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RJD2

1953 Buick Special no turning over?

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Hi all-1st time poster, thanks for your time. 

 

So I've got a 1953 Buick Special here, that just manifested a problem here; the engine won't crank at all at ignition. It's got the stock starter, and stock 6V electrical system. I put a brand new 6V battery in last year, and I am sure the battery charged up fine. If I disconnect my trickle charger, I get 6V across battery terminals with a voltmeter. If I turn the key to the "on" position, the fuel gauge will jump up to a position, and then immediately will drift back to the left side. None of the gauges/meters will hold a position with the key at the "on" position. The car ran fine as of sunday; the only thing that was different last time it was driven was that I had to manually engage the linkage at the carburetor to get it to turn over. It would crank at the gas pedal, but wouldn't start. Now, neither method will even get the engine to crank at all. Any ideas? I'm fairly green on a car of this age...Thanks! -RJ

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Welcome, RJ.

   Two thoughts come to mind. Both to do with battery cables.  1st is do you have the proper cables? I am willing to bet the positive cable is a 12V cable, about the size of your pinky.  Should be at least a 1 gauge, better to be a oo gauge.  2nd is the cables may be corroded at the ends. Try this. Clean both cables at the battery. Clean the battery posts'. Clean the other end of both cables. Hook everything back up and try. By the way, I like to see about 7 to 7 1/2 Volt at the battery. 

 

  Stay with us. Where are you?

 

  Ben

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1 hour ago, RJD2 said:

None of the gauges/meters will hold a position with the key at the "on" position.

 

Keep in mind that the oil pressure and temperature gauge are both manual.  You won't see any oil pressure unless it is running with the exception that you may see some movement if the engine is being cranked by the starter, but this is rather rare.  The temp gauge will read the engine temp no matter if the engine is on or off. 

 

The fuel and amp gauges are electrical.  Are you seeing the amp gauge go to the discharge side when you turn the key and before you crank the motor?

 

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1 hour ago, Ben Bruce aka First Born said:

Thanks Ben. I'll check the terminals. FWIW, I was seeing about 6.05 at the battery; when I put the new battery in last year, I thoroughly cleaned the cable harnesses. My negative harness has a quick disconnect, and I tried reseating it. I double check that and report back. I'm in Columbus Ohio.

 

Welcome, RJ.

   Two thoughts come to mind. Both to do with battery cables.  1st is do you have the proper cables? I am willing to bet the positive cable is a 12V cable, about the size of your pinky.  Should be at least a 1 gauge, better to be a oo gauge.  2nd is the cables may be corroded at the ends. Try this. Clean both cables at the battery. Clean the battery posts'. Clean the other end of both cables. Hook everything back up and try. By the way, I like to see about 7 to 7 1/2 Volt at the battery. 

 

  Stay with us. Where are you?

 

  Ben

 

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33 minutes ago, JohnD1956 said:

Amp, oil, and temp gauges don't budge at all upon turning the key to the on position. The Fuel gauge would consistently engage to about 1/4 tank, and then immediately discharge. I did this probably 6-8 times in a row. FYI, I found a site that sells OEM and 6V parts for this car; I ordered a new ignition coil and some other possible ignition and electrical parts "culprits", so I can start swapping things out in a week or so, if need be. Thanks for the help, all! Would love to keep the ol' girl running!!!

 

33 minutes ago, JohnD1956 said:

Keep in mind that the oil pressure and temperature gauge are both manual.  You won't see any oil pressure unless it is running with the exception that you may see some movement if the engine is being cranked by the starter, but this is rather rare.  The temp gauge will read the engine temp no matter if the engine is on or off. 

 

The fuel and amp gauges are electrical.  Are you seeing the amp gauge go to the discharge side when you turn the key and before you crank the motor?

 

 

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The best advice I can give you is to spend your money on a multi-meter first and learn how to use it along with your car's basic flow of electricity that is detailed in a 1953 Buick Shop Manual. You're wasting your money on buying and replacing parts that might be good before you diagnose the real problem. Good luck.

