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"38 special (no go on the start)


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Hi to all that have helped so far. Hooked up the new fuel pump with an external feed gravity tank to it, checked for pressure at the carb. Still no more than a start and a run for a few seconds, no idle and no acceleration. Have also tried advancing and retarding the spark and still no go. Get a sigh back through the carb like a compression release not backfire persay. Have retimed it and cdhecked tha valve till I'm blue in the face but I don't think it's that.

thanks again, Brian

sorry about the posts on Jeff's thread, won't happen again.

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For those few seconds, does it actually seem to catch and run? Are you using starting fluid?

How did you test pressure at the carb e.g. with a gauge, by filling a coffee can, or...? Are you confident that the float in your carb is free/ operational? Are the mixture screws backed out as far as prescribed in the workshop manual?

Which carb do you have on the car? I believe the 38 Special came with Marvel or a Stromberg...

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Hi Tishabet, it actually runs and on gas no starter fluid. Carb is rebuilt and its a Carter WDO, and the pump is new on a rebuilt engine. I have a feeling it's some sort of electrical problem but the fact it doesn't take the gas still has me wondering if in fact it's not carburetion. I tried hooking up a jumper light from the battery to the coil to make sure I have power there and strangely the lite flickers on and off as I crank the engine. I thught it should be a steady lite if in fact it's just power to the coil. By the way all new ignition parts also. Like I've said it catches and runs and the either dies or won't accelerate or idle.thanks for the reply

Brian

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Guest Art  Williams

Brian,

The reason the light was flashing was you had it on the contact breaker side of the coil. The light goes out when the contacts close hence the flashing. It does sound like a fuel problem. You don't mention if the choke is being used. It really should to ensure the mixture is rich enough to sustain 'life' at start-up. You also get the benefit if a faster idle.

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If you run on fuel poured in the carb. if does sound like a fuel problem,,, or a vacume leak on the intake gasket or carb base.. it will not be a timing problem unless it's a timing chain out of time a notch or two. Remember because parts are new does not mean they will work... Do you have a good blue spark at the spark plugs? If it is yellow, the condenser is bad. I would repalce the condenser. Always remember a thing my dad taught me when I was young.. 3 things you need to make a good engine run is, fuel, fire, and air.. Let us know what you find.. Good luck and God Bless

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Art, according to the wiring diagram the pos. side of the coil is where the ignition wire goes that is to say the power wire from the harness goes, and that's where I put the jumper. I tried the negative side of the coil and got the same result. I'm running on just the carb, not fuel poured into it. I was thinking of tryng to eliminate the cars wiring system by just leaving the power cable from the battery to the starter in place and remove the all other wires to the starter and then just install a jumper to the coil and try to run it. If it stills start and then stalls I will figure it is something other than igintion. I will try pouring fuel into the carb and see if that increases the run time. I have checked the timing many times even to the point of binging it close to tdc and then bringing the piston up with a stif wire in the plug hole to locate tdc and then check the dist. and have the points just opening with a test lite This engine just won't take off.

Brian

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The fact that the engine runs for a few seconds and then dies makes the electrical system seem like an unlikely culprit to me... there's not much in that system that might be working one moment and then quit after a few cycles. I would stop any more testing of your electrics until you've ruled out fuel delivery, which seems far more likely...

It seems to me that you are only getting a few seconds worth of fuel, then the car stops running because you've run out. There could be a number of reasons for this... the easiest way to check if it is a fuel problem is for you to provide the fuel manually. You can, for example, keep a car running using starter fluid (available at your friendly neighborhood parts store) sprayed periodically down the barrel of the carb. Just be careful of backfires and take smart precautions in case of fire.

You referenced a "new fuel pump." Is this the original type or an aftermarket electric? Aftermarket units (particularly "adjustable" ones) are somewhat notorious for being inconsistent/unreliable with pressure, although I understand that some brands are better than others. With the coil disconnected and the fuel line disconnected from the carb, you should be able to crank the engine and get a healthy flow out of the fuel line into a coffee can or something like that... be sure that you have an extinguisher nearby, as you always should when fooling around with gas.

