAA battery and reads out in F or C degrees digitally. I simply placed the readout on the tranny tunnel inside the car, ran the wire through the air vent cable grommet in the firewall, pulled the top rad hose from the rad, dropped the temp bulb into the rad opening, replaced the rad hose right over the wire and tightened the clamp. I then discovered that even though the dash gauge reads high the highest temperature I seen on the digital gauge is 174 degrees F. Could it be that you aren't actually overheating as well? Reading all of the steps that you've taken, I could only suggest that maybe your cooling system needs to be flushed (the block is clogged?), or that your timing is off which will definitely cause overheating.
As for your backup lights, to my knowledge there is no fuse to the backup lights, but could it be that the neutral safety switch needs to be moved slightly? It maybe positioned to fire the starter when in neutral, but slightly out of position when in reverse to fire the backup lights. Loosening the mounting screw and repositioning the switch, and then checking each function with the gear shift correctly set may correct the problem. Then check the switch itself to be sure that the backup light leads actually show continuity in the proper position. Then check to see if you have power from the ignition/battery to the switch, and then if there is power from the switch to the backup light sockets. Finally are your backup lights actually getting a good ground? I'm no expert but logic seems to point to these areas. Hope this is of some help. Good Luck!
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Old 07-15-2008, 12:26 AM
 
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Independent gauge

Thanks for your prompt reply. I installed a temp gauge that actually comes with a temp sender that fits in the plug on my bird. It reads from 190 up to 210 in stop and go traffic. Is this too hot?


When I take her out on the highway she stays at a nice 160-175 range...

I should mention that I live in LA and it has been approximately 90 degrees out during the day when I've driven it.

A mechanic friend of mine suggested I put a 15pound radiator cap on the radiator so that there is no overflow... should i do that?

Thanks again for all your help...

Dan Nelson
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Old 07-15-2008, 11:58 PM
 
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Dan,
I believe we should all get nervous and watch the temp gauge carefully at anything above 195. I can tell from your post that you are doing that, and are as careful in this department as I am. My bird does the same temp ranges that you describe when being driven around town and on the highway, but it'll climb when in stop and go traffic or when waiting at a railroad crossing, but comes down again within 2 or 3 miles of driving. In the warm summer temps that you get I wouldn't be surprised with your readings. They certainly bear watching closely. Since you are monitoring your temps so closely, I would try the 15 lb cap and see if it makes a difference. For certain it will stop any coolant loss that can only make your situation worse. If it doesn't you can change it back to your old cap. If you have an automatic, you may find that while stopping in traffic, slipping into neutral and setting a faster idle with the accelerator may draw more air through the rad and lower or slow down your rising temps. The only down side is the price of fuel. Have you had a go at the backup lights?
Gene
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Old 07-16-2008, 01:45 PM
 
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Backup Lights

Hey Gene,

Thanks for your advice, I think I will try the fifteen pound cap and try a large opening 170 degree thermostat to try and circulate as much coolant as possible. As far as the backup lights are concerned, no luck so far. I have traced the wire from the backup light on the left (if you are standing behind the car facing it) to under the dash. I then pulled apart the connector there and tested for power at that point (with the car in reverse). No power... not really sure what to do now.

Thanks again for all your advice.

Dan Nelson
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Old 07-16-2008, 03:00 PM
 
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One other thing

After installing the neutral safety switch, I noticed that it didn't seem to matter what order the red or black wires (coming off of the switch) were in. The car would start in neutral either way (and not in park). Thought this might help in finding an answer for the reverse lights.

Thanks Again,

Dan Nelson
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Old 07-16-2008, 09:15 PM
 
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Dan,
I don't think we are on the same wavelength. I'll try to clarify a few things, and I apologize if you already knew about the following. The neutral safety switch also operates the backup lights, and there should be (I can't climb under my car to look now, as its in storage and I have another of my toys out at the present time.) 4 wires coming from it. One pair operates the starter when the tranny is in neutral. The other pair are for the backup lights when the tranny is in reverse. The entire switch has a mounting bracket that is slotted, to allow it to be moved slightly for and aft, in order to be properly aligned to allow the starter to fire when the tranny is in neutral. When the tranny is then moved to reverse, the other pair of wires fire up the backup lights. In my last post I was suggesting that your switch may be properly aligned to allow the starter to function, but needs to be moved slightly because the contacts within the switch that operate the backup lights may not be touching when the tranny is in reverse. Loosening the 2 bolts on the mount and slightly moving the switch body a bit for or aft may find a position that allows the starter and the backup lights both to work in their proper positions. And yes, if your starter works in neutral, it won't matter which way the two wires are hooked up, as long as they are the two used for the starter circuit when the tranny is in neutral. Of the other two wires (the pair for the backup lights), one should be live when the ignition is on. Does this help, or further to muddy up the waters?
Gene
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Old 07-17-2008, 02:47 AM
 
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Found the Problem!!!

