1955 Ford Part 97: Holley Fuel Bowl Leak, Oil Filter Purchase, and Mystery "Spray"

Holley Fuel Bowl Leak

After a recent drive through the neighborhood I parked the 55 Ford in the garage like I always do and also popped the hood open to connect my trickle charger for the battery. The next morning when I walked through the garage the telltale smell of gasoline hit my nostrils and immediately I knew there had to be an issue. It did not take long to discover the problem. The photo above shows that the gasoline had leaked from the fuel bowl - if you look closely you can see where a puddle formed in one of the cavities of the intake manifold casting.


"Well, that can't be good," I said to myself. I had a flashback to the first week after the installation of the remanufactured Holley 4 barrel and visions of tightening up one of the machined screws for the fuel bowl flooded my mind. "Yep, I do recall a small leak about a year and a half ago."


I checked the fuel bowl screws and all were tight to the body of the carburetor. I removed one of the screws and examined its washer. Each one of the four were made of a hard plastic, not the fiber kind that Holley originally installed on their carburetors. After some sleuthing through some books and reading some posts online it became apparent that the nylon washers were an "upgrade". The idea being that they could be removed and re-installed while keeping their seal to the bowl. Of course, many mechanics appreciate the opportunity to open up the carb and replace jets with other sizes, fiddle with power valves, and all the rest. Most of us know that the aftermarket has quite a few carburetor rebuild kits that include those blue "re-usable" gaskets for just such a purpose as tuning the carb. I do believe the hard plastic washers would be nice to use, but there is one catch with these pieces - they demand surfaces that are SQUARE and FLAT to each other. Plastic has much less give than a washer made of cork or fiber obviously. Gaskets are used between mating surfaces to help take up any uneven variances and to seal the two parts together.

Not being 100% sure that the leak was coming from the washers, I decided to conduct a little experiment. I purchased a brand new rebuild kit from Walker (made in the USA) that included all the washers (made of fiber) and those handy blue gaskets. When the kit arrived, I removed the four machined screws and fuel bowl, leaving the metering plate in place. I cleaned up all of the surfaces from the old gasket material and installed a blue fuel bowl gasket. I decided to re-use the nylon washers.

After all this was done, I filled the fuel bowl by using the back-up electric fuel pump and fired up the Ford. No leaks! I drove the car for about 30 minutes out on the roads and came back and parked it in the garage. No leaks!


The next morning I walked through the garage and wouldn't you know it but we had the smell of gasoline again - yep, for whatever reason after that heat cycle the day before those washers did not hold their seal. So, I removed the four screws and installed the fiber washers from the kit. The photo below shows the difference in the washers.

The next day I started up the car and drove around town and on the interstate for about an hour. At parking lots and other places I did pop the hood open and check for leaks but found none. The 55 Ford was parked in the garage overnight and allowed to cool down to a "balmy" 25 degrees during our cold weather front we were experiencing in Ohio. On the way out of the garage in the morning everything was as dry as a bone. I believe I will stick with the fiber washers from now on - there must be too much surface wear or unevenness in the parts to make using those nylon washers feasible.


Oil Filter Purchase


You can never be too careful when purchasing parts these days! Here's a great lesson in that regard. A few months back I had purchased oil and a filter for a Ford Excursion that our church ministry uses to haul our trailer. Whenever there is a special I try to take advantage as the cost savings on preventative maintenance items can add up over time. Usually, I end up purchasing Fram's highest grade of filter for the ministry vehicles - their "TG" (tough guard) series. Last week I pulled the Excursion into our warehouse and replaced both of the automatic transmission cooler lines. (I could do another writeup just on that job - nothing like heating up the fittings in a vise so that the flare nuts could be removed!) After that it was time to conduct a simple oil and filter change. No problem. Drain the oil, remove the old filter, clean things up, re-install the drain plug, and then install the new filter. Install the new filter... aaarrggghhhhh, this one was not meeting the threads correctly or something. I could not figure out what was going.


"No need to force it," I muttered to myself. "Let's get this thing out from under here and see if the threads are boogered up or something."


And what did I find? These pictures I took at the big box store will give you answer.



Yep - when I purchased the TG2 a few months back, I never thought to take the filter out of the box and check the number on the actual oil filter. I just assumed that the correct filter would be in the box. My mistake. When I took this back to the store I pointed out what had taken place - most probably someone had swapped the TG2 out of a PH30 box so that they could purchase a much more expensive oil filter and only pay the regular oil filter price! The irony in all of this is that dimensions wise this PH30 felt and looked exactly like the TG2. However the mounting surface and the threads for the stud on the engine block were both a different size. Lesson learned. Why these companies do not shrink wrap the boxes I do not know. I guess there would be an increased cost.


