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carve

Starting a 1941 Graham Hollywood after sitting 1.5 years: no fuel in glass bowl.

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My girlfriend inherited a 1941 Graham Hollywood (non-supercharged) from her grandfather. It has the last engine to come off the assembly line at Continental- an iron-head "high compression" engine...not sure what the CR is, but it was 7.5:1 in the supercharged model. It last ran in June 2012, about 500 miles after a restoration, and was parked as is. I recommended it be driven every few months to keep everything running. I went to mechanical engineering school and am mechanically inclined, but have never worked on an antique...or anything carburated for that matter. So far we have...

1) Drained the fuel, added a gallon of fresh fuel to flush the tank, drained that, and added 3 gallons of Chevron 91 Octane

2) Drained radiator and added 60/40 antifreeze/distilled water. I opened the engine-block petcock too, but nothing came out.

3) Drained (very black) oil, which may've been straight 30 weight, and replaced with 15W-40 Cl-4 rated diesel-engine oil. I picked it because the oil has high zinc content, meant for non-catalyst vehicles.

4) Added some marvel mystery oil and Maxima multi-purpose penetrating oil spray to each cylinder, blasted it with a spray of air, let it sit for a few hours, and turned engine maybe 10 times by hand. It wasn't exactly easy to turn with a screwdriver, 1/4 turn at a time, at an odd angle, but it felt smooth enough

5) Pulled glass fuel filter bowl (ceramic element) and cleaned with gas and carb cleaner.

6) Pumped the bias ply tires up to 30 psi and moved them off their flat-spot.

The car is 100% unmodified except for an optima battery and electric fuel pump. The battery is pretty low charge after sitting that long, but enough to run the lights and pump, which we could hear running. No fuel would reach the lines to the carb, even with the glass filter-bowl removed. We hooked the battery to a cheap 12V/6V Harbor Freight charger/starter for a couple hours until charge was up to about 50%, put it in start mode, and ran the fuel pump some more. I thought the mechanical pump might help so we tried to turn it over with the starter. The engine turned slowly, but then our harbor freight piece of junk began to smoke so we tossed it.

We're getting a battery tender to charge the battery properly, but I'm wondering why we didn't get any fuel to pump. Perhaps since the car was completely out of gas, maybe the fuel pump can't apply much suction to air in the line and has to be primed with a vacuum pump. Any ideas how to do this? Or, could the fuel line somehow have become clogged while the car sat unused?

One more thing: below the ceramic filter element there's a spring in a rubber boot that holds the element tight against the top. The rubber boot is torn. Is that a problem? It was difficult to get the bowl on straight, too. I'm hoping running it with the electric pump will reveal any leaks before we try to start it. They sure do put it in an awfully unsafe place, right above the exhaust!

Also, the spark plugs looked a little sooty, but not awful. Maybe it's running rich.

Once it's running and I burn the gas out of the tank I plan to fuel it on a mixture of one or two gallons of 100LL Av Gas to 3 or 4 gallons of ethanol free unleaded and fuel stabilizer.

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Benefits of AACA Membership.

Start by getting the ignition Perfect first . replace the plugs ,check the leads for continuity and make sure the condensor and coil are OK. Once the ignition is sorted you can eliminate electricals as source of problems.

Next,it sounds as though the compressions are up.1.5 years isn't long for a newish engine to sit but given that it is a sidevalve,the valves can stick. So a quick run with the starter without plugs installed and a compression guage to check everything is as it should be.

The oil ,being so black and the plugs being sooted up says the carb was way out of tune,the fuel pressure was too high with the electric pump or the choke was closed. No big deal,that can be sorted once you have fuel

Now... are the fuel lines connected securely to the tank?

i would disconnect the line at the first pump and get a air gun,with a peice of shop rag around it,blow into the tank and see if fuel can be forced out of the line. you dont need much pressure .

So with spark,compression and fuel with a fully charged battery it should run. :)

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I would also drain the gas tank and put fresh fuel in it. Today's gas can easily go stale in a year and a half. I would also look closely at the inside of the gas tank to make sure it doesn't have a bunch of crud in it.

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Nickel: As I said, I not only drained the gas, but also gave the tank a rinse with a gallon of fresh. The inside of the tank does look a bit cruddy though.

