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Old 07-25-2012, 08:16 PM   #1
chopperimpala
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Default Stumped on an engine "miss"!!! 390 FE Ford

Working on a 390 FE motor for a friends wife (he passed of cancer last year) as she is having a hard time being around the car, but, I want to get her back to driving it. NO sexual liaison, or ANYTHING like that!!! Just helping out a widow of a friend of mine.
Last "mechanic" changed the head gaskets and used --copper coat-- everywhere including the head gaskets!!! The car smoked like a chimney, and ran like shit. I pulled the heads and the copper coat was still gooey, all cylinders had oil and coolant in them. She is lucky it didn't hydro lock!!!

Here is what I have going on:
At idle; car runs, is smooth, and sounds, PERFECT!!!, I set the idle mixture & idle speed, (your standard issue Edelbrock 650 with electric choke opening correctly) set the timing per book specs., and put a vacuum gage on it and has 16-16.5" of steady vacuum. Compression is 135 at lowest cyl. 150 exactly at 6 cyls. and 155 at highest cyl., has pertronics ignition and coil, with a FULL 12 volts at the coil, Dist. advance starts at 5" of vacuum and is working, (used a vacuum suction with gauge), have the vac advance hose on the LEFT port (passenger side) of the carb, have checked and double checked for vac leaks everywhere. used spray bottle to shoot a stream of water onto the headers induvidually to get a, "back yard" feel for the cylinders getting hot from firing and all looks good with steam vaporizing off fast and evenly. Plugs seem clean and have a white insulator with a nice even hint of tan all around. (Plugs wires, cap rotor etc, all new I believe from Pertronics she said as it was a gift package that had everything together, includinc the electronic conversion for the dist.)
At idle in the driveway the engine is PERFECT, putting it into gear backing out and slowly going to a stop sign, car is fine, but upon giving it gas and driving the car, it spits and sputters and hesitates, while under load. Off the line is fine, but once the car is going and you give it more gas it starts popping thru the EXHAUST, and I can feel the popping in the seat of my pants.
I'm stumped!!! I have no way to check the pertronics module or coil but don't "seem" to think it is ignition?!?!? And the carb seems to be functioning fine so don't see fuel related either, BUT obviously something is going on. I usually SWEAR by a vacuum gauge, while "tuneing" a car but my gauge is telling me the motor is GREAT!!!
Any ideas or places to point me towards??? Did I miss or forget something??? This is my first 390 repair job, but ultimately it is still a mechanical engine!!!
I am open to ANY legitimate suggestions.
Soory for the looong post, but usually when someone asks for help the posters always have to ask for MORE info, and I wanted to cover everything I could think of that I did.
The car is an off topic '67 Galaxie Convertible, but it is truly female owned and she does as much as possible, on her own to it, She does also own a STOCK '53 Ford, so let her slide on this O/T car please
Thanks, Ken
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Old 07-25-2012, 08:23 PM   #2
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Default Re: Stumped on an engine "miss"!!! 390 FE Ford

I would swap out the ignition module for a set of points
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Old 07-25-2012, 08:26 PM   #3
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Default Re: Stumped on an engine "miss"!!! 390 FE Ford

Check and make sure you have mechanical advance, or the fuel filter.
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:27 PM   #4
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Default Re: Stumped on an engine "miss"!!! 390 FE Ford

Just a shot check the firing order I had two wires mixed up on my 390 it did the same thing
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:31 PM   #5
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Default Re: Stumped on an engine "miss"!!! 390 FE Ford

If its not the firing order I'd say burnt exhaust seats.
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:34 PM   #6
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Default Re: Stumped on an engine "miss"!!! 390 FE Ford

Is the Timing Gear in Correctly ? Has it got Bad Gas in it ? The backfire tells me it isw one or the other.
I always use Stabil, during the Winter, when not in use!
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:35 PM   #7
RayJarvis
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Default Re: Stumped on an engine "miss"!!! 390 FE Ford

i whould make shur carb is sprayin fuel into intake . engine off, then recheck float level. ploease let us lnow what the problem turns out to be. tks
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:37 PM   #8
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Default Re: Stumped on an engine "miss"!!! 390 FE Ford

Brain is sore now
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:39 PM   #9
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Default Re: Stumped on an engine "miss"!!! 390 FE Ford

Sounds like a partialy restricted fuel suply or weak fuel pump.
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:52 PM   #10
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Default Re: Stumped on an engine "miss"!!! 390 FE Ford

the popping alone tells me,either plug wires crossed .
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:56 PM   #11
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Default Re: Stumped on an engine "miss"!!! 390 FE Ford

In addition to what Old Dude wrote, I would take a good look inside that carb for any blockage of the main metering circuits. And check the float height.

After that I might wanna know if the valve springs are correct and have sufficient seat pressure. Do we know if the hack meachinic did any work to the heads? Maybe he did something with the valves, seats or springs that would be the equal to his stunt with the gaskets.

