Diagnosing Engine Noises - Too Low Octane, No Lead, etc.

jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
Looking for tips on what different engine noises signify in the old 1960's American V-8's.

Specifically, what could be called deiseling or what I call valve clatter while accelerating, but only when the engine is fully warm on a hot day.

Also, can someone explain how knocking or pinging would sound different from the above?

Are they caused by low octane, bad gas, dirty valves, bad timing or ignition, no lead gas, or something else?

Bought a 67 Ford with a 390 2 barrel, 9.5 to 1 compression, and 31,500 original miles. When I test drove the car, it was making what the seller and his mechanic said was a "dieseling" sound, but only when accelerating; it sounded perfect at idle.

They replaced the distributor, condenser, and points, and that seemed to eliminate the problem. I know those parts were replaced, as I saw both the new and the old ones. The car ran and sounded great after that on the 5 mile test drive. However, when the engine is fully warm on a hot day, it still makes the noise, though much less so. I ran 93 octane with some valve cleaner in it, as the car has been barely driven in 8 years.

I just put in 89 octane, and the noise is worse, but again only on acceleration after the engine is fully warm. I am startin to put lead substitute in it, but does the timing need to be revisited?

What octane would a 1960's 9.5 to 1 engine need?

Since this is relevant to non-computer controlled cars, I thought the knowledge here would have suggestions.



  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    What it sounds like you are asking is the difference between pre-ignition and post-ignition.

    Pre-ignition can be dangerous and nasty, depending on how severe. Mostly it sounds like a chain dragging under your engine. If there is just a little "pinging" or pre-ignition, and then it goes away as you accelerate, this may be okay. If it continues through the acceleration curve, you are going to lose that engine sooner or later. Pre-ignition, in simplest terms, is a premature as well as uneven explosing of the fuel, often at the wrong time in the piston's cycle, So you could have the explosive forces pushing down as the piston is pushing up...ouch! That "ping" you hear is not only valve clatter by any means. It is your internal engine parts rattling under severe stress, and possibly even the walls of your cylinders flexing in severe cases. Pinging can punch a hole right through a piston.

    Post-ignition is called dieseling because, like with a diesel, the fuel is combusted even though there is no spark. With your engine shut off, the fuel is still ignited, probably by hot carbon deposits in your engine. It is less harmful than pinging, but still indicates that some attention is necessary to your engine's internals.

    A 60s engine needs high octane, but should run on 91 I would guess. If not, your only alternatives are to buy special fuel if you can find it (some stations will pump 93 or 95), add an octane enhancer (some work and some are bogus), or retard your timing (less performance), or redo your cylinder heads for lower compression (sometimes a thicker head gasket will help).
  • dpwestlakedpwestlake Member Posts: 207
    The noise you describe is known as "pinging". this is the sound of the air-fuel mixture igniting too early. A valve clatter would indicate a bad hydraulic lifter. It would be a tapping that varied with engine speed.

    Older high compression engines need premium gas. 93 octane would be my choice. An octane booster would help more than a lead substitute. The lead substitute would mainly be to protect the valves. the lead in old gas prevented the valves from "microwelding" to the seats preventing erosion of the seats.

    If the engine pings on premium, try retarding the timing a few degrees.

    Another problem could be a carbon buildup in the combustion chamber. The carbon gets red hot and acts like a glow plug and igniting the fuel before the plug fires. When the plugs were replaced did the old ones have a heavy carbon deposit?

    There are gasoline additives to clean carbon. If the cleaner doesn't work the other option is to pull the heads and have them rebuilt. The carbon on the piston crown can be scraped off with a hard wooden tool. If you choose to do this have hardened valve seats installed. Hardened valve seats will eliminate the need for lead substitute.
  • dpwestlakedpwestlake Member Posts: 207
    It looks like we think along the same lines.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    Thanks, guys. With these older cars that have sat around a lot, was not sure if it was bad ignition or intake system problem due to age.

    The engine as is sounds beautiful at idle and before the engine is fully warm. Once it is completely warm on a hot day, it starts to make what I call a rattling noise, but seems to be known as pinging.

    The 93 octane from Shell virtually eliminated it in the first tank of gas (had some valve cleaner as well as carb cleaner in the tank), though it was still did it occasionally on light acceleration. I thought maybe the intake system, carb, or valves were gunked. I just put in 89 to see if it was solved, but obviously not.

