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39 Merc won't start! V8 flathead A99

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Ozzy39Merc, Jun 10, 2022.

  1. Ozzy39Merc
    Joined: May 4, 2022
    Posts: 5


    Hey Gents.. so the 6 volt battery was swapped 3 times. The gauge pick it up fine. Changed the starter solenoid, changed the regulator, and had the alternator checked. There is zero anything when trying to turn over. Any help or guidance is appreciated.

    There was a Mechanic that removed the heater. Anything here possibly? Thank you.

    After this, I'll need to tackle the massive white blowby front and back.
  2. Petejoe
    Joined: Nov 27, 2002
    Posts: 11,334

    from Zoar, Ohio

    Things to try.
    Can you turn it over by hand?
    By pass the ignition at the solenoid.
    Unhook the starter cable and jump 12 volts directly to the starter.
    VANDENPLAS likes this.
  3. Mac VP
    Joined: May 13, 2014
    Posts: 395

    Mac VP

    Please qualify the problem…..will the starter turn the engine over yet it won’t fire up and run? Or did you mean to say that you can’t even get the starter to engage and turn the engine over?
  4. Bearing Burner
    Joined: Mar 2, 2009
    Posts: 991

    Bearing Burner
    from W. MA

    If the starter won't turn over check grounds. Clean battery connection and other end, If it won't start but turns over check if you have spark on plugs. If you got spark,gas, anbd compression it should at least Pop.
    clem likes this.

  5. Need to confirm your complaint, a bit more info.

    Does the engine roll over by hand ? Or with the
    starter ?

    compression good on all cylinders ?
    White blow by could be blown head gaskets

    spark at the plugs ?
    Check at the plugs first , if no . Then work backwards , distributor , coil , wiring .

    fuel up to and out of the carb ?
    You can bypass the fuel system with a jerry can on the roof with a line to the carb and gravity feed it .

    check main power at the starter solenoid and out of the solenoid when using the key. ( or jump it )

    good grounds ?

    power at key switch and out of key switch ?

    power from battery to solenoid ?

    All this including compression can be confirmed in an hour or two .

    the heater being removed should not effect anything , unless a fuse blew or another wire got knocked out of place , possible , but not likely .
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2022
    rusty valley and Petejoe like this.
  6. Ozzy39Merc
    Joined: May 4, 2022
    Posts: 5


    Sorry for not being clear gents. The car won't crank whatsoever. Battery is good as it does gauge up. Took the starter as well, and all is well there. So it's not the alternator, solenoid nor regulator or battery.

    Just picked up points, condenser, rotor, starter button, ground cables from battery to firewall(looking pretty old) and will see if that at least gets the car to crank.

    After that. I'll explore the coil or as @VANDENPLAS suggested I'll check each spark plug.

    Just found out the mechanic working on my car tricke jumped my v6 with his v12 car. According to him he did it right, BUT we now have these issues.
  7. I'm not an electrical person, but...

    You need to test along the power to starter circuit to determine at which point there is no power. Starting from the starter and work your way back, or vice-versa. If the battery is good and the starter is not getting anything, it must be stopping somewhere. Throwing parts at it won't find the problem.

    And, MAKE SURE all grounds are good.
  8. As mentioned above, will the engine turn over by hand? Maybe take the plugs out, with white smoke, coolant may have got into a cylinder and locked up the engine.

    Is there any noise, like the solenoid clicking when you push the starter button? Maybe it's time to do some basic electrical trouble shooting and see what's happening electrically when you push the starter button. It sounds like you are getting ready to throw a bunch of parts at it to get it to start rather than doing the electrical tests you should do first.
    VANDENPLAS and ClayMart like this.

  9. New points won't make it crank. A new condenser won't make it crank. A new rotor won't make it crank. A new starter button might make it crank. And bad grounding will keep it from cranking. Grounding the firewall probably won't make any difference unless the starter is also grounded to the firewall or body.

    Make sure the battery is properly grounded to the engine block and maybe even run a ground cable to the chassis as well. And while the battery may show 6+ volts it should also be load tested to make sure it has sufficient amperage.
  10. Garpo
    Joined: Jul 16, 2016
    Posts: 263


    Sometimes it is like throwing stones at the moon..
    As is repeated many times in the old Ford factory manuals;- "diagnose, don't guess".
    What is meant by the comment that the 'starter does gauge up' ?????
    wandi harry likes this.
  11. KKrod
    Joined: Jun 20, 2010
    Posts: 1,415


    This is a longshot. Could the solenoid and starter gear be engaged in the flywheel and stuck. I had a car that used to have that problem. The engine would not roll over. Place manual trans in high gear and rock the car from the rear back and forth. The starter will release from the flywheel and make a noise. Like I said it is a long shot.
    hotrodjack33 and ClayMart like this.
  12. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 31,317


    FIRST OFF! you do not need a charging system or anything else except the basic starter cable setup so the starter cranks and the basic ignition setup so you have spark to the spark plugs.