I don't think this is a part of the problem, but the coil should be preceded by a ballast resistor. Full 12 volts to the red lead of the Pertronix, ballast resistor for the coil.
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Old 07-25-2012, 10:15 PM   #12
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Default Re: Stumped on an engine "miss"!!! 390 FE Ford

Quote:
Originally Posted by midnightoilgarage View Post
the popping alone tells me,either plug wires crossed .
Broken valve spring?Is it an automatic?you might load test it.Put in drive ,hold the brake and slowley raise the rpm. Sometime the problem will appear and you will feel it in the gas pedal and maybe the seat.
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Old 07-25-2012, 10:18 PM   #13
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Default Re: Stumped on an engine "miss"!!! 390 FE Ford

yes id put a ballast resistor in the wire going to the positive side of the coil

on the poping my truck (72 f100 360 fe) started that when i installed my pertronix found out that some applications need a shim under the reluctor shim it to where the top of the reluctor is evenwith the module on the pertronix i made my shim out of a heater hosepull the reluctor slip the shim down to sit on top of the old points cam and put the reluctor back on sounds funny but it worked on mine

my truck ran EXACTLY as you describe
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Old 07-25-2012, 10:26 PM   #14
chopperimpala
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Default Re: Stumped on an engine "miss"!!! 390 FE Ford

O.K. O.K., Kracker your brain is hurt!!! Why, because I gave all the info possible and you had to read it???? If I hadn't laid it all out, I would have been asked...Did you check for vacuum leak, did you check your timing, you didn't say if it was a 4 bbl. or not...ETC!!!!
Anyways here is what I stumbled across...The "Hack" mechanic is a --certified-- ASE repair person ie: her friend also, and a Female mechanic, the female part doesn't bother me at all, but the certified and using Copper coat DOES!!!!!
It has 20 gallons of NEW "last night" gasoline in it. I didn't open up the front timing cover so am ONLY, -I know, I know-...assuming the gearset is fine as it ran before his passing and her storage of it.
I don't want to say it is a "backfire" per se', just a --stuttering-- as you give it the gas, (tiny backfires, if you will)...BUT!!!!!
here is what I did...Took out the pertronics and bought a NEW set of points and a condenser, swapped them and SAME THING!!! So put Pertronics back. Test drove and FORGOT to put the dist. vacuum advance line back on and it ran good but had a stumble, so when I looked again, thats when I realized the vac. advance line wasn't hooked up. Hmmm. I plugged BOTH vacuum ports on the carb and left the dist. with -NO- vacuum advance and it runs PERFECT!!!!
I just put about 10 miles on it with NO vacuum advance and it purrrs down the road. I hooked the vacuum back up to the carb and I get the same stumbling!! Unhook it again and it is back to running and puring like a kitten.
Whats my problem???? Do I have an engine that runs off of mechanical advance ONLY and someone stuck a vacuum advance dist. in it???? Very confused, and now MY brain hurts!!!
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Old 07-25-2012, 10:31 PM   #15
chopperimpala
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Default Re: Stumped on an engine "miss"!!! 390 FE Ford

57ford/60thunderbird:, can you explain that again??? I am not following what your describing but if you have the EXACT problem I'd like to try it out if my above post turns out to be another issue?!?!?
I have the box the Pertronixs came in and the instructions don't mention what your reffering to, BUT there is a semi clear plastic "disc" about a 1/16" thick with a hole in the middle that would slip over the dist. shaft in the Pertronixs box that I, nor her have any idea what it is for!?!?!?

ironpile:, I did that exact "load test" and it does not mimick the problem, I pulled the valve covers off and watched all 16 move up and down in perfect order when I did the compression test.

58custom:, Mechanic did nothing to heads other than replace gaskets, then intake gaskets that sort of usuall stuff, but DID have copper coat all over the intake gaskets too!!! There is NO ballast resistor in the ignition circuit!!! Shouldn't that Pertronixs coil be getting a FULL 12 volts and then the module hooked up directly to the coil with no ballast there either? I have taken the Ballast resisiter out of the equasion since it is NOT there and didn't think a Pertronixs coil and module used them!!!

Fuel pump and filter are strong, and wires are NOT crossed

Last edited by chopperimpala; 07-25-2012 at 10:39 PM.
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Old 07-25-2012, 10:41 PM   #16
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Default Re: Stumped on an engine "miss"!!! 390 FE Ford

It seems that if it only acts up when the vacuum advance is hooked up, then that would be your vacuum leak.
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Old 07-25-2012, 10:42 PM   #17
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Default Re: Stumped on an engine "miss"!!! 390 FE Ford

OK- put the vacuum line back on the carb, but leave it plugged and disconnected from the distributor. How does it run? If it runs OK, then the vacuum line is good.

Next, check the vacuum advance diaphragm to see if it will hold vacuum. It may have a partial leak. If it will not hold vacuum, then replace the diaphragm.

If the diaphragm is OK, then check the linkage from the diaphragm to the breaker plate to make sure it's correct.

Many of the "Idles OK, runs like crap under load" issues I have worked wound up being vacuum related.
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Last edited by JimInrADFORDva; 07-25-2012 at 10:43 PM. Reason: edited fer spellin'
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Old 07-25-2012, 10:46 PM   #18
chopperimpala
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Default Re: Stumped on an engine "miss"!!! 390 FE Ford

JimInrADFORDva: Thanks for that, I "think" the diaphram is good, but NOT positive. I'll check it out tomorrow and go from there.

THANKS ALL FOR THE ADVICE, BOTH SHE AND I APPRECIATE IT


KEN
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Old 07-25-2012, 10:48 PM   #19
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Default Re: Stumped on an engine "miss"!!! 390 FE Ford

Weak fuel pump, clogged fuel line, valves sticking, plugged jets in carb, etc. etc...
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Old 07-25-2012, 10:50 PM   #20
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Default Re: Stumped on an engine "miss"!!! 390 FE Ford

sent you a
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