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Engine manifold vacuum and Timing


RO
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The subject problem is with a 6-cylinder Continental Motors engine in a 1951 Frazer but the characteristics may be "generic" and the persistent problem has existed for over two years now as we are trying to restore this car. The characteristics of this engine not running today are the same as before AND after we cleaned and lubed the advanced springs in the distributor AFTER everything else imaginable has been done (all the basics). This distributor timing is extremely difficult to adjust because unlike most distributors you can just turn all you want, this nuisance design consists of a slotted hole and bolt on opposite sides of the distributor which means you reach limits. In the latest I got the engine timing set with a timing light to 4 BTDC and the vacuum gauge reading 18.5-19" after the plugs were cleaned.....so the car obviously started back up after that change (the vacuum was 1" less with the slightly dirty plugs). Advance forward two days later and the car would NOT start. Hit the starter button and the reaction was no starter engagement.....something like way too advanced or retarded....but NO starter kickback. Continued to try to start the car and it barely did WITHOUT any initial reading on the vacuum gauge. Repeated rapid depressions of the gas pedal and the gauge reacted but only up to 12-15" vacuum and piles of blue/white smoke billowed out the tailpipe and the car would NOT idle and just ran beyond poorly. With that I shut it down. "Something" is plaguing this engine. HOW can it run at 4 BTDC and 18.5-19" vacuum on one day and two days later it will hardly even start and then will not run. Yes, we've checked the distributor outside the car for integrity on more than one occasion. Once upon a time I even drove this car a couple miles and ascended a couple pretty steep hills...but a few days later you could forget about it. ONLY thing I can come up with after all this is to scrap the entire distributor and associated components and start over with a replacement distributor if I can find one. That would be the very last thing I could try. Points, condensors, rotors, cap, vacuum advance all been addressed many times. Fuel delivery problem eliminated also a number of times.

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Guest studepeople

RO....Is the car stored inside a building. Is the building secure from squirels and such . Are you sure the exhaust is free of a squirel or mice home ? I would just make sure you have No 1 cylinder coming up by putting a finger over the spark plug hole and then make sure you have the firing order correct. It my show you that it is to far advanced . Only other thing I can think of is some teeth missing on the timing gear? Are you sure you have fresh gas ....this new stuff really turns bad quickly......

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Car isn't stored but in garage and accessed for other restoration activities svereal times a week. Always fresh gas/stabilized gas. Same gas used in other nearby cars. Exhaust system new and clear. That's what I thought, too far advanced again. The reason I reluctantly messed with the timing again is I was able to get the car to idle well but time a significant load is applied, it stumbles. Gas, lines, pumps, filters, regulators all checked out and all new or practically new and all replaced previously. This is what makes it such a mystery. Never encountered anything so puzzling as this. As you mentioned, the timing gear has not been checked but the engine was totally rebuilt with all new components in 2009 and has in fact run a few times...it just changes and I cannot get a handle on what is changing. Haven't been able to get any fresh clues either from the Kaiser/Frazer folks on their forum. I can probably get it back to where it will start instantly and idle well, but there it's a problem.

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I would like to know the condition of the plugs after the stumbling, smoke blowing episode have you progressed any further since this occurrence ?

The plugs would presumably have been contaminated with oil or fuel if it was blowing smoke, typically over rich mixtures will leave heavy black, sooty deposits; however you mention white, blue smoke which is indicative of oil, and I am wondering if you are sucking oil into the cylinders in quantities that foul the plugs.

Cant imagine how this would happen but the color of the plugs will tell the tale and maybe establish a starting point, oh and while the engine is running rough dont expect to see your normal vacuum readings.

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My inclination is to check whether the valve timing is correct. Exhaust valve should just close and inlet open at Top Dead CentreWhen the paired cylinder is firing point. Another odd chance to verify is whether or not someone has un-knowingly fitted a distributer of the opposite rotation.

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Guest andy401

Just a couple thoughts. Does this engine have a resistor wire like a G.M going to the+ side of the coil or a ballast like a Chrysler? A defect in this will cause strange behavier. Also make sure the coil is not wired backwards. These 2 things can drive you nuts

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NO coil resistor wire and positive ground hookup ok. The distributor is the correct one for the car and the one that came on the car. Plugs have been ok, only mild moisture from time to time or very little soot and easily cleaned. However, the cause of the white puff I believe has been determined this afternoon when I heard a drip and saw coolant dripping from the flange where the tailpipe bolts to the exhaust manifold and sure enough radiator dry. Engine was rebuilt and head bolts retorqued, but the evidence is there. Thanks for the help. Because of this latest issue the car will be parked indefinitely....too many other issues with it that just make the whole restoration effort too overwhelming.

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Does this engine have a timing chain??? Has it slipped a tooth? Does this engine have good compression??? How about the Vibration dampener? Are you taking timing readings off of it-is that how you time this engine? Old dampeners are two piece with the rubber in-between the inner and outer and timing marks are usually on the outer side. When they get old they will separate or rotate giving you a inaccurate reading. Every thing good above. If you static time the engine you will prove the above problems of the engine being IN Time. The compression test will tell you weather or not to proceed further.

