Home Page Forums Engine STARTING A 12 WHEN HOT

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    I have a 35 EDL with the V-12. I try to get it out once every week or ten days, and never have any trouble starting when it’s rested up and cooled down. I turn on the switch, which starts the electric fuel pump, pull the spark advance all the way out, give it 3-4 turns, wait a few seconds, and after another 6-8 turns it’s fired up. Someone put in a hand choke, and I open that about halfway as well.

    I live in Tucson, AZ, and this car loves the cool mornings (35-50 degrees) this time of the year. However in the middle of the day, it can be 75 or so, and if I drive a few miles, it gets plenty warm.

    In the summer around here, old car drivers are up at the crack of dawn – it’s like a parade of classics at sunrise. The Hot Rodders are also out because they often have no A/C.

    My problem is that when it’s warmed up, it’s hard to start. I don’t use the choke. Should I be using the spark advance when it’s hot? Pumping the gas pedal seems to help – it won’t even fire if I don’t do that. It takes a lot of crankin’, but finally, it will fire up. Then – it runs just fine. The hotter it is, the harder the starting.

    I also have a couple of 30s Studebakers – they fire up immediately when they are warmed up – 1 or 2 cranks and away they go. This Pierce is really “cranky”” when it’s warmed up (pun intended).

    Any thoughts or advice? Thanks in advance!



    I had the same problem with my 1935 V-12 years ago. Bob Sands told me to change condensers,

    which solved the problem.


    Don Chapman tells the same story about hard hot starts and condensers in his 1236.



    Well, am sure you know this, but have to state the obvious. In fact, my son calls me Captain Obvious, Defender of the Already Known.

    Battery cables. Are they the large, fat, 6 volt rated? So many times, someone goes and buys battery cables, and the 12 volt cables are not sized correctly to carry amps needed, it’s seem more when engines are hot.

    You should have battery cables about the thickness of your thumb, nice, fat cables. If not, the problems you mention will follow.

    If you have the fat cables, then you need to look at starter and ring gear….



    I’m not sure I understand your cold start routine. You say that you crank for about four turns, then wait and crank for six or eight more before it starts. It takes six cylinders coming up on compression to make one turn. When cold, my ’34 usually starts on the third cylinder of the first turn. The automatic chokes are fully closed when I begin cranking and they open a little as soon as the engine fires in order to allow enough air to keep it running.

    I would try to emulate that pattern with your manual choke. I would pull the choke out fully before cranking. When you begin cranking be ready to push the choke in half way as soon as it fires. With this pattern you will probably find that it fires up more quickly.

    When your engine is hot does it crank at a slower speed than when cold? If so, then David Coco’s letter probably applies. If the cranking speed is the same or faster, then it’s more likely a fuel delivery problem. I find that when my engine is hot I have to hold the accelerator pedal to the floor while cranking and once it fires, of course I let off the pedal so that it doesn’t overrev.

    When my engine is hot. it cranks faster than when cold and will usually start within about three seconds of the beginning of cranking.

    I’m using the new Olin condensers as recommended by Greg Loftness.

    Hope this helps.



    I’ll second the battery cable comments from David.

    My 836 cranked sloowww, I put a new battery in, had the same cranking speed, I had a spare starter, it cranked at the same speed..

    So I made up a new battery cable for the + terminal to the chassis. But instead of going to the chassis where the original flat strap cable was fastened, I made the cable long enough to go up to the starter, and I fastened the cable under one of the start mounting bolts..

    The difference was amazing, it seemed like I’d gone from 6v to 12v. The car started easily hot or cold.

    I made the cable out of heavy stranded copper cable, and soldered the loop connectors on each end.


    Thanks to all of you for the helpful suggestions and information. The group reading this board certainly provides a wealth of knowledge.

    I’ll try a new condenser – I would not have thought of that, and I will also check the cables.

    Bill, I really appreciate you sharing your experience with this – I’ll try just flooring it when it’s hot – it has always felt like a fuel delivery issue, because once it finally fires I’m on my way.

    The cranking is about the same cold or hot, but the first couple of turns are always slow (feeling like a dead battery), and then it speeds up. I chalk that up the the size of this monstrous V-12. I know if I was hand cranking it, the first couple of turns would take some huge effort until it got some momentum going!

    Thanks again to everyone.


    In the 1972 Movie “The Sting” with Paul Newman and Robert Redmond (sp), does anyone know if the ’35 Pierce is an 8 or a 12?


    One needs to go back in time, to a Pierce dealership, and you go in to test drive a 1935 Pierce, and you want to try the 12….you get in the car, and it just barely turns over, and after you drive it and try to start it while hot, it’s hard to start.

    You wouldn’t buy it, would you, particularly a car that’s thousands more than a basic automobile.

    Point is, of course, that being a V-12 doesn’t mean it’s going to be hard to start. There’s something else wrong, whether it’s a condenser, wrong battery cables, dragging starter, worn starter gears….there’s something else wrong.

    If these cars had been hard to start when new, sales would sure have suffered (more than they did due to depression!)


    The 35 Club Sedan used in the movie The Sting is an 8. Tom Sparks, a long time PAS member, had owed it for many years. Tom passed away last year.

    The car is also pictured in the Automobile Quarterly which is dedicated to Pierce-Arrow, Vol. 28 #4.

    Happy Motoring,



    I have the same problem with my V-12. When cold it starts right up. When hot it takes a while. I have the large welding wire battery cables with the ground connected to the starter motor. Could you please give me the part number for the Olin condensers?






    These are readily available. Just Google “Onan 312-0256″”


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