Start by getting the ignition Perfect first . replace the plugs ,check the leads for continuity and make sure the condensor and coil are OK. Once the ignition is sorted you can eliminate electricals as source of problems.

Well, since I KNOW it's getting zero fuel I think it makes more sense to worry about that first, give 'er a crank, and then worry about ignition if it doesn't start. All the connections look clean and it was allegedly running fine when it was parked, although a bit tough to start. That does raise a question though; what's the proper starting procedure, other than priming the fuel line with the electric pump? Would the timing on a car like this retard automatically while starting, or is there some manual way to do that? Is it always necessary to use the choke? Do I hold the gas pedal down or give it a few squirts before cranking?

Next,it sounds as though the compressions are up.1.5 years isn't long for a newish engine to sit but given that it is a sidevalve,the valves can stick. So a quick run with the starter without plugs installed and a compression guage to check everything is as it should be.

Hmmm...perhaps I should've tried the starter with the plugs out. Being an L-head though, much of the oil I put in went into the valves. It turned over smoothly by hand with the plugs out, so is it safe to assume everything is un-stuck?

The oil ,being so black and the plugs being sooted up says the carb was way out of tune,the fuel pressure was too high with the electric pump or the choke was closed. No big deal,that can be sorted once you have fuel

I have no experience with carbs. Can you point me to a resource on how to adjust it? It's a Carter WA-1. The car is in Albuquerque, NM- no humidity, but also about 5000' altitude so it might run a tad rich. That said, the car was bought here new, so I imagined it was adjusted to run here. The plugs weren't built up with thick residue- just black. Also, 5 of the plugs are these older looking two-electrode plugs with checkered flags on them, and one is a single electrode Autolite. Reportedly, the electric pump is just used to get things started and the mechanical is used for driving.

Now... are the fuel lines connected securely to the tank?

i would disconnect the line at the first pump and get a air gun,with a peice of shop rag around it,blow into the tank and see if fuel can be forced out of the line. you dont need much pressure .

So with spark,compression and fuel with a fully charged battery it should run. :)

All the connections that I looked at looked good, wrapped with teflon tape. I'm not exactly sure where the electric pump is near the tank- I'll take a closer look when I can. Are you suggesting shooting air from before the electric pump to the tank? Since I wrote the original post, I was thinking perhaps it is mounted a bit high. I don't imagine electric pumps are very good at drawing a vacuum of air, so maybe it needs to be primed. Pressurizing the tank just slightly might help the fuel up to the pump, as I probably would've noticed if it was as low as the bottom of the tank. I'm afraid of damaging the old tank though; it looks good as new outside but, as I said...a bit cruddy inside. Alternatively, maybe I can disconnect the fuel line before the mechanical pump and pull on it with a syringe pump.

My girlfriend ordered a battery tender from Amazon today. I had to take the front seat out to reach the battery- quite a pain...so I'll connect leads to make it easy to charge with everything connected. That said, it definitely won't run if I can't get the fuel up to the little glass bowl.

Edited by carve (see edit history)

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Forget overhauling the ignition system.. Pull the spark plugs, lay each spark plug on the cylinder head so the metal base is touching the head, and hook up each spark plug wire.. have someone turn on the ignition, and crank the motor. you will see if there is spark at each spark plug.. Since the engine went through a lot of work before being parked, and it was running then, I doubt that the ignition system is in need of much, if any work.

If you don't have spark, then we can trouble-shoot that issue.

Now, for the fuel.. most early cars have fuel shut off valves somewhere in the system.. I'd get under the car, and follow the fuel lines from the fuel tank all the way forward to the fuel bowl/sediment bowl. Often there is a needle valve/shutoff valve on the sediment bowl..

The suggestion of pressurising the fuel tank is a good one, but be careful, as mentioned, only a little pressure is needed, you don't want to swell the weak tank, and cause a rusty spot to start leaking.

Often, when an electric pump is added to a system, a modern inline fuel filter is also added, look for that and change it, it might be restricting the flow.

I'd be more concerned about the carb once it's running, float needles stick, both open and closed, varnish from dried gasoline clogs jets, and makes check-balls for accelerator pumps stick etc. But we'll get to those issues if they show up.

Keep us informed. It is a lot of fun to bring a car back to life.

