'53 Hornet Hydramatic Stalls when Cold - ???

Hudson_in_SeattleHudson_in_Seattle Posts: 168Member
hey guys - i know the practical answer is to let it warm up! 

when i start my '53 hornet with hydramatic when its cold, i usually let it warm for 5-10 minutes, until the water temp goes up a few marks

when i try to drive forwards when not fully warm, it stalls from a standstill in gear - this doesn't happen in reverse though

this made for a stressful sunday a.m. drive, at the 1st intersection, after i left the house - not cool!

i do not think there is an issue with the engine tune - i think that the load needed to get moving is enough to stall the engine when cold - i have not experienced this in other collector cars (including automatics)

i would hate to have the hornet stall after a long ferry run here on the puget sound! that would be worse!

any advice would be most appreciated!



  • GlowplugGlowplug Posts: 1,646Expert Adviser
    Check carb choke settings
  • Hudson_in_SeattleHudson_in_Seattle Posts: 168Member
    thanks - in adjustment, recently adjusted
  • KustomKreepsKustomKreeps Posts: 304Member
    Try giving it a few revs before putting into gear. If this works then the choke may be sticking.
    If you are confident of the choke then try either advancing timing a bit or adjust the air/fuel mix on carb a tad.

    Could also take the air cleaner/s off. have some one jump in drivers seat while you look down the carb/s. see if choke is engaged or not. if so get them to give it a few revs - any difference. Get them to put it in gear(foot on brake). If it dies then hold the choke open and get them to put it in gear again. If it goes then readjust choke. if dies then mark the current settings on fuel /air screw and adjust t a bit.

    What weight oils are you running and is this happening in summer and winter?
    oil in the trans/stall convert fine?
  • super651super651 Posts: 560Senior Contributor
    hUDSON-SEATTLE, is the transmission in low speed or is it in 2nd.  If it is in 2nd it will lug the engine speed down but not in Reverse   Rudy B.
  • GlowplugGlowplug Posts: 1,646Expert Adviser
    ...another thought, cranking down on the nut that fastens the aircleaner to the carb throat distorts the carb which may cause choke plates to not set or to stick closed....
  • Hudson_in_SeattleHudson_in_Seattle Posts: 168Member
    thanks for all of this - the key variable here is there no problem when warm, only when cold -

    when cold, no problems starting, goes to high idle, and holds correct idle quickly, even when not fully warm

    - tranny is in D4, but i also put in low, with no difference - (i figured the reverse gear is lower than D1)

    - i also tried to hold revs, like i would in a manual tranny auto, but that didn't work either

    thanks again

  • iceblade10iceblade10 Posts: 448Member
    My car had similar issues, until I chased down and finally fixed a massive vacuum leak I had on the manifold gasket.
  • Park_WPark_W Posts: 2,544Senior Contributor
    Try it with the idle mixture screws 1/2 turn CCW.
  • 29sptphaeton29sptphaeton Posts: 198Member
    With it running put your hand over the top of the carburetor and see if it stays running. I just found one with a broken intake manifold, when it got warmed up it ran better because the manifold would expand and partially close the break.  A blown out manifold gasket will cause the same problem.  You could also use a vacuum gauge to check for this.
  • Hudson_in_SeattleHudson_in_Seattle Posts: 168Member
    thanks - i think there probably is a vacuum leak that's masked when hot - i also found that one of four balance tube bolts is stripped - thanks again
  • iceblade10iceblade10 Posts: 448Member
    I highly recommend Remflex gaskets. Really improved my situation.
  • Hudson_in_SeattleHudson_in_Seattle Posts: 168Member
    believe it or not, this problem completely went away after adjusting the valves to "walt's specs"!
  • pistonfarmerpistonfarmer Posts: 55Member
    If it stopped after adjusting the valves then you probably did have a valve partially open causing your vacuum leak. Makes sense... good catch!
  • Ken U-TxKen U-Tx Posts: 3,605Senior Contributor
    edited December 2018
    This is a common issue when these cars sit for awhile, especially with the ethanol blend gas.....the gas in the bowl evaporates, and the discharge and inlet check valve balls in the accelerator pump circuit get stuck to their seats, so that when you open the throttle, no gas squirts out the accelerator pump discharge nozzle(s). When the engine is idling in neutral, this doesn't stall the engine as there is very little load. But when it is in drive, D4, D3, it will stumble and / or stall. REVERSE in the Hydramatic is a lower ratio (4.32) than 1st (3.82), thus it stalls more easily drive than in reverse. This has happened to me in the warmer weather. car would start after much cranking, but would stumble and stall in gear. I would let it run until it was fully warmed up, but the stumbling continued, so I took the air cleaners off and saw the accelerator pumps weren't squirting gas. I shut it down and went inside for a hour or so, came back out, started it up again and then it was revving up nicely when I stabbed the gas pedal, took it out for a drive and all was fine. The fresh gas in the carburetor bowls dissolved the gum holding the check valve balls to their seats, thus they once again functioned correctly.
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