Thanks for all your advice. The problem was actually the power source to the reverse lights. Instead of going to the ignition it was leading to the headlight switch (the reverse lights would work when the headlights were on!) Finally have reverse lights on the bird!

Thanks again for all your help, I'm sure I'll be writing in soon with more problems as I continue the restoration.

Dan Nelson
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Old 07-17-2008, 09:36 PM
 
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Dan,
I'm glad you found the backup light solution. Sometimes all it takes is to go at it another day. Getting back to your overheating problem, the more I think about your temp readings after I reread all of your posts, I really don't think that your car is running any differently than mine, as far as temperature range goes. After having read many TBird forum threads over the last few years on this same topic, I've come to learn that these beasts tend to run a little on the hot side normally. Under normal air pressure at sea level water will boil at 212 degrees F, but raise the pressure (considering your 15 lb rad cap idea) and you raise its boiling point considerably. I would not be afraid to drive your car with temp readings in the 200 - 215 range or even a little more, but I sure would consider pulling over to let her cool down if she got to 225. No sense in destroying a perfectly good engine for lack of diligence. My 54 MG TF is a blast to drive, but its typically British. That means I have to constantly monitor the car's temperature, its oil pressure, and its "Lucas, Prince of Darkness" electrical system to keep from being stranded. Driving the TBird is a vacation, when I only have to watch the temp gauge!
Gene
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Old 07-19-2008, 02:43 PM
 
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Thanks for the advice

Funny thing, while I'm restoring my 57 bird, we just got my wife a 1972 MG BGT... she loves that little thing. Fun to drive but really noisy at 75 mph on the highway...

Thanks again for all your help

Dan Nelson
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Old 08-12-2008, 10:25 AM
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Garage
back up lights

I had the same problem on my 56,foolishly sold in the past. Dont even mention the missing C kit
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Old 11-19-2011, 02:45 PM
 
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WAIT A MINUTE--YOU SAID YOU LIVE IN LA?? AHA!! SO DID MY T-BIRD FROM 1955 TO 1969 ( I GOT IT IN 1971 -IT WAS TOTALED & NOT RUN SINCE WRECKED IN 1969) I LIVED IN DEARBORN, MICH WHEN I GOT IT.. I FINALLY STARTED TO DRIVE IT IN 1985 (DON'T ASK) anyway, the temps were always 'high' no matter what i did ..(like you-new rad,water pump,stat,full shourd,on and on) even 240 after running on the interstate....got so bad that if i had to wait for a train, it would 'thermo' and be so hot that it would not re-start till it cooled down to 200..took it off the road..then tore engine down in 1998..and lo and behold...TOOK THE FRONT FREEZE PLUGS OUT ON THE FRONT 3 CLY.S --ALL WAS OK...TOOK BACK 2 FREEZE PLUGS OUT AND MY JAW DROPPED..TOTAL RED RUST 'PANCAKE MUD' FROM THE BOTTOM OF BLOCK ALL THE WAY UP THRU THE HEADS...WELL, looks like some fool used straight water (no anti-freeze, it's LOS ANGELES , stupid, no ice)..and if you do it for 14+ years, you are causeing flakes of rust to build up and up to the back of the block...this fills the water jackets up with mud rust and the back 2 cly.s can't get cooled thru the almost solid blockage this creates..even the perfect looking green anti-freeze i had in there did not penitrate it..if they can't get cooled, the engine overheats after running awhile...the guy at the engine rebuild shop charged me $200 to boil it all out--took 4 days in the hot tank to get clean--(he said he had to change his boil out fluid twice to get it clean and said he could boil out 50+ blocks on a change of boil out fluid!!)..just something to think about..hope this is not your problem, but you never know.....oh..runs great--not a trace of overheating any more now...7 years later, no problems (but i run a griffith rad,full shourd and clutch fan and electric fan with temp sw.but the electric fan seldom comes on....)bye.....ed in georgia (gets really hot here in summer)
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Old 09-20-2018, 08:25 PM
 
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Reverse lights

I was reading this old post on reverse lights not working and the owner said it was the power source being attached to the headlight switch meaning the reverse lights only work when the headlights are on.

I was under the impression that was normal and they were originally only supposed to come on with the headlights on. Is that true?
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Old 09-20-2018, 11:51 PM
 
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yes, its normal

Quote:
Originally Posted by bms-3 View Post
I was reading this old post on reverse lights not working and the owner said it was the power source being attached to the headlight switch meaning the reverse lights only work when the headlights are on.

I was under the impression that was normal and they were originally only supposed to come on with the headlights on. Is that true?
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