 

1-Scan.thumb.jpg.7946719bc6093d0c2d4d479fe39499dc.jpg

 

Al Malachowski

BCA #8965

"500 Miles West of Flint"

Edited by 1953mack (see edit history)
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56 minutes ago, 1953mack said:

Thanks Al for the advice. Yes, I do not intend to "shotgun" components at random, when it comes to actual diagnosis. The parts expense was relatively minor. In my original post, I did mention readings I got using a voltmeter, so I am quite comfortable with a DVM/multimeter(I've been building modular synthesizers from scratch for over a decade).  I have found a simultaneous service manual reference, along with forum advice, to be the most effective way to diagnose problems across multiple disciplines. I frequent forums pertaining to other things, and am happy to advise those that are "newer to the game" than I.

 

The best advice I can give you is to spend your money on a multi-meter first and learn how to use it along with your car's basic flow of electricity that is detailed in a 1953 Buick Shop Manual. You're wasting your money on buying and replacing parts that might be good before you diagnose the real problem. Good luck.

 

1-Scan.thumb.jpg.7946719bc6093d0c2d4d479fe39499dc.jpg

 

Al Malachowski

BCA #8965

"500 Miles West of Flint"

 

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18 hours ago, RJD2 said:

.....I get 6V across battery terminals with a voltmeter.....

It would be interesting to know what you're getting for readings on your multi-meter at the circuit's next-in-line items.....the starter and solenoid relay before the wire run to the charge indicator gauge?

 

Al Malachowski

BCA #8965

"500 Miles West of Flint"

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You are getting good advice on this, I would like to add a few and easy things to look for, confirm you have a battery that has amperage not just voltage. Use a carbon pile if you can access one, if not one quick and easy test is turn on your head lights, are they bright and stay bright for a few minutes heater fan will add load also. Once you confirm you have amperage and voltage trace the circuit: power and ground, seen way too many hours spent chasing the positive side and the ground is over looked. Use your meter on each cable check for resistance, I have seen cables that look OK but are incapable of carrying amperage. As you go test operation after each small repair, cleaning a ground or replacing a cable, this way you know you are ruling things out and making progress.  Check connections for heat, after putting a load on the system, have seen many a repair made this way by locating a bad ground or other connection it can be warm some to the point they can burn you.

 Keep notes if you are like me you never get a whole day with a project helps knowing where you ended on troubleshooting.

Good luck      

Steve 

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progress! I found ONE of my problems. the quick disconnect on the ground terminal of the battery was not functioning fully; i was seeing voltage across the downstream side of the ground cable and the +6V terminal of the starter relay, but the crimp end of the ground cable wasn't very secure. after cranking the engine, the cable felt hot to the touch. (also, it's a 4 gauge wire-should I go higher?).

 

i removed the quick disconnect harness on the ground wire, and bolted it down to the ground terminal. but i'm still not seeing what i think i should. with the battery charged,  i only got about 30 seconds of cranking before the battery lost amperage to crank. it never fired. my console gauges now hold steady with the key at the "on" position, but the headlamps don't shine 100%. i threw the battery back on the trickle charger after securing and cleaning all my connections, so i'll investigate further after i give it a good 12 hours to charge.

 

thanks all! i appreciate the help!!!

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4 gauge?  Lord yes, replace it. Your local parts store probably does not have it. If there is a tractor supply or farm equipment store handy , try them.  2 gauge would be too small for me. Double aught [ OO] is a bought right.  At least as large as your thumb. You will be amazed at the difference in performance.

 

  Ben

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thanks. i just ordered them. i'm on it. oh, and i got the car to fire last night! i do think amperage is an issue, and possibly alternator. the car doesn't seem to charge a battery as i'd expect, but i'll test further once i have proper 00 cables in place. thanks everybody!!!

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I made both my + and -- cables from 00 PURE COPPER  arc welding cables from U.S. Welding supply.

They also supplied the Cu ends and staked them to the cables.

I completed the job by soldering them with silver solder when I got home.