    The guy I bought it from told me to take it back to his mechanic to reset the timing, and he would take care of it. He did not seem that worried himself, and said he would take the car back and refund my money if it was something serious. If it is just a timing issue, that is simpler to fix than I thought. Eventually, I am going to upgrade to electronic ignition, or learn to set the timing myself.

    Thanks for all your suggestions.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,882
    ...every time I've had a problem similar to what you're experiencing, it was either because the timing was over-advanced, carbon buildup, or just gas that was too low of an octane. The noise you're talking about, I always referred to as "clattering"

    As for adjusting the timing, I don't know how it would be on a Ford car, but on the Mopars I've owned, I'd just loosen the bolt at the base of the distributor with the car running, and slowly twist the distributor clockwise (looking from the front of the car) to retard or counter-clockwise to advance it, to where the engine sounded like it was running the best.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    That does sound like pre-ignition and it needs to be fixed quickly, but the quickest fix--retarding the initial timing, the timing you set at the crank by adjusting the distributor--also brings its own problems.

    Less initial timing means less power, and that can make the engine more susceptible to overheating. Also it reduces fuel economy (probably not an issue or you would have bought a Honda instead).

    Depending on how those 31k miles were put on (just going to church on Sunday?) the cylinder heads may be carboned up. You can buy something you pour down the carb that supposedly cleans out the carbon. I tried it once and it produced impressive amounts of smoke out the tailpipes, but I can't vouch for its effectiveness. The best fix is to remove the cylinder heads and have a machine shop blast out the carbon with ground-up walnut shells (I think that's what they use).

    Octane booster can work but it gets expensive. I'm one of the few people who thinks water/alcohol injection works, and I think something like Edelbrock's adjustable injection is a much better long-term alternative.

    There are a few other things that can cause pre-ignition. On a hot day the air/fuel mixture is less dense and that can cause pre-ignition. If the carb is running lean that can do the same thing. Even the axle ratio can affect pre-ignition, since the typical cruiser ratio lugs the engine. You could put in a 160-degree thermostat instead of the 180 or 190 that's probably in there now, but that causes other problems--the engine never heats up to its proper operating temperature.

    Adding an extra cylinder head gasket reduces the compression ratio, much cheaper and easier than changing the pistons. You could add hardened valve seats at the same time, to compensate for the lack of lead, although I wouldn't pull the heads just to do the seats.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    BTW I'm not telling you to change the axle ratio, pull the heads, replace the carb or anything like that. Just a) start using 93 octane, b) add booster it you need it (you probably don't put that many miles on the car anyway) and c) back off the timing if a and b don't work. If you're feeling ambitious install water/alcohol injection and play around with it.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    From the condition of the vehicle, I'm sure the mileage is original, as everything but the top and carpet (which dry-rotted) is factory, including all the headlights (they were stamped Made in Canada - Ford - 1967, I just replaced them, but kept them). I'm not sure if just sitting all those years could gunk up the valves tremendously, so I'm thinking the timing may not be set correctly, or it is running lean when hot. The carb is original, and it may not have been adjusted for decades, it's been driven less than 2,000 miles in the last ten years.

    First tank of gas returned about 13.5 mpg in mostly city driving, and going 60-65 when on the freeway. The car does have a gas smell sitting in the garage, I checked and found no gas leaks in the lines or the carb, and I replaced the fuel filter. Maybe the bad timing is causing unburned fuel?

    Not using any oil, and the engine sounds perfect at idle. I'll pull the plugs and take a look at them, that may tell me something. I got into this hobby because I find all of this fascinating to figure out, and I'll have time to play around since it is almost time to put it away for the winter.

    I'll start with octane boost, the timing and the carb mixture. 93 octane does solve the problem for the most part, but I want to fix it the right way.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    The carb won't need adjusting but it might not hurt to put a zip kit (minor rebuilt kit) in it. The gaskets and accelerator pump may have dried out over the years, and there's probably some varnish inside--soak the parts in clean parts cleaner. It's an easy rebuild and a great way to de-mystify a carb. Don't buy a rebuilt--it'll have way more miles than the one you've got, and no one will be more careful rebuilding it than you. I wouldn't adjust the float, the accelerator pump or anything else. If it worked for 31k it's probably all fine.