If you seem to have pressure and flow from the pump, the next possible culprit would be the float. If the float is not working correctly, you could definitely end up with this exact symptom, as the gas would not be allowed to replenish what has been used from the bowl and the carb could run out of gas. If the float turns out to be the issue, you can definitely fix it although you might end up replacing the seal.

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Basically, I agree with Grant that this seems to be a fuel delivery problem. I have an electric pump that I use only prior to starting to prime the system & fill the float bowl. I have learned that these cars require lots of cranking unless you do this.

The previous owner showed me this procedure: Turn on the ignition, switch on the electric fuel pump, fasten my retrofitted seat belt while the fuel pump runs, switch off the fuel pump, turn off the ignition, pump the gas pedal two times, turn on the ignition, and push the gas pedal to the floor to start the car.

The electric fuel pump only runs for about 30 seconds to fill the fuel lines and fill the float bowl. This also primes the mechanical fuel pump so it can take over when the electric pump is shut off.

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Hi Grant, I don't think it runs long enough to run the fuel out of the bowl. You are new to this original post about this problem and just to inform you so were on the same page I had this rebuilt engine running when first reinsalled. I pumped a little gas with the accelerator cranked it over and it started and ran for about five minutes, sounded good and strong and then developed an exhaust leak on the manifold between 3&4 cylinders so I shut it down to fix the leak. I removed the manifold, found that the intake ferrule had shifted in installation and had in fact been mishapen from tightening so I cleaned the surfaces and reinstalled the manifold with just gaskets leaving the ferrules and washers out of the picture. Thats' when the trouble began. I wasn't able to get the engine running again at first at all and tried pouring a lttle gas into the carb to aid in starting. It cranked kicked and then I heard what sounded like comperssion release through the carb. Contnued tries were to no avail to get her running. I then tried retiming by TDC method and found that I had very little compression (60 lbs.)in the #1 clyinder. A subsequent compression check showed low compression in all the cylinders and a call to the rebuilder resulted in trying to retorque and then start and found that I had actually less compression about 25 lbs. accross the board. Replaced the head gasket and that's where I stand at this a point. I have been unable to get no more than few seconds of run time at any point.

thanks for your interest, Brian

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Mark and Grant and all, quick update I am feeding the fuel pump by gravity from an external tank and have good flow at the carb. I just performed a compression test for my own info and while it's not what it was at first when I got the engine back or before I replaced the head gasket I do have a solid 80 to 85 lbs. across the board and that should be enough to fire although I would like to have at least 100 lbs. out of a rebuilt engine, so that's a concern. But that being said running it to temp and then retorqueing might be the cure. I am going to reinstall the plugs after checking for TDC of the compression stroke on #1 and then check the dist and points firing order and try one more time.

thanks Brian

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Brian,

I have been following this for some time, and the one thing that just hit me is this...

You had the engine running for 5 minutes at first, until you noticed the exhaust leak. When you removed and reinstalled the manifolds, (and removed the damaged guide ring), is it possible that the manifolod gasket(s) slipped out of position? This would give you a vacuum leak on one or more cylinders, and may be enough to result in a super lean mixture - no matter where the carb is set. Then, it would only run when you feed it additional gas.

Jeff

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Jeff, when I took the manifold off and cleaned the surfaces and reinstalled the gasket, I was extra careful to align the new gasket, by inserting one bolt in each of the three sections in the center gasket hole and manifold and adjusting the gasket for fit and even now I can see the gasket edge along the whole manifold. I think it's made goo seal.

Olbuicks I'm kinda leanig towards your explanation but of all the things that could be the cause of no starting, or kicking and then dying ,yours sounds most likely. I can't see how that chain could jump those gears but anything is possible. i'm not looking forward to checking that scenario because it involves a lot of work although I'm probably able to look at it without removing the engine again, but still a lot of work. I'll talk to the rebuilder again and see what he thinks and try to exhaust all the possibilities but I don't see much else I can do. In an effort to check the timing again and again, I have now brought the #1 cyl. to TDC by compression on finger in teh spark plug hole and then tap crank the cyl up to TDC with a wire to feel the piston and I know I'm very close. Then I locate the dist and rotor with lite. When I look for the timing mark on the flywheel it is no longer seen where when I first timed the engine initially with this proceedure I could see it.

