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Technical SBC Bad Starter....HELP!

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 49ChevTruck, Apr 29, 2016.

  1. Hi Guys

    Hopefully with all your knowledge I can resolve this problem.

    Here's the story... I bought a 1948 Chevrolet fleetline Aerosedan back last October it's got a 350/350 in it. Had no problems with it up until it was off the road for new rear suspension. Once I got it down off the ramp and tried to start it, it would not start....had fuel had power to the coil( it's got a HEI Distributor with the coil in the cap) but not spark. After that by chance my dad had the test screwdriver hooked up to something while I was cranking it and earthed it out and it fired. So we put it down to a bad earth which we thought we sorted.

    I took it home parked it up went out the next day and yet again won't start. Since I bought it i've gather a few parts up. One being a rebel wiring kit, so that weekend I decided enough was enough i'll rewire it. The wiring that was in it seemed to be the wiring harness out of the 79 chevy malibu which they chopped up to put this car together. So it took me 4 days to wire it and it wasn't that bad considering i've never wired a car before. I got in the car cranked it over and thought it wasn't going to start then it fired this point I was really chuffed with myself and everything worked including all the guages which is what i was worried about the most.

    Since the rewire i've had the same problem again....I spoke to a friend who advised me to check my earths so I moved the negative from the battery straight down to the starter motor bolt and one from the back of the block to the battery. I also put the vacuum pipes in the correct place as i'd noticed they were all in the wrong outlets. Since doing all that it fired up on the first flick of the key and it's never ever started that quick before. This morning it started again exactly the same then this afternoon after work I tried starting it nothing again!! No spark...I'm baffled to what the problem is. I ordered a new distributor which arrived today so I thought i'll change the coil out of the new one into the old one still nothing so I replaced the whole cap still nothing.

    Can anyone give me any other routes to go down before I replace the distibutor tomorrow. Sorry it's so long but thought i'm best off giving you the whole story....

  2. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 50,907


    If there is a problem inside the distributor (with the module, the pickup coil, or the wiring), it could be doing what you describe.

    Change the distributor, see what happens, let us know.
  3. My vote is for the coil (in the dizzy)
  4. I've already changed the coil in the dizzy for a new one and it still won't start....

  5. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 30,832


    What distributor does it have n it? I Would guess that it is the HEI electronic which is rather simple to check most functions on. I've got an easy to follow bulletin that NAPA auto parts put out in the 1980s but will have to try to remember to see if it will scan when I get home tonight.
    Still it doesn't matter if it is a Chevrolet engine, a Ford engine, a Volvo engine a Porsche engine or what not the test procedure for a no start condition is pretty much the same.
    1. battery has full power and both battery cable connections are tight and clean on both ends.
    2. engine turns over when you turn the key or it does not turn over when you turn the key
    Turns over and no start = battery ok starter works reasonably well. proceed to start no start.
    Does not turn over= Battery ? Connections ? Starter condition?
    3. Turns over good but does not start when you crank the key.
    Spark to spark plug? Yes: proceed to see if there is fuel and the engine is in time
    NO: test for power to coil and then test the components.

    One thing on the HEI distributors that beat me to death on one of my vehicles was that there was a female slide connector on the power wire to the distributor cap to the Batt pole rather than the proper HEI connector. That female connector would get just loose enough so that the engine would quit or not run. Check that connection to make sure you have a good tight connection there as that may also be your problem if someone has cut and spliced wires.
  6. It's a sbc 350 with a 650 Holley, hei dizzy with coil in cap. I've rewired the car so there's no cut or spliced wires....
  7. steinauge
    Joined: Feb 28, 2014
    Posts: 1,507

    from 1960

    Do you have a good,solid engine to frame and body to engine ground? That can cause you all sorts of spooky electrical problems.
  8. chevyfordman
    Joined: Oct 4, 2008
    Posts: 1,150


    I had a similar HEI problem, one pin on the dist. connector wasn't locked in, I would pull the connector, the pin would reset and check good, re-connect the connector, the pin would push back and sometimes make contact and sometimes not.
    slack likes this.
  9. I've got a ground to starter motor bolt from negative on battery then from block to battery. It was starting perfectly 2 days ago like this. I'm going to change the dizzy today and see how that goes. I'll let you know how I get on.
  10. jerry
    Joined: Mar 2, 2001
    Posts: 3,473


    Try a basic points style distributor.

  11. rfraze
    Joined: May 23, 2012
    Posts: 2,006


    They are talking about the male spade connectors in the cap. Remove the plastic connector and check that neither of the male connectors (in the cap) will move back up into the cap when the connector locks in.
  12. Do you have a good ground from the block to the frame? HRP
  13. I made sure the connectors were not pushing up into the cap last time I tried to start it, I changed the distributor this morning and it's fired straight up. I've adjusted the timing as best as i can without a light. Need to get a light now to get timed right. I took it out for a spin and it's driving alot better and seems to have a bit more punch now. I've got a feeling the timing was out before.... Thanks for all your input.
  14. 63tango
    Joined: Jul 25, 2013
    Posts: 191

    from California

    If you've got good power and ground to the distributor I would check the ignition module and pick up coil. Ive seen more modules fail than pick up coils but i would suspect either one
  15. '51 Norm
    Joined: Dec 6, 2010
    Posts: 760

    '51 Norm
    from colorado

    I had a similar problem and knew that it couldn't be the distributer since I had just replaced the coil and module.
    Long story short; the new module was defective.
    A guy that I work with says to always check the last thing that you put in. Good advice.
  16. Very good's starting up first crank of the key now so the new distributor has resolved everything. Just got a leaky fuel tank to sort now and new exhaust

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