Mystery Spray


It seems I have run into a real head-scratcher under the hood. Two issues that I have noticed: 1. Oil droplets form on the heater hoses just above the alternator each time I take the 55 Ford out for a run - cold weather or hot weather it is always the same. 2. The alternator (belt or bearing, not sure) makes a high pitched squeal when under load, just off idle. While I am not so sure these symptoms are related it would make sense if they were. My theory is that the oil droplets are finding their way onto the pulley/belt making it slip of course. When there is high demand (headlights on, fog lights on, cooling fan, etc) the alternator will squeal from off idle to WOT. If cruising, there is no issue with alternator sound no matter what the load. Belt deflection looks correct. It could be too that all three of my pulleys are super smooth - they were all cleaned up nicely before being installed and thinking back I maybe should have roughed up their grooves a bit. At any rate, tracking down problem #1 would be the best plan of attack before addressing the alternator. Here is a list of what I have noticed:

  1. The oil is definitely engine oil.

  2. The oil droplets are only found on the hoses when the engine is cold. In other words, after driving a good distance, parking the car and then restarting a warm engine there are no droplets anywhere on the hoses.

  3. The spray seems to be coming from the passenger bank. The reason for this is that it looks like the oil fill tube on the valley cover blocks the spray onto the hoses from that direction. (if the spray originates from that direction)

  4. The underside of the hood is dry, as is the rest of the engine compartment/components. There is a small place on the radiator hose clamp at the thermostat housing, but this is because of the oil residue that tends to drop down on the clamp since the heater hose portion getting the spray is directly above the clamp.

  5. The passenger side valve cover did not seem to be leaking, but the two acorn nuts that secure the valve cover to the head did have fresh oil where they meet the rubber grommets.

  6. The oil filler cap/breather is brand new and remains dry.

I made a brief video under the hood just to find out if something would spray out while the engine was cold and being started. Now, mind you I had tightened down both acorn nuts on the passenger side head before making the video.

While the video was inconclusive, you can see on the heater hose where I have wiped down the area where oil droplets had been deposited. And, you can also see that this is right in line with the v-belt for the alternator. I will monitor the situation and keep you posted if I discover anything.


Where has the Hot Rod Reverend been?


It has been quite some time since my last post (that included the long installation video concerning the fog lights in September!) Much has taken place since then, not to mention our family's own bout with COVID-19. Fever, fatigue, loss of taste and smell, and all that you have heard about the Coronavirus hit our family pretty hard over the last two months especially. My son still does not have much of his taste or smell back and it has been almost 4 weeks since he dealt with this virus. I do apologize to those of you that have messaged me and have been waiting for answers to your questions. For the last few months the system was sending all emails from the website here to my spam folder. Hopefully I did not miss anyone and have responded to any and all questions. If I missed you, please send me a message again. Use my email address, danaxjessup@yahoo.com, if you need to do so.


My son and I did put the finishing touches on his go kart back in October, and we clocked the thing at 45 mph with TWO people riding in it!

He ended up selling it pretty quickly as there was much interest. You can view the YouTube build videos at my channel: https://youtu.be/MHKTmc_sn1M I have added quite a bit more to my personal channel and try to upload videos there each month. Subscribe when you can.


I have also been rebuilding Y block rocker arm assemblies.

I have these rebuilt units listed on eBay if you are interested. (link for a high ratio set here: https://www.ebay.com/itm/264952112192) But for those of you who subscribe to my website blog, I would certainly sell these through the site here and you would get a substantial savings over retail. The 1:43 ratio rockers would be $280 shipped to you and the 1:54 ratio rockers would be $350 shipped to you. Shipping would be via USPS, 50 states, Priority Mail insured. The rebuilt sets come shrink-wrapped with instructions as well. If your shipping address is not in the 50 United States, then please message me for a shipping quote.


Another activity that has kept me occupied when I am not tinkering on old Fords - family time. During the fall and over the holidays there is much that I do with family. My son and I enjoy the outdoors, fishing, and hunting. It is a great way for us to spend time together. Next fall he will enter college and begin his path to being a game warden. (that begins with Criminal Justice evidently) Of course we do eat that which we harvest, be it fish, squirrel, or deer. We are partial to smoked venison I must say!

And of course with the holidays means more time in the kitchen. I recently got in the mood to whip up a batch of homemade sugar cookies and mama caught wind of the idea and announced that she was going to decorate them. (something about Royal icing, sprinkles, etc) It was a mess I must say, but we had a good time together.

Say what you will but I am one blessed man. In the midst of our world's chaos and chronic problems, such times are a joy to have and are definite gifts from the Lord. During this Christmas season would you take time to read about something that will change your life forever? Visit this page on my website: hotrodreverend.com/remember and discover what has given me peace all these years. I do not worry about the future. I do not worry about the unknowns. I have no doubt that if I should die today I would be in heaven within the blink of an eye! Do you have that kind of assurance?


Keeping the FaYth,

The Hot Rod Reverend

aka Daniel Jessup

© 2019 by Daniel Jessup