D.

Edited by helfen (see edit history)
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NO coil resistor wire and positive ground hookup ok. The distributor is the correct one for the car and the one that came on the car. Plugs have been ok, only mild moisture from time to time or very little soot and easily cleaned. However, the cause of the white puff I believe has been determined this afternoon when I heard a drip and saw coolant dripping from the flange where the tailpipe bolts to the exhaust manifold and sure enough radiator dry. Engine was rebuilt and head bolts retorqued, but the evidence is there. Thanks for the help. Because of this latest issue the car will be parked indefinitely....too many other issues with it that just make the whole restoration effort too overwhelming.

Sorry to hear that, cylinders full of coolant would obviously reek havoc with smooth running.

So off with the head in the future, or is your engine like a number of other engines, where the exhaust / inlet manifold bolts screw into the water jacket?

If this were the case it would be a relatively easy fix.

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Thought this was Technical Section. This will be the second one of these engines that very quickly developed a head gasket leak. Head bolts on this engine torqued to just 35 ft-lbs and were done after the rebuild in 2009. No bolts into the water jacket on this one. This coolant leak problem was certainly unexpected while trying to troubleshoot the on again off again running situation. Since the engine has less than 10 miles on it (if that) since the rebuild with all new components, we have not looked at the timing chain. Timing light on the marker on the damper across from the pointer but also when the timing was per specification, the vacuum gauge was in the 18-19" area and the car sounded good, so both those together should have confirmed correct setting. It's the intermittence that is baffling. Even if teeth missing, compression bad, etc. I have no explanation of why one day it would run ok but two days later not so. We have done the TDC thing I don't knw how many times and it's ok for awhile and then goes right back to running poorly. But the head gasket (assumed for now) situation has just put this on hold. It'll be a long time before we get back to this one as we have another car almost identical (but with stick shift) that is running and driving that will now take priority. It needed extreme body work, but having that done, we'll move it to the front. Thanks for the help.

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Guest De Soto Frank

I would want to findout right away if that whitish smoke has a sweet smell to it, that would suggest coolant / antifreeze getting into the cylinders.

Antifreeze that finds its way into the crankcase and oil will destroy the bearings.

With only ten miles on the rebuilt, it is far from broken-in, and will probably be "tight" and also burn some oil until the rings seat.

I am pretty sure the engine is the same one that was used in the Willys Utility Wagon and Truck after Kaiser acquired Willys-Overland in 1953. So that might be a possible source for another distributor.

I had a head gasket fail on my former 1961 Willys pick-up, with the 226 Continental engine, but it failed between cylinder bores and did not result in coolant leakage.

No Vacuum and poor running sounds like it could be a muffler plugged with rust / carbon / rodents... can you disconnect the muffler from the exhaust pipe and have another go at it ?

If you have nice crisp blue spark, and the engine will start and run at all, I would bet that the distributor is okay. Does this car have an Auto-Lite or Delco distributor ?

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Yes, it is the Continental Motors 226 with Autolite distributor that has been disassembled and the weights/springs addressed. Easy enough to check the tailpipe/muffler and can do that but this car sits in the garage by the house and along wiht other cars and I'm working on it or around it all the time, so it's not like it's just sitting isolated somewhere. The white smoke only appeared this past Saturday, never before and the engine was not run more than a minute or two. I check the radiator often so this happened all at once. Also check the oil often and only today was it appearing dirty and just over the full mark. I will say last week the car would start up instantly and idle very smoothly. The only reason I went to the timing again was because I could not apply a load to the engine and have it run w/o shutting off or at least hesitating and everything else imaginable had been checked and tested and that's all I could come up with. Been doing this for two years now and many things bene done many times.

Edited by RO
typos (see edit history)
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Guest Jim_Edwards
Thought this was Technical Section. This will be the second one of these engines that very quickly developed a head gasket leak. Head bolts on this engine torqued to just 35 ft-lbs and were done after the rebuild in 2009. No bolts into the water jacket on this one. This coolant leak problem was certainly unexpected while trying to troubleshoot the on again off again running situation. Since the engine has less than 10 miles on it (if that) since the rebuild with all new components, we have not looked at the timing chain. Timing light on the marker on the damper across from the pointer but also when the timing was per specification, the vacuum gauge was in the 18-19" area and the car sounded good, so both those together should have confirmed correct setting. It's the intermittence that is baffling. Even if teeth missing, compression bad, etc. I have no explanation of why one day it would run ok but two days later not so. We have done the TDC thing I don't knw how many times and it's ok for awhile and then goes right back to running poorly. But the head gasket (assumed for now) situation has just put this on hold. It'll be a long time before we get back to this one as we have another car almost identical (but with stick shift) that is running and driving that will now take priority. It needed extreme body work, but having that done, we'll move it to the front. Thanks for the help.

Certainly sounds like a bad head gasket in spite of the engine only having a few miles on it since rebuild. You have a burn out between one of the cylinders and a water jacket. Fill the radiator, start the engine and let hit operating temp with the radiator cap off. If you get coolant pulsing out of the radiator it's a bad head gasket and hopefully not a cracked head. Also check the oil for coolant, if any coolant seen there is no choice but to replace the head gasket.

