View Full Version : Ham's '48 - A Follow-up Story

06-06-2017, 12:35 PM
About a year ago we got Ham’s ’48 truck out of the shop. It looked like the work was done, but with old trucks – don’t expect things to be done until you have while to check them out. After the first outing, there was a major oil leak. I was going to take it back to the shop to get things checked out, so the next morning – off we went.

Well, we got about a quarter-mile down the road and she spluttered, stumbled and stopped. No amount of cranking would get it running again, so it had to go back to the shop in disgrace – on a flatbed. Now, there are two problems to fix!

The oil leak turned out to be the easiest one to fix – the transmission shop had put the wrong gasket under the top plate of the transmission. The other problem was a much bigger one. In the shop we could get the truck to sort of start and run – rough, missing, taking lots of choke and throttle to get it to spit and splutter – then a complete stall.

Plugs were wet and sooty, so we chased carb problems for about a week or so. Every so often it would start and run nicely – but then – back to the problem By now I forget, but we may even have returned the carb for a checkout and return. But – carb didn’t help out. We were ready to put it on the trailer and take it to another shop when we had one last idea.

“Let me call an old guy I know and talk to him about this” was the shop owner’s suggestion. Now – when we call somebody an old guy, he must be really old! We told him the symptoms and he listened a bit, asked a couple of questions and then replied “You’ve got a bad condenser”.

Silence from us.

“But, we just replaced the distributor with a new one – we can’t have a bad condenser” was our reply.

Sez the old guy, “Do you want to argue with me or change the condenser to get the truck running”?

Given the choices, we decided to change the condenser – not really believing that was the problem. So, we popped the top off the new distributor, took out the screw and the condenser fell apart in our fingers!

“##*!!&&%!”. And you could quote us on that.

As you can see from the pictures, the strap that mounts the condenser in the distributor – which also serves as the ground connection, wasn’t attached to the case at all. It didn’t even really fit the case. If the case touched the strap, it worked and the truck ran. If it was loose – yuckkkk. We replaced the condenser (and points too) and it has started every time since then – even in 20-degree weather this last winter.

I’ve said it before – trust nothing when you’re working on an old truck.