restoring a 1940 Series 90 V16 Town Car

Started by JLB, May 18, 2022, 10:34:04 AM

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JLB

Reader,

I am in the middle of restoring a 1940 Series 90 V16 Town Car. This is a Generation 2 V16 flat head engine. Not many of these cars remain and the restoration experiences are seldom shared. So I am summarizing the process and posting a series of articles, starting as Chapter 1 with a few more to follow.

You may ask about budget, that I consider to be a private discussion with the restoration shop. At shows when people ask me how much I paid for the car, I answer as a generalization. For example I reply that an old car like this will cost as much as a new Cadillac. To quote the famous collector, Jay Leno, he says similar to "if you buy a car for half a million, expect to spend that much making the car into what you want".

Fortunately I selected a restore with deep experience restoring Packards, Auburn Speedsters and a few Cadillacs. Off the top of his head he gives me a budget number reserving the right to revise that number as we explore the car and reminding me the project is time and materials. I am experienced enough to know that is the only way forward.

Chapter 1 is posted as an attached document with pictures.

I welcome your questions,

Jim LeBlanc
1940 Series 90 Town Car
Jim LeBlanc
jim_leblanc@yahoo.com
1940 V16 Town Car
CLC Member #33340

Mike Baillargeon #15848

I for one am looking forward to the chapters as they become available....

Wow, that is alot of motor there....

Hopefully the discoveries will be few and inexpensive....

Mike
Mike Baillargeon  #15848

JLB

Mike,

Seems the discoveries are still coming and this is an expensive hobby !

Best Regards,

Jim LeBlanc
Jim LeBlanc
jim_leblanc@yahoo.com
1940 V16 Town Car
CLC Member #33340

JLB

Reader,

I have created the next chapter in the V16 restore. This chapter focuses on engine block crack discovery and repair. Yes discovery can be painful. It was. Yet be warned there is more to discover about this car. The over 700 hundred pound engine is part, not all the surprises.

Posting a PDF document and a movie. I have never before posted a movie, so I hope this works.

Enjoy the Ride,

Jim LeBlanc
1940 Series 90 Town Car
Jim LeBlanc
jim_leblanc@yahoo.com
1940 V16 Town Car
CLC Member #33340

55 CDV Fan 82


I'm going to love this thread.  I cannot believe someone believed bolting metal to the water jacket would fix the issue.  If my memory serves me correctly the only repair that actually works in this instance is stitching.
Tim

CLC Member #30850

1955 Cadillac Coupe Deville "Evelyn"
1967 Buick Wildcat Convertible "Joyce"

Past Cars

1937 LaSalle Opera Coupe "Adeline"
1940 Chevrolet Coupe "Scarlett"
1941 Ford 11Y truck
1954 Buick Special 48D
1955 Packard Clipper Super Panama
1957 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe
1962 VW Bug
1962 Dodge 880
1966 Mercury Montclair
1968 Chevrolet Chevelle SS
1968 Plymouth Barracuda
1977 Lincoln

JLB

I agree, stitching is best. However there is a Bugatti Royale in the Ford Dearborn museum that was repaired in a similar way, bolted plates but with epoxy sealing the plate to the engine. The plates with epoxy was a popular repair used for post WWII repairs.

Thanks for your interest,

Jim LeBlanc (JLB)
Jim LeBlanc
jim_leblanc@yahoo.com
1940 V16 Town Car
CLC Member #33340

35-709

Is it normal for those engines to crack like that?  Is there a specific cause other than too thin, not enough structural webbing, over revving/abusing the engine? 
1935 Cadillac Sedan resto-mod "Big Red"
1973 Cadillac Caribou - Sold - but still in the family
1950 Jaguar Mark V Saloon resto-mod - Sold
1942 Cadillac 6269 - Sold
1968 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible
1935 Glenn Pray - Auburn Boattail Speedster, Gen. 2

JLB

Mr. Newcombe,

I will offer a theory to address your question on why these flathead V16's develop cracks.

My leading theory is overheating. Points that support this theory:
- small water pumps
- crowded engine compartment
- radiator shutters that are prone to fail opening
- weak water temperature gauge

To address future overheating I am installing two mechanical water temperature gauges, one at the back of each cylinder head. The radiator shutters will be operated by a cable. The engine is still in assembly and I have asked for two thermostats to be installed with one in each upper radiator hose. Should all that prove ineffective, then an oil cooler will be added followed by additional measures as needed. Of course the radiator has been fully cleaned with all tubes clear.

Best Regards,

Jim LeBlanc
Jim LeBlanc
jim_leblanc@yahoo.com
1940 V16 Town Car
CLC Member #33340

The Tassie Devil(le)

I would have thought that the cracking problem would have been caused by cold Winters, where the water expands as it freezes in the block.