    I wouldn't be surprised if there's some gunk inside the engine but if you've got good oil pressure and the lifters don't tick I wouldn't be concerned about it. You might run a quart of ATF through the engine but with an old engine that's just sat around a lot it might cause more problems than it solves. The seals may have dried with age and it's the gunk that's keeping them from leaking.

    It doesn't sound like the timing is "bad", just advanced a little too much for today's gas. Very common problem. I went through this with almost all the '60s cars I owned.

    That 390 is one of the most durable engines around but it won't take much pinging, so take care of that before you drive it much more.

    You might to also buy a book on ignition systems, how they work and how to modify them. The problem is that your stock ignition timing is set up for 1960s octane, but by trading some distributor advance (mechanical and vacuum) for some initial advance you may be able to minimize pinging and still keep your performance.

    BTW the dieseling (running on after the ignition is turned off) may be because the idle is set too high. A quick fix is to turn the engine off with the transmission still in Drive.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    I put a bottle of octane boost in it, and 4 gallons of 93 octane to go along with the 21 gallons of 89 octane already in the tank (it has a 25 gallon tank). It sounds great at idle, and under accelerating before the engine is completely hot. I was hoping the increased octane completely fixed it, and gave me an impulsive thought of driving it through the Lexus dealership near my house and laying a 90 foot patch, but I want this car to last a long time, so I decided not too. Had the car up to 80 on the freeway last night, steady as a rock and plenty of passing power.

    The octane quieted down the pinging substantially. Still not perfect when hot, so it is going back to have the timing and carb mixture checked. Read up on setting the timing myself, so I may buy a dwell light and mess around with it over the winter as well.

    Can't think of any other mechanical issues to ask about, so I thank all of you. Well, maybe lubing a speedometer cable.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Aside from having to stand on your head, lubing the cable isn't a big deal.

    The speedo cable runs inside a wide flexible tube that goes from the back of the speedo to the transmission. It's fastened to the back of the speedo by a large nut. You may not be able to see it, but you can feel it. Loosen the nut (you should be able to do it by hand) and pull the tube straight out so the speedo cable inside clears the speedo--the cable is a little longer than the tube. Squeeze some liquid graphite cable lube (I think Cable Ease is one brand) down the inside of the tube and re-install. The cable is square and has to mesh with the gear in the speedo--not hard to do.

    The usual symptom of a dry cable is a speedo needle that flickers.

    Man does this bring back memories. Man am I glad you're doing it, not me ;-).
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    It is another noise that doesn't appear until I've driven the car 10-15 miles. It's a slight grinding sound from the speedometer area, it really doesn't flicker. Speedo and odo work fine, and I assume accurately. Only makes the noise after it's been driven for a while, I figured lubrication issue. At least I can see if the cable has ever been disconnected, the car has the foot and knee room of a walk in closet, so I should be able to lay under the dash easily.

    It's funny, this noise and the engine noise appears after a while, the creaks from the vent window frame meet the windshield (weatherstripping is original, and looks old) happens when cold, but then goes away after a few blocks. Just nitpicky things on an old car.

    Going in for some minor paint touch up soon after the timing is fixed, the old guy who repainted it in 94 must have had a tight garage, a few chips and scratches from things bumping it.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    Finally got an owner's manual ($8 over the Internet from Vintage-Books.com), and in it, is specifies 94 octane as "regular" gas for all the 2 barrel engines, and 99.8 octane for the engines that require "premium" gas, basically any 4 barrel carbed engine.

    Is octane ratings done the same way now, so 94 octane from then is the same as now?

    BTW, retarding the timing solved the knocking, very simple adjustment.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Now that you've retarded the timing, keep an eye on the temp gauge if you've got one. If you've just got an idiot light, an aftermarket gauge is easy enough to install.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,882
    ...sometime in the early 70's, I think they changed the way it's rated. One of my college professors, for some economics class, brought it up. Well, actually, I brought it up ;-) He was saying how high octane is a waste of money, and that no car that's running properly should require it. At the time, I was driving a '68 Dart with a 318. I didn't have an owner's manual, but a friend had given me an owner's manual to a '71 they once owned, and I'm pretty sure it recommended either 91 or 93 octane.

    Well, I brought it up with the professor, and that's when he said that they changed the way octane is rated. I don't know how, exactly, it was changed, or what would equate to what, but I discoverd not too long after that that the Dart's timing was way over-advanced, which probably explained why it wanted to puke up anything less than 93. I really don't know what exactly it SHOULD run on, but it does fine on 87.

