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Author Topic: Do most of the cars from the 1950's leak oil or is it just the one i see ?  (Read 902 times)

Offline Bill Balkie 24172

  • Posts: 800
  • 1957 Biarritz / 2009 CTS
    • CLC Member
      CLC Member #24172
Hello ,
    Over the years i have noticed that a lot of cars from the 1950's leak oil one way or another .  Even my 1957 Cadillac leaks a little bit . If i park it for a week or so i have a small accumulation  of motor oil also a few drops of Trans Fluid .  However the Trans fluid is always full .  Other people and old timers tell me they all leak a little . I cant believe this was the case when they were new but who am i to say .

       Bill
Bill Balkie
1957 Biarritz
2009 CTS

Offline fishnjim

  • Posts: 371
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      CLC Member #29423
  • Name: J. Bozin
I don't think it's isolated to that decade.  Sealing technology has evolved like everything else.   The early prewar cars had much worse seal materials, mostly felt, and seeped more than those with early lip seals.   But in this period they also used a fair amount of cork gaskets and they are porous, heat age, and deteriorate over time.   
If it has significant wear/age(cycles), it's probably going to leak a bit.   
Trans fluid is harder to contain than motor oil but engines run hotter.
You can make one tight with modern gaskets, sealants, etc during rebuild.   But one may have to build up the shafts or replace at the seal surfaces not just throw on new seals/gaskets.   They would not leak when new, per se, but autos of this era had a shorter life than we expect today.   We like the look but not the period problems.
Take it out and pressure wash drive train, and then see where it's leaking and you maybe able to apply a simple fix like a valve cover or pan gaskets, etc.  Tightening old gaskets rarely solves so replace them torque and retorque after a few miles.   I've also seen new "replacements" not fit to original specs, so you have to play around sometimes also.   If the valve covers are dished, you might have to straighten to get to seal.   Check fitment.   You'd be surprised, how poorly some things fit without a tweek.

Offline bcroe

  • Posts: 2060
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Yes they all leak; they were only designed to stay completely dry
till they were sold; certainly not for decades.  It took cars from Japan
before no leak was achieved.  I try to keep leaks at bay, but the
backup is a drip pan made of a 3' X 8' piece of duct sheet metal. 

Bruce Roe

Offline Jay Friedman

  • Posts: 1652
    • CLC Member
      CLC Member #3210
In the '50s Cadillacs had "rope" rear main bearing seals in the motor which are prone to leaking when they get old.  A modern neoprene rubber seal is now available for these motors which cures the problem entirely.  My '49 motor has 25K miles since a rebuild including a neoprene seal and doesn't leak a drop.
1949 Cadillac 6107 Club Coupe
1932 Ford V8 Phaeton (restored, not a rod).  Sold
Decatur, Georgia
CLC # 3210
"If it won't work, get a bigger hammer."

Offline Jeff Rose CLC #28373

  • Posts: 1433
  • Name: Jeff Rose
No, no, no. You are mis-understanding what the car is trying to tell you.
They don't leak. They are simply marking their territory.
Jeff
Jeff
CLC #28373
1970 Coupe DeVille
1955 Series 62

Offline Walter Youshock

  • Posts: 2972
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      CLC Member #11959
It's self changing oil...  continued topping off means you never have to drain it.  When they're empty, they stop leaking...
CLC #11959 (Life)
1957 Coupe deVille
1991 Brougham

Offline Mike Josephic CLC #3877

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The 1950's Cadillacs were noted for seeping oil.  Even in the showroom, the
dealers kept a mat of some type under the cars to catch oil seepage.

My 1955 331 engine was completely rebuilt at the time of restoration and
it seeps a small amount, especially when putting it back into the garage after
a run.

Mike
1955 Cadillac Eldorado
1973 Cadillac Eldorado
1995 Cadillac Seville
2004 Escalade
1997 GMC Suburban 4X4, 454 engine, 3/4 ton
custom built by Santa Fe in Evansville, IN
2011 Buick Lucerne CX
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Offline The Tassie Devil(le)

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  • Name: Bruce Reynolds
No, no, no. You are mis-understanding what the car is trying to tell you.  They don't leak. They are simply marking their territory. Jeff 
Exactly.

Bruce. >:D
'72 Eldorado Convertible (LHD)
'70 Ranchero Squire (RHD)
'74 Chris Craft Gull Wing (SH)
(Past President Modified Chapter)

Offline Jim Miller

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  • Name: Jmiller
Large heavy plastic winter boot trays from Lowes and Home Depot work very well. After a good run I usually have a couple drips  from the crankcase ventilation tube. And the transmission seeps a bit. But never enough to have to add oil.
Jim Miller

1941 62 sedan
2016 SRX

Offline fishnjim

  • Posts: 371
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  • Name: J. Bozin
I don't buy the showroom story.   If they had a leaker it'd go back in the lot or repair bay.   We used to go to all the annual new car showings and I can only remember one leaking coolant(chevy) and they moved it out.   

