Newbuickguy

65 Skylark won't start

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My name is Max and I really need some help diagnosing a 65 Skylark I found. It is in great shape with 39k miles, 310 ci, 2 barrel Rochester carb, auto transmission with a console. Had been "sitting" for about three years with only quick starts and very short garage moves during those years. Started work on the car three days ago. The Skylark started hard but ran smoothly for at least 30 minutes after that. Got 10 gallons of new gas and added lead substitute. Then the heater core dumped all over the carpet. It was replaced yesterday. Started again and ran for 15 minutes. Everything is looking good - no leaks. It runs perfectly. Pulled out of the garage and it died while idling. It started again and ran for two seconds then died again. Now it just turns over. We guessed float issues so tapped the carb. Now it won't fire at all. We've got spark to the plugs, we have good fresh gas squirting from the jets, all butterflies are moving smoothly, we have compression, changed the coil and condenser, we have a good battery that will spin it, (once in a while it will fire.) The tops of the cylinders are gas covered and the plugs are dry when we pulled them. So, we have spark, gas and compression. It won't respond to starting fluid. We have even watched the plugs fire when hooked up and out of the block. It has been airing out so it isn't flooded. Let it sit for three hours- still nothing but a spinning engine that won't fire. What are we overlooking? I'm ready to change the carb because it seems like an air or gas issue. Also, when testing the plugs, the spark is weak but there - you can see it. Maybe timing? Maybe air leak at carb? Maybe weak spark? We've got pressure at the gas line into the carb and the gas looks normal we put in a cup. Any suggestions appreciated. 

Update- Problem solved! My friend Steve figured it out. It was the condenser inside the distributor cap that was pulling juice making it send a weak spark to the plugs. Started up on the first turn. Thanks for all the time taken to respond to my question. 

Edited by Newbuickguy
Problem solved. (see edit history)

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If your spark is weak then you have an electric problem. Either the coil is weak, the points are grounded or not gapped correctly or the condenser is bad.  I read where you replaced the coil and condenser.  It could also be bad plug wires, too much resistance. I'd check all the wires running both to and from the coil and distributor for continuity as well as resistance.  Also make sure you have a good ground from the engine block to the firewall as this is often missing,  The fact that it did run is good. You have gas to the plugs and either starting fluid or gas down the carb doesn't produce fire is why I am leaning towards spark problems, not gas or air.  To eliminate the possibility of bad gas, you could run a hose from the pump to gallon can of fresh gas and see if it fires then but I think you have spark issues.

 

As an educational aside, what you have is the Buick 300 V8.  The decal on the air cleaner is actually the torque rating of the engine, not the engine size.  In 1965 Buick made 2 versions of the 300 V8, the 310 version which has the 2 barrel carb or the 355 version which had a carter 4 barrel and higher compression pistons.  Later in '65 they added the GS which brought the 401 Nailhead to the party and Buick also offered a V6 in the A Body in 1965.

Edited by ol' yeller (see edit history)
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I tend to agree on the weak spark theory.  I might put a jumper directly from the battery to the coil to ensure you are getting 12v for starting, and make sure you have good ground there, too.  Just remember that if it starts with the jumper, you'll have to pull the jumper to shut down.

 

I replaced a bad coil once with another bad coil.  Even though it's new, it wouldn't hurt to ohm it out.

 

I also did a tune up on a Caddy once, where I replaced the plugs, wires, cap, & rotor.  I just pulled everything and put it together by the (3rd party) book.  When it didn't start, I went to the library and got a factory manual - turns out my Brand C book had a bad distributor diagram.  Put the wires to the factory manual, and it still wouldn't go.  In the end we found that someone had put the distributor in 180 degrees out, and just clocked the wires to make it work.

 

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Very helpful. These are ideas we have overlooked. We'll try these and give you an update. Thanks for taking the time to respond. 

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Some spark plugs, especially platinum will never recover if fuel or oil fouled.  Plain old cheap Autolite 85's will serve you well.

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Other thoughts. It could be the phonetic coating on the cam timing gear broke up and fell off making timing impossible. This is a common issue with original 300s. New timing sets won't have this coating. To check, rotate crankshaft and see how much slop there is before the rotor moves.

 

A long shot is the ignition wire where it connects on the engine side of the firewall at the rear of the fusebox. If memory serves it is either a red or orange wire that has a small screw holding the connection together. If dirty or loose it could cause stalling or no start conditions.

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Problem solved! My friend Steve figured it out. It was the condenser inside the distributor cap that was pulling juice making it send a weak spark to the plugs. Started up on the first turn. Thanks for all the time taken to respond to my question. Can't wait to get that top down and go. (I'm beginning to like this car again.) The fuel pump is the original one so I'm thinking that may need replaced before I take it for a long haul. Any other suggestions to make it more dependable are welcome. 

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Nice looking car.  I love the colors, especially the Fawn bucket seats interior. I noticed you are in Columbus, OH.  You should plan to attend the Annual Arthritis Auto Show in Dublin.  This year it is July 7-9.  Lots of cars, and Buick gets over 50 each year.

 

https://arthglr.ejoinme.org/MyEvents/AutoShow2016/tabid/729307/Default.aspx

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I attend that show most years. Excellent weekend in Columbus. Good Guys Custom Show (6000 cars) is the same weekend. The picture is too dark. The interior has white seats. No rips or separations- but missing a few buttons on the seat backs. Thanks for your comment. (My brother has a light green 66 Chevelle with fawn interior and it always gets attention at shows.)

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