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Technical Flathead Will No Longer Start

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Alt, Aug 6, 2017.

  1. Alt
    Joined: Jul 28, 2017
    Posts: 71

    Alt
    Member
    from Michigan

    Getting a bit frustrated with my '50 Flathead V8. Had some starter issues that you all helped out with - now on to new issues.

    After replacing the brushes on the starter, I got her running relatively well. Could start up and idle for a good amount of time. After the engine warmed up, it would start getting bogged down, eventually sputtering out. Then - couldn't get it started/idling again until it was cooled down.

    Did some research, came across some similar situations where the ignition coil was likely the problem. Since it's an inexpensive part, I went out and bought a new one - also a new condenser and plugs while I was there. Swapped out the plugs, swapped out the coil, swapped out the condenser. She cranks nice and strong but never fires.

    I pulled a plug and checked that it was getting spark - and it was. After many unsuccessful attempts to start, decided to work backwards and see where the issue could be. Put the old condenser back on - no luck. Put the old coil back on - no luck. Swapped out the new plugs for the old plugs - - so at this point it's back to where it was when I had it running - - no luck. Now I can't get anything from the engine - just cranks and cranks with no success. Checked all my connections, I'm still getting spark at the plugs, and I have no idea where to go from here.

    Any thoughts/suggestions?
     
  2. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,980

    s55mercury66
    Member
    from SW Wyoming

    You are getting fuel, correct?
     
    Mr48chev likes this.
  3. Petejoe
    Joined: Nov 27, 2002
    Posts: 10,960

    Petejoe
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Zoar, Ohio

    I would suggest you take a compression check.
    If you have low compression it won't run for you.
     
    tb33anda3rd and scrapiron like this.
  4. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 6,751

    Budget36
    Member

    Ya, pull the top of the carb off,see if there's fuel, and how much gunk is in the bottom of the bowl.
     

  5. Hdonlybob
    Joined: Feb 1, 2005
    Posts: 3,933

    Hdonlybob
    Member

    Long shot, but check where your fuel lines are running...if anywhere near exhaust or other hot areas, those older engines used to vapor lock... I am old, so think of that old stuff..
     
  6. RICK R 44
    Joined: Dec 13, 2009
    Posts: 457

    RICK R 44
    Member

    Did you move or remove the dist. when you installed the new condenser? Check timing, pointer should line up with the mark on the crank pulley. That gives you 2 degrees btdc. If you had the dist out, did you get the timing out 180 degrees. Sounds stupid but easy to do. As petejoe suggested, check compression. Keep us updated on the diagnosis. Also try posting on Ford Barn, great amount of flatty Knowledge on that sight.
     
  7. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,980

    s55mercury66
    Member
    from SW Wyoming

    Look down the carb throat while operating the throttle. Make sure you see the accelerator pump squirt some gas. No fuel-No start.
     
  8. tofords
    Joined: May 26, 2009
    Posts: 1,007

    tofords
    Member

    I had a 40 coupe, flthd motor, would run down the road few miles then die like ran out of gas. Before cell phones.I would walk to a house to call for help go back to the car and it would start right up. It had rust and dirt from the tank in the fuel pump bowl not the glass one but the body of the pump. When the motor was off it would settle down to the bottom, start it ,it would float to the top and clog the gas and stop the motor. Cleaned it out put a filter before the pump never happened again.
     
    Mr48chev likes this.
  9. F-ONE
    Joined: Mar 27, 2008
    Posts: 2,828

    F-ONE
    Member
    from Alabama

    Fire
    Fuel
    Time
    Since you have spark, good spark?,....go to fuel.
    Fords can be sensitive to carburetor settings
    These days fuel pumps, tanks, lines and carburetors tend to easily roll over dead and for the same reason....reformulated gasoline.
    Well tuned, primed and warm a flathead should crank and run with just a kiss to the starter button. If it does not crank like this....somethings wrong.
     
    s55mercury66 likes this.
  10. Alt
    Joined: Jul 28, 2017
    Posts: 71

    Alt
    Member
    from Michigan

    Thanks for the suggestions - I'll run through them one-by-one over the next day or two and let you know what I find out.

    I figured the fuel was OK since I had it running two days ago, but I guess rust/gunk from the older gas that was in the tank could have clogged things up. I'm not the best/most knowledgeable with the dist. - and I tried not to disturb it when installing new parts - but I'll take a look there as well.
     
  11. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 5,734

    tubman
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Are you sure you put the plug wires back on the exact way they were before you changed the plugs? Does it fire at all (even a backfire)?
     
