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Inches away from using the B.F.H. on my 235

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by mojodaddy originals, Jun 1, 2008.

  1. Alright guys I'm at a loss with my '54 235. I had the car running when I bought it and now it will hardly do anything. I have done everything I can think of including new spark plugs set at .035 gap, new plug wires that I replaced one at a time so I wouldn't mix up the firing order, changed the oil and replaced the filter, put in a new battery and yesterday I completed my first rebuild on the Rochester carb. I also tested the fuel pump to be sure it was sucking gas into the carb. The problem is this, the car will fire up as soon as I turn the key but it will only stay running for a split second and then it shuts itself off again. Repeating the process only yields the same results. I can't get the car to stay running for more than 3-5 seconds. Please if you guys can think of anything that could be causing this problem let me know because I am getting severely frustrated. This is the first project car I've ever worked on and I'm a 26 yr old rodder with very little car knowledge so HELP!!:confused:
  2. Fat Hack
    Joined: Nov 30, 2002
    Posts: 7,709

    Fat Hack
    from Detroit

    Is your ignition wired right?

    Lotsa older cars (with points) were wired to deliver full battery voltage to the coil durring cranking to help insure quicker, easier starting, but then once the engine is running, the coil is supplied with a lower voltage (through resistance wire or a ballast resistor) to prolong coil life.

    In most cases, the full battery voltage comes from a wire that connects to your starter solenoid or starter relay and it's only "hot" while you're cranking the engine. Your stepped-down voltage comes through your ignition switch.

    It's possible that you're getting spark to the coil while the engine cranks, but not after it fires. Turn your ignition switch to the "on" or "run" position and check for voltage at the battery side (+) of the coil with a voltmeter. If there's no power there, then the engine won't stay running after it fires durring could have a wire missing or a burned out resistor or resistor wire.

    Just a shot in the dark, but that's what it sounds like to me.
  3. Willy301
    Joined: Nov 16, 2007
    Posts: 1,426


    If it runs for a split second when you let off from crank position to the run position, your Ignition switch is likely bad in the ignition position. turn your key switch to the on position and check the voltage to the positive side of your coil. If there is no voltage, have someone crank it, while they are cranking check voltage again. If voltage is there while cranking and not in run position, you will have your answer.
  4. Fat Hack,
    I will try that idea out and see what happens. Like I said I don't know a whole lot about older cars this is my first build up. I guess I'm getting what I ask for because I intended for this project to "teach" me how to work on a classic car where I can actually turn some wrenches instead of playing with computers.

  5. Do you know for sure that gas is getting to the carb? If you just rebuilt the Rochester double/triple check your work, is the float level correct? My 52 Chevy had the original glass filter assy on it near the carb and that was really cutting down the fuel flow as it was clogged up even though it looked OK. Do you have any vacuum leaks? Double check the timing on the car too. Might be a good idea to get a friend with some experiance to help you trouble shoot it too, two sets of eyes on a problem can often quickly find a simple solution. Good luck with and don't get to frustrated, look at it as a learning experiance.
  6. Pancakes,
    I took my time rebuilding the carb yesterday. I triple checked everything as I went along. I did make especially sure that the float level was correct due to seeing that someone before me had rebuilt the carb and the float level was completely off! The way the fuel line is set up on mine, it has a the glass filter in between the line running off the pump and where it connects to the side of the carb. I've had some help from my neighbor as I trouble shoot because he's pretty knowledgeable when it comes to cars. I think I may try to find some local old-timers from the weekly cruise ins and see if they can help.
  7. Shifty Shifterton
    Joined: Oct 1, 2006
    Posts: 4,964

    Shifty Shifterton

    First you gotta determine if it's running out of gas or spark. Then you'll know where to aim the hammer.

    when it dies, get out and see if the accelerator pump shoots fuel. If it does, try to keep the car running by pumping the pedal. If you can extend the runtime with pumping, then your carb's main circuit ain't flowing fuel.

    If it's immune to the action of the accel pump, and still shuts down the exact same, now you have an ignition problem.

    My old man force fed one lesson when I was young and in this situation- Always look first at what you just f-d with. If that's not it, then look at what you f-d with a second time. And then keep repeating that process til you figured out what you f-d up, before you go f-ing up the rest of the car trying to find it. :)

    good luck
  8. Shifty,
    The car was running like this before i rebuilt the carb. The only reason I overhauled the carb. was due to it leaking gas very visibly around the top portion of the throttle body, which I found was due to not having a gasket! I thought that could have been the main issue with it starting up so I rebuilt the carb. Then after firing her up I soon found I was in the same place I started. Pumping the gas only helps for a second. It seems from what I've been reading it very well could be the ignition. Thanks for your Father's words of wisdom those will come in handy from now on as I continue to explore under the hood!
  9. Ole don
    Joined: Dec 16, 2005
    Posts: 2,915

    Ole don

    Try putting a jumper wire from the battery hot to the coil hot and try to start it. if it runs longer, checkout the ignition switch or the resistor.
  10. Reverend Tex
    Joined: Jul 6, 2007
    Posts: 7

    Reverend Tex
    from Oregon

    I'm gonna vote for the ignition advice as well. I'm a newbie wrench too and when I was rebuilding the 216 in my '50 I learned a whole bunch of stuff on the importance of a good spark!lol
  11. RodStRace
    Joined: Dec 7, 2007
    Posts: 2,777


    there has been no mention of points and condenser. Did you touch them?
    They will only last about a year without being serviced/replaced.
    This also would explain how it starts (full voltage) but doesn't run (stepped down voltage).
    Sure sounds like an ignition problem....
  12. GTS225
    Joined: Jul 2, 2006
    Posts: 1,205


    Another vote for ignition. I'm a Mopar guy, and they used ballast resistors all the way into the 80's, (maybe even the 90's), and those of us with that system know to carry an extra with us at all time.
    I say look at the ballast resistor first.
    Your symptoms sure sound like it, anyway.