    I just thought of something...my '67 Catalina tends to run kinda hot, but also runs fine on 87 octane without knocking. And I'm almost positive something like that required high octane in its day! Guess someone along the line set the timing too retarded or something. Looks like I got something to keep me busy tonite...
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Depends on the CR, but the '67-up Pontiac combustion chamber tolerates low octane pretty well, a sign that it's a good efficient design. But it does sound like someone backed off the timing--very common as octane ratings went down.

    If your 400 is a 2v it may still be a high compression engine. Check the engine code on the top front of the block near the intake manifold. It'll have two letters. I have a '69 Pontiac manual and I think they kept the engine codes pretty consistent from year to year, so maybe I can ID your engine if you tell me the code. Or it'll be in a Chilton if you've got one.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,882
    ...just tried checking the block for that code. The only thing I saw was what looked like an upside-down "BB" on the passenger-side cylinder head. Is that the code? The car currently has a 4-bbl carb on it, but I know it was originally a 2-bbl. It was rebuilt just before I bought it, and the original 2-bbl and intake were in the trunk.

    I do know that Catalinas came standard with a 290-horse 400 2-bbl, but you could get a credit-delete 265-hp 400, which I'm guessing was the low-octane version.

    I think the rear-end ratio is something like a 2.56:1, so it that tall enough to also be lugging the engine, possibly making it run hot?
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    "The 8-cyl. engine code is located beneath the production engine number on a machined pad on the right hand bank of the engine block" says the manual. That's a little confusing because they really mean the left hand side of the engine block as you're looking at it standing in front of the car.

    The engine number is on a pad just under the left hand cylinder head. The engine code is on a smaller pad just underneath the engine number. Looks like it's just behind the water pump outlet.

    For '69 the 400/290 automatic code was YD with 2v and 10.5:1 CR. There's also a code YB 400 with 2v and 8.6:1 CR.

    The 2.56 gears do make it run hotter, but indirectly. As you say, they lug the engine, making it more prone to pre-ignition. So you have to back off the timing and then the engine runs hotter. My recollection is that the shortest gears you can put in that carrier are 2.73s, maybe 2.9 somethings. Anything shorter than that, say in the mid 3s, requires a different carrier--not that I'd change gears on that car.

    And this last part is all off the top of my head after fifteen years away from these things, so take it with a grain of salt.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    After doing some research, I came up with the following:

    The common way of rating octane in the 60's was the Research Octane Number. This involved running an engine not under load at low rpm, not sure of the details. A rating was developed from that test.

    Another test was developed using a different kind of engine operating under load at a somewhat higher RPM. From this the MON rating was calculated.

    Gasoline today is tested using both tests, and taking an average of the two (On some pumps, it will show a formula RON+MON divided by 2)

    Typically, the MON octane rating is a little bit lower than the RON rating for the same gas, not sure why. Say 3 points. So if you needed 94 octane under the RON only method from the 60's, and the MON rating was 91 for the gas, the average of the two would give you a pump rating of 92.5 octane. It is not a direct parallel, but it seems you can take the 60's octane requirements and drop it by a couple of points for the corresponding current octane rating requirements. So 94 octane requirements should be able to run on modern 92 octane. I'm sure I grossly simplified this.

    The mechanic reset my timing purely using his ears and a wrench. He had me run the engine under different speeds in gear with my foot on the brake. At the time, I had 93 octane with lead additive in the tank. He has a lot of experience, but I still may invest in a timing light and mess around with it over the winter.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Timing an engine by "ear" ---good way to blow up an engine, especially a modern one.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    I was expecting him to do it with a timing light, but I didn't think a crusty old mechanic like him would appreciate my suggestions, especially when he took 5 minutes telling me how much he liked the car. Since he didn't charge me, and it did take the knocking away, I figured at a minimum it was better than before.

    Rechecking the timing - another project for the car this winter.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Well, it's kind of a tough call. If you go out and buy a timing light and set the timing to factory specs it'll detonate for sure. I think what Shifty is alluding to is "inaudible" detonation. The engine can still be detonating even though you can't hear it.

    Backing off the initial timing is kind of a band-aid fix. It stops the pinging but also makes the engine feel sluggish.