Brian

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i had the same problem with my 39 buick.i removed the distributor to paint and clean behind it and put it back in and my car had the same symptoms as you are describing.i thought it was like putting a 60s or 70s distributor back in but was wrong.i would think,like my problem was that you are one or two teeth away.the guy who found the problem also told me that the distributor is somewhat spring loaded so when you lift it out it springs forward or backwards so you are assuming that it is going back into place.

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Hi buicks39, i'm pretty sure the dist. is in place since the holddown plate is flush on the block and it seems to be engaged with the oil pump, otherwise the plate would not be flush. thanks I will pull the dist. and try to reset it paying attention to how it goes back in. i've had it in and out several times in all of this but compared to pulling the timing chain cover off this is an easy look see.

brian

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i thought my distributor was in the right place to.but what i found out is that it may look right from the hold down plate,but i think your problem as was mine was is something you can not see from looking at the plate.i would bet that you are off one or two teeth.i would lift it up and go back one or two teeth,then forward the same way until you can get it to stay running then time it.believe me i am not an expert on these cars as some of the other members are but from my expierince with which seems to be the same problem i had those are the steps taken.

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Brian, and 39 Buick... even if the distributor was off a notch or two, the compression would not be that low. Brian what I would do that may help you from pulling the front of the enging down, I would make 100% sure you are TDC,, you said the mark and TDC does not seem to match as it did at first,,, it has to because it bolted to the crank and piston, and timming chain has nothing to do with the piston and flywheel as far as getting out of sync.. they will always stay the same.. Do this... make sure TDC and not on the exhaust side. Check dist to see the the rotor is pointing towards #1 plug wire. Pull valve cover off and check to see if you have About 10 or 12 thousands of clearence on the rocker and tip of the valve.. if there is zero clearance then I would think the chain jumped a couple of notches.. (also you know for sure the valves are ajusted right?)It don't take a whole lot of pressure to open a valve to lose compression.. Good luck and keep us informed... John

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hi john, I've done what you recommended several times and yes the flywheel mark is in the right spot. This afternoon I tried both methods suggested here because they both make a lot of sense. I tried moving the dist. shaft a tooth either direction to try and compensate for timing being off. Before that I brought the #1 cyl. up to top dead center comp. stroke using the finger and wire method and checked the valves and they were both loose at around .0015 thousandths. The result has been little or no starting. I am now having the problem again of the engine cranking slower than necessary to start because the battery although new and 995 cca doesn't seem to replenish itself with my charger. Ive ordered a 6 volt charger with a starter cycle and will see if that will help down the road. I'm just about at my wits end and have litteraly tried everything 5 times. Even in discussion with the rebuilder timing either ignition or valve seems to be the main issue. thanks for all your help

Brian

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Hi John, one thing that the rebuilder said was that when he pulled the timing chain cover off he was careful to count the distance between the dots on the gears and spaces in the chain and it was 10. When he reinstalled the chain according to the book it called for 11, and he used that #. So the discrepancy is there and 10 may have been a factory set up 71 years ago for that particular engine. He was thinking that I should be able to make up the difference in the dist. settings but who know maybe it needs to be exactly 10. Anyway I have shut down the effort for a week or so till I get that starter charger and I can spin the engine faster. I also want to be able to crank the engine and adjust the dist at the same time to see if I can get it to catch and I haven't been able to crank or spin fast enough to do that. By the time I have set the timing b y whatever method I've run the battery down enough to slow the cranking down. I'm still under the impression that the engine is real tight. Not too tight but real tight and I need additional power to start.

thanks Brian

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Brian ,

Your battery cables should be 00 gauge or larger,

if less than that it could account for the slow cranking, The running for a few seconds, it only runs on the gas you pour down the carb, could be inside the carb. stuck float,clogged main jet etc.

JB

22-6-55 Sport Touring

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Brian,

Sounds like that timing chain is your best bet. Why it ran for five minutes initially, is anyone's guess.