They also made up a "jumper" cable to run from a bell housing bolt to the frame (just behind the starter).

Lights are bright and she spins over right smartly now.

 

 

Mike in Colorado

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8 hours ago, FLYER15015 said:

I made both my + and -- cables from 00 PURE COPPER  arc welding cables from U.S. Welding supply.

They also supplied the Cu ends and staked them to the cables.

I completed the job by soldering them with silver solder when I got home.

They also made up a "jumper" cable to run from a bell housing bolt to the frame (just behind the starter).

Lights are bright and she spins over right smartly now.

 

 

Mike in Colorado

Pictures?

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Mike-sweet! I actually considered soldering the ends, after I have the clamps in place mechanically securely. I'll probably do that once I have them knocked up.

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As they say in the wiring business, "soldering fixes a host of connection problems"

 

I soldered my connections also.  Kind of like a belt and suspenders.

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)

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update: so I got my new 00 gauge cables, and harnesses in today. I knocked them up, and immediately saw a behavior I've never seen before in a car. With positive and ground cables connected, the engine immediately starts to crank-but the key isn't in the ignition, and the ignition is in the "off" position. This wasn't a lark; i repeatedly touched ground cable to ground battery terminal, and it repeatedly did the same thing.

 

I'm thoroughly confused. Can someone enlighten me? Thanks for the help!

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 Disconnect the battery and check solenoid and starter relay, low amperage can cause the disc in starter solenoid to warp or fuse at the contact.  The relay can stick or fuse also, sounds like a good time to break out a volt ohmmeter and start tracking down the cause of cranking with no signal. Does the switch (S) terminal on starter solenoid have continuity from the relay; if it does, the relay might have failed? Use meter on switch terminal on solenoid to battery lug on solenoid should be open circuit, if not it has fused or stuck.  I just confirmed this on my rebuilt unit the (R) terminal would have continuity to starter windings. I would just use the tone on the meter for now and make it easy.  You will need to unhook a few wires for testing each component.

 You have repaired the low amperage, now you get to deal with the progressive damage. I always explain wiring and switch problems as a pluming problem, are you getting enough flow, is a valve left open or closed makes it easier at times.

I love troubleshooting it is like the game of hid and seek   

Steve

    

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On 22/08/2017 at 6:27 AM, FLYER15015 said:

I made both my + and -- cables from 00 PURE COPPER  arc welding cables from U.S. Welding supply.

They also supplied the Cu ends and staked them to the cables.

I completed the job by soldering them with silver solder when I got home.

They also made up a "jumper" cable to run from a bell housing bolt to the frame (just behind the starter).

Lights are bright and she spins over right smartly now.

 

 

Mike in Colorado

Interested in this ,as could do with brighter lights , did they improve much

cheers

pilgrim

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10 hours ago, 195354 said:

 

 Disconnect the battery and check solenoid and starter relay, low amperage can cause the disc in starter solenoid to warp or fuse at the contact.  The relay can stick or fuse also, sounds like a good time to break out a volt ohmmeter and start tracking down the cause of cranking with no signal. Does the switch (S) terminal on starter solenoid have continuity from the relay; if it does, the relay might have failed? Use meter on switch terminal on solenoid to battery lug on solenoid should be open circuit, if not it has fused or stuck.  I just confirmed this on my rebuilt unit the (R) terminal would have continuity to starter windings. I would just use the tone on the meter for now and make it easy.  You will need to unhook a few wires for testing each component.

 You have repaired the low amperage, now you get to deal with the progressive damage. I always explain wiring and switch problems as a pluming problem, are you getting enough flow, is a valve left open or closed makes it easier at times.

I love troubleshooting it is like the game of hid and seek   

Steve

    

This really a good answer!:)

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SUCCESS! the tab on the new 00 gauge cable is huge; it was just barely bridging the pins on the starter relay. backed it off a bit, and she acted just as she should. THANKS FOLKS!!!!

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On 8/23/2017 at 3:45 AM, Larry Schramm said:

Kind of like a belt and suspenders.

 

 

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