    After Shifty's comment I hate to admit it but I always used to set the initial advance by ear, and with several cars I went futher and modified the mechanical advance using a Mr. Gasket recurve kit. The goal is to get as much initial advance as the engine will tolerate without pinging--something short of kickback is optimal ;-). That gives you better throttle response--the car feels more responsive.

    But when you advance the initial timing you also have to take out some centrifigal advance (the mechanical advance in the distributor) so you don't have too much total advance. At the same time you have the centrifigal come in quicker--there's less of it but it's faster.

    When you do that you have to disconnect the third source of ignition advance, vacuum advance, so it doesn't add another ten or so degrees of advance when you don't want it and not be there at wide-open throttle when you need it. That kills your fuel economy but with your car you might not even notice.

    It's entirely possible that this is a dumb thing to mess around with, then and (especially) now. I never melted a piston but then I never kept my cars for very long either. But the cars I did this to definitely felt quicker.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well, on monster American V8s a few degrees advance is no problem, but with all that thrashing and rumbling you might not hear the pinging, that's true. I often did it myself with older cars with no ill effects. But if you did it, say, on a VW or Porsche, it'd be dead meat. Of course, modern cars don't let you set the timing yourself in most cases, so that's that!
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    Okay, I'll file this issue away under my "wish list" of things to mess around with. Will upgrading to an electronic ignition make this whole process any more precise? I realize that would eliminate the whole mechanical timing wear issues on the points, but is setting the timing any easier that way? The engine does feel somewhat more sluggish, but to be honest, when it did start to ping before I drove it as sluggishly as possible as short as possible until I could park it.

    It sounds like another good reason for a greenhorn like me to learn on old American iron rather than imported stuff.

    One other thing, the owner's manual specifics "Rotunda" automatic transmission fluid for the tranny, power steering, and power convertible top. I've heard of the old Mercron transmission fluid, is that what they are talking about? Sad to say, the local Ford dealer parts dept. is pretty clueless about the older cars, most parts people just know what the inventory computer tells them, nothing more. It is a pink fluid, and the transmission had a seal kit and new filter put in in 1998. Other than that, it's original.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    There's a difference of opinion about converting to electronic ignition. I did it once in the late '70s and learned the downside: when it goes, it goes. There's no warning and it completely shuts you down. There's no gradual deterioration in performance like when points wear, at least in my experience. But hopefully the quality has improved since then.

    I still don't think it's worth the money but other people here do. I've heard claims about better performance but I can't believe it comes from the fatter, more consistent spark you get from electronic ignition--most engines just aren't revved high enough to where point bounce is a problem. If the entire distributor is replaced during the conversion I have a feeling the performance increase comes from a faster advance curve built into the replacement distributor.

    I'd rather put that money into an adjustable water/alcohol injection system because, done right, it can help with one of the big problems facing old car owners, detonation. Points and adjusting them are a non-issue as far as I'm concerned. Of course a lot of people laugh at water injection but the early versions were pretty crude.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Somewhere on this board we discussed electronic ignitions but I can't find that now. To answer your question, electronic ignition won't make timing the engine any easier. It will make tune-ups a little easier because you won't have to periodically replace and gap the points and replace the condensor.

    It's been so long since I've done a tune-up that I had to look in a Pontiac shop manual to remember how often we did them back in the day. It recommends a "quality tune-up" every 12 months or 12,000 miles. I think "quality" means replacing the points instead of filing and regapping them. With the miles you'll be puting on your Sunday driver that means replacing the points once a year--not a big deal.

    Electronic ignition is also supposed to give better fuel economy and be able to fire fouled plugs. Plugs load up when you're running rich or burning oil, and you shouldn't be running rich unless most of your driving is with the choke on.

    Obviously points have been obsolete for years, and maybe aftermarket ignitions have come a long way since one left me stranded. I just have a feeling the electronic ignitions on new cars have a lot more reliability testing behind them than aftermarket ignitions.
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    Fords of your vintage require "Type-F" transmission fluid. "Rotunda" was Ford's own brand of Type-F at that time.

    I drove a Ford 390 2-bbl like yours for 105,000 miles. When I sold it, the compression was excellent and oil consumption was negligible. I tinkered with the timing in an effort to maximize fuel economy. With 94-octane and the timing advanced about one degree higher than the specification, mileage was 17 MPG. With 98-octane, and the timing advanced about three additional degrees, mileage improved to a surprising 19.5 MPG. With each fuel, the timing was set just below the point at which I could induce audible pinging. I kept the factory spec vacuum and centrifugal advance mechanisms.