  13. 56Ponchorelli
    Joined: Apr 29, 2008
    Posts: 352


    I am having the same problem with the same engine except I have a 53 Bel Air.

    The car will start and run for a few seconds then shut off. If we push the accelerator to the carb it will rev and rev and stay on but as soon as you stop it dies almost instantly.

    Could it be a vacuum advance problem or not? My advance is stripped on the inside so I can't screw the line into it.
  14. xp29g
    Joined: May 30, 2008
    Posts: 15


    The frist guy has a definate ignition problem, the guy just above I think has a fuel problem.
  15. fordcragar
    Joined: Dec 28, 2005
    Posts: 3,179

    from Yakima WA.

    A 1954 Chev would have been a 6 volt system, and didn't have a ballast resistor. If it was converted to 12 volt, someone might have wired one into the system then.
  16. one thing that will keep you from using a hammer is some help and i mean someone that can sit inside and turn the car over while your under the hood. if your gonna be messing with fuel get a fire extinguisher and some safety glasses. a 1/2 litre soda bottle works great to slowly feed fuel into the carb. check for voltage at coil with volt meter. these two test can be done in whatever order you want but personally i check voltage first. stay calm and remember "slow and steady" good luck and keep us posted on your results.
  17. 3Mike6
    Joined: Jan 2, 2007
    Posts: 704


    Turn the key to "run" (without starting the engine) and check for voltage at the coil.
  18. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 8,896


    Try the above-mentioned hot wire. Run a wire from the battery to the "+" post of he coil. Then you will have fire going to and through the coil. If there is a problem in the switch or wiring, you have by-passed it. Be careful with the gas-don't pour and crank at the same time-one backfire and you have REAL problems.
  19. Kustm52
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 1,981


    All of the above, and replace the condenser. Have seen the exact symptoms you describe caused by a bad one.

  20. tommy
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 14,757

    Member Emeritus

    If you haven't already... cap off the vacuum line that used to screw into the advance. If that tube is left open it won't idle. It will have a huge vacuum leak. If that fixes it, replace the vacuum advance and reconnect the tubing.
  21. 56Ponchorelli
    Joined: Apr 29, 2008
    Posts: 352


    Ok. I am gonna head over to the house and try that. Hoping that's all it is.

    Another Q. What would make gas in my tank turn green? I had to empty and clean the tank because the fuel that was still in it before was like a dirty green color.
  22. usmile4
    Joined: Jul 28, 2005
    Posts: 689


    When I rebuilt the 235 in my 49 the same thing happened. it would start but then backfire and stop. It turned out to be the fuel pump. I had the clear fuel filter and there was gas but the NOS fuel pump I bought was pumping air when it ran. I got a new pump from NAPA and it fires like a champ now.
  23. 56Ponchorelli
    Joined: Apr 29, 2008
    Posts: 352


    I have an electric fuel pump in this. Could it be doing that?
  24. You also might want to register at the VCCA chevy chatter forum.Its a great place for the classic chevy guys to hang out. u can link up thru
  25. JDHolmes
    Joined: Nov 25, 2006
    Posts: 918

    from Spring TX

    My vote is an ignition system or ignition system wiring problem (corrosion will reduce voltage to below acceptable level in the run position...think resistance). Check the distributor and the connections there also.

    Electric fuel pump is pumping at what psi? Verify with a manual the psi of the original and match it.
  26. Alright guys the verdict is in! It turns out it was a faulty wire on the positive side of the ignition coil. I checked it with the voltage tool and there was no power going to it whatsoever. I replaced the wire with a new one and "hot" connected it to the positive side of the battery just to check it out and reconnected it to the ignition coil, sure enough it fired right up and kept running. But here's a new question after I moved the new wire to where it was originally connected the car stayed running and the ignition switch would no longer turn the car off, I even took the key out of the ignition all together and the car kept running...Any ideas for this issue? I want to thank you guys for all of your help with the ignition!~Mike
  27. Kustm52
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 1,981


    If you do not understand why you car keeps running if you have a wire ran straight from the batt. to the + side of the coil, you may want to consider reading a book on basic automotive mechanics. Seriously.

    Any reason you cannot hook up the wire to where the bad wire was connected? otherwise, you need to run the wire to the "IGN" side of the switch.

  28. fordcragar
    Joined: Dec 28, 2005
    Posts: 3,179

    from Yakima WA.

    Like he said, but the simple answer is that you by-passed the switch. What you did is called "Hot Wiring".
  29. Ok maybe what I wrote was not perfectly clear, and as I stated before I have minimal knowledge when it comes to things like this which is why I asked for help. I understand that when it was connected to the battery that the switch was bypassed so it should keep running like it did. What I am asking is why it continued to run with the ignition off when the new wire was connected back to its original location and not longer "hot wired" to the battery.
  30. JohnEvans
    Joined: Apr 13, 2008
    Posts: 4,883

    from Phoenix AZ

    Well did you run the new wire all the way back to the ignion Sw.?
    wrong terminal if you did? You could have a bad switch now also. A melted wire in the harness that is hot shorted to the coil power wire. Lots of things CAN happen. On a stock 6 volt system the coil should only have 1 wire on the switch side coming from the run terminal of the ignion sw. Been years [decades] since I had a 54 Chev but think there was only 3-4 wire on the switch. 1 power to,2 power the starter sol.,3 power tocoil, and 4 a hot lead for anything controled by the sw. IE gauges , radio, heater .

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