Burned 1935 Pierce and Insurance

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    Regarding the sad tale of Jerry Bertram of Marion, Indiana, of his 1935 845 that burned: State Farm totalled the car, and paid Jerry for the title, and will then auction it off. We should all inquire of our insurance companies what they would do in a similar case – total it and allow us to buy it back, fix it, or whatever. (Jerry – can you buy it back from them and fix it or make it available to PAS members?)


    My experience with totaled cars from State Farm is that they offer 2 prices to the owner, One price for the car and title and the second price to the owner to keep the car and title. If you take the first price? dont sell any parts or the title as the INS Co. will check the car they bought when it is picked up and compare it to the pictures at the time the car was insured. Good Luck and happy holidays. Richard.


    This is the first time i have heard of a gas tank fire. Does anyone have an idea how the fire might have been started or what we can do to prevent a repeat occurrence?


    A Short Story!

    Five years ago I started to restore my 1936 Pierce. When connecting the fuel supply, I installed a NEW electric fuel pump that had been sitting on a shelf in the garage. The car is done now, and last month I decided I’d take it for a little spin. I flipped the toggle switch on, this pumps the fuel from the electric pump to the carb. It pumped very fast; but, didn’t shut off? I turned the key on anyway, and it started. Backing out of the garage I noticed a liquid trail following me out, I turned the engine off, to investigate. The electric pump was still clicking away, I shut it off, and noticed it wasn’t water (as I suspected): but gas! I can only imagine, after reading what happen to Jerry Bertran’s car, what could have happened, in my case, if I put it into 1st and took off. I really thought I had overfilled the radiator and it was blowing out the excess through the overflow tube.

    So, a word of caution: Get rid of those older electric pumps–put one in that is ethanol friendly (safe) and while you’re at it replace any old rubber (gas) lines that aren’t ethanol friendly.

    I WONDER ???? Are more cases, like Jerry’s, out there???


    My experience with electric fule pumps is that the pump has more presure than the carburetor can handle. I have young men around the shop that race cars and wont use a electric pump without a pressure regulator between the pump and engine. Lots of cheap regulators out there and they are no good. Buy a racing HOLLY BRAND FOR 65.00. Good Luck. Richard


    Good grief Bob S, that story is scary- I’m glad you picked up on the problem before you went down the road!

    If the primary use of the pump is to improve starting or push through a summer vapor lock on a car with a mechanical pump, maybe a “normally open”” switch/button under the dash that would have to be held down for 10 seconds or so and operate the pump intermittently is a safer bet.



    Our ’29 143 has an electric pump that is only used to prime the float bowl if the car has been sitting for more than a few days.

    It is run through a pressure regulator to make sure it doesn’t damage or blow through the needle assembly in the carb.

    I’ve replaced the regulator in the past few years but the pump was replaced right as ethanol was being introduced so I’m not sure if the ethanol will degrade the seals.

    After seeing this story I am going to replace the pump for my piece of mind.


    Ethanol deterioration of rubber was the culprit in this case. Any rubber hoses or seals older than 2006 should be replaced with ethanol-resistant material.

    Shortly after learning about Jerry’s incident I found a hose installed in 1999 on my ’41 Cadillac just beginning to fail. I’ve started replacing all rubber lines in my fleet. Next will be the fuel pumps.



    I agree with Richard–Anyone that has an electric pump in his vehicle and doesn’t have a regulator in front of it; Doesn’t belong behind the wheel of a car, and/or shouldn’t be working on these cars.

    John: It’s not the fault of the switch–the material, in the pump, (namely the diaphragm) failed; but, that’s a good idea installing a pus/release button.


    I dont use electric fule pumps but I am around alot of car people that do. If I were going to use one, I would buy the fule pump and regulator from the folks that sell racing products as they are made to handle all kinds of fule and dont cost very much more. Pumps come in many different pressue ranges as well as regulators and some of these kids are good at picking the right set up for your needs. Most local auto parts stores dont stock the racing parts or know what you need. Richard


    the 1935 pa that burned was auction off last july. Someone on the ms coast bought the car and will try to restore it. When I heard about it last week I contacted the former owner Jerry Bertrand . He gave me information about State Farm and his agent. I called and after several phone calls I finally talked to the salvage yard in Ms and he told me that someone was going to restore the PA. I was interested in some of the parts for my 1934 PA. I need head lights , horn brackets and a thermostat housing. If anyone can help me find any parts, please let me know. Carl

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