Greg L

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Hi guys. We finally got the battery charged up, but we're still having problems. First, a video of the first start!

We still can't get the electric fuel pump to move fuel, so we tried to fill up the carb bowl, and let the mechanical pump work as the engine ran. I didn't see a tube in the throat, but there was a big bolt on top of the bowl with a metal screen underneath (right under the yellow part of the can in the video). I filled it up (which also filled the glass filter), put maybe an eye droppers worth of gas straight down the throat, gave it a squirt of carb cleaner (just to burn- it's shiny clean inside the throat) and it fired right up! There doesn't appear to be a manual choke lever inside. I continued to give it a little squirt of cleaner when it sounded like it was going to die, and kept it going that way for about 20 seconds. Then it stopped. I tried to repeat the process, but couldn't get it to run for more than a few seconds. Fouled plugs? Defective carb? I also eventually noticed a little air at the top of the glass bowl, so fuel still wasn't being pumped

There also appeared to be gas leaking out the seams of the carb. It's a really clean looking carb, so I figured it was recently rebuilt...but maybe not. Here are some pics. (I'm not sure why they're loading upside down. They're rightside up on my computer)

post-98414-143142354255_thumb.jpg

GLong: where would the safety valve be in these pics?

So, we seem to have two problems

1) Fuel still isn't pumping. The lines look fairly straight forward. I even pressurized the tank slightly by blowing into it with my mouth, but nothing happened. Might there be a clog? Do you think the electric pump has a little screen that's clogged or something? There doesn't appear to be an inline filter. Can I just squirt air down the fuel line to flush anything out, or might that cause problems with the fuel pumps and lines?

2) The carb doesn't seem to be working. I've never worked on carbs, so I'm open to ideas. Perhaps there's a safety valve and when I thought I was filling the bowl all the gas was really just going to the glass sediment filter. Also, where is the carb leaking from? There's gas on the intake manifold, and a tiny bit between the lower, black piece and upper metalic piece of the carb. I'm not sure why it would leak just having the bowl filled- it's only open on the top, right?

post-98414-143142354197_thumb.jpg

post-98414-143142354228_thumb.jpg

Edited by carve (see edit history)

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Beautiful car! Congrats to your girlfriend for making a wise choice in grandfathers!

You did what I was going to suggest first; Starting fluid.

Now you know it runs and it is a fuel problem.

The screw on the top of the fuel sediment bowl is an open/closed valve. All the way in (try to do that first) is closed. All the way out is open.

Superman could pressurized a gas tank by blowing into it. You don't have a chance. Neither, I would not recommend pressurizing and old tank.

Instead, remove the fuel line from the tank side of the mechanical pump. Remove the gas tank cap and blow air from an air compressor gentley into the line. Your girl friend should hear all kinds of bubbling in the tank.

Make sure the gas tank is almost full.

I am not positive, but I think you should also be able to hear the electric pump buzz when you turn it on. There will be a separate switch for the pump. No buzz/no work (Check that before disconnecting the fuel line)

The drip is probably just the needle valve not seating properly. You can fix that later.

Edited by Dwight Romberger
changed where to disconnect fuel line (see edit history)

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Don't use Avgas! It is a high octane gas for a high compression engine. You have a low compression engine made to run on low lead or no lead gas. Leaded gas was made in the 30s and 40s but it didn't have much lead additive. The heavily leaded high octane gas only became available for cars about 1954.

Your octane should look like your compression ratio. You say your compression ratio is 7.5 to 1. This suggests you should use 75 octane gas. The cheapest regular today is about 87 octane.

I doubt your engine has such high compression. My reference web site says 6.7:1.

http://www.carnut.com/specs/gen/grah40.html

So, regular gas is fine. If you want to add some Redex, Marvel Mystery Oil or 2 stroke oil to protect the rings and valves, that is all to the good but you do not need high octane, avgas, lead additive or any similar substance. In fact, some people with cars like yours add kerosene, stove oil or diesel fuel to lower the octane.

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Don't worry about the octane. regular is higher octane than 1941 gas. I also don't worry about unleaded, but will get an argument about that.

Rusty types faster than I do.

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Fuel problem. The fact that the engines starts and runs when you pour fuel down the carburetor, but stops when you stop, indicates that the engine is OK except, it is not getting gas.