  12. Alt
    Joined: Jul 28, 2017
    Posts: 71

    Alt
    Member
    from Michigan

    Yeah - I replaced them one-at-a-time, only removing one plug at a time so I was sure to keep the wires in the same exact order/placement. No fire at all - not even a backfire.
     
  13. Ralphies54
    Joined: Dec 18, 2009
    Posts: 750

    Ralphies54
    Member

    You should at least smell fuel at the carb. If you got air and spark at the right time then all you need is fuel. Aparently you got a fuel problem!
     
  14. RHRH3P
    Joined: Mar 7, 2007
    Posts: 151

    RHRH3P
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Did it overheat? Oh...wait...all flatheads do...

    I apologize...I couldn't help myself...
     
    CapeCodBob likes this.
  15. King ford
    Joined: Mar 18, 2013
    Posts: 1,469

    King ford
    Member
    from 08302

    Damn bro, that was cold!....give your flattie a little snort of starting fluid and if you get any kind of result it's likely a fuel issue, also check compression
     
    RHRH3P likes this.
  16. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 29,584

    Mr48chev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Peeing into the wind just gets your pants wet and a red face when someone points it out.
    You changed the coil and points and condenser and had spark at the plugs That means those parts are good and swapping things around after that is a waste of time and energy.

    As the others suggested it is most likely a fuel problem and if the car sat around for a length of time a plugged up fuel line problem, or crap in the carb problem.
    Old cars stall after a couple of miles more or less if someone put a non vented cap on the filler but I don't think that is the problem here. Usually after it sits for a while the vacuum in the tank is relieved and gas will flow until it creates a vacuum the pump can't overcome again. I learned that lesson after walking a mile to a gas station and back one day and having the car stall in exactly the same spot the next morning when I was ready with a can of gas in the trunk, opened the cap and WHUMP the bottom of the tank popped back out when the vacuum was relieved. Three caps later I got one that was actually vented.
    If you have air available pull the line off the carb, take off the gas cap and blow into the line with the blow gun. Someone standing by the filler should be able to hear air coming out. That would blow crud off the pickup tube for a bit.
    Then put a container like a plastic pop bottle over the line and go back to the tank and blow into it with a rag around the blow gun. you should have gas flow into the bottle.
    You are also going to want to check the whole fuel line front to back to make sure that there are no leaks if gas leaks out air leaks in and it will suck air before it sucks gas.
    On my 51 Merc, the same one with the gas cap issue I also had a lot of dirt and junk in the gas tank because the car had sat out here behind the barn for over ten years and sat for a while at the place I bought it. I lost track of the number of inline fuel filters that I plugged up but was buying them three or four at a time. We pulled the tank and flushed out dirt, rocks and even the broken neck of a catsup bottle. It had sat for years with no gas cap.

    I would still:
    make sure that the points are adjusted correctly with the proper gap set as they should be set with the rubbing block on the point arm on the tip of one of the lobes of the distributor cam.

    Do a compression test even if it starts and runs. ALL EIGHT PLUGS HAVE TO BE OUT when you do a compression test and the throttle blocked wide open. Other wise you don't get and accurate compression test.

    Pull the gas tank and clean it out and then put an inline filter somewhere between the tank and the fuel pump.
     
    Alt likes this.
  17. Sheep Dip
    Joined: Dec 29, 2010
    Posts: 1,572

    Sheep Dip
    Member
    from Central Ca

    King Ford is right to suggest starter fluid or a little gas down the carb to at least see if it farts.
     
  18. Lets see ifn I get this right, Henry's engine powered everything from 1932 through 1953 or 54 ifn you are a cannuck, many many millions and millions of miles on em without all this overheat bullshit, and now all of a sudden all of em are boilers.........hummm sounds like a lot of bullshit to me...............go build em right and they run cool.
     
    CapeCodBob and e z i like this.
  19. jbrittonjr
    Joined: Sep 10, 2009
    Posts: 105

    jbrittonjr
    Member

    Not to sound stupid, but has the rotor been reinstalled in the distributor?

    Sent from my XT1254 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
  20. coilover
    Joined: Apr 19, 2007
    Posts: 658

    coilover
    Member
    from Texas

    You're too late not to, he says it has good spark at the plugs.
     
  21. Alt
    Joined: Jul 28, 2017
    Posts: 71

    Alt
    Member
    from Michigan

    Unfortunately I've tried starter fluid down the carb - that's how I initially got it started up, but now (after replacing AND after re-replacing the coil, condenser, and plugs) it does nothing. Not even a burp.

