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Help! Can’t start my 1941 Dodge. Frustrated!

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Shane Thompson, Jan 13, 2022.

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  1. Shane Thompson
    Joined: Jan 13, 2022
    Posts: 28

    Shane Thompson

    Hi ya’ll,

    I’m a 22 y/o with a 1941 Dodge WC-1 pickup. Traditional L-head engine. All original parts. I have timing, spark, new battery, some fuel in carb, but it will not even backfire.

    Very discouraged as the engine has compression and cranks, but is inconsistent. As in, it cranks twice then stops, cranks 3 times then slows down, or barely makes 1-2 revolutions of the crank. Ran without compression and the bearings are fine.

    What is there to do? I tried everything, wiring is correct from the shop manual. One thing I notice is battery cables get hot after a bit but the other wires are cold.

    What should I do? Throw the engine in the trash? Very frustrated, im out of answers. Thanks.
     
  2. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 5,316

    Truck64
    Member
    from Ioway

    Welcome to the H.A.M.B. Shane. Take a breath and relax!

    Has the engine ran before, is this a new build, or a "new" engine for you?

    You mention it has "spark", but that can mean different things to different people. Is it a good fat hot spark?

    Keep in mind it is possible and pretty common for ignition distributors to be mistakenly installed out of phase. The #1 piston reaches TDC twice - once on the compression stroke and once on the exhaust stroke. Make certain everything is setup according to Hoyle, or there can be exactly the problem you describe.

    Always take it easy cranking over any engine. Let it cool down for a few minutes after a few seconds trying. The starter, the relays and such, these are not rated for continuous duty and will get roasted quickly.
     
  3. .............and repost this on the main forum or ask a moderator to move it. This area is for questions and suggestions about the site itself. Good luck.
     
    alanp561 likes this.
  4. KenC
    Joined: Sep 14, 2006
    Posts: 717

    KenC
    Member

    Hot battery cables = poor connection, under sized cables or excessive starter current draw. If the cables are for a 6 volt system and all connections are bright and clean I’d recommend taking the starter to an auto electric shop for test and maybe rebuild. Once it’s cranking we’ll move on to the rest.
     

  5. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 8,424

    Budget36
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I’ll start with:

    Was it running recently?
    Or
    Are you bring it to life from a long slumber?
     
    Tow Truck Tom likes this.
  6. oldiron 440
    Joined: Dec 12, 2018
    Posts: 2,828

    oldiron 440
    Member

    New battery might need a charge to turn over better.
     
  7. arkiehotrods
    Joined: Mar 9, 2006
    Posts: 6,705

    arkiehotrods
    Member

    I'm with @KenC If it is still 6 volts, do you have heavy gauge 6v cables or 12 v cables? 12 v cables won't get the job done (ask me how I know :rolleyes:). Good clean connections are vital. And if you have heavy cables and clean connections, as Ken said, get starter tested.
    Welcome to the HAMB!
     
    lothiandon1940 and alanp561 like this.
  8. noboD
    Joined: Jan 29, 2004
    Posts: 7,894

    noboD
    Member

    Good advice so far. Change ONE thing at a time when you start making adjustments. For example check point gap and try it. Check timing and try it. Don't just change everything or it will never run. Patience my son.
     
  9. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 5,316

    Truck64
    Member
    from Ioway

    Well he said the cables get hot "after a bit". How long is that?

    He has a total of one (1) post so it's anybody's guess, hate to make assumptions but I've heard people grind a motor over continuously trying to get it to catch, till the paint starts smokin'. Oops.
     
  10. winduptoy
    Joined: Feb 19, 2013
    Posts: 2,631

    winduptoy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    So, if you take the sparkplugs out and turn it over, does it do the same thing?
     
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  11. Hollywood-East
    Joined: Mar 13, 2008
    Posts: 1,716

    Hollywood-East
    Member

    Positive ground right..?
     
    VANDENPLAS and foolthrottle like this.
  12. Ebbsspeed
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 5,781

    Ebbsspeed
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    @Shane Thompson Where are you located? Us old farts on the HAMB like to see the young folks take an interest in this old machinery, so if you let us know where you are located maybe one of the old farts might just be willing to look over your shoulder and give you some advice.
     
    PhilA likes this.
  13. PhilA
    Joined: Sep 6, 2018
    Posts: 1,432

    PhilA
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Does it turn over at least two full revolutions by hand (wrench on the crank pulley bolt) without having any real tight spots?
    As echoed above, will it spin over on the starter with the plugs pulled?

    If it's kicking back on the starter, it sounds like it's firing, just far too advanced.

    Phil
     
    • You're going to have to explain what you mean by "ran without compression".
     
    Shane Thompson likes this.
  14. Shane Thompson
    Joined: Jan 13, 2022
    Posts: 28

    Shane Thompson

    It hadn’t ran for 2 years as speculated. She’s in miraculous shape for being 80 years old. Engine block is from ‘48
     
    Truck64 likes this.
  15. Shane Thompson
    Joined: Jan 13, 2022
    Posts: 28

    Shane Thompson

    Yes I’m using the original cables currently. No corrosion as I can see.
     
  16. Shane Thompson
    Joined: Jan 13, 2022
    Posts: 28

    Shane Thompson

    Cranking the engine with no plugs - the motor spun healthy. Wish I could send videos.
     
