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Technical Flathead will not start.

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by terry k, Jan 29, 2021.

  1. terry k
    Joined: Jan 8, 2007
    Posts: 4,703

    terry k
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from toledo oh

    New car to me. New starter installed . Hit the starter and off we go. Runs terrible, missing, popping etc. Pulled the crab dist. and check points. Points, condenser all fine. Car never starts again no matter what I do. Mechanic friend says install new Stromberg electronic dist. Great idea!!! Install dist. car never starts. Tried everything I can think of. Checked all wires, all have juice. Tried new coil ,no. new coil wire ,no. 6V at battery, new. 6v at ign. switch,2v at coil. No spark at the plugs or at dist. Don't know what to do next.
     
  2. Doublepumper
    Joined: Jun 26, 2016
    Posts: 1,057

    Doublepumper
    Member

    Dunno....try jumping the ballast resistor and see what happens.
     
    Elcohaulic and Atwater Mike like this.
  3. Petejoe
    Joined: Nov 27, 2002
    Posts: 10,960

    Petejoe
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Zoar, Ohio

    I’d guess it’s a timing issue Terry.
    Where is the timing at at idle and high rpm?
     
  4. rusty valley
    Joined: Oct 25, 2014
    Posts: 2,577

    rusty valley
    Member

    got any voltage at the coil?
     

  5. Ice man
    Joined: Mar 12, 2008
    Posts: 984

    Ice man
    Member

    If you have spark before the plugs, then try a new set of plugs. I've seen this problem many times. If your sure its in time, hook a tow chain to front bumper, put it in second gear and pull it. Valves my not be seating for good compression. If it wont start, you got some thing out of kilter. Iceman
     
  6. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,654

    Atwater Mike
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    He said 2 volts at coil. Hell, if I only had 2 volts at coil I wouldn't start either!
     
  7. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 6,767

    Budget36
    Member

    They make a pill for that now;)
     
    Bandit Billy likes this.
  8. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,654

    Atwater Mike
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Timing issue? Crab distributor, key on dist drive offset, and the 'timing' adjustment only moves as much as 10* total.
    I suggest points examiner got a smudge of oil on the points, or didn't set so they closed properly.
    Ballast resistor is probably above dash ledge, drivers side. (or atop the coil)
    2 volts at coil would have been a siren...
     
    270bob likes this.
  9. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 6,767

    Budget36
    Member

    Another thing (so I can add relevance to the thread) when you put in the new electric distributor, did you bypass the ballast resistor? Also, only doing one points to HEI, I also needed to use 14 gauge wire. I think mine was originally 16 or 18 gauge.
     
  10. Elcohaulic
    Joined: Dec 27, 2017
    Posts: 2,208

    Elcohaulic
    Member

    Run two wires from the battery. One from the battery plus terminal to the coils + terminal and the other from the battery's negative terminal to the distributor or the engine block by the distributor and see what happens..

    Using a volt meter to troubleshoot a 6 volt DC engines electric isn't the best way to go. Make yourself a socket with a taillight bulb in it and use that to see if you have power..
     
  11. Bearing Burner
    Joined: Mar 2, 2009
    Posts: 925

    Bearing Burner
    Member
    from W. MA

    If car has sat for LONG time put some oil in cylinders and crank over, you may have lost compression. Crank over and see if you have spark at coil. If not see if you have voltage at coil. If not go back to ignition switch and see if you have voltage there. If not go back to battery and see if you have voltage there if not charge battery. Once battery is charged go in reverse.
     
  12. terry k
    Joined: Jan 8, 2007
    Posts: 4,703

    terry k
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from toledo oh

    I even ran a wire from battery to the coil still no start. There isn't any points, all electric. No spark anywhere. All sounds impossible, but true.
     
  13. jaracer
    Joined: Oct 4, 2008
    Posts: 1,114

    jaracer
    Member

    Is the distributor actually turning when you crank the engine?
     
  14. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 6,767

    Budget36
    Member

    Hope it’s not the “oops, forgot the rotor”. ;). I’ve never done that...
     
    Johnny Gee and warhorseracing like this.
  15. Petejoe
    Joined: Nov 27, 2002
    Posts: 10,960

    Petejoe
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Zoar, Ohio

    I did the same after installing an Msd.
    Here the rotating shaft wasn’t deep enough to reach the cam face.
     
  16. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 5,736

    tubman
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Since you said "the car is new to me", I have to ask : "Are you aware that the cylinders on a flathead are numbered different than most engines?" I have seen this cause problems a couple of times.

    Passenger side (left hand steering) : 1-2-3-4 front to to back. Drivers side 5-6-7-8 front to back.
     