    Jsylvester, even though you are working at a different point on the octane scale, I believe the same approach will work. However, if 89-octane forces you to retard the timing more than about six degrees from factory specs, I believe I would use higher octane and then perform the above timing/pinging optimization. As others said, over-temperature can accompany timing that's retarded too much. Even so, for the sake of engine longevity, I would not use a thermostat of less than 180F, even if you must move up to 93-Octane. An electronic ignition would be nice to have but the standard distributor should work very well. New points, condenser, rotor, cap, and vacuum diaphragm are inexpensive for this distributor. When checking the time, set the dwell first, and be sure the engine is warm so your idle speed is low to keep the centrifugal advance from coming into play. Also, the vacuum advance tubing should be disconnected and plugged while checking the time. Good luck, I believe you have a very good car.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    Wow, I have plenty of info on old ignition systems to think about this winter. I plan on setting the timing based upon using 93 octane pump gas with lead additive.

    Next mystery will be to understand carburators. The one in the car is original, and seems to work well, though I have never tried to start it under 50 degrees temperature yet.

    The car has dual exhausts, the build sheet seems to indicate it came with a single from the factory. They also did not put a crossover pipe in the set-up, which makes me think it is not the original design. It is in good shape, so it will have to stay that way for a few years at least.

    I am taking it to a local body shop that specializes in restoring and repairing older and newer Mercedes, BMW's, and Audi's to get some surface rust on the frame taken care of and recoated, as well as investigating some minor paint bubbling on the underside of the rear quarter panel in front of the wheel. Also, get oil pan painted Ford blue, original paint is flaking off. My sister knows the owner, she used to manage the shop for him before becoming a claims adjuster for State Farm.

    Thanks for the tip on the tranny fluid, I figured it was a brand name only. I thought the car will leaking fluid of some sort, but it was just the grease on the tie rod end dripping, it had not been used much and had caused some separation to occur. (kind of like peanut oil separating in peanut butter). The steering and front end looks solid.

    Any rust and ignition this year, other than that, just pretty much cosmetic work to be done. Since big convertibles are no longer built (and probably never will be again), I have to think they will go up in value as they become rarer and rarer with no modern counterpart.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    For prices to rise you need demand as well as rarity.

    I think you've got a great car, but I just have to wonder how many serious collectors (read: collectors with money) are going to be chasing big convertibles in ten or twenty years. My guess is that most full-size converts are going to stay in the realm of "affordable classics".

    For demand to ramp up (or even stay strong) the car has to mean something to a large part of the market. Those of us who remember '60s convertibles fondly aren't getting any younger, and the people replacing us in the old-car market don't have our emotional attachment to these cars. My understanding is that this is happening with '30s classics now--the guys these cars mean something to are disappearing and so is demand.

    Of course there will still be those younger buyers who want a 4500-lb. convertible simply for its curiousity and statement value, but they aren't the people who throw money at cars. I dealt with these people years ago when I was buying and selling four or five of these cars a year, and they're price conscious. They don't usually have much money, and they don't have a strong bond with any particular make--"any old car will do".

    Enjoy your car but don't expect big appreciation.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    You are correct about the appreciation issue as far as being compared to more desirable cars from the 60's. I know some people are still looking for a bigger convertible, not as a show car, but a convertible with which they can take their kids (and their kid's friends) with them, but don't drive enough to buy a new convertible.

    One bonus is the product in the 70's and early 80's was so bad that there was not a lot of interesting vehicles to collect, so interest for the 60's era cars may last longer. I never considered anything earlier than about 1957 because the vehicles were heavy and underpowered, unless customized. The newer cars are way too complicated for the shade tree mechanic, and with the drop in performance in the early 70's, history may be more fortunate.

    It is a price concious market segment (I was as well), but I don't think I would enjoy a car knowing every mile I put on it will drive the price down, so this is nice to own. I bought the car from a guy who collects Cadillacs, he bought it because it was original and in good shape; he bought 54 & 62 Caddy Converts, so this had to go. He gave me a standing offer to buy it back when I want to sell.