Bruce. >:D
'72 Eldorado Convertible (LHD)
'70 Ranchero Squire (RHD)
'74 Chris Craft Gull Wing (SH)
'02 VX Series II Holden Commodore SS Sedan
(Past President Modified Chapter)

Past Cars of significance - to me
1935 Ford 3 Window Coupe
1936 Ford 5 Window Coupe
1937 Chevrolet Sports Coupe
1955 Chevrolet Convertible
1959 Ford Fairlane Ranch Wagon
1960 Cadillac CDV
1972 Cadillac Eldorado Coupe

JLB

Bruce,

Excellent point !

I am from Southern California and for the past 6 years I live in Saginaw Michigan. I have never seen a block damaged from freezing so I am unable to evaluate the cracks for that cause.

To continue the dialog as to how these engines crack, past history of these engines include head gasket failure. My original engine was consuming a quart of coolant every 10 miles. Conversations with my neighbor who has been restoring cars for over 60 years and currently owns an impressive collection including a J Duesenberg and a 812 Cord leads me to blame head gasket failure. Contacting Olson Gaskets they admit that many years ago they made these V16 gaskets with a flaw. Of course since then they have corrected the problem. Obviously once a head gasket fails and coolant starts disappearing, that condition contributes to overheating. Also head and block cracks will lead to coolant loss.

Adding additional causes for engine overheating and cracking:
- head gasket failure
- freezing

Best Regards,

Jim LeBlanc
Jim LeBlanc
jim_leblanc@yahoo.com
1940 V16 Town Car
CLC Member #33340

Johan Boltendal #158

Hi, in an engines life cycle, there is most times an extented period of using plain water for coolant purposes. It will do the job, main disadvantage it the oxigen in the water
leads to rust inside the blocks the greater the block angle , the more severe the rust in the lower/underside of the blocks, thus thinning the walls and leading to cracks or holes.
Work on 29 to 33 Cadillacs and come upon this rusted through or cracked blocks often, I think a point to add to the failure issues.

Good luck with your undertaking, respect.   Johan

harry s

Jim, What a great and worthy undertaking. I will be following. Thanks for sharing.    Harry
Harry Scott 4195
1941 6733
1948 6267X
2011 DTS Platinum

JLB

Johan,

Excellent point !

In one of my articles I will show rusted head bolts that are reduced in length by at least 1/4 inch. As I was answering this thread and thinking of the rusted head bolts I was considering how rust reduces engine thickness. Thinking about this, if a head bolt is reduced by 1/4 inch then engine walls also shrink.

Thanks for confirming,

Jim LeBlanc
Jim LeBlanc
jim_leblanc@yahoo.com
1940 V16 Town Car
CLC Member #33340

35-709

Thank you for your reply(s), Jim.
Geoff N.
1935 Cadillac Sedan resto-mod "Big Red"
1973 Cadillac Caribou - Sold - but still in the family
1950 Jaguar Mark V Saloon resto-mod - Sold
1942 Cadillac 6269 - Sold
1968 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible
1935 Glenn Pray - Auburn Boattail Speedster, Gen. 2

JLB

Reader,

I have created Chapter 3 on engine bolts. As a guy who repairs engines, I would never have expected so much effort to be put into the bolts on this engine.

My motivation to share this information comes from finding little of this type of detail. The Authenticity Manual is a most excellent resource and necessary as the first authoritative informational source.   

Attached is a pdf document. No videos on this one. I do have a few good ones coming on the subject of installing and testing the valves.
Jim LeBlanc
jim_leblanc@yahoo.com
1940 V16 Town Car
CLC Member #33340

JLB

Reader,

During engine disassembly, it seemed that at every turn we discovered unbelievable engine wear. This chapter covers engine pulleys and pumps. Discovering metal fatigue in the front pulleys along with all other wear factors led us to confirm more about the vehicle history. Contact with Chris Cummings, club historian gave a nugget of information leading to a 1952 magazine article.

Best Regards,

Jim LeBlanc
1940 Series 90 Town Car
Jim LeBlanc
jim_leblanc@yahoo.com
1940 V16 Town Car
CLC Member #33340

JLB

Reader,

This is chapter 5 of experiences and recommendations for a generation 2 V16 rebuild. The important recommendation is to never remove the engine block water distribution tubes (manifolds). Removal severely damages them for little, if any, benefit.

I have a five (5) videos to post with this chapter and have tried posting them a few times. I get a 503 error so I am guessing the collection of videos is too large. I will post one video at a time with the remaining videos as replies to this topic.

As always, I welcome your questions and feedback.

Best Regards,

Jim LeBlanc
Jim LeBlanc
jim_leblanc@yahoo.com
1940 V16 Town Car
CLC Member #33340

JLB

Posting a video on checking cylinder bores. The engine was received with the cylinders already bored. We had pistons made to match the size. This machining corrects any imperfection in the bore.
Jim LeBlanc
jim_leblanc@yahoo.com
1940 V16 Town Car
CLC Member #33340

JLB

Posting a video showing cutting of valve seats.
Jim LeBlanc
jim_leblanc@yahoo.com
1940 V16 Town Car
CLC Member #33340

JLB

This video shows testing a valve. This one is most interesting to me. I never knew this procedure was used.
Jim LeBlanc
jim_leblanc@yahoo.com
1940 V16 Town Car
CLC Member #33340