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New Member needing advice and guidance
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Author:  Bryon Kirwan [ Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:26 am ]
Post subject:  New Member needing advice and guidance

Thanks for allowing me to become a member here
I am hoping to get some information and background in order to get my dad's 1954 DeSoto Firedome going. It is a project for my brother and I. dad had bought the car with the idea it would be a great retirement project...but that did not happen as planned.

It is vehicle number 55149223, a 2 door coupe.
It is good general condition, but do not know when it was run last. The engine is free to turn.

I was able to get ahold of a reprint service manual for a there much difference in the 53 to 54 change (will we be able to use the manual)? That is one of the biggest questions to start. (we believed it was a 53 based on the info from when he bought it...but in going through some of the paperwork that came with the car (including the original bill of sale) we found out it was a 54 that was sold Dec. 28 of 53.

Tips, tricks and special insights of the firedome engine would be appreciated. We are just trying not to goof up before we start. Once we get it running, we can try to find a couple of the missing trim pieces.

Our ultimate goal is to get it going so dad can actually have a chance to drive it.

If I figure out how to attach pix, I will post a couple.
Thank you

Bryon Kirwan
Seymour, IL
(East Central IL)

Author:  Bryon Kirwan [ Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:32 am ]
Post subject:  attempt at pix

attempting to attach pix

20171105_124125.jpg [ 3.48 MiB | Viewed 2613 times ]
20171105_124125.jpg [ 3.48 MiB | Viewed 2613 times ]

Author:  Bryon Kirwan [ Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:33 am ]
Post subject:  a goof..

double, sorry

20171105_124134.jpg [ 3.69 MiB | Viewed 2612 times ]

Author:  BrentJacobsen [ Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member needing advice and guidance

Welcome to the club Bryon!

That is one nice looking 1954 Firedome Sportsman Hardtop! I think you will find that the 52/53 shop manual will cover most of the engine parts. There is a reprint manual available that covers the 1954/55 cars too. The biggest difference aside from the sheet metal and dashboard, are the engine mounts and the Powerflite transmission.

Before you try to start the car, you would do well to check the fuel system to make sure the tank is clean- any fuel left in one over time will leave a black tar-like deposit on the bottom which will require cleaning. I would advise rebuilding the fuel pump and carburetor too. The pump diaphragms rot and the carb gaskets and accelerator pump dry out. You might want to pull the spark plugs and check for compression. I'd advise renewing the ignition too- new points condenser cap, rotor, wires and plugs. Be sure to get the older non-resistor wires.

These old DeSoto V-8 engines are a lot of fun!

Author:  DanLyman [ Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member needing advice and guidance

Lots of question to be asked and answered. Can you give more detailed information on the condition of the engine when bought and now? Did it run previously? Was it in parts? Pictures would also help. Once the starting point is determined, there are more than a few folks on this board willing to help you out. Good luck!

Author:  JohnSmith [ Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member needing advice and guidance

Give us a little run-down on you and your brother's skill levels, too. It's easy to get to assuming things when advice starts flowing.

Author:  Bryon Kirwan [ Wed Nov 08, 2017 3:11 am ]
Post subject:  thanks for the replies

that have been provided
My dad bought the car in 1999. Previous owner had significant engine work done to it and was running. some type of fuel problem when dad bought it...would run for a bit when fuel put in carb and car started. Car has been stored indoors since it came home.

I would judge the mechanical skills of my brother and i to be average to above ave...we grew up working and wrenching on cars, trucks and farm equipment. However we are not machinists, but do have the ability to do basic fabrication and body work.

We have access to some specialized shops, but do not know anyone who is currently rebuilding automotive generators.

I have had exposure to positive ground systems working on other early/mid 50's trucks and tractors; that is what the DeSoto seems to have from looking things over.

Our goal is to get it running and operable, even if not perfect, so dad has a chance to be able to drive it. He retired from farming almost a year ago...he is 79.

Thanks again for the comments

Author:  ronwaters [ Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member needing advice and guidance

Some advice : Get the correct shop manual. If you use the incorrect year, you may be led astray and end up having to redo your work. Also, get an original 54/55 manual. The reprints and copies on CD/DVD are poor repros, especially when it comes to illustrations. The originals show up on ebay from time to time.

It would be a good idea to run the car out of a gas can, rather than taking a chance on old gas in the tank. Examine the carb to verify that the choke operates correctly. Then draw gas up into the carb by manually throttling it with the engine not running. If you end up with two healthy squirts of gas going into the carb, when looking down into the air horn, then I would try to start it. Otherwise, rebuild the carb with a kit from Daytona Parts. Good Luck !


Author:  Bryon Kirwan [ Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Thanks Ron

Found a service manual on eBay as you suggested for a 54
Should make life better
Will post updates when available, most likely more questions, though :)

Author:  Gary Stone [ Fri Dec 01, 2017 8:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member needing advice and guidance

If the gas tank is like the 53 then you will need to cut it open to clean it. On the 53 tank there is a screen on the end of the pickup tube that can easily be corroded and clogged especially with old gas in there. On the 53 I cut the tank in half at the seam so I could sandblast it clean. I had to take the screen out of it because it was so corroded. after all was cleaned I welded it back together then used a gas tank coating to seal it. worked out well. I have done this successfully on several tanks when replacements are not available.

File comment: This is what it looked like in the tank of the 53 I restored. Under the round part at the end of the tube is the screen.
IMG_7102.JPG [ 5.5 MiB | Viewed 2448 times ]

Author:  Bryon Kirwan [ Tue Jan 09, 2018 5:35 am ]
Post subject:  Gary, thanks

for the tip, and the pix of the tank and what to look for

I did get ahold of factory service manual, hope this makes working on this easier. Had hoped to be further along on this by this point in the winter, but the fates have not been kind yet...

Thanks again to all for the tips

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