One of your engine guy's statements sounds a bit suspect. If that timing chain is off, it's not just the ignition timing that will be wrong, it's also the valve timing with respect to the crank.

I seem to remember that 10 vs 11 discrepancy. Depends on if you count "between" or "from" one tooth to the other. In other words, which link is #1, the one in the tooth or the one after? Most chains have two copper rivets spaced the correct distance apart. You line these guys up with the marks on the crank and cam and it simplifies the whole discussion.

Better dive in and check it! You've worked every other path. It won't be too bad, grill, radiator, water pump, harmonic balancer, then cover. Hopefully, your hood is still off.

If you are anywhere near SW Ohio, I'll come help you. My engine is one step behind yours, I'll start reassembling late next week. Hopefully, your findings will benefit many others.

Jeff

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Brain.. Remember the distributor has noting to do with timing chain being off,, we are talking about two differnt issues here.. It sounds like you have pretty good experence with engines, and I don't want to question your experence, but like Jeff also thinks its the chain.. Low compression on a new rebuilt engine can only come from rings (not spaced correctly), head gasket, or timing chain..that's all.. Keep in touch.. where are you? John

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John and jeff, you guys have been a big help. Thanks. i have 2/0 cables on the battery now and not even a hint of heat when I crank the engine. I don't run it on poured gas, I have tried that but I try to run it only on the carb. I guess the initial run could have been because it was lined up and then jumped a tooth who knows. i think you are both right and I' m going to have to go back into the timing cover. I'm in NC out near the coast, near New Bern a town called Arapahoe. I watched most of the rebuild as it happened since the rebuilder is a car club fellow member and we agreed he worked on mine only when he didn't have paying work. So I was able to schedule watching and helping as it took place. Unfortunately I was north for the final assembly like the timing gears and chain and head. I'm really not upset though, He performed a lot of stuff that I was not capable of like the micing and polishing. Anyway that it's for a week or two but I'll keep in touch when I get back to it.

Brian

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Brain.. one more thing you might try... this problem has me thinking all day of a solution... it troubles me even tho it's not my car.... Take all the spark plug out.. then squirt a few shots of motor oil ( about 3 good squirs)on top of all the pistons... then crank the engine over 3 or 4 good revolutions.. squirt about 2 more squits in the cylinders crank a few more revs. put all the plugs back in. try to start the engine... also I would use stating fluid till it starts... I'm thinking with the new engine it may have got too much gas in the cylinders and washed all the oil off the rings and wall, causing it to lose compression.. I'v seen this happen and this fixed the problem.. also check compression before reinstalling the plugs to see if they came up... this site is going down in a few hours for a few days..you call me at 304 965 6518.. John

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John, I have to go north for a few days and i don't want to try cranking the engine till I have a better way of charging the battery. When the new charger gets here I'll charge the battery and use the the starter cycle in conjunction with the battery to try to spin it faster and then try your suggestion. I was wondering sort of the same thing myself, not losing compression but not oiling the walls and scraping them dry. I'll try it when I get back. Please try to get back to your own stuff during the day, no sense in both of us losing sleep or ulling our hair out. As soon as i know anything I will call, introduce myself and then let you know how I made out.

Brian

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi y'all. I came across this thread as I was looking for other info on my 37 Roadmaster. I looked to see if my 1940 MoToRs handbook might have info on the timing gears, especially the 10/11 controversy.

Well, pictures are worth 1000 words, and the MoToRs book has a clear photo to work from and clear text to follow. I'll try to attach links here:

http://i595.photobucket.com/albums/tt36/trp3141592/DSC08414.jpg

http://i595.photobucket.com/albums/tt36/trp3141592/DSC08418.jpg

http://i595.photobucket.com/albums/tt36/trp3141592/DSC08417.jpg

I have no idea how the AACA forum posts pix, so I am going to try the method used in the Auburn Cord Duesnberg Club, with which I am more familiar. With any luck I may be able to attach photos of the pages right here:

DSC08414.jpg

DSC08417.jpg

DSC08418.jpg

I also tried direct upload. We'll see what happens.