I hate an oil leak.  And with 1949-1956 Cadillacs (of which I have had 16), I normally manage to make the engine drip-free.  Here is what I have learned over the past 25 years doing this:

1. Use Best brand gaskets -- I find them to be better than other available brands.

2.  Use a dynamic rubber lip seal on the rear main.  The rope seals will leak a little, even if you know what you are doing in installing them.

3.  Carefully flatten the valve covers and torque the bolts to the CORRECT torque (this is very low torque).  Overtightening them will lead to warpage of the pan and more leakage, not less.  This is the number one cause of leaks in old Cadillac engines.

4.  Carefully flatten the oil pan and torque the bolts to the CORRECT torque (this is very low torque).  Overtightening them will lead to warpage of the pan and more leakage, not less.

5.  Be extra careful when installing the front and rear oil pan cork seals.  These should be trimmed to proper length very carefully (and beveled on the ends) and stuffed in the retainers just so.  Use just a dab of RTV silicone where the flat oil pan gaskets meet up with these cork seals.

6.  When rebuilding the oil pump, consider re-using the old pressure relief valve spring.  The new springs that come with most rebuilding kits are too strong, resulting it excessively high oil pressure (causing leaks).

7.  Inspect the oil pressure light switch for seepage.


With care and proper materials and techniques, these engines can be made to be completely drip-free except for one thing.  The road draft tube will usually drip a little, but that isn't really a leak, now is it?
Art Gardner


1955 S60 Fleetwood sedan

Offline wrench

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  • Name: Jim Cullen
Some leaks are tolerable and some leaks are actionable.

I note oil consumption and then I do a cost/benefit analysis.

Note that an action to go after a minor leak could result a more extensive and expensive maintenance action due to affected, but unrelated systems disturbed.

Current dilemma is with my 1958 Apache with a 235 and a truck hydramatic.

The valves made a little noise and the valve cover leaks a little, I figured I would address both simultaneously. Well, the valve cover no longer leaks, but the valve adjustment affected the vacuum signal to the carbs (dual carb setup). I then adjusted the carbs which then lead to an adjustment to the TV Rod and you can see where a minor oil leak can lead to other maintenance.
1951 Series 62 Sedan
1969 Eldorado
1970 Eldorado (Triple Black w/power roof)
1958 Apache 3/4 ton 4x4

Offline jaxops

  • Mark Monaghan
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Re: Do most of the cars from the 1950's leak oil or is it just the one i see ?
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2017, 07:17:12 AM »
No, no, no. You are mis-understanding what the car is trying to tell you.
They don't leak. They are simply marking their territory.
Jeff

Beauty!! ;D
1970 Buick Electra Convertible
1956 Cadillac Series 75 Limousine
1949 Cadillac Series 75 Imperial Limousine
1989 Ford Crown Victoria Station Wagon
1997 Lincoln Town Car
AACA, Cadillac-LaSalle Club #24591, ASWOA

Offline INTMD8

  • Posts: 741
Re: Do most of the cars from the 1950's leak oil or is it just the one i see ?
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2017, 10:16:59 AM »
I rebuilt the engine and trans in my 59 when I got it a few years ago. Put about 10k miles on it and it has a few drips underneath. Looks like from the rear main (used a rubber seal).

My car does see a good amount of higher speeds on the tollway and interstate so that may be a contributing factor? Compared to cars that are cruised around town at lower rpm.

Over the winter I'm going to swap out the road draft tube for a pcv system.
Jim Moran.   1959 Series 62 Convertible

Offline bcroe

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Do most of the cars from the 1950's leak oil or is it just the one i see ?
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2017, 12:46:05 PM »
Perhaps my leaks have been primarily at the valve covers, and from
so many places on the transmission.  Causes vary A LOT.  A monumental
effort might cure them temporarily.  But soon some new ones show up,
and you are doing it again.  The drip pan stays. 

Big leaks I try to fix immediately, and maybe do a smaller one at the
same time.  Those that are no operational threat may be ignored for
quite a while.  Bruce Roe

Offline David Greenburg

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  • Name: David Greenburg
Re: Do most of the cars from the 1950's leak oil or is it just the one i see ?
« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2017, 03:27:58 PM »
All older cars are more inclined to leak than the newer ones.  My former '59, with unknown miles and maintenance history always leaked some oil and trans fluid.  Not bad, but persistent. I just wrote it off to it being an incontinent old man and kept an eye on the fluids.  My '60 had some leaks, but it seems with use they have gotten better.  Careful attention to the valve covers helped.  My very low mileage '61 has a significant trans leak or leaks that I need to tackle.  Appears to be the pan and speedo drive seals. It a no-win situation; use wears out gaskets and seals, while non-use dries 'em out.
David Greenburg
'60 Eldorado Seville
'61 Fleetwood Sixty Special

Offline dochawk

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  • Name: Richard Hawkins
Re: Do most of the cars from the 1950's leak oil or is it just the one i see ?
« Reply #16 on: November 04, 2017, 03:16:58 PM »
No, no, no. You are mis-understanding what the car is trying to tell you.
They don't leak. They are simply marking their territory.

In that case, I sure don't need to worry about Datsuns coming near my house . . .

:)
1972 Eldorado convertible, 2001 Deville DHS (daughter), 1997 Eldorado ETC (and now my wife wants an Eldorado!)