    It grows on you, not a big and overly flashy as the same period Buicks, Mercury's, and Cadillac's, yet still captures the style of the period. I drove it 4 miles yesterday to the station to check the air in the tires. In that distance, I had 3 people ask me about it at stoplights.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    You make some excellent points. I've always liked the '65-7 Galaxies, and the '68 fastback Galaxie GT with disappearing headlights. And the 390/C6 is bulletproof.
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    You made my day. The '68 Fastback was a favorite of mine but I have not seen other favorable remarks about it. It was actually marketed as a "Ford XL" and "Ford XL-GT" without the Galaxie name attached. Yes, it had the disappearing headlamps, which it shared with the LTD 4-door models but not the Galaxies. Indeed, the 390 engine and the C-6 transmission were outstanding. Although few people seem to comment on these, I saw a clean unrestored one in a recent car show that was quite a head-turner.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    In fact I just saw one today on the street, looking solid and straight. There's another one, almost mint, that I see driven fairly regularly.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    I apologize if I gave any negative comments on the 68 Galaxie. I was thinking of the Galaxie 500, it's front end is kind of plain, the XL is nice with the hidden headlight look. I think the 68 is the same from the windshield back as the 67 except the dash. The 69's gained about 300 lbs, and soon after the engines got weaker. I grew up with a 66 Galaxie 500 station wagon, and a 72 Country Squire, my father buys only Ford's, so he was pleased to see what I purchased.

    Got my 59-72 Galaxie catalog in the mail from Dearborn Classics. Autokrafters and Ford U.S.A. Parts Supply are other sellers as well. I'm pleased at the number of reproduction parts being made for the Galaxie. Not all the exterior trim, but most the interior, including upolstery, is now available newly manufactured in the correct colors and grains for all the trim levels.

    They offer an upgrade from points, they call the Ignitor Ignition Kit, which includes all new low resistance wires with silicone outer jackets, breakerless solid state ignition that fits inside your distributor, and a 40,000 volt oil filled coil, all for $166.37 plus shipping. Still trying to understand the vacuum interplay with the distributor, but I am going to run with points for now.

    Now wheelcovers, never seen reproduction hub caps; mine are original, so I better make sure they don't get stolen.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    I am getting ready to do a spring oil change, and had a question on oil requirements.

    It is a flawed assumption to think that any brand modern oil is better than what was used 35 years ago? I realize the weight is important, but the lubrication properties of any oil that meets the latest SAE standards has to be better than the 60's. For example, I can get Shell FormulaShell for 88 cents a quart, I usually run Castrol in my new car. Is synthetic oil offer any advantages? I assuming it would be a waste of money.

    The engine is all original 390-2v to my knowledge, and I am running Shell 93 octane with off-road lead substitute, and retarded timing.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,882
    for the most part, I always ran straight 30W in all my old cars, something I learned from my Granddad who was a mechanic. My mechanic though told me to switch to 20W-50 for the Catalina.

    I would like to think that oils made today are better than they were a long time ago, but ya never know. Granddad never liked multi-grade oils, and I remember one time some friends of his had a fairly new early '80's Bonneville with a 231 that was running like crap. They had been using 10W-30 and Granddad changed it with straight 30 and it ran fine after that. I always put 30W in my DeSoto as well, and my '80 Malibu, and both of my Darts. I had an '82 Cutlass Supreme that I had been putting straight 30 in, but I figured I'd try 10W-30, because I'd heard that the multi-grade would give better fuel economy and better protection when cold. Within about 2 months though, that sucker almost self-destructed! (probably a coincidence).

    With modern engines built to tighter tolerances, I can see how it's better to have a 10-weight oil that acts like a 30-weight, but with an older car, especially one that's probably loosened up some, it might be better to have the real thing.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    Forgive my ignorance, but:

    If I upgrade the ignition system, say with

    1. high performance wires and spark plugs
    2. 40,000 volt oil cooled coil
    3. solid state ignition which fits inside the original distributor;

    would this allow me to advance the ignition closer to stock, assuming it has been retarded due to pre-ignition? Or, is there nothing one can do outside of reducing compression or increasing the octane thru the use of gas additives?

    I'm cloudy on how the distributor vacuum system would be effected by the above changes.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Actually I'm thinking it may make the situation worse.

    Pinging is "pre-ignition", or premature and uneven firing of the fuel. Once the fuel is lit, it's lit. Maybe one of those pulse ignitions would fire the fuel better but I sitll can't figure how you would defeat the octane issue merely by a better spark.
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