Hopefully enough of this info to be helpful will actually manage to post.

---Tom

post-62522-14313808926_thumb.jpg

post-62522-143138089265_thumb.jpg

post-62522-143138089268_thumb.jpg

Edited by trp3141592
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Hi John, back at the car this week and will try to resolve this timing problem. Will let you know how I make out.

Tom thanks for posting the photos from Motors Manual, they are the same as the '38 Buick shop manual with the same explanation for the set up. I'm going to get into the front of the engine this week and see what's up.

The more I think about this problem it has to be in the timing chain as I've tried every other approach and that is the last thing to look at. perhaps it was set up wrong at the beginning or since it started and ran at first perhaps it has jumped a tooth. Any way the only way to know for sure is to take off the timing chain cover.

thanks to all again,

Brian

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Hi Brian,

having done the exact same thing myself (gone after the timing chain after the engine is in the car) I would recommend being very careful with the seals in that area... as I recall, the timing cover at the bottom is resting on the oil pan seal, but against the "face" of the engine has a seal of its own which is cork and might rip. You can get replacements from Bob's Automobilia.

Also, while you will need to remove the radiator for access, you do NOT need to remove the water pump... the timing cover comes off with the pump in place.

Good luck!

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Hi Brian,

I hope my posting was helpful. From looking over the posts, and considering your mechanic's uncertainty about the timing chain, I am betting on the chain being off by one tooth. Be sure to consider the slack in the chain--the manual tells you how much "floppy" is acceptable. Too much and it can jump a tooth--usually in the worst possible location under the worst possible conditions.

Please be sure to let us all know what you find.

--Tom

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Thanks Tom, I"m betting on the chain also. removed the radiator and balancer this afternoon and will crawl under to do the timing cover bolts from the pan and then pull the rest of the bolts and the cover and see waht's what.

Hey John are you there. I'm close I think.

Brian

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Brian, IF this doesn't pan out (hopefully it will), a couple weeks back in this thread, 1939_buick asked about the exhaust. He's right, exhaust back-pressure could explain your symptoms. And in light of what you did between "does work" and "doesn't work", seems more likely to me. If the engine were just rebuilt, I'd think you'd have a nice new timing chain in there.

Dan

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Hi Dan, no new timing chain. The engine was low mileage and judging from the wear when we pulled it apart, it was actual mileage aout 38,000. The only new internals were pistons, rings and cam bearings. Everything else was within specs and cleaned up nicely. Like was posted the engine ran for about 5 minutes and then I shut it down to fix an exhaust leak. When I tried to restart it there was some sort of backfire and then the restart problems began. Anyway I'm committed to pulling the timing cover now and will know for sure this afternoon. But you never know it could be an exhaust blockage but I was pretty sure it wouldn't have run initially had there been an exhaust blockage.

thanks Brian

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Update to all, looked at the timing chain this morning and it is correct 11 pins and 10 spaces.

I took a picture and will post another time, but it looks just like the book and counts the same way also. The free play is also acceptable at about 1/2 ". I'm going to retime the dist and then run it with the exhaust disconnected and see if it starts and runs. That's about the only thing I can try next.

thankis Brian

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Hallelujia, Kudos to all you fellows that have contributed and helped along the way. The engine started after disconecting the exhaust. I've run it but it's getting hot and I don't want to do any damage with overheating it. I was able to time it with a light and set the idle but it doesn't seem to be circulating water even though it's a new pump and the block has been boiled in the rebuild. Radiator had good flow when I back flushed it so I'll have to check further. No thermostat in it so it should run cool. Not sure about that bypass system maybe it's short circuiting and not going through the block or perhaps it is just the opposite and only

circulating through the block. Anyway it's running and sounds strong and quiet even with the exhaust disconected.

thanks for all your help. I'll post the pic of the timing chain later after I get it out of my camera.

Brian

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I'm glad for you Brain... Would have never thought of that even tho some one suggested it... Now I won't have any exciting post to look for in the morning.. Well some one will have trouble along the way.. Take care, good luck, and God Bless... John

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