    Desoto291Hemi likes this.
  17. Glenn Thoreson
    Joined: Aug 13, 2010
    Posts: 211

    Glenn Thoreson
    Member
    from SW Wyoming

    What year is your car/engine? These early Fords (don't remember how many years) used a resistor to drop the voltage to the coil to about 3 volts. This was to extend the life of the points and with the dual points it worked fine. If it's a '42 - '48 look up under the dash on the extreme left side. If it is those years you will see way up high a little masonite panel on the firewall with 2 circuit breakers and a little coil on it. This thing is stuck way up in there and REALLY hard to see let alone work on it. You need a bright flashlight and a rubber neck to see it. Remove the wires from the resistor coil and connect them together. You don't need, or want the resistor with your electronic setup. Get an adapter if it's got the coil mounted on the distributor and use a modern coil. Check the voltage at the switch. Check the voltage at the coil.
    Also check any bullet connectors in the line. Those things don't usually fit tight and looseness and corrosion will kill it. Does your electronic setup use the original breaker plate? There a some spots on these that are really easy to short out. Double check the firing order. It's different than anything else and some early instructions are very confusing. The cylinder numbering on the earlier post is correct.
    The problem is surely an ignition issue if it pops and backfires.
    Good luck.
     
  18. My manual says that a 1940 Ford used a ballast resistor ( mounted on the left side of the firewall inside the cab) to reduce the voltage from 6 volts to 4.5 volts at the points. 2 volts won't work. Your new distributor with electronics in it probably wants the full 6 volts ( I hope it isn't a 12 volt unit). You did say that you connected directly to the battery therefore bypassing any ballast resistor so that should have given you a full 6 volts at the points. The best test is to pull a plug and ground it and see if you have a nice fat spark or not. Tubman has a good point when he says that the cylinder numbering system for a flathead is different. Hope you checked that.
     
  19. dwollam
    Joined: Oct 22, 2012
    Posts: 1,411

    dwollam
    Member

    I had a similar issue with my '40 running an 8ba with it's coil and dist. Car would only start when I let go of the starter button. Finally found the resistor under the dash and removed the wire from one side and attached the 2 together on the other post, bypassing the resistor. Working great now for 30 plus years. Later coil did not need the resistor.

    Dave
     
  20. terry k
    Joined: Jan 8, 2007
    Posts: 4,703

    terry k
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from toledo oh

    I ran a wire straight from the ign. terminal (hot)to the coil and still no spark. Put in new coil, same set up, still no spark.
     
  21. Now I want to drop in an old points distributor and try it . I am thinking maybe the electronics in your distributor could be the problem.
     
    Desoto291Hemi likes this.
  22. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 17,013

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I don't know Blue, electronic distributors solve all problems. :rolleyes:

    Personally I'd reinstall the original distributor, making sure you had continuity through the small condensor stud, the points were set correctly, you tried a different but known to work coil from another car, and make sure you don't install the cam tab 180 degrees off. Might also help to switch out the main coil wire.
     
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  23. terry k
    Joined: Jan 8, 2007
    Posts: 4,703

    terry k
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from toledo oh

    It is a whole new Stromberg elc. distributor.
     
  24. kevinrevin
    Joined: Jul 1, 2018
    Posts: 112

    kevinrevin
    Member
    from East Texas

    New doesn't necessarily mean functioning.
     
    bchctybob likes this.
  25. Glenn Thoreson
    Joined: Aug 13, 2010
    Posts: 211

    Glenn Thoreson
    Member
    from SW Wyoming

    Do you have voltage at the ignition switch terminal? Check with the wire(s) disconnected. Check again with it connected. Volt reading without wire = switch is good. No reading with wire connected = a short somewhere in the circuit. Those distributors are impossible to install 180 degrees off. The drive tang on them is offset. Can only mount one way.
    These are such a simple system so let's keep it simple. Carefully check the under side of the rotor for burn through or carbon tracking. Special attention to the shaft hole. Inspect the inside and out of the cap for same. Either of these will short to the nearest ground, i.e. dist shaft, etc. A shorted condenser is a possibility, also. A modern one can be mounted on the coil connected to the distributor side of the coil. Disconnect the old condenser and try to start the engine. To check for spark without the distributor connected, use a jumper wire on the coil and lightly brush it against a grounded surface to see if you get spark at the coil wire. Sometimes takes a few tries. If you can get spark at that point the problem is in the distributor.
     
  26. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,654

    Atwater Mike
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Ohm check the distributor body with the chassis ground. No ground means no fire.
    Wish I was there...
     
  27. ChoppySTX
    Joined: Feb 1, 2021
    Posts: 11

    ChoppySTX
    Member

    Had the same problem before on a '49 Merc flathead, ended up being a bad ground.
     
  28. Itchy-Pit
    Joined: May 7, 2008
    Posts: 499

    Itchy-Pit
    Member

    This has happened to me. Timing off 180 degrees. Go back to running crappy equasion. rotate distribtor 180 try that. Fingers crossed.
     
  29. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 17,013

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    You'd think. I've seen posts on the HAMB of a guy who did. Cracked the thing up.
     
  30. Ebbsspeed
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 5,535

    Ebbsspeed
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Points, or no points. Which is it?
     
    ottoman likes this.

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