    The alternator/ generator doesn't mean squat for starting a car unless you drive it 100 miles and shut it off and it won't start because the battery went dead because it wasn't getting charged. Same with the regulator, it has absolutely nothing to do with the engine cranking over, it just tells the generator/alternator that it needs to charge and how much it needs to put out when it charges otherwise it is just along for the ride. I don't know how many fools I have seen change an alternator because the engine wouldn't crank when the whole problem was a bad ground.
    To have the engine crank over, along with a fully charged battery and a starter that works plus a solenoid that works you have to have good clean connections on each place the cables and wires connect. That means clean bare metal where the starter bolts to the bellhousing or plate with no paint to insulate it, That means a clean shiny bare metal contact area where the ground strap bolts to the block, That may mean scraping enough of your multiple coats of engine paint away so the cable can actually be grounded. This is what I have found numerous times when I went out to help someone who had just put a rig back together and the engine wouldn't crank over. Or a loose ground cable bolt.
  13. Mac VP
    Joined: May 13, 2014
    Posts: 395

    Mac VP

    I need to point out the confusion that occurs when a starting condition is either poorly described, or the language used is a local/regional slang term that tends to confuse people.

    When the original poster says it “won’t crank” he might have meant that the starter won’t spin and turn the engine over for starting purposes. Or perhaps he meant to say that the starter did spin the engine but the motor never fired up and ran on its own. Hopefully, he can come back and clarify that statement.
    ClayMart and Budget36 like this.
  14. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 9,083


    When one of my kids call (all girls) I’ve learned to have them open the hood, try and start the car with the cell phone secured under the hood;)
    I’ve gone out with jumper cables, wound needing gas. I don’t even ask anymore “does it turn over”. I just say “ put the phone under the hood”
    VANDENPLAS likes this.
  15. I took it to mean that.
    Which is why step one would be to test if there is any power getting to it. He says the starter itself is okay. How he knows that is uncertain.
    We wait...
    VANDENPLAS likes this.
  16. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 7,483

    from Oregon

    I'd begin by making sure you've got a start signal at the starter. If you don't own a volt meter or test light, get one. Then you can check to make sure you've got battery voltage at the starter, and check to ensure it is getting correct voltage when you press the start button. It will take someone in the car pushing the button as you hold the meter or test light at the starter.
  17. Ozzy39Merc
    Joined: May 4, 2022
    Posts: 5


    Thanks for the feedback. I'll take the advise mentioned and use a volt meter to start testing thru.

    For further clarity. After keybis inserted and steering wheel is unlocked, and the switch is is turned on, the battery gauge shows chanrge., when I then press the start button, ZERO sounds, absolutely nothing happens. Starter does not spin, no clicking on the solenoid. ZERO. I did buy a new starter button, and clearly that was not the solution. New ground cables were also replaced, including solenoid to starter cable.
    The reason why I know the starter and alternator are fine, is becasue they were taking to a shop to get checked and tested, both came back fine.
    Ok...about to grab the volt meter. Will circle back. Thanks again for helping this Newby.
  18. Do you have a ground cable bolted to the engine?

    Do you have a ground cable bolted to the chassis?
  19. Ozzy39Merc
    Joined: May 4, 2022
    Posts: 5


    Pics for feedback

    Attached Files:

  20. Doublepumper
    Joined: Jun 26, 2016
    Posts: 1,173

    from WA-OR, USA

    Looks like the ground cable/s is attached to the sheet metal...? You need the ground cable to go from the battery to the frame or engine. If connecting it to the frame you need a cable from there to the engine as well.
    clem and ClayMart like this.
  21. Just a thought. You show the start button wired up but not installed in the dash. If you don't know, the button has to be installed in the dash, or otherwise grounded, or it won't crank the engine. The switch completes the ground circuit to the dash to energize the solenoid.

    I don't know whether or not you know this. If you do, just disregard this post. :)
    clem, ClayMart, X38 and 1 other person like this.
  22. Ebbsspeed
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 5,848


    ^^^^ @Center of the Galaxie has the exact same thought I do. Make sure that starter button is grounded.^^^^
    X38 likes this.
  23. Ground cable on the battery is sub par

    battery to engine block
    Battery to fender or fire wall
    Battery to chassis
    And all clean bare steel ! You can never have enough ground !!!!

    And your starter solenoid , gets it’s ground from the bolts holding it to the fire wall , that mounting surface needs to be clean bare steel

    Also , what has been said about your starter button

    Grounds man ,….. frikkin grounds man
    clem and ClayMart like this.
  24. hotrodjack33
    Joined: Aug 19, 2019
    Posts: 3,652


    I was thinking the exact same thing. I had a 46 Ford pickup that would do just that. The Flathead starter would lock up, rock it a few times, hit the starter with a hammer and rock it some more...eventually the started would release. 46sd.jpg
  25. FritzFord
    Joined: Jan 24, 2020
    Posts: 16


    That starter solenoid as pictured looks old and crusty. If that’s the replacement, I’d get a brand new one.
  26. Original 39 merc ,6v would still be positive ground, I believe ford /merc used positive ground until 55
    56 . Are you using the positive as the ground.
    Try reversing your battery cables !!!
  27. Ebbsspeed
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 5,848


    If he has the battery backwards it won't affect anything except the charging system. It should still crank and have spark.

    Series-wound starters always spin the same direction regardless of polarity.
  28. Guess he shouldn't worry about having the battery in the car correctly ,carry on !!
  29. Before he damages other systems on the car he should make sure the battery is installed correctly. True starters and other things don't care about polarity on the work bench ,but does the solenoid switch care ??
    Making sure the battery is in the car correctly also makes testing easier .
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2022
  30. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 18,200


    I see a day's worth of terminal cleaning just in those few pics. Every terminal, stud, and nut needs to be clean and shiney. Buy a small stainless steel brush, the kind that looks like a toothbrush. Go around and disassemble each connection and clean all the rust, paint, and corrosion off the surfaces. Then reassemble with dielectric grease between the pieces.

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