Try disconnecting the fuel pumps and blowing out the fuel lines with compressed air. You can also test the fuel pumps, by connecting them to short pieces of fuel line and sticking the line in a can of gas, then turning the pump on or turn the engine over. For safety's sake it would be better to use cleaning solvent, diesel fuel or the like.

I would try blowing out the lines then connect the electric pump only. See if it pumps gas, if not find out why, if yes connect fuel line to engine fuel pump.

Then I would connect a motor boat gas tank to the carburetor, or some small container with gravity feed and start the engine. See if the pump will pump fuel into a bottle. Once it starts pumping good, stop the engine and connect the fuel line. If the pump is defective you will have to take it off and repair or rebuild.

You need to be careful here. If the engine pump has a ruptured diaphragm the electric pump can fill the crankcase with gasoline.

With the fuel pumps working correctly, the engine should start and run like any other car.

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One more thing. If there is a loose or leaky fuel line, your pump can suck wind and not pump any fuel. This would have to be before the first pump.

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Your getting plenty of help with getting the car to run so I'll not jump into that. I will tell you if you are using an iPad to take your pictures as I do and you have the button that sits in the middle edge margin next to the screen on the left hand side of the screen your pictures will view correctly on your iPad. When you post them they will be upside down. Please don't ask how I know this. Good luck with the car.

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Dwight: Thanks. Her grandpa bought it in 1943. The screw on top of the sediment bowl just tightens the metal bar that holds the glass bowl in place. I am curious to see if there's another shutoff or safety valve somewhere in the system though. How can I tell? Maybe there's some kind of automatic one as a safety feature? Any other ideas?

I can hear the electric pump, but it doesn't seem to do anything. There's 3 gallons of gas in the tank, which is 1/4 tank on the gauge. I know more would give it a little boost, but I don't want to fill the thing up until it runs. I didn't have starting fluid; that was actually carb cleaner. Would starting fluid work a lot better?

So, I should disconnect the line leading to the mechanical pump and blow air all through the underfloor lines, through the electric pump, and back into the tank? I'll check to hear if I hear an air sucking sound before the electric pump.

What do you guys think of filling the carb bowl with a mix of carb cleaner and gasoline? Did I even add gas to the right place? It should've idled a lot longer than that on a bowl full of gas, don't ya think? I couldn't get it to run like that 20 second run again...no more than a few seconds.

The needle valve not seating properly? On the bowl float? So, the bowl was over-filled or something?

I was thinking of running 20% avgas not for the octane, but for the valvetrain lubrication, and because I hear it has a much longer shelf life. Higher Octane rating won't help anything, but it shouldn't hurt anything either. The only potential benefit is it'd help prevent detonation if there's a hot spot in there.

Edited by carve (see edit history)

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Don't use carb cleaner or starting fluid. You can pour a couple of tablespoons of gas down the carb as an experiment to see if it will fire up. You have already done this.

I would start by inspecting the fuel line and fuel pumps for cracked or broken rubber lines, rusted metal lines, etc. While you are at it, if there is a hidden shut off valve you will see it.

You could disconnect the fuel line before the first pump and blow compressed air thru the line into the tank to clear it. Disconnect the second pump and blow out the line between them. Connect everything up and try the electric pump again. It may take a few minutes to pump fuel up to the engine.

It is hard to say what is wrong from this distance. If the car was in front of me I could tell within an hour, possibly in a few minutes. You have to use your common sense. Is the electric pump pumping? Can you hear it run? Is it pumping fuel? If no fuel, is the line blocked?

If I follow your posts correctly the electric pump is working but no fuel is getting to the engine. As I said, it may take 2 minutes to get there. Or, the line may be blocked or leaking.

There is nothing very complicated, no hidden valves.

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Rusty is right. I have had just this problem before. I will add that just because you can hear the pump, does not mean it is pumping fuel. I did not see where you have blown out the lines. I does not take very many flakes of rust ( which you probably disturbed at the beginning of the thread when draining and then sloching a gallon of good fuel and redraining), to prevent the fuel from traveling where it needs to go. I think you need to blow some air with the fuel tank cap "off". and you may have to remove the pump and see whats going on with that if you get reverse air flow.

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