    PhilA likes this.
  17. Shane Thompson
    Joined: Jan 13, 2022
    Posts: 28

    Shane Thompson

    The distributor timing may be too far advanced true. To change the timing I simply turn the distributor and I get no luck. It seems to crank really slowly and inconsistently like it’s stuck or being held back. No turns backwards. Sometimes it completely stops cranking until I hit the starter pedal again. (Of course I let it cool between cranks)
     
  18. Shane Thompson
    Joined: Jan 13, 2022
    Posts: 28

    Shane Thompson

    I’m over in Ventura, California at the Commemorative AirForce in SoCal. Been working on this truck for a few months as she never had any love since she got here many years ago. Went from the Army Air Corps near San Francisco, then to National Guard (name plate on glove box) then somehow hitch-hiked over to our airfield.
     
    Hollywood-East likes this.
  19. Shane Thompson
    Joined: Jan 13, 2022
    Posts: 28

    Shane Thompson

    I’m getting a hand crank in the mail soon, I’ll try this out.
     
  20. Shane Thompson
    Joined: Jan 13, 2022
    Posts: 28

    Shane Thompson

    No it spins very freely, just like a top. Under compression is when it acts like it’s stuck. Doesnt turn consistently enough to fire up it seems. Not enough momentum for the compression stroke?
     
  21. Shane Thompson
    Joined: Jan 13, 2022
    Posts: 28

    Shane Thompson

    Yes
    For 10-30 seconds. I always check the cables to insure they aren’t getting to a dangerous temperature. (Little bit more than warm)
     
  22. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 50,950

    squirrel
    Member

    Is the battery new? And have you been charging it after several starting attempts?

    Usually we use our phones to capture video, and upload that to youtube, and post a link to the youtube video here on the forum.
     
    Hollywood-East and WalkerMD like this.
  23. You say you have compression. Can you tell us the compression readings for each individual cylinder? You may need to make sure you've got a good battery and starter to get accurate readings.
     
  24. 57JoeFoMoPar
    Joined: Sep 14, 2004
    Posts: 5,286

    57JoeFoMoPar
    Member

    First things first.

    How have you confirmed that there is compression? Have you put a compression gauge on it and cranked it over? Or are you just considering air popping out of the spark plug holes? Look up what your psi should be and make sure you have enough compression to light off. A cylinder with 35 psi in it will blow air out of the spark plug holes but might not have enough juice to consistently light off.

    Then set your engine to TDC. Don't just use the timing mark on the pulley. Watch where the engine is in the cycle, and manually feel for where the piston stops rising. Over years this can sometimes be way off where the timing tab is.

    Make sure you check park in each cylinder. If you ground the plug, will you get a spark to leap?

    What is your fuel pressure? Will it even try to fire if you spray some starting fluid in it?

    Tackle these problems one at at time. The Dodge L head is a good engine, very smooth running. Try not to get frustrated, even though it is difficult sometimes
     
    oliver westlund, tr_rodder and PhilA like this.
  25. Hollywood-East
    Joined: Mar 13, 2008
    Posts: 1,716

    Hollywood-East
    Member

    I'm going with starter...
    I've messed with ol Willy's Jeep's..
    If you're not sure on the starter history, pull it an inspect it's brushes...
     
    squirrel likes this.
  26. tr_rodder
    Joined: May 7, 2012
    Posts: 48

    tr_rodder
    Member

    I agree with everything @57JoeFoMoPar has stated. I think the engine has a stuck valve or valves.

    If it is possible, I know its it a pain. Take the passenger side wheel off and the access cover in the wheel well. Remove both tappet covers and watch the movement of the valves, if you can turn it by hand. You'll know what happening inside.

    post-2637-13585349813533.jpg
    Photo from n1gzd_plymouth on the P15-D24 forum.
     
    ClayMart and oliver westlund like this.
  27. Shane Thompson
    Joined: Jan 13, 2022
    Posts: 28

    Shane Thompson

    Everything is good except the fuel lines are gone so I dabbed a little fuel in the carb. I’ll set TDC and see if the rotor points correctly. I have the firing order and timing. (2 degrees ATDC)
     
  28. jaracer
    Joined: Oct 4, 2008
    Posts: 1,478

    jaracer
    Member

    Get #1 cylinder up on TDC on the compression stroke (must be on the compression stroke). See where the rotor is pointing. If it is pointing at the #1 plug wire terminal, rotate the distributor body until the points are closed. Now rotate the distributor body opposite the direction of distributor rotation until the points just open and lock the distributor body down. You will be timed to TDC which is what my specs call for a 41-48 Dodge engine.

    You can find the points open spot using a test light. Connect it to the distributor connection on the coil and ground. With the ignition on, when the points are closed the light will be out. It will come on when the points are open. You want to rotate the distributor body the opposite direction of distributor rotation until the light just comes on. You want to be as close as possible to the point when the light just comes on for the most accurate timing. You can get the timing spot on with this method.
     
    PhilA and tr_rodder like this.
  29. 6sally6
    Joined: Feb 16, 2014
    Posts: 1,894

    6sally6
    Member

    Starting fluid sprayed in the carb(while holding it open).......hook up a fully charged battery with a battery charger hooked up.
    Hit the starter. It SHOULD at least sputter and try to start.
    IF not.......check the distrib is not 180 degrees out.
    (Fuel..+..spark..+.(even a little) compression should give you something.)
    6sally6
     

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