The trouble with stuck cables and gaseous gas


Many of the mechanical issues that vex us are auto independent, which is to say, universal. I decided to tackle two of them.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/12/24/trouble-stuck-cables-and-gaseous-gas


I had vapor lock problems in my 35 Pontiac. It has a straight flat head 6. I cured it by adding VP Racing Fuel Additive with ethanol shield. It cooled down the motor enough that the gas stopped vaporizing in the line. This was also during an exceptionally hot summer. Hope that helps.


Additive is only a mask. Waste of money. Just insulate the fuel line near hot areas.


I have a 1951 Ford w/ a 1953 rebuilt Mercury motor and experienced vapor lock on a 95 degree day. I asked the previous owner if he had any problems with that before I bought it from him. His response he always used non-ethanol gas and never had a problem. I have not switched to higher price non-ethanol gas and have not had any more problems, of course the weather has been much cooler since then. We’ll see what happens next summer.


Electric fuel pump is a likely solution. Re-routing or insulating fuel lines ditto. A big aluminum radiator will usually help, and/or electric fans. Overheat problems frequently follow rebuilds, which may have resulted in thinner cylinder walls, and more heat transfer into the cooling system and carburetor. A phenolic spacer under the carb may help. EFI, with attendant high pressure fuel pump, and no float bowl to boil is the ultimate solution, but may come with its own problems. Lousy gas with ethanol causes a lot of the problems. In our area a 20 mile round trip is necessary to find unadulterated gas.


When I’ve had this problem, I’d replace the metal fuel line from pump to carb with a piece of rubber. Always worked like a charm. If appearance is important, run it through a bent piece of SS tube.


I love articles like this. And I happen to have an issue with a noisey speedometer on cooler days and wonder if my graphite lubrication may not be enough.
And I second everything said on the vapor-lock issue. And to the extent it’s practical, I’ve also found avoiding ethanol fuel blends helps a lot. IIRC the routing of his fuel line takes it right over the exhaust manifold. I keep the line uninterrupted in that area (no sentiment bowl) and instead use an in-line filter before the fuel pump. If he wants to confirm what the issue is, just put a cold wet cloth on the line in that area the next time he has symptoms.


Showing my age here, but back in the 60’s, working landscaping, we had a couple trucks that would vapor lock in hot weather. The old farmer that ran the place had us clip wooden clothespins to the fuel line as heat sinks, worked well. Not an attractive long term fix, but not a bad patch if you are sitting on the side of the road.


Driving through New Mexico (Route 66) years ago in my 1965 Corvair, we experienced a serious shut down outside of Gallup. We’d driven from Phoenix that day and stopped in Gallup for something to eat. As we left the restaurant I heard/felt the left side of the engine shut down followed by the right. I think the change in elevation was the problem.
It was getting late and I still wanted to cover some ground. I messed around for a while with no results so I called AAA and the guy showed up. He said he could tow the car to a garage but I wasn’t keen on that.
Finally I said that he must know some trick to get it going and he replied that we could try pouring some gas down the carbs while starting…
We did and that engine fired right up. I kept it running, re assembled the cleaner, thanked him and off we went.
Other than a leaking oil pressure valve we made it back to Toronto a couple of days later.


Pouring gas into a carburetor can have disastrous results as a very good friend of mine learned many years ago. If the engine backfires you are likely to be sprayed with gas which will ignite very quickly leading to serious burns in the face, neck, chest and arms/hands area. Doing same to a hot engine is asking for double the trouble!!


I owned a 1990 Miata for several years. The only thing that stopped the speedometer from jumping was lubricating the cable with Lock-ese (sp?) graphite lock lubricant. My earlier attempts with motor oil were very temporary. On the Miata, the inner cable cannot be removed, so i had to disconnect both ends and create a funnel on top and allow th fluid to drain down the cable.


@dleit53 - I’ve heard graphite is the way to go for lubing cables like the speedo cable. I was used to hanging oil bags for motorcycle cables until I learned about graphite in a similar way to you. Now I am converted.