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If the engine idled with 19" of vacuum one day and the next day, would not start, I do not suspect timing chains, vibration dampers, etc, etc, etc.

It is a fault that happens when it sits. The clues:

1. Dry radiator.

2. Coolant leak.

3. White smoke.

4. No crank...possibly from hydro-lock?

Replace the head gasket and start again. No sense in more guesses until that is complete.

Be SURE and check the block deck and head for flat and true!

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Guest De Soto Frank

Or at least pull the plugs and try turning the engine over by hand, and if it turns at least two crankshaft revolutions, try a compression test ?

Does this car have an automatic choke or manual choke ?

Not trying to be insulting, but with a cold engine, the hesitation / dying under load could be explained by an automatic choke not closing sufficiently, or the choke not being pulled-out enough if manual. (If memory serves me correctly, this engine was typically equipped with a Carter YF single-barrel carb, which would have had a coil-spring automatic choke if not manual, and these can be sticky / balky.)

The white smoke is what got my attention, reading your previous posts. White / sweet smoke is definitely coolant related, and bad news.

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Freshly rebuilt carburetor from Kanter and the auto choke does exactly what it is supposed to do. This is the third carburetor on the car over the past two years, but this one we know was rebuilt and if it works anything like it looks, it should be A-OK. Carburetor is a 2-bbl WGD.

Got as far as draining the oil this evening and indeed about 1/2 quart of coolant in the oil pan. But the car was not run for more than a moment or so after the catastrophic event occurred. It'll be a while at least before any motion to remove the head. So I've noted everything folks have posted here.

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Freshly rebuilt carburetor from Kanter and the auto choke does exactly what it is supposed to do. This is the third carburetor on the car over the past two years, but this one we know was rebuilt and if it works anything like it looks, it should be A-OK. Carburetor is a 2-bbl WGD.

Got as far as draining the oil this evening and indeed about 1/2 quart of coolant in the oil pan. But the car was not run for more than a moment or so after the catastrophic event occurred. It'll be a while at least before any motion to remove the head. So I've noted everything folks have posted here.

Just to reiterate as per response #4 - does this engine have manifold bolts that screw into the water jacket? If so you should consider that coolant can flood the manifold and then the cylinders; a fix here would obviously save pulling the head.

Forgive my ignorance, as I dont know this engine at all, but 35 pounds head bolt torque seems very low and obviously correct torqueing affects the sealing capabilities of the head gasket.

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The engine I believe does not have bolts into the water jacket but I will need to confirm that and will do that ASAP. Yes, my Hudson 6-cylinder engine requires 75-80 ft-lbs but the Kaiser/Frazer Service Manual indeed specifies just 35 ft-lbs for this engine. To that I must say that the rear most head bolts (5 of them) are not accessible by a torque wrench and I was unsuccessful in trying to adapt a crows foot, so the 5 bolts at the rear I could not retorque.

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Guest De Soto Frank

Sorry that you found that much coolant in the crankcase.

If that coolant circulated through the oiling system and traces are now laying in oil galleries and bearings, this could still be detrimental to the bearings.

Suggest draining the cooling system and block, if you have not already done so...

Coolant contamination wrecked the bearings and engine in my 1960 Windsor before I acquired the car... requiring an "early" rebuild at 82,000 miles.

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The engine I believe does not have bolts into the water jacket but I will need to confirm that and will do that ASAP. Yes, my Hudson 6-cylinder engine requires 75-80 ft-lbs but the Kaiser/Frazer Service Manual indeed specifies just 35 ft-lbs for this engine. To that I must say that the rear most head bolts (5 of them) are not accessible by a torque wrench and I was unsuccessful in trying to adapt a crows foot, so the 5 bolts at the rear I could not retorque.

If I understand you correctly, the rear 5 head bolts have not been properly torqued, if that is the case then I would definitely consider this as a probable cause for the coolant leak.

Just out of curiosity what diameter are the head bolts ?

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Guest De Soto Frank

When the head & gasket were installed, was any sealer used ?

With only 35 ft-lbs torque, a sealer such as Permatex Copper Spray-a-Gasket would probably be in order.

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Good question. This engine was rebuilt by the same place AFTER a previous one had the head gasket fail and I know on the second time around that one had sealer applied. Will try to determine that when we get back into this one. It wasn't easy to check on the rebuild because it happened over a period of months off and on at a shop over 40 miles away.

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33 of them at 3/8" -16 x 2 3/4"

OK 3/8 and 33 of them probably explains the low torque value, I would certainly be using sealant if you go the head off route.

But before you go there just check on the manifold mount bolts in case they go into the water jacket, could save yourself a lot of trouble.

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Some of the cylinder head bolts do indeed go into the water jacket. I think the manifold studs do too.

In that case it might pay to remove the manfold/s and look for evidence of coolant leaks there before pulling the head.

The Mopars are known for this, and many a head has been pulled when all that was required was a good dose of sealant to the threads of the manifold studs / bolts.

But for the moment put it aside and enjoy the Festive Season.

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