    Am I wrong to assume that since I had it running and idling in a semi-stable manner a couple days ago that the compression shouldn't be the reason for the complete lack of start now?
     
  22. theHIGHLANDER
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 8,222

    theHIGHLANDER
    Member

    Yes. Compression was already there so it shouldn't have changed. Sometimes a silly little issue like a frayed wire under the dash, something loose below the breaker plate, etc. Get the spark back. Once done do a fuel delivery test as in disconnect the line at the carb and see that it's pumping fuel into a container. This eliminates each system individually. I had a similar issue on a tour once, wasn't vapor lock, but some heat in play and it just died. Turned out to be the needle and seat which was essentially getting stuck even under pressure of the fuel pump. Swapped it out (Stromberg EE-22) which took minutes after hours of WTFs. It's been fine since and that was 2010. Daytona Carb Service sells an ethanol safe needle and seat. New gas doesn't lube very well. Not sure if it applies to 94s or 97s but worth a look. Same issue, got hot, died, everything seemed to check out good. Let us know.
     
    Alt likes this.
  23. Alt
    Joined: Jul 28, 2017
    Posts: 71

    Alt
    Member
    from Michigan

    A quick update. Disconnected the fuel line at the carb, fed into a bottle, and cranked the engine. Gas pumped into the container - so, good on fuel delivery. Ended up removing coil, condenser, and plugs. Re-gapped plugs, checked all connections, and reinstalled. After a lot of cranking, got her to start up.

    Idle is....not rough, but inconsistent. It will surge from what seems to be a slightly high idle, down to almost stalling out, back to nice idle, then high or low again. If I give it any throttle, the carb sucks a ton of air, but the engine doesn't actually rev up. Unfortunately, being more of a bodywork guy and less of an engine guy, I'm not sure where to go from here.
     
  24. Mo rust
    Joined: Mar 11, 2012
    Posts: 539

    Mo rust
    Member

    Couldn't you clip a timing light on one of the spark plug wires and crank it over and pull the trigger and see if the light is flashing? It should tell you if you are getting fire. If not, try a nos condenser. We have found several new ones anymore that are junk.
     
  25. Petejoe
    Joined: Nov 27, 2002
    Posts: 10,960

    Petejoe
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Zoar, Ohio

    Check for a vacuum leak along the intake manifold and the carb mounting area.
    Use a UNLIT propane torch along these seams with the engine running. If you find a temporary increase in rpm that will be your problem.

    I'd no leaks I would suspect a carb rebuild is in order
     
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  26. Alt
    Joined: Jul 28, 2017
    Posts: 71

    Alt
    Member
    from Michigan

    Excellent - thanks for the advice. I'll give the propane test a go this evening.

    Never having rebuilt a carb - if that's the next step, should I take it to a pro or is it something a carb-novice (but entirely mechanically inclined) person can attempt?
     
  27. Its a Simple Carb to Rebuilt you should be able to do it, but before you
    do Check everything Really Good, Fords are great for Being out of Time
    will Run HOT its something that they Do!
    Before taking it apart did you Adjust the Mixture on the Carb adjusting
    Screws.? & Set the Idle .? Just asking.

    just my 3.5 cents

    Live Learn & Die a Fool
     
  28. Ralphies54
    Joined: Dec 18, 2009
    Posts: 750

    Ralphies54
    Member

    Check that the accelerator pump is spurting fuel, not shooting fuel will keep the eng. from getting off idle easily. Is it even connected?
     
  29. Petejoe
    Joined: Nov 27, 2002
    Posts: 10,960

    Petejoe
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Zoar, Ohio

    Sure you can do it.
    But don't just dive into it.
    There's a lot of small but very important things you need to know.
    You will never learn them on the fly.
    Read read read and read everything you can about your carb before starting. There's a lot of good info here and on the web about rebuilding these 70 yr old carbs.
    Or just send them to Uncle Max or Dick York here on the H.A.M.B.

    http://dickshotrodcarbs.com/home.html

    http://97-express.com/
     
  30. Petejoe
    Joined: Nov 27, 2002
    Posts: 10,960

    Petejoe
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Zoar, Ohio

    Totally unrelated to your problem (I think) but very important to your engines power and efficiency.
    If you are running an original distributor you may want to throw it in the Atlantic and give it the naval flotation test.
    They aren't very good for advancing your cars ignition.
    When you are ready to make that change get back to us and we will point you in the direction needed.
    But first, let's get this thing idling and starting correctly.
     

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